A Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists

I can agree to all the things listed in there. Present me one of the proofs asked for in Part 1 and you can sign me up for the whole God thingy immediately.

And I concur with part 2: Spare me any stories of how you used to be an atheist and converted to religion and how it has helped you in times of emotional trouble. Don’t make a fool of yourself by telling me that you yourself talked to God, Jesus, an angel or what have you. Believe me, this will NOT convert me, quite the contrary!

The crucial point is that of the ‘null hypothesis’. Every scientific theory has a null hypothesis, meaning a scenario under which the proposed theory could be proven wrong.

If rocks were to fall up, all things being equal, then Newton and Einstein would need to get back to the drawing board. If a ship were to fall down the disk of the earth, then surely Galilei must have gotten something wrong, etc …

This is kind of important. Everybody who wants to propose a bullet proof and sound theory has to offer a null hypothesis under which it may be proven false. This is because true theories don’t need to shy away from the most rigorous scientific scrutiny.

But even IF they were proven wrong, nobody’s worldview in the scientific community would shatter and render his life meaningless. Quite the contrary. Science welcomes challenge and progress. Religion doesn’t.

So whenever you talk to a religious person, before discussing anything else, simply ask them the following question: What proof would convince you that your theory is wrong, meaning that God and miracles don’t exist?

This is not a whole lot to ask for. It is they who are so certain that the theoretical entity that they can’t point at truly exists, it is they who believe in the validity of a book written 1700 ago about events that supposedly occurred 300 (!!) years prior to that, without access to any of the means of media and communication available today, it is they who suggest that this theoretical entity and this book should be used as the ultimate source of wisdom and morality, arguably the most important thing in life.

Those are some pretty extraordinary and amazing claims to make. They are amazing in particular because they are being advanced without the slightest proof whatsoever. The clip above asks for some proofs that should be rather easy to deliver if the theory was indeed true.

Thus it is only fair to give religious people that same opportunity, assuming they want to be taken seriously: Tell us what more proof you need in order to be convinced that there is no God ?


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16 thoughts on “A Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists”

  1. Nima,

    What proof would convince you that your theory is wrong, meaning that God and miracles don’t exist?

    -Interesting question. Prove the universe wasn’t designed. The origination of life has only been observed once, ever, anywhere. The survival, reproduction and evolution of life forms has happened many, many times. Prove the universe didn’t have a beginning.

    -Explain why the universe is mathematical in nature, has rules of any kind, is orderly and reliable and prove the universe isn’t reliable. If the universe isn’t reliable then what would you believe in as a scientist? What could you base your arguments? If there wasn’t order you wouldn’t have science.

    I believe Richard Feynman said “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery…The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”

    I am a numbers guy, a physicist by hobby and an Anarcho-Capitalist so I never approached God from religion. I don’t believe in religion, but God is real.

    Read Romans 1 19-25 – Choose are you going to believe in created things or the Creator? God isn’t hiding, He has proved His existence everywhere. Your just choosing not to see it or call it something else.

  2. OK, so that’s then tantamount to saying there is no proof I could ever submit that would convince you that the hypothesis that God (a being all knowing and all powerful who has created the universe) exists is wrong, correct?

    Because in essence what you are asking me to prove to you, if I divide it down, is that that God does not exist and did not create the universe. But that’s not a null hypothesis. That’s merely the opposite of the hypothesis itself.

    If I say unicorns created the earth and you ask me for a null hypothesis, and then I say it’s “prove to me that unicorns have not created the earth” then that is the exact same thing as what you said above, just swap the word unicorns with God.

    A null hypothesis means: Name a specific arrangement of objects in time and space that would convince you that your hypothesis is false.

  3. If you can prove that their wasn’t a beginning, that the universe wasn’t designed and that the universe doesn’t have order then you would have my attention on the existence of God. Until you can do that, all scientific evidence indicates that there is a Creator and an intelligence that has designed our universe. You can hide behind semantics all you want, but prove those three things and I would consider your assertion. Now, I am not trying to convince you of anything and I would be the last person to push a belief on anybody. So, show me proof that the universe wasn’t designed and that it didn’t have a beginning and that would make me step back to consider if there was a Creator or not. Until then, all evidence points to a Creator and a designer.

    Plus, it is different compared to unicorns since the evidence points to a Creator and designer. All I am saying is prove that there wasn’t a Creator or designer of the universe. The probability of all the variables needed for life would exist by chance are so minuscule, that even statistics prove these points.

  4. “If you can prove that their wasn’t a beginning, that the universe wasn’t designed and that the universe doesn’t have order then you would have my attention on the existence of God.”

    OK, please tell me what specifically you would need me to submit as proof that the universe wasn’t designed and doesn’t have order? When you do that, please define your terms clearly, in terms of an arrangement of objects in time and space, and nothing but that.

