The first category deals with things that would absolutely convince me of the truth of a particular religion. If shown any of these, I would convert on the spot.
* Verified, specific prophecies that couldn’t have been contrived.
If the Bible, for example, said, “On the first day of the first month in the year two thousand and ten, the pillars of the earth will shake and a great part of the New World will be lost to the sea,” and then January 1, 2010 comes and a tremendous earthquake sends California to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, I would become a believer. No points are awarded under any of the following conditions:
o If the prophecy is vague, unclear or garbled (like Nostradamus’ ramblings, for example). It must be detailed, specific and unambiguous in its prediction and wording.
o If the prophecy is trivial. Anyone could predict that it will be cold next winter, or that this drought/plague/flood will eventually subside. The prophecy must predict something surprising, unlikely or unique.
o If the prophecy is obviously contrived for other reasons. No official seer or court astrologer ever predicted that the king he worked for would be a brutal, evil tyrant who would ruin the country.
o If the prophecy is self-fulfilling; i.e., if the mere fact of the prophecy’s existence could cause people to make it come true. The Jewish people returned to their homeland in Israel just as the Bible said they would, but this isn’t a genuine prediction – they did it because the Bible said they would. The predicted event can’t be one that people could stage.
o If the prophecy predicts an event that already happened and the writing of the prophecy itself can’t be shown to have preceded the event.
o If the prophecy predicts an event that already happened and the happening of that event can’t be verified by independent evidence. For example, Christian apologists claim that Jesus fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies, but the authors of the New Testament obviously had access to those prophecies also; what would have prevented them from writing their story to conform to them? The extra-biblical evidence for the existence of Jesus is so scanty that it is impossible to disprove such a proposal.
o And finally, if the prophecy is the lone success among a thousand failures. Anyone can throw prophecies against the wall until one sticks. The book or other source from which it comes must have at least a decently good record on other predictions.
These conditions, I think, are eminently reasonable, and are only what would be expected of a true prophet with a genuine gift.
* Scientific knowledge in holy books that wasn’t available at the time.
If the Bible (or any other religious text) contained some piece of knowledge that the people of the time couldn’t possibly have known but that is now known to be true, that would be highly convincing to me. A passage about the atomic theory of matter or the heliocentric solar system would be interesting, but not conclusive, since the Greeks, for example, proposed those ideas long ago independent of any claim to divine revelation. A mention of the theory of evolution would have been impressive. A reference to the germ theory of disease, or the laws of electromagnetics, would have been compelling. But what would be indisputable proof would be an elucidation of a truly modern theory of physics, such as relativity or quantum mechanics – not just something that the people of the time couldn’t possibly have known of, but something so counter-intuitive that the odds against guessing at it correctly would be staggering. Just think: What if Jesus had said something like this?
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee that thine energy is as thine mass times the speed of light multiplied unto itself.”
Of course people of the time would have been baffled, but just imagine how many souls it would have saved today. As with the prophecy item, there must be independent verification that the piece of knowledge was written in texts that existed well before it was actually discovered by science.
* Miraculous occurrences, especially if brought about through prayer.
If cities condemned as sinful by preachers tended to explode in flames for no apparent reason, if glowing auras of holy light sometimes appeared around believers to protect them from harm, or if atheists and only atheists were regularly struck by lightning, this would be compelling proof. But it wouldn’t have to be so dramatic; even minor but objectively verifiable miracles would do, especially if they could be invoked by prayer. If a hospital did a double-blind study to determine if intercessory prayer helps the sick, and it was discovered that only the patients prayed for by members of a certain religion experienced a dramatic, statistically significant increase in recovery rate, and this result could
dammit, too long, go to this site for the full thing
true, i wish i could find a shorter one, and this isn’t even a third of it
OMG FIREBALL’S BACK!!!
why do i feel sick all of the sudden?
- All Christian “evidence” for God, in one spot? (all of which are invalid)?
- Solar Products: Atheists, What Do You Think Of The 2012 Prophecies? (12/4/2011)
- Solar Lights: The Final TRIBULATION. On 2015 ? (8/14/2011)
- Solar Lights: When Atheists Snidely Ask: If God Is Almighty, Can He Make A Rock Too Heavy For Him To Lift-? (9/26/2011)
- What kind of Christian am I? (it’s a long read, but please, do try to read it all)?