Could some one please convince me, one way or the other, to finally decide, sometime before I die, whether God exists?

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Answered by: Martin, An Expert in the Skepticism and Cricital Thinking Category
The short answer to this question, despite the fact that you were kind enough to include the word "please," is, in a word, no. I do not think that anyone could persuade you to decide whether God exists.

First of all, because it appears that you want to come to some end to pondering the question, I would like to suggest that any time would be a good time for you to make your decision. Remember, however, that even a judge in a high superior court may some day have a decision overruled by an even higher, supreme court; and similarly, you may decide one way today, but change your mind later on.

Before you get too hasty and think it's child's play to decide whether God exists, I would like to ask if it has occurred to you that you might decide, for example, that God does not exist (or vice versa) only to find out the very next day that some one else defines God differently than you. Under a different definition, the question of whether God exists might have you talking out of both sides of your mouth, so to speak. "Oh well sure," you might say. "That kind of God definitely exists, but that's not my definition of God."

But let's say you get past that hurdle and decide not to quibble. You will accept what most people think of when they hear the word "God" as being the definition you will go with for now. After all, if you can't even decide what the word means, how can you ever decide the big question of whether God exists? Now you have the task of testing all the standard arguments both for and against the existence of God.

For example, some people believe in God based on historical events or the testimony of specific people; others believe because of inductive reasoning; when they pray, something good turns up. On the other hand, there are those who say that with so much suffering and unhappiness in the world, the question of whether God exists is easily answered; either that, or the question itself is irrelevant; moreover, empirical argumentation can be used to say that if we can't see it, taste it, feel it, smell it, or hear it, then it just isn't there.

Bottom line: use your own personal wisdom. No one can tell you what to believe on this subject. Let's just be thankful that we live in a country where you and I are free to discuss the matter of whether God exists publicly, as we have done just now. When the chips are down and the pressure is on for you to make the decision, I'm sure you will have the courage to do it. Just think. You can change your mind at will. If we have freedom of speech on the subject, then surely we have freedom of decision. After all, it is only a private decision, made by you alone, in the privacy of your own mind. It is not as if you were plotting a crime. It is just a matter of personal preference. So go ahead and decide.

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