Challenge: I Would Believe If…

Posted: March 6, 2012 by Amy Hall in God is Real, Weekly Challenge

Have you ever had this conversation with an atheist?

Atheist: I don’t believe in God because there’s just not enough evidence that He’s real.

You: What kind of evidence would it take to convince you God exists?

Atheist: God would have to show up right in front of me and shake my hand, and then I would believe He exists.

How do you respond to a request for this kind of standard of proof? Let us know what you think, and we’ll post Brett’s response on Thursday.

  1. James says:

    I would offer the atheist that it is not due to the lack of evidence for God’s existence, but rather a suppression of that evidence by secular academic and media elites is posing a terrific barrier to their thinking.

  2. Honestly, if God came up and shook my hand, I’d always think “Yeah, but what if that wasn’t God?”

    • Sam Harper says:

      That’s a good point. Circumstantial evidence can sometimes be more persuasive than seeing something with your own eyes, because it’s easier to doubt your senses than to doubt the conclusion of a deductively valid argument. there are more possible explanations for seeing a vision, hearing a voice, or having a profound psychological experience than there are for the origin of the universe or objectively true statements about morals.

  3. Shawn says:

    There’s multiple things I could say. For starters, even if God really did appear before the person and shake his hand, there’s no guarantee that he would become a believer. In all likelihood he would try to explain this “supernatural” event away somehow.

    Alternatively I could say this: “You don’t have the President [or Prime Minister, etc.] standing in front of you, yet you believe he exists. Although he’s not physically present in front of you, by other means you can indirectly tell he exists – TV, Internet, radio, etc. There are means of knowing God exists also, without him being physically present.” Then I would introduce, say, the cosmological or moral arguments.

  4. Sam Harper says:

    I would say, “Most of us don’t know what would convince us until we’re in the situation. That’s why people move the goal post when you try to meet their standard of proof. If you’re open to it, why don’t you let me explain some of my reasons for believing and see what you think of it?”

  5. I’ve actually been in a conversation like this before. The first thing I did was ask, “Okay, so you’re walking along and suddenly before you a man materializes out of thin air, shakes your hand, and says, ‘Hi, I’m God,’ then disappears. After this do you instantly abandon atheism and become a believer?” My critic responded by saying no, if that happened he would probably think he was crazy. It would have to be a little more substantial than that.

    After a little more dialogue, I asked if he was being intellectually honest with himself because it seemed that no matter how I altered the scenario, he was able to come up with a naturalistic explanation, even if it was extremely counter intuitive.

    My point in all this is that God did do this in Jesus Christ. He came to earth, proclaimed that he was God, and even performed supernatural miracles up to and including RISING FROM THE DEAD!!! Despite this, there were people such as the Pharisees who refused to believe and preferred to attribute his power to the devil. If seeing the person and power of God before their own eyes was not enough to convince them, then nothing ever would.

    If most atheists are honest with themselves, I think they would realize they are exactly like the Pharisees in their unbelief. They don’t believe materialism because they honestly believe it does the best job of explaining the world. They believe it because somehow they have gotten it in their minds that it simply must be true. When they observe something materialism can’t explain, they simply work non stop to come up with a materialistic explanation regardless of how ridiculous it may be.

    So, after clarifying all these facts with my critic, I would challenge him to think about all the evidence for God’s existence. Does he really reject it because he thinks materialism is more logical, or has he already committed himself to materialistic explanations from the get go. If the latter, has he stopped to consider that maybe the reason God hasn’t appeared to him and shaken his hand is because He would be insulted by how the critic would try to explain the experience away afterwards?

  6. Every time I hear this i feel the need to correct the thought process of the Atheist. I ask…what makes you think God just wants your “belief”. If belief was what was important to God it would be easy for him…he’d just force you to believe. However scripture shows us that God doesn’t seem to place very much stock in simple belief at all. For example

    Matthew 7:21-23

    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    The people he’s talking about here seem to believe just fine, they even worked miracles in the name of Jesus…but their belief didn’t seem to get them anywhere.

    Even Satan spoke to God face to face, you’d be hard pressed to get me to believe that Satan doesn’t believe in God…yet he’s not in heaven.

    I say, “God wants us to follow and love and have a relationship with him, not simply believe in him.”

    Then I turn the question around on them and say, “now you know the properties of God, you know what he has done in the bible…so if the Christian God appeared to you right now…would you love and follow that God?”

    I have never gotten a clear yes. Some people say they would do it so they don’t have to go to hell, but nobody gives me a clear yes. Why? Because if they would love that God when they saw him, they would love and follow him without seeing him…it wouldn’t matter.

    Some people say, “well i have to believe in something first BEFORE i love it.”

    I find that to be false as well…how many little girls fell in love with the characters out of the Twilight books before there was ever a movie?

    I sincerely doubt that God “revealing” himself to people would do much in order to save more people…it may even have the opposite affect who knows. What I do know is, God’s goal seems to be saving people from their sin, not getting them to believe in him.

  7. Dawn says:

    And if that happened, how would they validate that the individual who appeared before them and shook their hand was actually God? They would most likely demand further proof. But I’m inclined to think they would first doubt their own sanity before believing this person is God. I don’t like to be uncharitable, but I think this kind of demand is intellectually dishonest.

  8. Tom Loghry says:

    Do you believe Tom Brady exists? According to your criteria for determining whether someone exists or not, it would be necessary for Tom Brady show up here before you and shake your hand before you could believe that he exists.

  9. Ron Olivier says:

    I think that their unbelief is just a smokescreen…I’d ask him how the universe came into existence. Whatever his answer is, it comes down to belief in something that he did not and cannot personally bear witness to. So why believe in (whatever his answer) instead of God? Because belief in God requires a decision…you have to do something with it. So it’s not really an issue of believing, it’s an issue of comfort vs. commitment.
    People believe in all kinds of things…alien life forms…conspiracy theories…Elvis is still alive…all without the benefit of ‘shaking hands’.

  10. Aaron says:

    I had a friend experience a similar situation with an atheist. The atheist said he would believe if God made a rock appear in his hand so he could study the rock. What a strange request! Why not have God appear before him or something more miraculous. God did not produce a rock for the atheist to study, but I doubt it would have mattered.

    I always think of the Parable of “The Rich Man and Lazarus” in Luke 16:19-31. ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises fromt he dead.”