(Sorry this runs long - it's a long philosophical muse, written on a soft Sabbath afternoon.)
Someone recently told me with perfect certainty that God and all religion can be easily disproved.
Simply because you have not seen it, does not mean it does not exist.
You can say you are reasonably certain the thing does not exist, but I'm pretty sure an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient trans-dimensional being might just be able to avoid appearing on your radar without a lot of trouble if it suited Him.
And how is it you can disprove the existence of a thing anyway?
Not having seen it yourself will not do. I have never seen an atom, but I'm fair certain they exist. In "proving" the existence of black holes, for instance, you can only do so by observing what is happening around them to infer their existence. Physicists infer the existence of dark energy because something must be pushing the universe apart at ever increasing speed because otherwise it would be slowing down all the time due to gravity.
Physicists first postulated dark energy based things they observed in the heavens. Then, they sought to find mathematical proofs of their theory about dark energy, thereby building a case for its existence. In the same way no one can prove the existence of a multi-dimensional, powerful being, save by observation of the world around us and the ways in which God (or whatever you wish to call him) impacts that world.
Plenty of eye-witness testimony, some of it contemporary, claims to have witnessed or experienced acts of God. I have a couple of my own experiences that are not readily explainable by either physics or psychology. Does this mean that all who experience such events are liars because their conclusions about whether or not God exists differ from yours. I would hope, given most of you believe strongly in science, that you would wait for empirical evidence before drawing a conclusion.
Carl Sagan argued, that if God existed, he would surely provide unmistakable proof of His existence.
This might not be so, if God were deliberately limiting man's access to such absolute proof for a reason – some purpose he had for insuring that the evidence of His existence remained deliberately thin on the ground.
If this were true, you would only find hints of his existence in unexplainable phenomenon like dark energy, the properties of water, the exactitude of Earth's orbit, the presence of its moon to insure stability and perfect size and composition to promote life. As Freeman Dyson once said, “...it looks as though the universe knew we were coming.”
Given that even the scientific community remains divided over whether God or some vast intelligence exists, it seems to me a truly open-minded person would wait for the theory to be tested. Christianity is just such a testing procedure for the theory that God does exist and cares for us personally. I came to Christianity making a deal with God. "Prove to me you exist. I'll follow the program You've laid out to the best of my ability and you show me that You exist.”
I have tested the hypothesis that God exists to the point that I am convinced that He does.
Unless you have thoroughly tested the hypothesis for yourself, you cannot say one way or another whether my own experiment is valid or not. The fact that Christians squabble among themselves over points of doctrine or church practices means nothing. Scientists do the same thing over points of scientific doctrine. The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating.
My experience has been that God patiently changes a person as a result of that person's on-going relationship with Him. I find that I am free of things that once held me down. I find that I do what I want more than what I was once compelled to do by my nature or upbringing.
Do people abuse power as Christian leaders? Absolutely.
Do scientists abuse their power? For sure!
Do politicians? Ya, you betcha.
The great controversy in this world is not God vs. Not God. It is between those who serve themselves and those who serve others. If God wished to create an immortal race of individuals with complete free will; a people that God could be sure wouldn't mess things up again, who would do what is right, because it is right and not just when it suits their selfish purpose and, if, at the same time He could preserve the creativity, the energy and the vast potential of creatures with free will, how would He do that?
My theory is that God would plant those creatures alone on a planet, allow them to work out both sides of the argument - the mercenary vs the philanthropic approach to life and see what happens.
Then at the end of it all, save the essence of who they are, grant them immortal bodies and turn them loose in the galaxy to live, love and create. The only creature capable of such a thing would be one who exists beyond mere three dimensions, one who can see today, tomorrow and yesterday all at the same time, one to whom time and space are endless, who can work out ever detail so that in the end, the great goal is achieved -- a free people who, by their very nature, will never perpetrate evil upon each other or anyone else.
The idea makes sense, I'm not the only one who ever believed such an idea. Millions of Christians believe something along those lines. I can't think of any other way to make people with free will that won't wreck the universe. The Earth, I firmly believe, is a crucible in which free people are made. Everyone has a choice. Live for yourself and do what you want and you get this life and then die and disappear (Eccl. 9:5). The other choice means you accept the discipline and educational program God offers and you get eternal life and total freedom given back to you for completing the coursework.
I'm betting the second pathway is correct. Whichever way is correct, it shouldn't matter to anyone else. It is my choice and affects those who choose their own way not in the least. You may do as you wish, live as you want. The only thing I'll fight you on is if you try to limit my right to live as I choose.
It's a philosophical difference. It is not something you can play philosophical "Tag You're It" over. You believe one way or the other and it's hardly likely you'll ever agree. It comes down to majority rules in the end.
If religion is a fraud, it may perhaps one day be crushed by the preponderance of evidence. Or, Jesus may come back and settle the matter. As in science, the wisest thing to do is to wait for enough studies to come in before you plant your flag on one side or the other.
Tom King - Tyler, TX