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What is your standard of evidence, regarding religious claims?

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?

Agrippinus 4 Nov 23

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32 comments

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0

First, in my opinion any actual evidence of this/these "god(s)* are in the behaviors of their believers. By and large in too many political, social and economic influences show a trend toward the OT god: gather in large numbers and "we" will defeat the unbelievers...and take their natural resources. "We" will legislate and enforce our religious dogma. Forget the fluffy feelings. "We" are powerful and terrible "gods" indeed!

Interestingly all these feuding "gods", which collectively present the greatest threats to mankind, are all based on what once was the same, singular god. This is among my evidence that this could not in any way be representative of an all powerful, singular supernatural entity in that he has so many too often contradictory "versions".

Otherwise, I'd say my standards are quite high. The most important "knowns" I have is if such a deity exists it has chosen not to reveal itself and apparently doesn't care to be "worshiped"...if even considered at all.

8

I was force fed to believe. My mom would take us when i was very young. My dad told us to get up and go for his own selfesh reasons. Fear kept me going. Anger made me leave. Love made me go back. Knowledge told me that its a scam. My standard for going was faith. Being older and more bold in the truth said stop going.

My better half is currently attempting to work through that very same situation. The hold his family and friends have over him by blackmail an emotional manipulation is quite staggering. He is fully aware that none of the religious garbage is true, yet struggles to be honest about this, and his nature, in the knowledge that they will all shun him for thought crime. For his lack of faith and his sexual nature. And he appreciates seeing that he is not the only one in this boat. Thank you for your answer.

Oh wow! Your very welcome.

Oh wow! Thank you.

7

the same scientific standard i hold all claims too.

How do you hold history to scientific standards?

how do you not? hear say does not matter, we have evidence for a good deal of historic events and people. if its a claim of god hood , or a religious claim, they are generally outlandish and unbelievable anyway.

7

Faith is a fundamental requirement of religion which seems antithetical to logic or science so other than encountering my own burning bush I can't conceive of a reasonable standard of proof.

However, I am encouraged by some of the thought and research in quantum physics, string theory, parallel universes (multiverse), and alternate dimensions because they share some common elements suggesting the interconnected nature of matter, energy cosmology, mathematics, frequencies and conscientiousness.

We are all made of the same matter as the planets, stars and are therefore part of a larger whole. This gives rise to the idea that the entire universe and everything in it are one. Dare I say a shared conscientiousness; are we and our universe God?

These are concepts that are starting to resonate with many religious teachings which I hope science can describe a bit more clearly.

7

The only acceptable standard of evidence to convince me that a god exists would be a scientifically replicable one. Personal experience? Nope. The brain easily fools itself. It's hard data or nothing.

An excellent contribution, one I hadn't fully considered. Although I did insist on having a panel of eclectic experts present for evaluation, so as to ensure that simple misapprehension was not a factor. But even then, there's room for error.

4

Interesting post. I can't find anything that you discussed that I have any disagreement. What I interpret from what you said is that if an all-knowing and all-powerful God exists, and we are expected to follow and obey Him, or we'll spend the rest of infinite in torment, He should be capable of clearly and simply answering all of our questions. That realization alone should prohibit the belief in a personal loving, all-knowing all-powerful, God. Who could believe in a God who make Himself clearly understood?
I'd like to add to your thoughts. Suppose we assume that an all-knowing and all-powerful God exists. What could He possibly think about, He knows everything? He couldn't possible think: "I wonder what would happen if I created man to live in a my created universe." He, of course, would know the answer. Also, if an all-knowing, all-powerful God created us, He could have done a hell of a better job.
Further, if all of reality is defined as an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present God, how could He create anything new into existence. In other words, how could an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God create something new into existence that wasn't previously part of His reality. To me that seems illogical, and my head is starting to hurt.
Further, and this bothers me the most. Neither you nor I nor anyone else ever asked to be created into existence. So here we were in thought oblivion and a capricious God decides to create us into existence and then demand unwavering adherence to Him, or we are to suffer eternal punishment. Once we were in a state of unknown oblivion, now we're in a state of potential eternal torture. Please, someone tell me, how that makes any logical sense.

