Why are you a theist? Without the backing of empirical evidence, could your spiritual experiences be mere illusions?

Why am I a theist? I think that’s because language can be used for classification and division.

The word for God in Greek is θεός (theos) and the word used in the question is derived from this to classify someone as a believer in a god. Greek language and culture have also provided a great many things, from φιλοσοφία (philosophy), Δημοκρατία (democracy) along with a wealth of art, education, sports and ethical teaching.

For example, Aristotle could be considered one of the founding thinkers for the division and classification of things we find in the everyday world. However, Aristotle was far from being irreligious. If I quote R. Michael Olsen

Aristotle conceives of God as an unmoved mover, the primary cause responsible for the shapeliness of motion in the natural order, and as divine nous, the perfect actuality of thought thinking itself, which, as the epitome of substance, exercises its influence on natural beings as their final cause.These two aspects of God reflect the two defining aspects of Classical Greek Philosophy: the experience of the intelligibility of the natural order and the search for the first principle(s) responsible for its intelligibility.[1]

Image courtesy NT Times.

As we can see from the example above, belief in God or gods has a rich tradition which provides the fabric within the tapestry of ideas derived from the ancient world that continue into the present.

Far from that world view being irrelevant, the way of looking at God as providing rationale for the intelligibility of the natural order is as relevant today as it was when first articulated.

The assumption that the natural order is intelligible without recourse to God or gods is an more modern phenomenon. That is to say, reliance on “empirical evidence” as the only source of truth flies in the face of many thousands of years of thinking and, when held without a degree of self awareness, risks being little more than unsupported assertion.

For instance, the problem of induction remains a problem even if one adopts the most hard line empiricist position. Indeed the more hard line the position is taken the more difficult it is to explain faith in causality, since any evidence used to support that belief is self-referential.

Personally, my beliefs are a result of faith. Something that is seen and observed would typically not be expected to require faith. The call for evidence is the very opposite of a call for faith, with the exception of the underlying assumption of the intelligibility of nature.

I try to draw the boundaries between what I believe, what I can determine by observation and what can be deduced. Faith is not bad in itself, since it becomes the motivator for achievement and enables accomplishment. An unstated faith or assumption however, can lead its owner in unknown directions.

Certainly, any personal experience, or indeed any other perception, spiritual or otherwise could be an illusion. Causality and the reliability of empirical data could themselves be an artefact of sheer random chance. Which is more of concern, statements of faith that are clearly articulated as such or assumptions and faith that are not articulated, but declared to be fact?


[1] Aristotle on God: Divine Nous as Unmoved Mover

19 Replies to “Why are you a theist? Without the backing of empirical evidence, could your spiritual experiences be mere illusions?”

  1. Of course it’s all happening in my mind! It doesn’t diminish the experience, though!

    Now, let us get to the point — why do I believe in God, or more specifically, why am I a Catholic?

    The first reason is because I grew up on a Catholic home. I was raised a Catholic. I went to Sunday school, I had my first communion and I went to mass pretty much every Sunday. The environment I grew up does play a role on my religiosity, make no mistake.

    But that’s not the reason I remain a theist and particularly a Catholic. You see, I’m not exactly stupid. I’m quite skeptic, to be quite honest. I don’t take “truism” from authorities and I often question my beliefs and what I’ve been taught.

    As an Engineer and somewhat of a scientist, I could very easily be an atheist. I can certainly understand the reason people don’t believe in God, and I agree that there is pretty much no objective facts that proves the existence of God or any other gods. I’m quite aware of all of it, intellectually speaking.

    But here’s the thing — religion is not only about God. Religion is also about an easier way to have a moral compass, and a way to have belonging. It’s about a community where you can share yourself and you can help people. Above all else, it’s about feeling good, looking for self-improvement, self-help, self-soothing while helping others in the process!

    That’s pretty much why I am a Catholic. But this doesn’t explain why I believe in God. And the reason I do is quite simple as well — it’s because, to me, God makes sense! I feel there is a God. I don’t know what He is. I don’t pretend to understand Him. But I feel God’s love for me and all of us.

    I understand this is not proof, and I know that a lot of people will mock me for what I feel. That’s OK — I’m not asking for others to feel what I feel or to believe in what I believe. I’m just asking that people respect my choices, my beliefs and, overall, that people respect me as a human being, in the same way I will certainly respect everyone else, no matter if they are atheists or follow other religions.

