One of the major benefits of studying law at the most highly regarded law school in the country is that I’m surrounded by clever, thoughtful people who express themselves well. Turns out that holds true even when they’re drunk, as I saw at the Law faculty launch party a few weeks ago (the one with the $5,500 bar tab for those paying attention on Facebook).
It was there that I got into a conversation about god and belief and the meaning of life. Not surprising in a place with lots of free alcohol perhaps, but this happened during the very first drink. I was challenged about my agnosticism, and I explained that since there was no direct or indirect evidence of a divine being, I did not believe in one, and that I would continue doing so until such evidence presented itself.
The conversation moved on, but it did make me question what evidence I would find compelling. At the time, I made some glib remark about how if the stars were rearranged to say “Jarrah, I exist. Really. Signed, God” that would be a start. But I immediately thought that probably wouldn’t suffice. I could be hallucinating, for example. Or it could be an advanced alien being, playing games with me.
So what would I accept? The more I think about it, the more I’m not sure anything at all would be enough. As Arthur C. Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and religion is just another type of magic (where ‘magic’ is something beyond physical laws/explanation). Therefore, no matter what ‘miracle’ I witnessed (or thought I witnessed), I could never eliminate the possibility of mere alien technology posing as an interventionist god.
I suppose what might sway me would be a plausible hypothesis about the mechanism by which a divine being could be part of the universe, but that traditionally is a contradiction in terms. Of course, then it would have to be supported by evidence arising from experiments designed to test this hypothesis, and a great deal of it too.
For now, colour me sceptical.