Be warned. This is going to be rather long.
Quite recently I was asked the question; "What would make you believe in god?"
I have noticed that everyone seems to have a rather different standard or degree of evidence that they would require, in order to believe in such an entity, be it monotheistic or polytheistic. Most people, naturally, will buy into whichever religion they are born into. In Afghanistan, you're most likely a Muslim. In the U.S. most likely some denomination of Christian. If Indian, you have a pretty good chance of being Hindu. If you're born into an Amish or Mormon or Jehovah's Witness family, it most likely doesn't take a 'Girl/Boy most likely to...' section in your school year book to predict what you are. But what about those of us who tick the 'None of the above' box? Atheists, agnostics, skeptics, anti-theists and everything in between? What would it take to actually convince unbelievers? Are we already halfway there? I mean, I think that religion's biggest con was not, in fact, convincing some people that god(s) exist, but rather convincing the rest of us that this belief is somehow beyond criticism. So what about you? I can at least tell you my own.
My own is very simple, really. Evidence. Verifiable empirical, material evidence, and logical, rational explanation. Beyond all reasonable doubt.
To have the aforementioned evidence verified by others beyond myself, with more substantial understanding of physics, psychology, etc. Experts.
To be able to define the discrepancy between what might constitute a deity(s), be it monotheistic or polytheistic, able to distinguish between the supernatural and the extraterrestrial for instance. Prophecies, powers, none of these would constitute evidence. God, in the monotheistic sense, must be able to control absolutely everything by thought, not just most things or some very substantial things. Be able to clearly demonstrate his/her/it's responsibility for the aforementioned 'everything'. This deity must be able also to explain and to demonstrate it's own origins. Where polytheistic deities are concerned, the ballpark becomes even more complex, given the traditional limitations and arguable 'humanity' that each of them feature. This along with all the other requirements from any monotheistic deity.
I would require this being be able to adequately explain the nature of itself and all it's creation unambiguously and without obtuse language or intermediaries or ancient books - to communicate this to me directly, with independent witnesses of no predispositions. I would require this being to explain all the unpleasant aspects of reality and life and it's creations that immediately affect me and my planet. To explain why famine, disease, genocide, slavery, rape, cruelty to animals, etc, was ever allowed. I would require this being to explain why it has only chosen to offer intervention and revelation in particularly barbaric and illiterate parts of the world some thousand years ago, and very little since, except (as chance would have it) in various people predisposed to certain religions before it even reached them - and why their accounts differ so violently from one another's. And why he did not intervene in any way to offer correction or clarification, or to end or even advise against legislation, conflict or persecution of sects and beliefs, along with people without beliefs and of different natures, ethnicities, etc, except in vague revelations and contradictory old books left in the hands of desert nomads with psychological disorders and other assorted cranks and fanatics.
I would require this being to explain what on earth it was playing at, basically.
And even if it did appear under such circumstances, and could offer such explanations to my satisfaction, I would still require further explanation as to why it deserves or even desires or requires my submission, subservience, reverence and worship. And how any such request or command, assuming it entailed any concept of exclusivity for those who did so and thus some form of perks or rewards, and some form of exclusion or other punishment for those who did not do so, could possibly constitute morality. How creating a life or life form could, by default, morally allow you to command it to THINK, let alone behave, in ways detrimental to it's well being or in ways against it's wishes, on pain of this or that punishment.
I will just clarify, briefly. I am not referring to the universe or the forces behind it in this question. Completely different forces drive the universe, independent from and irrespective of our species and our world. No, I was asked what sort of thing I would require to believe in such deities that appear in holy texts. Given all that the aforementioned texts entail, and the extraordinary claims they make, a rather extraordinary degree of evidence is required, and I must not be alone as it is presented, rather accompanied by various experts of relevant fields, so as to establish whether or not my receipt or observation is genuine. I.e. that I am not deluded or hallucinating or being deceived or otherwise mistaken.
How it could square histories endless parade of gods, how all followers of all of these were absolutely certain, how many were right (and which one's), and why even people with different views on the same god are so certain, and schizmatic, and fanatical. So insular and exclusive. I'd say god(s) has a lot of explaining to do.
If not for rational thought, reason, and evidence, what do you suppose we ought to use as a basis for any belief or understanding? I can't say I follow your argument. Had we ought to just invent things for entertainment and amusement, then one day just nail our colours to the mast? Claiming it doesn't really matter whether or not there is even a ship attached to it?
Were I arguing about what actually influences the universe, I would be inclined to agree with many of my own critics who attempt to derail my thread with cheap evasions like "But what actually started the universe? Surely something can't come from nothing" or a recent attempt at cleverness "I think you know perfectly well that these conditions can never be met. What you don't seem to know, or seem willing to entertain, is that rational thought capability of the the human mind is not the supreme factor, or even a major factor, driving the universe." But I am not. I am stating that if I were to be expected to believe in an omnipotent, omnipresent, all powerful celestial being, that created and knows everything, knows my thoughts, and can punish me for them, has the patent on morality, cares who I talk to, with whom I go to bed and in what position, what food I eat and on what day, which language I speak and read, what I wear, whom I must simultaneously love and fear, makes snakes talk, creates us sick and commands us to be well again on pain of eternal torture, all of this on bad evidence, within sects of interpretations of retranslations of translations of plagiarisms, this is the sort of proof I might require.
Again, to clarify, I have specified a standard that no primate such as you or I could satisfy, yes. Which is why I also specified, you may note, that I do not expect, nor will I accept intermediaries or hearsay. I want it from god. If he's what he's cracked up to be, it ought to be a doddle for him. And for me, that would just about do the trick.
So what about everyone else? Does anyone have any suggestions or variables or would like to share your own requirements? Perhaps you found faith and might tell us how?