    I do understand that I have no proofs. I do understand that my feelings can be wrong and it might all be just an illusion. But I can get over all these cognitive dissonance, because my feelings are quite powerful. I just know that, to me, this is the right path.

    As I said, I don’t condemn those that don’t follow my path — everyone is unique and we are supposed to find our way in life through different paths. What I do appreciate, though, is that people provide me with the same courtesy and avoid judging me for being who I am and for believing what I believe, particularly considering that I don’t follow a path of segregation and hate.

    I can certainly understand people judging me if I act or belive in bigoted things — and I appreciate when people call those things ups. But if I’m being harmless, even if perhaps delusional, there’s nothing to be gained in trying to “bring me to my senses”.

  2. Literally 0% of our most certain and fundamental beliefs can be verified empirically.

    I believe I exist. I believe the past and the external world are real. I believe there are minds other than my own. I believe the basic rules and laws of logic and mathematics are true (we can’t verify those empirically without reasoning in a circle).

    Every belief we hold is grounded in our experience, except a priori beliefs which are typically defined as “that which we know apart from experience” (whatever that means). Could your experience of the external world be an illusion? Of course it could. Are you seriously going to consider that hypothesis? I don’t suppose so.

    To be clear, I don’t think just every belief that is grounded in one’s experience is rational to hold. But since many such beliefs are, when we encounter someone who claims that he holds such a belief, the appropriate thing to do is to figure out why some such beliefs are rational, and whether these criteria apply to that specific belief.

    Here is just one of these criteria as presented by Kai Man Kwan: “If it seems epistemically to S that p on the basis of a noetic experience E, and E belongs to a well-established type of experience, then S has prima facie justification for the belief that p, which is sufficient for justified belief that p simpliciter in the absence of defeater”.

    We can of course go a bit deeper (what is meant by a well-established type of experience?) But the important point to note is that this clearly applies to everyday experiences. As an epistemologist would say, when I am “being appeared to treely”, the leap from “being appeared to” to the conclusion that “reality corresponds to my experience” is largely a function of whether or not this is, as Kai Man Kwan puts it, a well-established type of experience.

    It’s also important to consider potential defeaters for such beliefs. If I am in a garden and I perceive what appears to me to be an oak tree from afar, but the owner of the garden tells me there are no oak trees in his garden (and I believe him), that is a (rebutting) defeater for my belief that what I perceived was an oak tree.

    Why doesn’t this apply to religious experiences? Are they a well-established type of experience? Yes! The majority of people in the world and in the history of the world have believed in some type of a God, and the majority of those have had some type of religious/spiritual experience. Even some atheists have had such experiences as Kai Man Kwan notes. So why doesn’t that give at least SOME positive epistemic status to belief in God absent defeaters? Why doesn’t that give belief in God some type of prima facie justification?

    This merely scratches the surface of the argument from religious experience. Please get acquainted with the serious literature on this.

  3. I only very loosely identify with theism because it tends to put me in the same mental basket with people who give a bit too much credence to really old books.

    However there is so much in my life, daily, that is outside the materialist athiest worldview that to call all of it illusion is really absurd to me. A portion of me is still afraid that could be the case (the part conditioned by my parents and society) but by giving that part of me love and attention things are shifting.

    The claim that there is no empirical evidence for God is an interesting one.

    What it really sounds like to me is that you're discounting other people's interpretations of what happens in life everyday that is often too complex and subtle to say definitively that reality is one way and not another.

    All of life could be seen as empirical evidence of God with sufficient understanding and spiritual context.

    If there were a very precise orchestration of life on the part of Divinity taking care of the evolution and ultimate well-being of all souls while honoring their free will… how would you know that in an objective way without opening up to experience it for yourself? That's what free will means. You won't experience something that shatters your worldview unless you agree to it on some level.

    I reject the claim that there is such a thing as an objective, external, physical world outside of the awareness of sentient beings. There is actually no evidence in support of that. Absolutely everything we experience occurs within our awareness including all results of scientific experiments. If you were to come and point to a tree and say look, that's part of the physical world outside of us I would say no, that's an experience occurring within my consciousness and I have no reason to believe it is truly separate from me at a fundamental level.

    Inference that there is an external world based on some tenuous logical leaps is not the same as evidence.

    So I won't try to make it seem like God must exist either. You are free to see life however you want. But materialism and athiesm are still, in a fundamental way, an interpretation of reality and not reality itself.