  5. First off, we are not dealing in absolutes, but percentages. Second, observe with an open mind the evidence. Third, I personally don’t need to prove anything to you, I am pointing out the observations as I see them. But, since you showed an interest, let’s play.

    Prove that time isn’t linear. Or similar question, prove that the universe isn’t decreasing in temperature. Prove the universe isn’t expanding at a decreasing rate. These prove a beginning, Hawkins called this singularity.

    Prove that the speed of light is different in different parts of the universe. Prove that life could exist with a different proton to neutron balance. And why your at it, explain how the universe exists without the design of the proton neutron balance. Prove that life could exist with a different electromagnetic force. These forces or ratios didn’t evolve, they have always been the same, explain how that wasn’t design.

    I really could go on and on with different observations that people much smarter than I have made about the make up of the universe, but the facts still come back to what you observe and want to believe. If you choose to believe in created things and not a Creator, my life will not change and I will not force my beliefs on you, but you do need to admit that you believe in something. In trading I never deal in absolutes, so maybe it is easier for me assess a situation and make a decision, but if you took a step back and looked hard at all the design around you it might eventually mean something to you.

  6. “And I concur with part 2: Spare me any stories of how you used to be an atheist and converted to religion and how it has helped you in times of emotional trouble. Don’t make a fool of yourself by telling me that you yourself talked to God, Jesus, an angel or what have you. Believe me, this will NOT convert me, quite the contrary!”

    The bible is clear that God is all about a relationship with His creation.. whether He is disciplining his creation (which you find troubling) or He is showing His patience and providing a means for forgiveness of Sin through Christ, it is all based on a relationship with Him. I picture this a lot like a human father who has the responsibility to discipline his child and love them with patience. This relationship with your human father is based on emotional experiences… a healthy relationship with your human father is one where you are free to share your emotions , experiences, etc. (ie BE REAL) and have security in knowing that your father still loves you regardless of your flaws.

    Regardless of how YOU feel about an emotional experience with God… this is the reality of the relationship with Him. I’m very content to be able to share my emotions, frustrations, dreams….. all of who I am with God. This is MY favorite part about my relationship with God. He is not some sterile being who refuses to relate to us.. which is what makes Him living as a human through Jesus Christ SO AMAZING imo.

    You can slam this aspect of my faith in Christ (and many many others around the world) all you would like, call me a fool, whatever… it does nothing to change my relationship with Him. I am not trying to convince you to believe in Christ as your own personal saviour by sharing this… I am simply sharing personally with you and being real with you.

  7. @Robert: Help me understand: What does any of the above in the slightest have to do with the existence of a being that is all powerful and all knowing, not speaking of all the fairy tales put forward in the scripure?? What you are saying is equivalent to this: “Rocks on planet earth fall up. To prove me wrong, please prove to me that there is no such thing as ‘up’ and no such thing as ‘falling’ and no such thing as the air through which the rock falls.”

    You have no null hypothesis.

  8. In video part 1, one of the things he discusses is proof based on prophecy.

    Here are some of the prophecies that discusses the future Messiah:
    (estimated to be written by Isaiah 800 years or so before Christ)

    Christ to be born of a virgin:
    Prophecy:
    “Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

    Fulfillment of prophecy:
    “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary…. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” (Luke 1:26-27, 30-31)

    Christ to suffer for our sins:
    Prophecy:
    “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

    Fulfillment:
    “Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified. (Matthew 27:26)

    He will enter on a donkey in Jerusalem:
    Prophecy:
    “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9 – written approx. 500 years before Christ)

    Fulfillment:
    “And they brought the colt to Jesus and put their garments on it; and He sat upon it…. And those who went before, and those who followed after, were crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;”… And He entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking all around, He departed for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late. (Mark 11:7, 9, 11)

    There are many, many prophecies that are shared in the Old Testament that were fulfilled through Christ, and these are just a few that I’m sharing.

  9. @Mike: Thanks for the prophecy examples. Unfortunately a staunch unbeliever like myself is not convinced when someone writes down a prophecy in a book and then that prophecy miraculously becomes ‘reality’ in that same book. Nor is this what the clip above asked for.

  10. The clip discusses prophecy and this guy’s issue with said prophecies… I am sharing actual prophecies from the bible and letting you decide for yourself what these mean. OK so you eliminate the bible as possibly being valid at all… this is not being objective about truth at all. How is the bible not valid when archaelogists have discovered the dead sea scrolls and these scrolls have done much to validate the authenticity of the texts of the bible…

    My question to you then, is that if a text that the Jewish people have had as part of their written history many centuries before Christ came, and these same texts give us a clear description of what is to happen in the future… and those events indeed occured as was described hundreds of years earlier, what is your explanation for this phenomena? You must have plenty of proof to discredit the authenticity of the bible and back your beliefs on this subject, right?