Tomm Level 5 Nov 24, 2017
4

As a former CSI Evidence Technician I use the some evidence to support or deny whatever claim is made. There is no evidence to support the existence of God, every scrap of evidence suggests the existence of God can only be supported faith and beliefs without any supporting factual evidence.

3

If it makes sense, it's true!
If it doesn't make sense, it's false!
Any more questions?

3

I can't fathom any evidence that would satisfy me. Where I get stuck is simply at the point of who or what created this being? What answer to that question could this being give that would actually satisfy me? Or that I could even understand?

And... lurking in the back of my mind the whole time would be the issue of trust. Is this joker just lying to me? How would such a being prove how it came into existence? I doubt that it can. Finally, I would have to wonder if there isn't an even higher being.

2

Any Tangible, Empirical, Tried and Tested Falsifiable Evidence what-so ever BUT NOT simply citing that "It is written in the Bible so it must be True."

I'm not trying to sell you on christianity whatsoever, but isn't the Bible tangible, empirical, tried and testable in terms of its reliability? It seems to me like you make an exclusive claim to what you expect as evidence but then the only thing religious folks have to show and meet that, you disregard. Thats silly.

@Kieran --- The bible is the best proof of the non-existence of the Christian god. And you want to use it to prove his existence? Snicker Snicher Koff Koff Ha Ha Ho Ho, Oh Boy, That's a Good One.

I don't want to use it for anything. I was just making an observation.

2

My standard for evidence: If your claim doesn’t affect me in any way, then it’s evidence for whatever you feel.

If it affects me a little, then rigorous critique by the scientific method will have to be the standard.

2

Holy crap buddy that is long.

Any. Any actual, verifiable evidence. Anything that isn't anecdotal or dogma.

2

@Agrippinus

So you want a revelation?
One that meets your specifications. But then, not just your specifications, but the specifications of a panel of experts beyond yourself, with more substantial understanding of physics, psychology, etc.

I’m curious Agrippinus, what would you do with such knowledge if you did receive it, hypothetically speaking?

Ah, now that is an excellent question. I will be completely honest with you, it seems so unlikely that it hadn't occurred to me. I imagine I would take the time to review it repeatedly, so as to gain a sure and confident understanding of what I was looking at, reevaluate my life with respect to my new understanding, then go from there. If anyone were to ask, I suppose I would do what many of the faithful do and explain my position to the best of my abilities, offering all the evidence at my disposal, and allow them to evaluate and form their own opinions, if any, on the back of that. The only discrepancy I would make is that given the hypothetical abundance of evidence that would've been provided, it would be a matter of fact, rather than faith.

Good answer. May I ask what verifiable empirical, material evidence, would satisfy you?

Certainly. Of course it's difficult to pin down precisely, as god has never really been defined precisely, and all accounts of him/her/it have been wildly contradictory. But I would have to say some method of demonstrating that he/it/she is responsible for creation (depending on whether we're talking monotheistic or polytheistic), but in such a way that it might be physically measured in some way. Perhaps even replicated, if only in theory. The same sort of demonstrative and then observable and repeatable evidence for any other claims attributed to this deity. As for it's ability or justification in demanding certain conformities from his creations, i.e. us, that goes a little beyond the empirical. That's more of a philosophical question. Say you could create a life form, for example. Let's say a little gremlin creature. You could create a hundred or so. Some of them, you made (deliberately or otherwise) with certain natural sexual tendencies such as homosexuality. Now, would it be moral of you to demand that it repress it's nature, arguably detrimental to it's psychological well being, on pain of death or torture, purely on the basis that you created it? I would think not, and would hope most would agree with me. But then, isn't that the argument for god saying the same? This would require intellectual debate and discussion with god, and would require god to take the same position insofar as status is concerned. I would be interested to know why a god capable of creating, knowing and controlling everything would need or even want everyone to worship and idolise him. That seems very insecure to me. There is simply so much that doesn't add up, even after the existence of such a being might be proven.

