What Would it Take to Change Your mind?

Theists often ask, “What would it take to change your mind about the existence of God?”

That’s easy. It’s really no different from what it would take to get me to accept any other questionable assertion:

First, you’d have to give coherent definitions of “God” and “exists,” with enough informative content that testable predictions could be made from the assertion “God exists.”

Second, you’d have to infer some such predictions and rigorously test them in an attempt to falsify them.

Third, you’d have to fail to thereby falsify them, instead getting results from those tests for which “God exists” has fewer and smaller assumptions, better corroboration, and broader explanatory power than the available alternative hypotheses for those results.

If someone does this, I will happily credit that “God exists” fits the available data better than any known alternative hypothesis, and I will tentatively hold “God exists” as something I know.

If the assertion “God exists” is true, it shouldn’t be that hard. People do this kind of thing every day, in all variety of fields.

How about you? What would it take to change your mind?

 

Atheists Cohabiting

A theist asked, “What’s the deal with atheists not getting married, but building their lives together? To each their own, but doesn’t that make it easier for people to walk away?”

Here’s my answer:

Many atheists don’t feel their relationships with their significant others need the sanction of God and government. Thus, there’s not always a lot of reason for them to seek the sanction of God or government.

It’s not necessarily representative of a lack of commitment to one’s beloved; it tends to be more representative of a lack of commitment to the notion that people must obtain the permission of others for their lifestyle choices.

Why Doesn’t “Hellfire and Damnation” Preaching Compel Atheists?

A theist asked me, “Why don’t atheists respond to ‘hellfire and damnation’ preaching?”

I can only speak for myself, from my own personal experience. Here’s my view:

1) You have to establish the believability of the assertion before the threat has any teeth to it — and this has not been adequately established. Without making a compelling case to believe your claim, threatening people that your god will toss them into a lake of fire comes across to those outside your faith the same way it would come across to you if I threatened you that my rainbow unicorn will rise from the bottom of the sea to trample you with its sparkling golden hooves and impale you with its iridescent purple horn.

2) Even if you persuasively establish it, “hellfire and damnation’ preaching still makes your god look like a petty, stupid malefactor, and makes you look like a toadying coward for propitiating him. It’s not appealing to worship such an unworthy god, as a matter of principle.

3) “Hellfire and damnation” preaching undercuts itself; by making your god sound like a psychotic and malicious tyrant, you make an eternity worshipping, glorifying, and serving your god sound equally punishing as an eternity of damnation.