The final question from My Questions For a Bible School Student was highly unoriginal. It has been asked in countless debates between theists and atheists, and should continue to be asked every single time.
The answer that most theists give is some variation of “nothing”. You can imagine what it would take for you to change your mind about the love of your spouse, your biological relation to your children or parents, your own name, or your memory-wiped history as a secret spy assassin. Are you really honest with yourself if your answer is “nothing”?
Question From Me
What would make you change your mind about your faith?
Answer From Student (with my commentary)
“The Apostle Paul lays out in chapter 15 verse 17 of 1st Corinthians what would make me change my mind about my faith: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” If this is the case, then Paul writes two verses later that, “we are to be pitied more than all men,” for we have falsely testified about God.”
From this, I infer that you mean that only evidence that Christ has NOT been raised would make you change your mind.
Of course, Christ being raised from the dead is a positive claim, and it is the positive claim must be proven, not the negation. I cannot expect someone to prove that Santa doesn’t deliver all the presents… we would want evidence that Santa does deliver presents.
The question is… is there sufficient evidence to believe that Christ DID rise from the dead? (For those interested, I looked in detail at An Evidence Attested Resurrection? earlier this year.)
“I know Christ is risen from my experience, which is likewise in agreement with countless other believers as well.”
As we explored in the previous question, personal experience is not a reliable way to know anything. Billions of other believers in thousands of other faiths had equally visceral and compelling personal experiences, and you would consider them to be mistaken. (As they would consider you.) How do you know that you are not fooling yourself, as I once fooled myself?
But more to the point, since disproving Christ’s resurrection would cause you to change your mind, and since the way you know this is from your experience only, then what would change your mind is for you to doubt your own experience. To doubt experiences that you agree cannot be easily distinguished from well-known psychological and neurological phenomenon.
It sounds like you owe it to yourself to take an honest, dispassionate look at those experiences. Since you build your entire faith upon them, it would be good to be sure.
“But thats the beauty of faith, my salvation is riding on me. Because God’s word is true, this hope will not be put to shame (Rom. 5:5).”
I assume that the assertion that “God’s word is true” is similarly established only by personal experience.
“It is not what I have done, for I am not perfect and surely cannot meet God’s standard.”
“In order to know that Christ was not raised from the dead and that there is no God, I myself would have to be God.”
I guess that depends on your definition of “know”, which is always slippery.
Though, again, you appeal to the proof of a negation, which I would again point out is a logical fallacy. It is the positive claim that requires evidence. You would similarly have to be God in order to know that there are no unicorns, fairies, Smurfs, nor the pantheon of gods sitting at Mount Olympus. Do you accept all of these as existing, since only an omniscient being can know for sure?
Fortunately, to know that Christ was raised from the dead would not require you to have to be a god. Mere mortals could know that there is a god. All it would take is evidence, and a god willing to provide it.
Concluding this exercise, I will endeavor to answer my own question. What would it take for me to change my mind about the existence of God?
That’s it. That’s all. Sufficient evidence.
You may rightfully ask, “But Paul, what kind of evidence would possibly be good enough for you?” And this is an excellent question.
My answer? I don’t know what evidence would be sufficient for me to accept the existence of God… but if there is a God, HE KNOWS what it would be, and he chooses not to reveal it.
Until then, I wait. Unconvinced.