    Apart from that, what would constitute evidence of God for you?

    Imagine you and several scientists with recording equipment are witness to someone invoking the Divine to create healing for someone. They place their hands over someone and the sensors pick up strange energy readings. Over a few minutes the patient's disease (a tumor let's say) dissolves and they get up and walk out healthy.

    Would that be evidence in support of God/Divinity? I have no reason to doubt this is possible and has happened because I have experienced healings in my own life although not in such a physically obvious way. There actually is a video of just such a healing that Gregg Braden has on YouTube.

    Despite evidence like this, most scientists are still wary of risking their careers to investigate it to the point of having it published in peer-reviewed literature. It's not easy to get funding for things that go against the status quo.

    And even when experiments along these lines are published (seen Dean Radin's video about his experiment on consciousness affecting matter at a distance), at least some have been snubbed out and removed from journals due to the bias and politics of the materialist worldview that dominates most of science.

    So to my understanding there is evidence pointing to a much bigger picture of reality that leaves quite a bit of room for the existence of God. Not a God separate from us that judges people for masturbating, but an infinitely loving and wise intelligence within us and of which each of us are powerful aspects.

    It's just that this evidence is ignored and rationalized away.

    I'm not saying any of it is proof of God because we haven't even proved the so called law of gravity. That is still an interpretation of reality. A map of reality that has been quite useful so far. But still only a map. Gravity could simply be the consequence of the collective consciousness of humanity believing that it is so. Sort of the default belief system to play the human game of reality. That's what the new evidence is pointing towards, that our deeply held beliefs and intentions create and shape reality.

    So it's not that I assert that God is any particular thing that can be proven as a scientific hypothesis. That would be trying to limit the unlimited. But we can certainly begin giving more attention to the fact that there is a lot more going on here than any of us can truly grasp completely.

    I don't need peer-reviewed papers to know that I live in a friendly universe that conspires for my highest benefit and the highest benefit of all beings. Even if it looks pretty bad at times. You will never be able to trust in that benevolence to the point that your life changes for the better if you sit around waiting for scientists to tell you it's true. Even then you could still find ways to doubt the existence of higher intelligence.

    Both religion and science as human institutions are full of dogma and politics.

    But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    Science and spirituality are coming together as more people realize that we don't have all the answers and there is much more to learn about reality.

    I look forward to the day when the scientific method is applied wholeheartedly, humbly, and curiously in harmony with our deepest living spiritual wisdom. Then we will have a more mature civilization where peace, love, health, and happiness are the default and the normal.

  4. “Without backing or empirical evidence” — you make an assumption that you expect me to make as well. No, I think there’s rather solid backing.

    “could your spiritual experiences be mere illusions?” — Could your sensory experiences be mere illusions? Heck, some philosophers (insanely) propose that the fact that you’re conscious is a mere illusion (though what an illusion exactly is to a being who’s not conscious to experience the illusion really has me stumped) … Of course, any experience can be a mere illusion, but see my first paragraph above. Given that there is solid backing and that in fact I find it impossible not to believe in God when I look at all the evidence and support for and against (not just because I was raised in the faith, but because I’ve examined these things), the confluence of factors in evaluating the propositions of my faith confirms that my experiences are not mere illusions, not any more than any other experiences I have might be …

    Could I be wrong about things? Sure I can, but so could you.

  5. I was raised by Christian parents and so we attended church (my parents were divorced so I attended many different churches), but had I been born to Jewish parents or Muslims, I’m pretty sure that I would be Jewish or Muslim. It’s a cultural thing. I am a very questioning person, so there were lots of questions for myself about what is true or not. Some things I did not agree with the pastor on (one said that Dogs don’t have souls, screw that opinion) and so as I aged, I developed my opinions.

    The more I explored the questions about God’s existence, the more I came to believe that He does exist and I have no basis for this other than a gut feeling that would tell me in my darkest times (and I have lived through some very dark times), that I wasn’t alone. I talk to God all the time and I feel that I receive answers to my prayers. It isn’t always what I want to hear, but then good advice often isn’t. Whether I am just giving a name to my conscience or thought process, what does it matter? I talk to God, and He talks to me. We talk when I am alone, stressed, happy, hopeful, thankful, exhausted. I talk to Him like I talk to a best friend, and sometimes He lets me know that I have screwed up (like a good parent does).

