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How to Turn an Atheist into a Believer

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posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 08:50 AM
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In Fleabytes: A review of 4 books written in response to The God Delusion, Paula Kirby gives six examples of phenomena that would defy rational explanation, and would oblige an atheist to consider strongly the possibility of supernatural intervention. She attributes the list to Victor Stenger, and says that there are numerous similar examples.


Special topic: What atheists would accept as evidence for the supernatural

These are just a few examples... of phenomena that would defy any reasonable natural explanation. There will be many others.
  1. If one type of prayer were convincingly demonstrated to work better than another type. For instance, if the efficacy of prayers said by Christians were consistently significantly greater than that of prayers said by Moslems or pagans, or people who just keep their fingers crossed. Or if any kind of prayer were shown to have a consistent, significant effect. Or if a single prayer achieved something truly extraordinary, something which simply could not be otherwise explained: the scientifically verified re-growth of an amputated limb, for instance.

  2. If a new planet were to appear (as opposed to just being seen for the first time thanks to better instruments, for instance) in the solar system. This would violate the law of energy conservation and could only have a non-natural cause.

  3. If evidence were to emerge that the universe must have begun in a high state of order, necessarily imposed from outside.

  4. f there were any observable astronomical phenomenon that required the addition of a supernatural element before it could be described.

  5. If, say, the Bible, had contained some specific information about the world which was unknown to science at the time of the "revelation" but which was later confirmed by observation. If it contained successful predictions of specific events in our own time that could have no plausible alternate explanation (not just vague allusions to suffering/evil/upheaval).

  6. If someone undergoing a religious experience subsequently had new, verifiable knowledge that could not have been gained by other means. Not the usual stuff about how we should all love one another and watch our cholesterol, but something specific – the example Stenger gives would have been of someone in the 20th century specifically knowing that on 26 December 2004 a tsunami in the Indian Ocean would kill hundreds of thousands of people. We just couldn't account for such prescience other than by the existence of something outside the material world.

Opinions?

Do you agree that these phenomena would be strongly suggestive of the existence of God?

Can you think of any others that might?

Can you think of any examples of real-life events that fit the criteria, and therefore make it necessary to believe in God?

Notes

Please let's not turn this thread into another atheists-vs.-believers shouting match. Be warned; there appear to be certain ATS members who work as a team to derail and ruin all discussion of this kind, possibly because they find it offensive. If a trolling post pulling the discussion off topic appears, please ignore it. If we stick to the topic and keep our replies to one another's posts strictly topic-related too, we can defeat the trolls.

Also, please don't post to tell us that God's existence does not need to be proved. It is obvious that true faith needs no proof -- but this thread is about what it would take to make atheists -- the faithless ones for whom belief means little, while proof and knowledge are essential -- believe.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.




posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 09:29 AM
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First off - I call shananigans.

I am not a "troll", nor am I hear to derail your thread, but let's call a spade a spade here.

You begin your post with "How to Turn an Atheist into a Believer" which you know dern well will start a debate about atheism vs "believing". So don't play coy and expect that we are only aloud to
Then, you go on to make HUGE assumptions that atheists don't "believe" in anything, almos insinuating that the term "atheist" is a bad word.

So how do we turn an atheist into a believer? With a list of 6 "what ifs"? I suppose IF a man calling himself Jesus walked on water in front of me or a someone parted an sea in front of me, I might take pause for consideration.

I guess here is my biggest problem with this thread



It is obvious that true faith needs no proof -- but this thread is about what it would take to make atheists -- the faithless ones for whom belief means little, while proof and knowledge are essential -- believe.


How dare you? To assume that atheists don't have any faith is complete ignorance. I don't believe in a specific deity per say, however I have plenty of faith in plenty of things.

For example - I have faith in my loved ones. I have faith in nature. I have faith in a ton of things, so to paint me as a godless heathen who is in need of conversion is a bit counter productive, no? Belief means little? I believe that that the sun will keep me warm, that gravity will hold me down, that food will keep me alive and that shelter will keep me dry. I believe in love, generosity, kindness and forgiveness.

