I wish this would happen – competent, professional, skilled intelligence analysts sitting around a table, sifting through factual evidence for the existence of God, in the same fashion as was done recently with the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concerning Iran's nuclear weapons program.
I'd love to be able to listen to the discussion. And see what evidence would be considered worthy of supporting a "Yes, God exists" assessment.
It'd be slim to non-existent, for sure.
Just as the evidence for Iraq having weapons of mass destruction was. Yet the United States intelligence community got that wrong. So why should anybody trust their current conclusion that Iran halted a covert nuclear weapons program in 2003?
Or that God doesn't/does exist?
Well, today I heard Rand Beers of the National Security Network interviewed on talk radio. Beers has extensive national security experience and spoke knowledgeably about how the sixteen U.S. spy agencies did things differently this time.
Basically, they thought things through a lot more independently and critically. Beers said that alternative explanations for intelligence findings were actively explored, rather than trying to fit those findings into prior interpretative frameworks.
Sounds like good advice for anyone assessing the evidence for and against God's existence.
Yes, many have claimed to have received a divine revelation. That's a fact. But there are lots of ways of interpreting it.
I considered a few in my "Who is the guru?" post. By guru I meant anyone who is considered to be God in human form, or at least a conduit for God's messages, which naturally includes Jesus. I noted that Bart Ehrman, a Biblical scholar, says there are four options for considering who Jesus was.
Liar, lunatic, the Lord, or a legend. I added a fourth possibility for gurus: loyalist. Meaning, someone who doesn't speak the truth about what they know (or don't know) about God because it would threaten tradition and an organizational heritage.
Here's what Agence France-Presse (AFP) said in a story about the Iran National Intelligence Estimate:
Senior US intelligence officials said this week they were responding to new information, subjected to more rigorous analysis than in the past, in declaring with "high confidence" that Iran halted a covert nuclear weapons program in 2003.
… And unlike 2002, when US intelligence officials complained of administration pressure to "cherry-pick" intelligence that supported going to war, the intelligence community this time has asserted its independence.
"This is ours," a senior intelligence official said this week, telling reporters that policymakers had no input in the conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate, as the assessment is called.
The AFP story says that an expert had reached the same conclusion as the NIE two years earlier – that Iran had given up its nuclear weapons program so it could play by the rules while still maintaining a nuclear "breakout" option.
US intelligence failed to see it [the new Iran strategy] sooner, he said, because it was intent on finding evidence to support the assumption that Iran had a nuclear weapons program.
"But if you don't take that assumption and you look for an alternative explanation, it's relatively easy to find."
Exploring alternatives. Open-mindedness. Critical thinking. This is how truth is arrived at, whether worldly or godly. If a policy pronouncement or dogma is taken on faith, reality gets short shrift.
A bit over two years ago I was fired as a speaker by my spiritual organization, Radha Soami Satsang Beas. The reason: my writings on this blog were making people uncomfortable.
In my opinion, that's a good thing. The person who is made most uncomfortable by me is, clearly, me. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
She died not knowing whether God exists, or not. Just as we all will. The difference is that most people uncritically accept the religious dogma they've been given rather than challenging it. My mother didn't. She never stopped searching for truth that could be counted on, not merely believed.
This is just what intelligence analysts do. The competent ones, at least.
Question, question, question. That's the only way answers will be found.