Truly: Philip, you do not know me at all! So please keep your self-serving psych evaluations to yourself.
Don, I'm only what seems obvious to me. But you're right, I don't know of your background or your life.
Truly: I have asked God to make his presence known to me many times, and in such a way that there could be no doubt.
Good - then you realize it's not a foolish quest, and that it's a natural thing for a person to wonder about.
Truly: In Viet Nam, the death of my first child, the death of my closest friends, the death of my father, etc. No one was there, but me. Considering the level of pestilence, wars, diseases, starvations, crimes, deaths, greed, hate, and apathy that we see in the world today, why would I want to seek someone, or "some thing", that would stand-by and allow these conditions to not only continue, but to flourish? I don't feel that, "life after death will be better", is an adequate explanation since we are all going to die anyway.
Christians don't like these many terrible things any more than you do. We all struggle to understand. But much of the suffering and evil comes at the hand of man, but not all. Many people find God, not in the midst of peace and prosperity, but that they sought Him hard in the midst of their sufferings. But we'll never perfectly understand this. But God does tell us our experience here has a purpose, and that it's certainly not all about THIS world. A book that might be helpful to you, is C.S. Lewis' "The Problem of Pain": https://www.amazon.com/Problem-Pain-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652969
- perhaps it might offer you some valuable insights you'd not ever considered.
Truly: Do you really think that most of mankind is sitting around pondering the meaning of life? It is a mental exercise for a mind that needs to create a perception of importance and enlightenment.
Well, vast millions obviously do. But many others are merely caught up in religion, as an extension of the expectations of friends, family and social network - as to leave it would be to be shunned and to lose many relationships. But that's religion - rather, man trying to please some supposed god so as to gain heaven or whatever post-mortal state. NO Christian is promised Heaven upon the basis of being "good." It's upon entering into a committed, loving relationship with God - one in which we're still gonna continuously screw up, even as He refines and changes us to what He desires.
Truly: It is pure mental masterbation, without the same results.
And yet massive numbers of people who have lived on this planet claim a very different experience and result. So just because you haven't experienced that, isn't it a bit arrogant to claim it's a pointless thing. And part of that pondering is, obviously, WHICH claimed deity is actually GOD
Truly: I asked you if you would be willing to subject Theism to scientific scrutiny? You side stepped this issue by saying that science can only point to the probability of things that you would consider as being unreasonable.
No, I merely agree with many of your statement that say that science cannot prove to us God - it's abilities end with what can be measured and observed. So, even if one sees the evidences, as many scientists have, that those evidences re-enforce their belief in God, they can't PROVE it. So why would one seek proof in human-designed processes that have not such ability? That seems rather obvious. And, of course, the seeking I speak of IS an experiment - and for many, it's an experiment that may take time - in God's time - as He reveals Himself to people. You can't know when the experiment has been proven a waste of time. But God also knows the person whose heart is closed to Him, who is insincere and truly doesn't want to know the truth - OR that only wants some truth defined as they assert it must be or desire it to be.
Truly: Therefore, I see no reason to search for an all-powerful intelligence, that has the power to make pigs fly.
And right there we see your cynical, sarcastically noted presupposition reveals your closed your mind.
Truly: Without evidence first, I don't see any purpose for this type of venture.
So, you want evidence before seeing evidence of God??? Weird strategy.
Truly: Unless, the goal is to keep looking until I eventually convince myself(confirmation bias).
No, Don, this is what the masses do - they convince themselves of non-existent gods of false, man-made religions - which people obviously do, sadly.
Truly: So without all the editorializing and excuse-making, you are just saying NO, you are not interested in subjecting Theism to any scientific method of scrutiny. Period!
Quite redundant. A) I've already known and experience God in amazing ways. B) I've patiently explained - and you've made statements that agree - that the scientific method cannot produce proof of God. Why keep asserting it can, when you, yourself, have admitted it cannot, that you "might be wrong?"
Truly: Since you do not KNOW every other Religion or every other Faith, you have no idea what they assert or think, please comment only on what you do know.
I've spent 40 years looking at what religions believe around the world. None are remotely compared to the faith and historic evidences of Christianity. They are ALL "works-based" ways at pleasing God. None have a figure like Jesus who claimed to be God and was resurrected - with many witnesses testifying to that - at the threat of death and resurrection, they claimed to see a risen Jesus. Not one lunatic, but many people - all of whom taught this risked a horrific death themselves. Then there is a lot of prophecy that can be examined. God sent many prophets and apostles - not just some lone guy who goes off in a room and says "God" communicated with them.
Truly: But just in case I am misjudging the obvious, what exactly would this experiment entail?
Sincerely, openly, and without presuppositions, seeking God to reveal Himself to you - making yourself truly open to an answer "if" an answer can be had. But God knows who wants to really know, and who just wants to self-justify their own continued unbelief - and He'll let them have their wish in that. Just be honest with Him - even in your unbelief, acknowledge that you can't believe without whatever it would take - and remember, you can't know what exactly YOU, individually, might need to have your eyes opened. Some, like you and my lawyer friend, require something really personally powerful and obvious. God will give you WHATEVER YOU
personally need to come to belief in Him - and that "whatever" evidence comes in differing and often-unexpected ways to different people.
Truly: Would I need to read scripture for years, until cognitive dissonance convinces me that what I am reading is real?
No. Many in churches are only practicing religion, even reading their Bibles, but have never come to faith in Christ. Ritual and religion will never reveal God to a person.
Truly: Should I abandon critical thinking, and immerse myself into the possibility that alternative realities exist?
Absolutely NOT! God is the one who gave us our intellect, logic, free will, and often-insatiable curiosity. Which is why most of humanity at least wonders about God, or who or what they think he is, or might be.
Truly: Maybe you can explain why any experiment that must presuppose only one outcome is possible, and ignore any other? Hardly very scientific!
Because it's an experiment not detected by scientific methodology.
Truly: So unless you can provide just one piece of objective evidence, or one fallacy-free reason for this experiment, I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass for now. But out of respect, I thank you for the invitation. Don
Don, it's really up to you. Just know that I am not your adversary and that God loves you. I've prayed that you do seek and will find Him. I know He wants you to know Him - but He'll never force anyone, anywhere, to seek Him. But not seeking, constant avoidance, permanent resistance, a closed mind and hard heart - such things add up to and equal rejection of God - the one reason why people will fail to enter Heaven. I think the stakes are more than worthy of the experiment.
Blessings to you, Don!