People who "believe" in converting others should perhaps check their intentions.



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 10:51 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax

Please let's not turn this thread into another atheists-vs.-believers shouting match. Be warned; there appear to be certain ATS members who work as a team to derail and ruin all discussion of this kind, possibly because they find it offensive. If a trolling post pulling the discussion off topic appears, please ignore it. If we stick to the topic and keep our replies to one another's posts strictly topic-related too, we can defeat the trolls.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Ok, here is my thoughts on this. I am not an atheist, but I think the title of your thread is offensive.

Why would you feel the need to turn somebody into a believer?

It's the shove stuff down peoples throats attitude that turns me off from conventional Christianity!

Why don't spend more time worrying about yourself, than what other people choose to believe?



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 11:03 AM
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DNA is rather miraculous... imo, it is way too complex to be an accident.

In the article When "Junk" DNA Isn't Junk, it goes into detail just how miraculous it is.



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 11:06 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
Do you agree that these phenomena would be strongly suggestive of the existence of God?


No. They would be suggestive of something unknown. One thing I see a lot among believers is the propensity to attribute something unknown to "God". Because they don't understand something, they tell themselves, "There's no explanation for that. It must be evidence of God."

Now, I'll go so far as to say that these events may indicate something "supernatural", or, more likely, that we didn't understand physical processes as well as we thought we did, but that doesn't mean it's "god".



atheists -- the faithless ones for whom belief means little, while proof and knowledge are essential.


I'm sorry, but I take issue with this comment. I will say my piece and then leave it alone, but I think it's a misconception that all atheists are "faithless" and give little meaning to belief. In fact (speaking for myself only), I have faith in many things, I believe in many things, some supernatural. Faith and belief are important concepts to me and I don't need proof for everything I believe in. I just don't believe in God.

Edit: Now that I read the other responses, I see I'm not the only one who took issue with that idea.


[edit on 2-6-2008 by Benevolent Heretic]



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 12:03 PM
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Reply to... just about everyone who has posted on the thread so far

I am an atheist.

As for my use of the term 'faithless', it seems to have been slightly misunderstood. Of course we all believe in certain things. I believe, for example, that the sun will rise tomorrow. I cannot prove that, but I have sufficient evidence from past experience to suggest that it will.

My fault, I suppose, for not making things clearer. When I speak of 'belief', I mean a conclusion that is reached on the basis of reasonable, though not conclusive, evidence. I use 'faith' to refer to a conclusion that is reached not primarly through evidence, but mainly through a desire that the thing believed in be true.

When a conclusion is the result of compelling, inarguable evidence, I call it 'knowledge'.

I think these are reasonable, indeed perfectly common usages. Apologies for the confusion.

Does anyone have anything to say about the six propositions in the original post?



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 12:55 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
I am an atheist.


All the more reason for you to not make the assumption you did.


Originally posted by Astyanax
I use 'faith' to refer to a conclusion that is reached not primarly through evidence, but mainly through a desire that the thing believed in be true.


Like life after death? Or another existence beyond or in addition to this physical realm? Yeah. That's faith and that's just one thing I have faith in. That was my point. Some atheists (those who don't believe in a god, supreme being, etc) have faith in things that are not proven or even have observable, measurable evidence.




Does anyone have anything to say about the six propositions in the original post?


1. Prayer. This would not speak to the existence of God so much as to the age old question, "Which religion is the right one"? In any case, a re-grown limb would simply tell me that there is more going on than we know. That the power of our thoughts can manifest a lot more than we had previously thought. I do believe we are a lot more powerful than we know.

2. Planet. Same thing. There's more to the physical sciences than we have previously explained.

3. Like what? I can't imagine this evidence. Evidence to one person is not necessarily evidence to another, as we know from religious discussions here in the past.


