Could A God Prove Its Existence?
This is a revisit to an article I did a while back, a though experiment entitled Thought Experiment – What if God appeared. In that article my brother posed to me the question:
The article goes on to talk about how a god might prove that it is actually a god, and the real gold in that article comes from the comments below the article. But I’ve had a few thoughts since then, mostly prompted by an interview I did recently at Deity Shmeity where I was prompted to answer the question “Is there anything that would convince you that there is a god? If so, provide an example”. Even more difficult than designing an experiment to prove the “god-ness” of any entity claiming to be god, would be actually convincing me with irrefutable proof that the apparent claimant god was actually… well… God.
I guess for me the most important aspect of this question is, “What would entail proof?”
There are a few things that could go a long way toward proving that an entity was in fact a god, but the fact remains that I am a skeptic. I am skeptical of anything that seems too good to be true. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably isn’t true. If a being came out of the sky and proclaimed in a booming voice “I AM GOD!” and then proceeded to perform miracle after miracle, I’d still be skeptical. Remember, we know so little about this universe and its inhabitants, it is very possible that there exists a race of beings capable of god-like “miracles” using technologies we are yet to possess. As the third of Arthur C Clarke’s laws states “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” So, for instance, if you were able to travel back in time in a helicopter to 200 BC, take out a lighter and set a bush on fire, the inhabitants of the day would think you were a God. And that’s only 2200 years ago, imagine what a difference of 100,000 years might make to technological advances for any given species. The miraculous to us could be the mundane to them. Even a box of matches would seem like magic to a caveman.
Even if this being were to repeatedly break the laws of physics, I would be skeptical. We can’t define the laws of physics well enough at this time to rule out any possibilities of molecular manipulation. Under a reasonable test environment, as we understand it today, the being may be able to repeatedly create water from wine, or make a pile of dust into a living breathing man, and this would seem like a godly miracle. But I would not put it past a sufficiently advanced technology to be able to create something from what we now call “nothing”. It’s unlikely, but not beyond possibility. Remember this could be an incredibly more advanced being, many things could be possible for it that we currently deem as being impossible.
The problem here is of convincing me; in order for me to be sure that an entity was actually the one, real, true god, the hardest part for them would be to convince me that this was the case, and not just a rouse to trick me into compliance with their wishes. Just as the character Q in the Star Trek series is not god, but rather an apparently omnipotent being capable of anything (by current human standards), so too could a being capable of interstellar travel to earth be sufficiently advanced to appear to be god.
One sure way a being could convince me that they were God would be through involuntary manipulation of my mind. Brainwashing. Since we perceive our universe through the faculties of our own minds and bodies, if it were possible to manipulate a person’s mind in such a way that they were convinced (no by their own faculties) that such a creature were actually a god, then there would be no choice but to submit to this apparent reality. If your brain tells you it is so, then you will see it as so. Again, there’s no reason a sufficiently advanced civilisation couldn’t have discovered a way to alter brain patterns in such as to convince us of their godlike status.
It is feasible that such an advanced being could see that enslavement of the entire human race, using concepts designed to fit within already existing human archetypes and belief systems, would be a relatively easy feat. I mean, people already willingly believe that a magical dead carpenter can bend reality enough to make his face appear, for nor reason, in the melted pieces of cheese in a piece of toast, so imagine how easy it would be to conquer the earth with the level of gullibility we already show. It wouldn’t be that difficult for an advanced being to gather up all the information needed about what people already believe, then conform their illusion to these beliefs. I’m sure there are many on earth who would love for their deepest wishes, i.e. the return of Christ, to be fulfilled, and if the illusion were even the least bit convincing, I’m sure many would follow. Another scenario where I may be convinced of the existence of a god would be brain injury or illness (tumour or otherwise) causing an altered perception of reality. If I thought god was real due to this, would I even question it? Possibly not.
This only covers off possibilities of a being appearing to me, and trying to convince me of their godliness. What other scenarios could be imagined that might be convincing enough to make me concede the existence of a god or gods?
Transcendence? Given that I see all of our experiences as taking place inside our brains, I doubt that I would be moved by a hallucination or an inner moment enough to see god as inevitable. Observation? Well as I already view the universe, there’s nothing there that would point me at a god. Faith? Hmmm, I’m not sure I’m capable of that. The miracle of birth/life/nature? I think current scientific explanations cover that all off quite well enough.
So I guess it comes down to this; I think it may not only be difficult to convince me that a god exists, it may actually be for all practical purposes impossible. I can’t disprove a god’s existence, but having dwelled upon it, I think it would be just as difficult to prove this existence.
What sorts of measures would you require to convince you that a god or gods exist?