I have been thinking about your empirical evidence Agrippinus.

Are you saying that in order for God to demonstrate, to your satisfaction, that He is responsible for creation He would need to do it again, in front of you and your team, but in such a way that it could be measured and a theory be established (I presume ratified by God) as to how it can be replicated?

When you imagine this scenario, how does this interaction play out, hypothetically?

Your philosophical questions are interesting, and I don’t wish to bore you with a long dissertation. I will try to be succinct, I hope without being too abstruse.

I think the “pain of death or torture” along with the “hell fire and brimstone” rhetoric belongs to another time, a time in our collective infancy. I think that not only have we evolved physically, we also evolve spiritually, and as we mature the ideas and understandings of our childhood and youth will give way to a more advanced and developed understanding of our relationships to not only each other but to all life and the universe in general, and, by association, to God.

In total honesty, I don't think I could imagine this hypothetical scenario even occurring, let alone playing out in this or that way. As a mere mortal, how could I even begin to imagine the details that may be conveyed? The methods by which they may be measured and verified, perhaps. But this all seems so unbelievably unlikely that it hardly even seems worth considering.

I appreciate your honesty Agrippinus.
It does leave me wondering though; why the loquacious exposition when, at the end of the day, you don’t really know what evidence you require or how it might be presented?
How would you recognise it if you don’t know what it is? It could be as obvious as the laws of physics.

Haha, one could say the same of almost any idea ever imagined, to some extent or another. In many ways, I think that the capacity for loquaciousness and to consider things in such a manner, yet still be unsure, is really the definition of humanity. Our language is one of the main things that distinguishes us from our animal cousins, along with our powerful brains and ability to philosophise.
I have chosen a path to a destination I am as of yet unaware of, because I enjoy the journey. I couldn't tell you the answers any more than any other primate might, but we can ask interesting questions, try to rule out as much as we can, and have fun speculating what might constitute a good answer. Armchair philosophy, you might say. What else is there to do, in regards to such a subject?

My rather long question is, admittedly, very specific in certain ways, particularly in terms of exactly what I will accept as proof of god. I very rarely demand perfection in this way, but given the alleged infallibility and perfection of god(s), I don't think it too unreasonable here. I expect no specific answers - convenient, as they are not forthcoming any time soon - and have no illusions of the world being quite so black and white. One might attribute Cicero's "Chosen but not desired" principle to the question, as I have asked all I can, yet can neither control or even accurately predict an outcome. But I would instead have to write it off as a social experiment, of sorts; I was curious about what would happen. Would people agree? Be dismissive? Nod like Churchill the bloody dog? Or ask interesting questions and make interesting points, thus facilitating interesting conversation? And is that not, after all, why we are here? The very thing that made me want to talk also made you want to talk.

2

The amount of evidence that must be presented depends on the incredibility of the claim. To believe that an all-powerful being in the sky created everything and will eventually end everything, I would require a great deal of evidence.

2

I'm not sure that tangible evidence of such a God could coexist with the writings of the bible, in that a key element of belief in "him" is faith WITHOUT evidence. Faith itself is rewarded. Faith itself is the only evidence that is required. Anything else is incongruent with scriptural teaching... Therefore if there was immutable evidence, God would be a lying bastard...

Quote:

Hebrews 11:1,6King James Version (KJV)

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

So we don't need faith, all we need to do is wish hard enough and all the overwhelming evidence is proven either wrong, irrelevant or both?

Sounds rather convenient, does it not?

But there cannot be overwhelming evidence, as it contradicts the requirement for pure faith. You're "subtitle" if you want to call it that, is "What would make you believe in God?" and your answer is hard evidence. What I'm describing is that according to the bible itself (supposedly the inspired word of God), he only reveals himself to those who have faith. NOT evidence, making the requirement to see evidence a moot point.

