Listed below is the type of evidence that would convert Ebon Musings' author to the theist's point of view or to a particular religion.
Thus, in the spirit of proving that atheists' minds are not closed, I've assembled below a list of everything I can think of that I would accept as proof that a given religion is true.
- Verified, specific prophecies that couldn't have been contrived
"If the Bible, for example, said, ' On the first day of the first month in the year two thousand and ten, the pillars of the earth will shake and a great part of the New World will be lost to the sea,' and then January 1, 2010 comes and a tremendous earthquake sends California to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean."
Do the Bible or other religious texts actually make such specific prophecies? If not, how can one be invented now and ascribed to these texts? Therefore, the possibility of finding such a prophecy or its confirmation is nil.
For any new religion (aren't they being invented currently?) I'd accept an ability to predict something simpler: the exact sequence of heads and tails in a few hundred tosses of a coin.
That would be prophecy enough for me. And if someone could do a sequence that I provide, why I would concede that prayer works.
Only caveat: the results must be reproducible in controlled experiments and no one should be able to explain it any other way.
- Scientific knowledge in holy books that wasn't available at the time.
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee that thine energy is as thine mass times the speed of light multiplied unto itself."
This isn't a good test.
If any holy book had predicted Newton's laws of motion, would we agree that it was holy? Not me.
Newton's laws of motion are understood to be approximate today. While it would be fantastic if they were found in a holy book, their existence would actually make the book only approximately true.
Scientific laws are given by intelligent men. Their unexpected appearance in a holy text would first point to the existence of a very intelligent man, or if that is clearly impossible, to contact with an extra-terrestrial, whose science wasn't sufficiently well-developed.
- Miraculous occurrences, especially if brought about through prayer
Yes, if the outcomes of a controlled experiment demonstrated the efficacy of prayers, it would be compelling evidence to include some form of God in the explanation.
But we'd have to give scientists time to rework their theories first and to suggest the form of God that is implied.
- Any direct manifestation of the divine
"I'll be happy to believe in God if he tells me to in person, as long as he does it in such a way that I could be sure that it was not a hallucination (for example, in the presence of multiple reliable witnesses, none of which are in a highly emotional or otherwise altered state)."
If God tells you in person, how would that be evidence for me? If I have to believe you, I might as well believe Moses or hundreds of others with whom he has communicated before.
What if hundreds of thousands of witnesses are present? If they witness a miracle they would be in a "highly emotional or otherwise altered state". Thus they wouldn't be reliable witnesses.
Read about The Hindu Milk Miracle!
- Aliens who believed in the exact same religion
Exact same religion?
I'd be very suspicious of what these aliens are telling us. Such an occurrence would be more indicative of a ploy to win support of a large number of earth individuals to serve another purpose that the aliens have in mind!
Oh well, now what?