    It’s one thing to argue against the miracles in the bible and call these fairy tales, it’s another matter to take the document as a whole and plainly dismiss it without further examination… this would make any statement in regard to the bible itself a “subjective opinion” rather than an “objective truth” regarding the prophecies shared.

    I unfortunately don’t have time to dig into everything shared in the videos because I am trying to balance my hours of PE exam study time (test is coming up soon) with everything else going on in my life, however; I will touch on another statement he made at the beginning of part 1 before I hit the books and dig back in with organic chemistry…

  11. Nima I never stated that there is a being that is all powerful and all knowing. All I stated is that there is a Creator and a designer of the universe. If we can agree that increasing debt and increasing spending by the federal government will ultimately lead to some event, how is pointing out that the universe had a beginning which would indicate a Creator and there is advanced very intricate design seen in the proton/neutron ratio, etc would indicate a designer not similar. I understand you don’t believe in a god, which again, I really don’t care about, but to indicate that there isn’t a Creator or designer to the universe, then you just aren’t looking at the facts. You are expressing some belief you have and hiding behind a semantics argument. By the way, Jesus believed in real money, believed in free markets and came to set people free. Even if you think that is a story or fairy tale as you put it, a guy like you should find that good reading.

  12. In his video part 1, he touches on his opinion that people who believe in God are closed minded to not consider evidence against the proof of God. I suppose I am being closed minded to not consider the alternative that God does not exist, but then why should I… is there an excellent reason why I should NOT believe in God?

    Like I stated in a previous post, why would I disprove something that I already know to be true based on my own encounter with God that defies any other rational conclusion other than that he is real and does exist? I was not under the influence of extreme emotion, drugs, alcohol, or any other reality altering substance to make my encounter with Him potentially a product of my own state of being…. to put it plainly I was straight faced and sober.

    I am no longer have a reason of any kind to HAVE to disprove God due to this…

    A person’s philosophy and world view about the reality we live in is not ample evidence for me to now believe my encounter with God was just my creative imagination. Just as you believe there is a major lack of hard evidence to prove God exists… there is just as much and even more so a lack of hard evidence that He does not exist. imo the burden of proof for God’s existence itself is on the unbeliever and not on the believer who already has the evidence of a personal encounter with Him… God has not asked me to personally prove his existence to others, only to share Christ and to let Him do the rest. Although this has been a drawn out debate on the existence of God, I have shared with you the offer of God’s salvation through Christ… I am contented with that as it is obvious that I personally will never be able to rationalize or provide enough evidence for you to even believe God exists. You have already closed and locked that door of possibility for it to be true to even consider otherwise. Based on the bible, I will die a man at peace with God through my faith in Christ… and if the bible is true… I will enjoy what He calls Eternal Life… what harm is there in that promise and why wouldn’t I want that?

    The fact that scientists cannot agree and pinpoint evidence for where we humans came from in the first place, as well as the fact that the order of the universe itself as observed by scientists demands a reasonable conclusion… and imo no reasonable alternative other than that of intelligent design has been offered by the science community to explain this… are a few of the many observations about creation itself that add to my comfort of me knowing that God indeed does exist

    But for kicks and giggles, why not consider Pascal’s wager:
    (Paraphrased from Wikipedia)
    “that even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose.”

    Uncertainty in all
    This is what I see, and what troubles me. I look on all sides, and everywhere I see nothing but obscurity. Nature offers me nothing that is not a matter of doubt and disquiet.

    Uncertainty in Man’s purpose
    For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either.

    Uncertainty in reason
    Nothing is so conformable to reason as to disavow reason.

    Uncertainty in science
    There no doubt exist natural laws, but once this fine reason of ours was corrupted, it corrupted everything.

    Uncertainty in religion
    If I saw no signs of a divinity, I would fix myself in denial. If I saw everywhere the marks of a Creator, I would repose peacefully in faith. But seeing too much to deny Him, and too little to assure me, I am in a pitiful state, and I would wish a hundred times that if a God sustains nature it would reveal Him without ambiguity. We understand nothing of the works of God unless we take it as a principle that He wishes to blind some and to enlighten others.

    Uncertainty in skepticism
    It is not certain that everything is uncertain.

    Pascal then asks the reader to analyze his position. If reason is truly corrupt and cannot be relied upon to decide the matter of God’s existence, only a coin toss remains. In Pascal’s assessment, placing a wager is unavoidable, and anyone who is incapable of trusting any evidence either for or against God’s existence, must at least face the prospect that infinite happiness is at risk. The “infinite” expected value of believing is always greater than the expected value of not believing.

