Sunday, July 29, 2007

What would it take?

I was thinking about what it would take to convince me that there was a god. This is a question that theists seem to like to ask, so I thought I should have an answer.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and they don't get much more extraordinary than the claim of an all-knowing, all-powerful being that's everywhere at once and cares what I do while I'm naked. It would require a demonstration that included a verifiable violation of the laws of physics, and in order for that violation to truly be verifiable, we would need a complete understanding of those laws. Is there a deity out there just waiting for us to stumble upon a Theory of Everything before it makes its presence known? I'm not holding my breath.

Theists often assume that if we had proof of a god, we would have no choice but to bow down and worship. This is not the correct response. If we met a non-human intelligent being, we should treat it the same way whether it was a god, an alien or some kind of super-chimp. The correct course of action (after learning to communicate) would be to invite the being to join our society as an equal. As a person, human or otherwise, it would have "human rights" (I don't like that term) and the obligation to afford other persons the same rights. If the god agreed to abide by our laws, we could get along amicably, and I would enjoy watching its party tricks, but if any appreciable portion of the Bible is factual, it would not accept. This is understandable, as it would need to immediately be brought up on charges that would result in imprisonment for innumerable consecutive life sentences, assuming the death penalty was not feasible.

Of course, an omnipotent being could not be forced to comply with our laws, or any punishments we deemed necessary, but if it refused to do so, it would certainly not be a being to be worshiped, but one to be hated and resisted in any way possible. Only a tyrant would demand worship, and it is the duty of any thinking person to resist tyranny.

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