    Anyone that says that they KNOW exactly what is right or wrong about God (based on the bible, the Koran, the Torah, whatever) is kidding themselves. Just because you were told from birth that the Bible is the ultimate book and tells you God’s will, it is also full on contradictions and can be taken out of context. It was written by human beings, inspired by God, and translated into our language that sometimes changes what was originally written. Believe what you want, but don’t be so arrogant to think that YOU have the authority on God’s will and can impose your judgement on others (there are some verses about just that situation in the bible if you care to read them).

    I thought about heaven and the possibility of seeing loved ones again and I decided that even if there is no God and no heaven, I would prefer to believe a lie than to think that this life is all there is. How depressing would it be to get up, go to work, make a family and die and that is it. Belief is an idea that there is more than just this. What would our purpose be?

    The teachings of Jesus are good rules of life, so even if you don’t believe in God, if you practice (which a LOT of Christians do NOT do), the teachings of Christ, you will at least leave the world a better place for your having been there.

    So, if I believe in God and I’m wrong, I will die and be buried and that will be that, no harm, no foul. If I believe in God and I’m right….. well Glory Be!

    However, I don’t believe that you should kill anyone for not believing in God. I don’t believe that people that don’t believe what you do are going to hell. I don’t believe that you should judge or treat those don’t believe with arrogance and condescension. I don’t believe that I would worship a God that would approve of such things.

  6. There is no experience that can be backed by empirical evidence because experiences are subjective.

    No one knows what I experience and I don’t know what anyone else experiences. We have words that describe what we experience and I can say I’ve experienced being drunk or stoned or in love or depressed or severe pain or hunger, but what empirical evidence can science give to back up what I have experienced?

    Only I know what it felt like to me. Science can’t examine my experiences. Scientists can ask what an experience feels like, and analyse the answer and see what neurons are firing and which chemicals are active but no scientist can examine experiences, they are off limits to everyone but the person experiencing them.

    Anyway, Empirical evidence is the least reliable of all forms of knowledge. Going by my empirical observations, the Earth is flat and stationery and the sun moves around it. Species don’t evolve, each species gives birth to another of the same species and nothing else. Life appears to be aimless and with no purpose, the universe appears to have always been here from what I can observe. There are no such things as atoms and if I’m quite sure no one will find out, I can commit any crime I want and get away with it.

    Do you have empirical evidence of your own that can refute these observations?

    I am a theist because I accept that learning from someone who knows more than I do is a better way to acquire knowledge, what is your experience?

  7. I am a conservative and a devout Hindu, I am often asked by many of my fellow youngsters about the reason why I am a theist( all thanks to the trend of being an atheist), my reply to them is always the same, “I believe everything in this world is predicted, it's your fate that will take over you eventually, karma just adds to it.”

    This fate, to me, is decided by God, who decides it depending on your past actions/karma and you get what you deserve.

    Spiritual experiences can't be illusions, since they are already decided, so how can an experience already decided be an illusion?

    An illusion can't be experienced, personally I have experienced many of these ‘spiritual experiences', I have felt a thrust of positive energy when I entered a temple, I had lost the value for materialistic forces such as disrespect, greed and frustration, which has made me a better human being.

    Note — I respect your beliefs, but please give me the same respect for my beliefs.

    Yours, a conservative theist.

  8. Imagine for one moment you looked up at the night sky and saw an alien spacecraft. Due to their advanced technology, it wasn’t picked up on any scientific instruments made by humans. You were the lone witness(or so you thought at the very least) to an event that is literally world changing(an absolute confirmation that life on other planets exists or at least a technologically advance species on Earth other than humans). You even saw one of the aliens inside the craft. It lasted but a second or two before it was gone. You would have near absolute belief in what you saw, but there is no way to prove it to anyone. Does this mean it did not exist? Does it mean it was a figment of imagination? A mirage? Something else?

    The absence of evidence does not prove a negative. Evidence can prove a positive. My personal belief that there is a higher power is based on that type of personal experience. I have had multiple such experiences which defy current scientific explanation. It has lead me to a belief in intelligent design(due to the timing and perceived message along with the events). At the very least, it means that we as humans still have a lack of understanding about some things. I do not follow any specific major religion, but I am a theist. I have belief in a higher power. While I was raised in a theist household, I do not share the same beliefs as my parents. I am not agnostic because I have a positive belief in a higher power. If I eventually find a scientific explanation for those events, I may change my belief.

