I don't believe in God. I'm virtually certain that God doesn't exist, because there is no demonstrable evidence for a god or gods.
Thus I deeply doubt that anyone, alive or dead, has ever known anything about God other than what they make up in their own mind.
So I've got some simple questions for religious believers -- a number of whom are regular readers of this blog (which is kind of weird; it's sort of like avid meat-eaters frequenting a vegetarian web site).
I understand that many religious believers just have faith that God exists. They don't claim to have any special knowledge of a supernatural divinity. They hope to be ushered into God's presence after death. My questions really aren't for these people of faith.
Rather, I'm interested in those who purport to have experienced the presence of God, or at least a reflection of God, such as a holy spirit, angel, divine energy, or whatever.
Here's my questions to them:
(1) Do you claim to know something about reality that isn't known to ordinary people? If so, what is this special knowledge, and how do you know that it is true?
(2) Do you claim to have an elevated sense of morality that isn't possessed by ordinary people? If so, what makes you a better sort of moral person from ordinary people?
(3) Do you claim to understand what God is like? If so, enumerate some attributes of God and how you came to comprehend them.
I ask these questions because I've spent many, many years talking to people who believe in God, and I've never met a single person who had a convincing story about an actual experience of God.
One would think (as I do) that anyone who has had a glimpse of God, if not a full- blown vision, would come away from that experience with some special knowledge, special goodness, special morality, special understanding, special something.
If they can't demonstrate what this special something is, then they shouldn't expect that anyone else should take them seriously when they claim to have experienced God. Talk is cheap. Truth is expensive, in that it requires proof, evidence, facts.
In everyday life, if someone says, "I know X," it is perfectly appropriate to ask, "How do you know X? What reasons do you have for believing your knowledge is true? Show me some evidence for X."
But in the realm of religion, people are allowed to spout all sorts of crap without being challenged. Well, this atheist, along with many of my atheist friends, is tired of religious believers getting a free pass on the Truth Train.
So I'm curious to see if any religious person steps up to the Truth Plate (to mix metaphors) and takes a swing at my three questions.