I was raised Catholic. I’m in my senior year at a passionately Catholic college, on pace to graduate with theology as one of my majors. When I was a teen, my older brother and I got our family to start to go to daily Mass. For several years, I served as an altar boy at Mass every day.
I an now an atheist. The primary reason for such a huge transition was a general lack of evidence to justify believing in God. Another major reason is problems with the Bible (contradictions, moral problems such as Psalm 137:9 saying dashing babies against rocks is a source of joy, etc.). I largely went down this path because I was trying to fulfill the obligation that 1 Peter 3:15 mentioned, which was to always be ready to give an answer.
My atheism is a lack of a believing in a God, rather than an affirmative creed. Of course, I cannot be absolutely certain that there’s no God (just like I cannot be absolutely certain that Russel’s teapot isn’t revolving around the sun), but I can be reasonably certain there’s no God. Just like a claim about the existence of a teapot orbiting the sun, unicorns, dragons, when debating about the existence of God, the burden of proof rests on the person making the affirmative claim that there is a God, not the person expressing the lack of conviction.
No one knows or understand everything. The best we can do is hold the most reasonable explanation there is to the degree that that explanation is validated by evidence. When there is a gap in knowledge about something, say the origins of the universe, saying “I don’t know” is ok.
It is tempting to fill gaps in knowledge with God. It is a quick and easy way to explain a phenomenon. For example, for a long time people thought that the cause of diseases were demons (some people think Matt 17:14-20 and Matt 10:5-8 back this up), while today we know that diseases are caused by microscopic viruses and bacteria.
Overall, I do not accept arguments from ignorance. In other words, I don’t accept “we don’t know (X), thus it must be because there’s a God”. One reason why I don’t accept arguments from ignorance is because those arguments could just as well prove the existence of Zeus as they can Yahweh. Also, it can be dangerous to make assumptions and jump to conclusions without proper evidence, which is exemplified by the example I gave of people thinking sickness is cause by demons.
I think the very fact that we exist is mind boggling. Any explanation for the universe existing, whether that explanation is God or cosmological theories, is mind boggling. Thus, I don’t consider “mind-bogglingness” to prove God’s existence (since God would be at least as mind-boggling as other explanations).
My purpose in starting this thread is to see the best evidence that anyone on this thread can find to justify Christian theology, or even theism in general. I’m doing this here, as opposed to buying books by a Christian apologists or asking one of my theology professors, mainly because it seems like all the arguments for theism that they tend to be a few arguments packaged in few different ways, which do not reasonably justify theism. I’ve heard all the typical arguments for God, so in posting this thread, I’m looking for something out of the ordinary which in solid. In other words, I’m looking to be impressed and convinced. If you don’t have anything that isn’t reasonably convincing, I would request that you avoid the urge to post on this thread. I figure that with all the devoutly Christian persons here on CAF, if God exists, at least one person will be able to present something that would reasonably justify belief in Him.
By starting this challenge, I’m not making an affirmative claim, but rather asking you to justify yours (if you’re a theist). I’ll probably challenge a lot of the things presented in this thread, because if something falls when under scrutiny, it’s not reasonable.
Here are a few things I generally won’t accept as a reasonable arguments to justify believing in the existence of God:
argument from ignorance (mentioned above)
“mind-bogglingness” (mentioned above)
the Bible (because saying “God exists because the Bible says so” and “the Bible is accurate because it’s inspired by God” is a circular argument, and because the Bible has many problems)
the holy book for a religion other than Christianity (for much the same reasons mentioned for the Bible)
“it would be preferable if there is a God”
personal experiences, including near death experiences and demonic attacks (reasons go beyond what is mentioned here, but there are reasonable explanations for most of these phenomenon, and most people will have experiences related to their own religion)
claims of miracles which haven’t been properly documented
Regarding miracles, most of these alleged occurrences happen in areas where people are more prone to superstition. The rate of alleged miracles is much lower in ages and locations where they would be more verifiable if they occurred. Sometimes, a spectacular event, for which there is no obvious explanation, occurs. For many of these events, the explanation may seem obvious to the believer, but this is largely due to psychological reasons. I would recommend that you avoid using miracles as arguments for God unless you think you found a properly documented and verified miracle.
I would be unlikely to be convinced by someone mentioning a miracle because almost every miracle that I’ve decided to research was either not properly verified, or there was a very reasonable natural explanation. I will probably not research every alleged miracle that people post here. Instead, I’d encourage people to do considerable research into the alleged miracle first, post it, then I might research it if it is potentially a genuine miracle.