    “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

    I have not considered intelligent design to be impossible, but rather improbable based upon scientific evidence. Belief in science and theism are not mutually exclusive.

  9. Why should I trust empirical evidence? How do I know that I am dreaming or in someone else's dream? Maybe I am in the Matrix? Or perhaps a demon is tricking me (Descarte came up with that idea)?

    You can't use empiricism to back up empiricism; you must use logic to back it up. Empicism states that we must rely on our senses to arrive at the truth. However, our senses are wrong all the time; think about how an oar looks in the water. It appears to bend but we know it doesn't; the light tricks our eyes.

    I realize we can explain the “bending of the oar” with other empical methods but how do we know our senses aren't completely wrong on a fundamental level? How do we know any of this is real? These questions must be figures out apart from empirical methods. Empiricism needs a certain kind of reality to stand on for it to have any meaning. It is only useful once we determine what reality is.

    No one who believes in God thinks He is part of this world the way a tree or a fish is part of this world. We believe God is the Ultimate Reality that holds everything together. This Ultimate Reality is the prime source of logic that makes this universe adhere to a set of laws and principles. We know we are real because we experience coherence on a day to day basis.

    In short empiricism works because Ultimate Reality makes our world coherent. Empiricism can't discover Ultimate Reality because Ultimate Reality is the table that empiricism needs to even work. If there is no Ultimate Reality then we should assume the nihilists are correct and give up on the scientific project. If there is no Ultimate Reality we will only discover contradictions and non sense that will drive us mad. Ultimate Reality is what makes everything coherent and logical. Without it we have nothing.

  10. For a yogi, his body and mind are laboratory. He experiments inside his body I. e. Spine and mind. So whatever spiritual experiences he has, they are real to him. And they are sensory in the sense that they are felt and observable inside spine and mind. ,So how they can be illusion? from the point of view of eternity these are illusion in a relative sense. But these experiences are not illusion from worldly point of view. A person having drown in his 5senses cannot have these spiritual experiences. He don't know that their are many things hidden inside body not observable by ordinary person living in 5 senses.

    These spiritual experiences are not hundreds but in thousands. They are usually observable inside light. Rising of electric currents inside spine, hearing om sound inside your mind, seeing spiritual eye with closed and open eyes. Seeing forms of God forms before you inside light, without worshipping them.these are some of the many experiences which a Sadhaka have inside his body.

    A scientific attitude is that you experiment first then verify weather it is true or false. Applying this principle to yoga, first apply yoga techniques in Sadhana and meditation then see the results. It is only by applying these Yog-Kriyas or techniques in meditation and seeing the results can verify them and not before. You cannot know the truth by reasoning only and by mental jugglery. Do yog-sadhana under a God Realised Guru then you will know what is yoga and what is truth. For it you will have to do arduous Sadhana.

    Read the following books:-

    -Autobiography of a yogi by paramhansa Yoganandji

    -Raj-Yog by Sw. Shivanandji

    -Chit Shakti Vilas by Muktanand paramhansji

  11. My spiritual experiences could indeed be nothing more than psychological phenomena. So I will not tell you that I am a theist because of my spiritual experiences. I am a theist because of my thought process.

    If I if I were to die tomorrow, at my funeral people could say my life had meaning. I achieved a lot, I overcame a lot, I left three children to continue my bloodline. I was comfortable and reasonably happy and healthy. A nice life.

    What about the people who died of sickness as children? The people who had a hard scrabble life and achieved very little? The mentally ill homeless guy who freezes to death under a bridge? Refugees of wars who have no home? The list goes on. What meaning did their life have?

    In three generations the vast majority of us will not be remembered by our descendants. Even the celebrities of today will largely be forgotten.

    I find it hard to believe that the minuscule blip on the history of mankind that I have made means anything. And I'm one of the fortunate ones.

    There has to be something more than the Here and Now. People talk about the beautiful circle of life, but it's not a circle for you and me, we're just a couple of degrees in the arc.

    The belief in everlasting life and God makes much more sense to me than my accidental appearance in time.

  12. You are right, they very well could be. But do you know what is most certainly an illusion? Color. Color doesn’t exists, it is purely the way our brains interpret light. This seemingly fundamental and obvious truth is in actually a lie crafted by our brains to make sense of light. Color is among the main methods we observe the world and yet it isn’t even real.

