Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Save My Soul Via Government-Run Gambling Challenge

The religious ask me from time to time what would convince me that God exists. I have written about various ways that I would be convinced, but they all lack in detail and specifics. Today I’m offering one example of exactly what would convince me in a challenge that would likely save my soul, be compelling to readers of my blog, and almost certainly make the news as a story that would be picked up by Christians everywhere.

The steps you, the believer, must take:

  1. Ask your God for the winning Mega Millions lotto numbers for Tuesday, 5-5-15.
  2. Give me the numbers privately.

I’ll take it from here. I’ll use my own dollar to play your numbers on that date. The odds of those numbers hitting, while not impossible to hit by chance, would be a sufficient sign to me that God gave you the numbers and I would therefore join your faith. If they win, I will donate the jackpot to a charity affiliated with your (our) religion. Yes, I imagine a guy donating his winnings to charity because he says that he was tipped off by God would make the news.

Why I think this is a reasonable challenge.

  1. Most religious apologists already say God makes his existence known via a similar trick of probability in their fine tuning argument. However, the fine tuning argument is only meaningful under a variety of assumptions that make the odds that we are here unlikely. No assumptions will be needed in this challenge. It will be a very straight forward beating of the odds. Obviously when this hits the news, it wouldn’t convince everyone because, well, someone has to win the lottery, but it will convince me and I’ll do what I can to convince others.
  2. I’ve heard that prayer works best when they are not made selfishly. Praying for the winning numbers in this case is not selfish. (It might be the first time in history praying for the winning lotto ticket isn’t selfish.) You are praying for someone else to win (me) who will give all the money to charity and use the experience to spread the good news.
  3. Biblically speaking, God occasionally proves himself--whether it be a resurrected Jesus appearing to doubters to staffs turning into snakes to convince the authorities. I'm asking for a much lower-key miracle here.

What if the challenge fails?

If it fails, it fails. I remain an atheist and you remain a whatever. I don’t ask anything of you beyond an honest acknowledgement that we tried and it didn’t work. Ideally, you'll also think on that.

The untrusting, less interesting alternative.

After buying the ticket and before the drawing I will post the vendor from which I bought the ticket. If there is a winning ticket, it will be a matter of record where the ticket was sold and you'll all know if it could have been me. That said, if you still don’t trust that I will keep up my end of the challenge, you can post the God-given number you are going to play publicly in the comments and you can donate the money to charity yourself. It won’t be as good a story and you might have to split the winnings with someone else who plays your posted numbers, but it’s your call. I save a dollar.

Rules and regulations

I will buy multiple tickets if needed, but I am only accepting one challenge per faith. So if a Catholic gives me numbers I won't accept numbers from another Catholic. If the Catholic God wants to convert me, he should be able to do it in one-shot.