@ThomasMeador That is perhaps a more succinct way of putting it! 😉

I can only quote my original point. "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?" Is this the alternative you suggest? That we must take it on faith that homosexuality is a vile sin? “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” – Leviticus 20:13. That slavery is perfectly acceptable? “You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.” – Leviticus 25:44-46. That the female birth canal is somehow equally vulgar? “You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.” – Leviticus 25:44-46. These are all just from Leviticus, but you'll notice virgin births are very common in mythology and religion. Would it also mean taking it on faith that some of these aspects of mosaic law are somehow no longer relevant? That God changed his mind? "God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 13:19. What about those who take the validity of the Qur'an on faith? The amputation of the limbs of thieves, Qur’an 5:38-39, Sahih al-Bukhari 8:6789 & Sahih al-Muslim 3:4175-79. The rape of women, Muslim or non-Muslim, covered or uncovered, Qur’an 2:223, 4:3, 33:59, 23:5-6 & Sahih al-Bukhari 1:367 & 5:522. Forcing dhimmis to pay the jizya. Qur’an 9:29, Sahih al-Muslim 19:4294. FGM doesn't appear anywhere in the Qur'an. It does however appear in Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5:75; Abu Dawud, Adab 167, Sunan Abu Dawud 41:5251 and Sahih Muslim 3:684. You can't just refer to scripture and expect to be correct, and you're not the only one who can quote it. And more to the point, what kind of sane human being worthy of being regarded as part of the species could possibly accept these things as examples of good moral behaviour, regardless of faith and scripture? The fact that any of this is just accepted on faith is a disgrace to our species.

1

In its base form the bible is a compiled history book intended to provide a form of social control and to teach a moral lesson. People passed around most of the collected stories for hundreds or thousands of years before someone thought about actually writing things down, wherein lies the problem – ever played the party game where everyone sits in a circle, the first person whispers a story in the ear of the person next to him, and it gets repeated until it comes back around to the original storyteller? What comes back is usually nowhere close to the original story. That change happens over the course of just a few minutes, imagine how much the stories would change over thousands of years while being translated between several languages. This is all compounded by the fact that the writers were ignorant of the natural processes at work around them, and felt a need to somehow explain the events in a way that made sense to them; try explaining a volcano when you think the earth is flat and the center of the universe. A Tsunami? Don’t forget to also consider the fact that the church persecuted those that opposed the sanctioned stories and explanations provided (Galileo anyone?).
Many of the stories of civilizations interacting with each other mentioned in the bible can be proven empirically using accepted scientific methods (archeology / anthropology / geography / artifacts / collaborating accounts / etc.). It’s interesting then that not one artifact surrounding any of the more fantastical events has ever been found or investigated scientifically – Noah’s ark, the arc of the covenant, holy grail, etc. Imagine what science could tell us about the tooling used to inscribe the 10 commandments, or the inner workings of the arc?
What would it take to make me a believer? Find some of those artifacts and prove they’re not fakes and I may be persuaded to reconsider some of the tales in the bible, until then I’ll continue to view the stories for what they are – an attempt by ancient peoples to relate to the world around them as they knew it at the time. So for now, I’ll take the bible in the same light I do Beowulf or Camelot – interesting stories that probably had a start in the real world, but morphed over way too many verbal retellings into something completely different than the events as they actually happened. They give an interesting view into the life of the people of the time, but in no way reflect the real-life events that inspired them.

1

If asked; "What would make you believe in God." My first response would be; "Define God."

1

Pictures or it didn't happen.

1

Most apologists I've seen debate against atheists use wordy syllogisms that to me are nothing more than word games. They don't explain how they came to believe in the first place. The were raised on god from an early age, and have been so fiercely defending their belief, that they haven't looked at it critically at all.
The amount of evidence at this point that it would take, depends on the claim. If you're saying god is omnipresent, omnipotent, omnibenevelent and omniscient, you have a lot of explaining to do.

1

Nothing would make me believe in any god for I cannot even conceive a universe that even requires one to exist. I find the very notion that evidence for the existence of one or many gods ridiculous, gods only exist by faith in deluded teachings and in the fear of death, nothing more.