    Well, if color is an illusion, what else is? Free will could be an illusion. Despite how very much it appears to be my choice to be here typing out this answer, it could be that the chemical makeup of my body and influence of the environment led me here as surely as one domino causes the next to fall.

    In fact, what if everything is an illusion? Already it’s clear that we don’t perceive the world as it actually is; the illusion of color alone demonstrates that. There are many optical illusions that demonstrate how our brain tricks us. Even the light we do (incorrectly) perceive is only a tiny slice of the electromagnetic spectrum. How much are we missing about the world due to this limited perception? What hidden depths about the universe lie beyond the range of our senses?

    Ultimately, I am a still clearly a theist on faith. But if I released my faith in God, I would still need faith to believe in the universe.

  13. I am a theist because I want something bigger than myself to exist.

    The lack of empirical evidence only means that the hypothesis that there is a god is not proven. Similarly there is no empirical evidence to champion the hypothesis that there is no god.

    Science limits itself only to empirical evidence. Science has no opinion on what cannot be observed. Having no opinion does not mean it rejects other explanations.

    Spiritual experiences could be mere illusions or it could be something else. There is no evidence to prove either way. Science and spiritualism can and very often do co-exist.

    The problem is humans are very often asshats. There are lots and lots of asshats. On all sides. Very often an atheist will attempt to show that theists are delusional or theist will attempt to prove that atheists are the same.

    Logically neither side can be proven wrong even if neither side can be proven to be right. What remains is merely human malice. A will to persecute someone with a different idea to yours.

    I have an uncomfortable history with Christianity. From my youth I have encountered some industrial strength asshats that soured me to the concept of theism. For a while I thought that made me a atheist. Except that it wasn’t true. Once I accepted that it was the imperfection of humans that drove some of the ugliness in a religion, I began to realize that the same thing drove many atheists.

    Rationally I am now agnostic. But emotionally I believe there is something out there.

  14. Empirical evidence by definition means sensory evidence, and I do have empirical evidence for myself, of a Universal Intelligence.

    Twice in my life, I have been in a very bad situation, where I resorted to just breaking down, and praying, God, get me out of here! Within 24 hours, a random opportunity presented itself, and I had a path to go somewhere else.

    I have made significant promises to my future self, without worrying about when or how, only to have those things come to pass, quite easily in their own time.

    I have had several experiences of a spiritual nature, (and they are documented in other answers here on Quora) Not entirely Empirical, but real enough for my own satisfaction.

    Christianity has always left me uneasy. It was the way I was raised, but, to put it bluntly, the Biblical story of God and Humanity is for a simpler time and a simpler humanity. It does women a huge disservice as well. Our knowledge as global whole has grown, and so too does the story need to grow.

    So in my personal growth I have done a lot of experimentation with Manifestation and my relationship to Source. I can feel my own divine spark. I do not identify with my physical body as my I am. (Which our fore bearers did with much doubt) It makes more sense to me that we are all pieces of God, or a Universal Intelligence, taking time to have a physical experience.

    I had the experience of the Dime Phenomenon, (Google it. I didn’t even know it was a thing until I could no longer deny I was finding way too many dimes for it to be coincidence), for over 5 years of my life, but I no longer experience that now. Still not sure why it happened, but dimes showed up in very illogical places, I and only I, had been in less than 24 hours before.)

    So has simple exercises in manifestation yielded any Empirical results? Yes. (Look up E-Cubed by Pam Grout)

    In one of her simple exercises I imagined a jewel. I didn’t define it, but I held my desire for it in my mind. The next day I found a large sparkly jewel laying on the carpet next to my kitchen table. It is about 3 mm in diameter and looks like a typical round cut diamond. I had lived in that place for three years. I had vacuumed hundreds of times. I had even scrubbed that carpet on my hands and knees, there by the table to remove stains! This was not an object I had ever owned. I thanked the universe for my gift of proof and made a ring out of it. I didn’t get it checked to see if was a diamond or a zirconium.

    I know that may be hard to believe, but I have no reason to lie. This experience simply happened for me.

    I have come to believe people are very good at not seeing what they do not want to see. Since I do not have those pre-programmed blocks on many levels, so Empirical Evidence does exist.

  15. The necessity for experimental, repeatable empirical evidence before determining truth is not universal. You were taught to think that way. You were indoctrinated.

    That’s not an insult. Most of us are indoctrinated into that way of thinking these days. It’s an unquestioned part of the curriculum in most schools.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s the only pathway to truth. It’s just the only pathway to truth that most people can see anymore.

