-- Ok Spot, let's see if you're for real.
-- Why don't I believe in God?

-- That's easy...
-- There are two very good reasons for not believing in G-d. There isn't any evidence, and he doesn't make any sense. (I mean, these are pretty good reasons!)
-- You haven't seen any G-d, and the works attributed to G-d by believers seem better explained through science, and better attributed to evolution. On top of that, He is presented to you as this omniscient, omnipotent "man" who simply exists -- sort of the next, and last, step up from Santa Claus. He seems to have created you to play with. He has defined what is right and wrong. He puts you into these miserable situations with little strength and demands that you be strong. Then, on top of that, He wants you to worship Him. Can you imagine that? Can you beat that? Can you believe that?
-- Who made this big Santa Claus anyway, and who put Him in charge? Who made Him boss? Who made Him G-d? He certainly isn't very G-d-like -- wanting to play games, and wanting to be worshipped. How can there be a first cause anyway? And, even if there could be, how could it be a big man? Preposterous!
-- And finally, G-d's major claim to fame -- immortality -- seems to be nothing but wishful thinking.
-- The conclusion is obvious -- G-d is the transparent figment of a desperate imagination and has no basis in fact or logic. Your ancestors pulled G-d out of thin air because they were afraid of dying and because they needed something to believe in. Man is the father of G-d -- not the other way around; and necessity is His mother.

-- Well, you’ve got that right!
-- (Pause)
-- So, why should I believe in God?

-- Well, from an intellectual point of view, it isn't so much that you should "believe" in G-d, as you should "suspect" in G-d. You should suspect that there is a G-d (or something similar). "Believe" is about intuition and faith. "Suspect" is about evidence and reason. Intellectually, you should suspect that there is such a thing as G-d. But, one thing for sure, if you've dismissed G-d already, you're premature -- there is more here than has met your eye so far. Believe me...
-- But that's probably not the right first question anyway.

-- OK. I get it. Why should we not dis-believe in God? Why should we reopen his case?

-- Exactly
-- And, the "quick and dirty" answer is that you're not as smart as you think you are and your reasons for disbelieving are not as good as you think they are. (Besides that, you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny (chuckle) (Don Rickles).) You missed a lot of evidence that first time around, and made a lot of unwarranted assumptions.
-- You take your own intelligence and perceptivity much too seriously. You need to develop a sense of humor about yourself, and your species. You need to open your minds.

-- Mmm... But even before that, shouldn't we decide upon a DEFINITION? What should we use for a definition of "God"?

-- Good point. Almost certainly, whatever definition you chose, your existing concept of G-d involves a BIG DOG... I mean, BIG MAN -- if not consciously, then subconsciously. Growing up in your culture must make that ingrained concept almost impossible to avoid. That lurking, imprinted, knee-jerk childhood concept almost certainly gets in your way, when as an adult, you try to honestly judge the evidence...
-- When you look inside yourself and ask the question, "Do I believe in G-d", you encounter a knee-jerk, "No way." That answer, however, is a judgment made in adolescence to a concept formed in childhood, is reflexive rather than reflective, and is not something into which you should place much faith. I suggest that you have the WRONG G-d in mind -- or at least, in the BACK of your mind -- which biases your judgment.
-- You must keep reminding yourself that the G-d you should be judging is NOT a BIG MAN. This won't make it all better, but -- like chicken soup -- it can't hurt.

-- But then, if I currently have the wrong God in the back of my mind, what God should I have there?

-- The same G-d you have in the front of your mind.
-- What we need to identify, however, is not the entirety of your "frontal" G-d, but rather the ultimate criteria of your frontal G-d. What are the minimum qualifications of a full-fledged G-d for you? What is the least possible G-d I must substantiate in order to satisfy your notion of, and needs from, a G-d?
-- Which leads to the second part of what seems to be a two-part question -- who is the G-d that I plan to substantiate? What G-d do I have in mind when I claim that you should suspect in G-d?
-- Hopefully, these two questions are clear and my G-d includes your G-d. Let's see.
Firstly, the G-d I will try to substantiate is The Ground, or Source, of All Consciousness.
-- Then, "It" is timeless and space-less (in other words, "transcendent"). It is alive and free. It is not indifferent -- It is caring. (In fact, It is perfectly caring.) And, It is "personal" (I'll explain later). My G-d defines right and wrong.
-- In addition my G-d promises immortality and ultimate meaning. This is the G-d I'd like you to entertain.

-- Now, that ought to satisfy anybody...
-- At any rate, this is the G-d that I will endeavor to substantiate.
-- Most likely, your G-d needs to be the transcendent source of all things. "He", or It, needs to be conscious, absolutely caring and to promise immortality and ultimate meaning.

-- I would say we're pretty close, and your unintended two-part question seems to have a one-part answer.

-- Anyway, as unlikely as my G-d may seem to you, it is the one that I will try to substantiate and it probably encompasses what your G-d needs to be. But ultimately, considering the inherent difficulty of the defining task here, I am forced to refer to the famous one liner of my imminent colleague, to wit, "I may not know the definition of `fire hydrant', but I know a fire hydrant when I see it." If in our study, we develop a better sense of G-d, our current efforts at definition may seem rather crude and off the mark. Next question.

-- Ok, you've convinced me -- your God is as good as my God. But where's your evidence that either exists?

-- Unfortunately -- as some of you have surely expected -- I must digress again. (I seem to be a canine Victor Borge.)

-- Anyway, if we take "evidence" in it's broadest sense -- something like, "any observation and/or logic that tends to support a belief or position" -- I've introduced some evidence already. Remember -- whatever undermines the other side supports mine.
In addition, the introduction of "evidence" is not the only "legal maneuver" that one may invoke in an effort to advance one's case -- and I've invoked at least two examples of "non-evidentiary" support already.
-- Whatever, we are not still at square one and you should pay more attention.

-- For example. Part of the support for suspecting in G-d is recognizing explicitly that the BIG MAN concept is off the mark and that it tends to get in your way when trying to make an honest judgment concerning the existence of G-d. What feels like your honest opinion is actually biased. And then, reminding you to think of G-d as something much more abstract -- something like "The Force" -- should make my task easier.
-- So, with this particular argument, I try to invoke two legal maneuvers in one: I try to undermine the credibility of your star witness (you), and I try to reduce the charges (from BIG MAN to "The Force"). So it turns out that I'm not the defense lawyer here, I'm the prosecutor, trying to show that G-d is "guilty" as charged, and reducing the charges just makes my task that much easier. You didn't think he was "guilty" because you had a different "crime" in mind.
-- Neither of these admissions may be particularly compelling to you, but they are both legitimate, and they are both potentially supportive of G-d's existence.

-- Perhaps, we should take a break for now. I understand that human attention span begins to slip at your age. (On second thought, maybe I'm a philosophical Don Rickles...) (Next)