4. Again, I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what this means. I would have to hear an example.

5. This is the only one that even comes close to twitching my meter.
It would have to be VERY specific and literal. Even then, it wouldn't prove anything about God. It would only prove that someone had the power of prophesy. It wouldn't even prove that everything in the Bible is true. Just that one thing.

6. The last sentence says it all. "We just couldn't account for such prescience other than by the existence of something outside the material world." And like I said in my first post, just because we cannot account for something, doesn't mean that it defaults to "It must be God". There are savants who are not taught how to play music. Is that God? Just because we cannot explain it with our current level of knowledge, doesn't mean it's God.



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 01:03 PM
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reply to post by Benevolent Heretic
 

Thank you for your reply, BH.

Just out of interest, if the phenomena on the list were not the result of supernatural creation or intervention (that is to say, God), how would you think they might be caused?



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 01:22 PM
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I have no clue. I'm not a scientist. BUT you say "creation or intervention (that is to say, God)"... They're not the same thing to me. I believe in the supernatural and I believe we (the beings that are at the center of our physical selves) are capable of incredible things. Even creation. We just don't know how to use our abilities to their fullest extent. Yet.



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 01:47 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 



I believe, for example, that the sun will rise tomorrow. I cannot prove that, but I have sufficient evidence from past experience to suggest that it will.


It is this very wording that I could also say regarding God.

I look at motives as to why someone does a thread. Some could be right in that you are trying to cause dissension. Looking to create conflict.

Perhaps just the thought of a higher power makes you so angry that you feel the need to criticize it as often as possible?

Or...in truth, you are not really sure of your beliefs and want confirmation? Deep down you truly know that there is a universal being but are trying to denounce it as though hearing from other atheists will make it true? Or the more information you catalog will eventually prove that He does not exist?

I quite frankly don't care if you or anyone believes in a God. You seem to be like so many who rent so much space in your head regarding God. I would just let it go! Why do you care anyway?

"The atheist is a curiosity. The very fact that a man say, "I don't believe in God, shows that he does. Where does he get his conception of the God he denies? The only real atheist is the man who never heard of God." - The Old Tyler



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 01:57 PM
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reply to post by MatrixProphet
 

Long-distance psychoanalysis can be fun, I'm sure, but it is completely off topic in this instance -- not to say utterly uncalled for. Do you have anything to say with respect to the subject-matter of the thread?



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 02:36 PM
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Well, you haven't exactly gotten off to a good start now have you? Read the other posts! I also considered the forum you entered this in, perhaps it should have been in skunks?

Will you own that perhaps you are the facilitator of posters questioning you?

It just seemed like another redundant attack on God and trying to accumulate proof that is unprovable, and perhaps looking to those who can support your theory. Read the mail! LOL!

"It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." - Sir Winston Churchill



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 06:11 PM
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Why is it necessary to turn an Atheist into a believer? And....a believer in what? You want Atheists to believe what you believe? Why?

Live and let live baby!!




posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 06:29 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


I don't think any amount of evidence would 'turn an atheist into a believer.' People will believe what they want to believe no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary. That goes for just about any belief, not just atheism.



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 06:46 PM
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reply to post by Alcove
 




I don't think any amount of evidence would 'turn an atheist into a believer.' People will believe what they want to believe no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary. That goes for just about any belief, not just atheism.



Exactly. It goes for yours and everyone's on here. There's evidence to the contrary to every belief system. So what makes one more legitimate than another? Answer: Nothing does!

We all have our faith. It is what it is. Some are comfortable and confident in their faith and others are quite the opposite. Many have been killed over such debates. Many many millions. Too many millions!

I have never seen a larger gathering of Fascists, Racists and just plain hate of "thy" neighbor than I have seen gathered on ATS. Bravo!



posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 08:29 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


Its all if if if I mean I could twist things around and say if evidence became available that god didn't exist would they cease to be believers ?