    My theism comes from a series of personal experiences. These experiences did not produce any evidence which can be experimented upon and repeated by others. Without similar experiences, and with the prevalence of the teaching that experimental, repeatable empirical evidence being the only way to determine truth, it’s not surprising that many people today reject theism.

    In fact, that’s the main argument for atheism that I read on Quora: “There is no evidence for God! Show me evidence, and I’ll believe!”

    I wish everyone could have the same experiences that I had that led me to theism. If there were a way for me to write down instructions for getting those experiences, I would. But there isn’t.

  16. Here is something from the bible.

    Now faith is confidence in what we hope for

    and assurance about what we do not see.

    Hebrews 11:1

    If we had empirical evidence today, we wouldn’t need faith.

    That’s the thing about religions. They are faith based. All of them sound a little crazy, but so does a giant explosion creating the universe (the big bang).

    Even science is faith based. People believed the Earth was at the center of the universe. People believed the Earth was flat. There was no proof, but that was the belief. We all have faith that something is a fundamental truth.

    For theist, God is a fundamental truth.

    I will believe in God until someone proves he doesn’t exist, which is as difficult as proving he does exist.

    In all honesty, spiritual experiences could be illusions, but we choose to believe in a higher power regardless of if we can see it.

    Could we be wrong? Yes.

    Could we be right? Yes.

  17. I am a theist. I don’t have any empirical evidence that led me in that direction. All of my spiritual experiences, beliefs and feelings could be merely illusions.

    That’s not a problem.

    If I decide that we need to kill you and your kind in the name of my god, or somehow treat you less than others, or collect money from your destitute elderly parents, then I’d really need empirical evidence. As a scientist, I’d need really solid evidence. Rearranging clouds each Thursday afternoon before sunset clearly writing out my heavenly directives would be solid evidence.

    Until then, I’ll be a theist with no empirical evidence and I’ll let you be and let you have your beliefs.

  18. Empirical evidence – or any other type of evidence – does not exist independent of a Supreme God. Without God you would have no reason to trust your alleged epistemic tools – your senses or your intelligence.

    As as atheist, ask yourself how you know the data coming from your senses can tell you ANYTHING about reality. And ask yourself how you can trust your reasoning powers at all.

    There is no way an atheist can prove that he knows ANYTHING AT ALL. First he has to prove that his senses are giving him data about reality. Then he has to know that his reasoning powers can lead him to sound conclusions. In order to even reason he has to give an account of the necessary preconditions of human cognition and intelligibility.

    These are:

    • The laws of logic.
    • The validity of human reasoning.
    • The “principle of induction”.
    • Truth.
    • Knowledge.
    • The validity of human sense perception.
    • The existence of an external world outside our own consciousness.
    • The existence of other minds.
    • Our continuing personal identity.
    • The reliability of our memory.
    • The relationship between the mind and body.
    • The reality of cause-and-effect relations.
    • The existence of the past.
    • The existence of matter.
    • The existence of values.
    • The existence of morality.

    But the atheist cannot account for ANY of these. There is no way, on atheism, to prove the existence of, or the validity of, any of the above. Therefore the atheist cannot know anything AT ALL.

    He has to borrow from God and theism in order to give an account of all of the above. Therefore he is not really an atheist. Atheists do not really exists. Everyone knows that God exists. Some just suppress this truth because they hate God, all the while they steal from him in order to justify their own irrational worldview.

  19. The principle in Science that only what can be verified by empirical evidence can be considered true is not empirically verifiable itself.

    Which leads us to conclude that people who decide that the principle of empirical verification is the only way to reach truth are doing so based on a belief. The belief that it is the only valid way to reach truth.

    Not much different from any other non empirical belief. And the thing is that some non empirical beliefs are quite reasonable.

    The belief that there is a creator is quite reasonable in the sense that it aligns with the way our reason works. A different thing is how different religions envision that creator. But the idea of a creator is a consequence of applying the philosophical principle of causality. Either there is a Creator at the end of the chain of causes, or there is an infinite chain of causes where there isn’t a first one.

    Similarly, many people believe that there is extraterrestrial life, even when so far we don’t have any empirical evidence. And yet, it is quite reasonable to believe so.

    Needless to say, it is still possible that God doesn’t exist after all, as it is still possible that we are alone in the universe. As long as we don’t have empirical evidence of both, they are just beliefs that could end up being just illusions.

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