1

What would make me believe in God?.... TWINS!

godef Level 7 Nov 30, 2017

I'm seeming obtuse I know but WHAT? what does that mean?

I assume Godef is referring to something not only empirical or falsifiable, but something that could be replicated? Hard to say.

It's just a reference to a series of goofy beer commercials about model-gorgeous twin women.

1

it's just not possible

0

Digitally enhanced video with legible audio when possible. Notarized and signed verified eyewitness accounts.

0

No way in hell can one man and his three sons build a boat big enough to hold 2 of all animals on this world or getting them on the boat. Not to mention the fact that there isn't enough water to flood the whole planet.

0

I don't really have any evidence but i think the bible has spoken about it.

0

Believe in god? First, I would need their definition of god. Hey, if it's a rock, well then...But if it is the classic invisible being, I would simply say the proof is that children suffer abuses of destructive ideologies where ever there is a belief that a magical being, if properly begged will spare them from such harm that he visits upon them. And just leave it at that. Or one could be as eloquent as:
"Do you believe in God?”
"People have asked me that question for my entire life.
The answer used to be simple and quick, almost involuntary. I had a tidy little collection of the platitudes and Bible verses I’d stockpiled, committed to memory, and carried around should I be asked. I’d learned it—and I could do it well.
But little by little, I gradually grew less comfortable with those easy answers and I had less and less peace in my spirit with what they implied. I look around at many of the Christians whose God I was expected to share and amen and defend—and I realize that I can not.
I listened to the celebrity evangelists and the partisan politicians and the brimstone street preachers, and knew that we were not speaking about the same thing. We couldn’t be.
As I read the Bible; as I reflected on the world I’d experienced and the people I’d encountered; as I watched what Christians were doing and saying in the name of God, I came to the conclusion that I had to make a distinction between their beliefs and mine—because the two were simply incompatible.
There is a God I do not believe in:
I do not believe in a God who is male and white. (though I will use masculine pronouns below, as this identity is critical to the beliefs I once had but have discarded.)
I do not believe in a God who created women as less-than; who assigns certain tasks to them, who ascribes different value to them, who reserves church and home leadership solely for men.
I do not believe in a God who doles out blessings like a cosmic Santa Claus; adding up our naughty and nice stuff, giving us good things if the scales tip in our favor and withholding them if we don’t measure up.
I do not believe in a God who answers prayers based on volume; who will move to bring healing and help—only if enough appeals are made, when a critical mass is reached.
I do not believe in a God who is capable of permanently writing off His children for their mistakes, their rebelliousness, their unbelief; who would craft a place of eternal torment and suffering and separation—and then send them there for good.
I do not believe in an all-powerful God, who would allow a devil dominion anywhere—let alone in the place where His supposedly treasured children spend their days, as hurting, vulnerable, and scared as they all are.
I do not believe in a God who commands me to forgive others unrelentingly—and then holds a grudge against me should I fail one too many times; a God who is as petty, judgmental, thin-skinned, and vain as I am.
I do not believe in a God who spoke to a handful of people a few thousands years ago through divine dictation—and who is now silent.
I do not believe in an all-knowing God, who would create men and women with a specific identity and natural inclination to love—only to find them repulsive as they lived into those deepest truths.
I do not believe in a God who would choose sides in any war; who would revel in violence, who would rejoice in death, who would celebrate genocide.
I do not believe in a God who blesses America—or any other nation.
I realize that to many Christians, this means that I am not a proper person; that my lack of faith is illegitimate, my lack of religion is heretical, my testimony nullified. I’m okay with that. I know that any bitterness or condemnation that they respond to these words with, is the voice in their head of the God they believe—and I understand. They are, trying to figure out what character is—and how we should live accordingly.
All any of us can do, is to be as honest as we can at any given moment, about where all our searching and studying and praying and living has led us. This is where I am. I can’t be anywhere else.
Today when people ask me, “Do you believe in God?”, especially when Christians ask me—my reply isn’t quick or simple or nearly as tidy.
Now my response is, “How much time do you have?”

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