Even a Planet was just to appear according to the view from Earth there would be some rational explanation . Sorry but a couple of cases of pray working two times out of 100 instead of one time of hundred still isnt proof of the existence of a higher power. Number three is a bit vague but would still leave the problem of that god had to come from somewhere .

I haven't read the Bible so all I can say about number five is that if that was the case it would have already become apparent. As for number six a lot would depend on the number and the quality of the claims made. Also such claims are more likely to be associated with some one being psychic then the existence of a higher power .



posted on Jun, 3 2008 @ 07:28 PM
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reply to post by Excitable_Boy
 


Yeah, I don't see why one person would kill another, especially Christians. Killing others (even in self-preservation) is agianst Christ's teachings.

So here's what I know would convert and Atheist to Christianty, a personal encounter with God and the conviction (not the bad kind) of the Holy Spirit. It's what has turned athiests into Chrisitans before, it's the only thing that can really.

-Jimmy



posted on Jun, 3 2008 @ 08:00 PM
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Bravo Jimmy and I gave you a star. That's exactly what turned me from an Atheist to a believer in God. As you know, I have no religion. I have my faith.

But you know Jimmy and others on here, it doesn't matter in this mortal life what we believe. The end will be the same for all of us. Many of you need to start living life the way it was meant to be lived. God gave us life to live. To do the best we can with what we have and strive for more. To use what we have been given to the best of our ability. He doesn't want us spending our time "worshipping" Him. Someone on here or another thread said this and it's true: God would be rather vain and shallow if He created us so we would worship Him. We'll have plenty of time with Him and His kind when we die (as we did before we were born).....as in eternity. Do you really think He wants you to spend your life worshipping Him when your life is less than a split second compared to internity?

We're not here for the purpose of kissing our creator's ass!

Worshipping and preaching and spreading some supposed "Good News" and worshipping "Jesus" and living like a fanatic.....blah blah blah. This is not God's plan. This is the plan of the misinformed (and con artists to lead the misinformed) and generally those with low esteem and low self image (pigeons).



[edit on 3-6-2008 by Excitable_Boy]



posted on Jun, 4 2008 @ 03:03 AM
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Here's how to make an atheist such as myself a believer.

Have god, in some sort of form, appear in the middle of new york spontaneously, maybe floating in the air to be particularly conspicuous, then wave at people or something and vanish.

Bam, I'd be a Christian because it'd be irrefutable evidence.

Without going into too much detail about why the current 'evidence' for religion being true are ridiculous, I'll just say one thing.

God is omnipotent, yes?

Quick definitions of this...

"almighty: having unlimited power"
"Omnipotence (literally, "all power") is power with no limits or inexhaustible, in other words, unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence only to God."

If he is omnipotent, having the power to do anything, being everywhere at once and all of that jazz, why hasn't he just appeared and said hi? It doesn't require effort, it wouldn't upset things (because there are already believers and apparently writings given to them BY him), so what's the deal?

This is always glazed over. I mean if you believe a scrap of the bible god was pretty active for a while when human civilization as we know it was *fairly* new, but then he just decided to stop showing up. Give me a break.

It's hard to stop this sounding like a flame-session, but it's not intended to be. It's just the truth as I see it, that's what I would need to believe, that's ALL I would need, yet apparently it's too much to ask from an omnipotent being... =_=

Edit: On the comments about atheists essentially believing in nothing regardless of the facts, that's hogwash. The idea behind atheism is a disbelief in god based on evidence to the contrary or lack of evidence for god in the first place. Anyone who would act like this isn't an atheist and is just somebody trying to follow religion in disguise.

Edit2: On another note... As others have mentioned, why must we be converted? Converting others because you believe you are right is fairly obnoxious... I'm voicing my opinion in response here but I don't think that this sort of behaviour is constructive or friendly.

For the record, I purchased Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion". I got about 1-2 chapters in before deciding it was about the most offensive/obnoxious book I'd ever bought. It remains on my shelf unfinished.

[edit on 4/6/08 by Duality]




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