Here’s a fun experiment you can do at home. Start by making up a new god, any god, such as the “God of Pizza.” Place a penny on a table and pray that the God of Pizza will levitate it to confirm his existence. If it works, congratulations! You’ve found a real God! But if nothing happens, ask yourself why nothing happened. The answer is pretty obvious, the God of Pizza doesn’t exist, you just made him up!
Next, try the experiment with gods that other people have made up, like Zeus. People actually believed in Zeus at one time, so maybe there’s something to that. Did Zeus levitate the penny? Why not? Most likely, it’s because Zeus was made-up too.
Finally, pray to the God of Abraham and ask Him to levitate the penny. Did He do it? Why not? Our reasoning should probably be the same as with all the other Gods, but it’s often not.
If we ask a group of believers why God failed to lift the penny, they would likely be able to offer a myriad of excuses. But it’s just as easy to make up excuses as it is to make up gods, it’s much harder to do the impossible.
But are these excuses valid, or just excuses? One way to test it is to see if it can easily be applied to any other god, for example:
- It is not Zeus’s will to lift the penny.
- Lifting a penny is too trivial for the God of Pizza.
- Ra would like you to believe in him by faith alone.
- Brahma does not like it when you test him.
- Lifting the penny would destroy our faith in Baal.
This is also a logical fallacy known as special pleading. It’s illogical to to accept an explanation as valid only when it helps your own case.
So why don’t these gods answer our simple requests? There are several possibilities:
- They don’t exist.
- They do exist, but are all ignoring our requests.
- One or more exist, but are ignoring our requests.
Believers will select option #3, but again, this same excuse can be offered in defense of any god (e.g. “The God of Pizza is the only real God, and the only one ignoring the request”).
But the real problem with ignoring these simple requests for verification of existence is that it makes it nearly impossible for us to tell the difference between made-up gods and real ones. We end up having to rely on other, more controversial, claims of evidence (the kind of evidence that many gods seems to capable of producing).
The truth is, many believers have asked God for a sign. My request was for God to levitate a penny, but He never has. So… I’m forced to explore the other evidence that has been offered to substantiate claims for His existence and the truth of Christianity. But it would certainly save me a lot of hassle, and be far more convincing, if God would levitate a penny for me… just once.
The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.
~ Delos Banning McKown