    However, Pascal did not treat acceptance of the wager to be in itself sufficient for salvation. In the same note where the wager is found, Pascal goes on to explain that understanding his conclusion is just the impetus for faith, not faith itself:

    “Endeavour then to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief, and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, bless yourself with holy water, have Masses said, and so on; by a simple and natural process this will make you believe, and will dull you—will quiet your proudly critical intellect…

    Now, what harm will befall you in taking this side? You will be faithful, honest, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful. Certainly you will not have those poisonous pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others? I will tell you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognize that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have given nothing.”

  13. “Nima I never stated that there is a being that is all powerful and all knowing. ”

    – OK, then we are on the same page on that issue. This is all I was talking about. If you say God is something like the beginning of the Universe, then I personally think it would be good if you just used that phrase in order to avoid confusion. Because there is a pretty clear definition of God that most people associate with the word. But if God is just the beginning of the Universe then then it’s over and doesn’t exist anymore and even then you are confirming my point that that thing simply doesn’t exist.

    “Jesus believed in real money, believed in free markets …”

    – could you point me to what you are referring to? I don’t quite consider condemning the charging of interest as evil (which you will find God do all over the bible) and penalizing it with capital punishment as any sort of respect for free markets.

  14. @Mike

    “Like I stated in a previous post, why would I disprove something that I already know to be true …”

    Yes, that is my whole point and the point of part 1 of the clip. If you already “KNOW” it to be true, then there is in fact no point in participating in an argument in the first place.

    Just ask yourself how you would feel about someone else telling you he KNOWS that Leprechauns exist because he has had an encounter with them.

    Then multiply that preposterous statement by 1000. Because that guy would actually be describing a specifically identifiable object with semi-logical consistency.

    How about this: You tell me how you KNOW that the being that revealed itself to you is all knowing, all powerful, and has created the universe? If it is then surely you must have tested that being’s claim, right? In which case you must have some exciting stock market tips for me, right?

  15. If there is a beginning and there is a design to the universe then there has to be a Creator and a Designer of that universe. Two simple points that lead logically to a God. I could expand beyond the beginning, but if you will not open your mind to see the evidence around you of at least the beginning it would not be worth my time to move forward.

    Matthew 25:14-30 – Parable of the Talents. This describes exactly entrepreneurship, risk taking and specifically talks about earning interest at a bank. This is a direct parable as told by Jesus himself. The bible distinguishes between a charitable loan and a commercial loan. Charitable loans are not to have interest – spelled out in Deuteronomy 15:1-7. Like don’t charge excessive interest or make a person pay an extra payment if they are poor, think loan shark. Non charitable loans are different – spelled out in Leviticus 25:1-9. I would actually think you would understand this, if a person doesn’t repay their loan, they are to work for someone, with pay until they pay off the loan. Enforcement of contracts and restitution, Mary Ruwart talks about this in her libertarian writings.

    http://ruwart.com/Healing/ Could be worth your time to read.

    If you would like some good reading on economics and the bible, Gary North has written some good information, you might not like him since he is an inflationist not a deflationist right now, but he has a solid Austrian grasp of economics

    http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/_newsbet.htm

    Funny thing, How many communist countries try to eliminate God? Do you have more in common with communist or central planning governments? You would think you would like creation, objective value based on the acts of creation kinda sounds like entrepreneurship with pricing based on a free market.

  16. @Robert

    Would you agree with me that imposing the penalty of death on offering money at interest, no matter weather I loan to a charitable or a commercial organization, has nothing to do with free markets and freedom?

    I don’t think we need to get carried away with citing specific bible verses. This book is so riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies that for every verse you show to me that supports free markets I will be able to show you one that doesn’t.

    But your case is much more intelligent than that of the Jesus freaks. You are not a Christian, so I don’t see why you would dilute your main point in that manner.

    I like Mary Ruwart, thanks for recommending her book.

    I also like Gary North and have read some of his articles. I don’t have to agree with everything he says so appreciate his economic input.

    “Funny thing, How many communist countries try to eliminate God?”

    – It’s nothing new or inexplicable or inconsistent that communist countries try to eliminate God. It’s actually quite predictable. For under communism the false illusion of a deity is replaced with that of the common good or the state outright. It is a well known fact that most countries that turned to communism were fanatically religious prior to their conversion.

    “Do you have more in common with communist or central planning governments?”

    – No, I actually don’t and I have a hard time taking this question serious, for kind of obvious reasons. In fact, I reject the notion of a state for rational reasons, and I reject the notion of an all powerful and all knowing being just as much, and I most definitely reject the notion of unscientific and unproven miracles, I rather equate them to childish parables.

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