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  1. #1
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    Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    I had a great conversation a couple of weeks ago with several Christians which began with the quote from Arthur C. Clark that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. This lead to the thought experiment whereby I would play an alien that landed on Earth and pretended to be God or Jesus, in his second coming. The Christians were to try and conceive of questions or methods that would conclusively prove that this alien was not God.

    Anyone game?

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    What keeps the context of the challenge relegated to aliens? That is, why can't I issue the very same challenge from behind the veil of this computer (which is divine, and I defy you to conclusively prove me wrong)?

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    What keeps the context of the challenge relegated to aliens? That is, why can't I issue the very same challenge from behind the veil of this computer (which is divine, and I defy you to conclusively prove me wrong)?
    Nothing, it would be the same thing. We were inspired by Clarke not Turing. But the idea is that I would be able to think of some highly technical way to achieve their demands of proof. For example, taking one of Jesus' miracles, such as walking on water, I would posit an invisible glass sheet as a low tech solution or a tractor beam as a high tech solution.

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Ok, I think I see what you mean. You're saying that Christians likely couldn't come up with a scenario that you couldn't fake using sufficient technology? I can see faking miracles out of the Bible, but wouldn't the experiment be undone the moment they made a request that's not in the Bible? Such as "What question did I ask my friend this morning?"

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Ok, I think I see what you mean. You're saying that Christians likely couldn't come up with a scenario that you couldn't fake using sufficient technology? I can see faking miracles out of the Bible, but wouldn't the experiment be undone the moment they made a request that's not in the Bible? Such as "What question did I ask my friend this morning?"
    Not at all. We almost have sufficient technology to monitor or tap into recording devices now - you've heard of the FBI being able to turn on cell phones and listen in right? I would posit the scenario that the alien's race (he obviously was one of many) that has been here for many centuries and are being nearly all technology and that in fact, there are micro-listening devices all over the world.

    edit: don't forget that the NSA is pretty much doing this now!

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    Not at all. We almost have sufficient technology to monitor or tap into recording devices now - you've heard of the FBI being able to turn on cell phones and listen in right? I would posit the scenario that the alien's race (he obviously was one of many) that has been here for many centuries and are being nearly all technology and that in fact, there are micro-listening devices all over the world.

    edit: don't forget that the NSA is pretty much doing this now!
    Yeah, that seems a little reaching. Unless you could actually produce the exact question in question, I don't think you'd convince them. You certainly wouldn't convince me. And it's easy enough to undermine it with something like "What question was I going to ask my wife this morning, but changed my mind about?"

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Yeah, that seems a little reaching. Unless you could actually produce the exact question in question, I don't think you'd convince them. You certainly wouldn't convince me.
    What do you mean? I'm saying that as the alien, I have been here for centuries and planted undetectable bugs all over the world collecting everything that is said and done. That sounds perfectly possible even with today's technology.

    And it's easy enough to undermine it with something like "What question was I going to ask my wife this morning, but changed my mind about?"
    Well, firstly, I'm not sure where there is evidence that God is telepathic. That seems to me more of actual wishful thinking to me. My counter is similar to that of praying - God rarely answers more than by random chance so prayer clearly doesn't work consistently anyway so I'm not sure if that is really a power that God actually has.

    Secondly, all human brains are embedded with technology that records what is constantly going on and can transmit that information to the mothership for processing. Done!

    P.S. Are you religious? (not that it matters)

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    What do you mean? I'm saying that as the alien, I have been here for centuries and planted undetectable bugs all over the world collecting everything that is said and done. That sounds perfectly possible even with today's technology.
    Ok, I'm with you.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    Well, firstly, I'm not sure where there is evidence that God is telepathic. That seems to me more of actual wishful thinking to me. My counter is similar to that of praying - God rarely answers more than by random chance so prayer clearly doesn't work consistently anyway so I'm not sure if that is really a power that God actually has.
    I'm not sure it matters if you think God has telepathic powers. You're dealing with the beliefs of the Christians; you're not dealing with what you think or want them to believe. And if you're dealing with even one person who thinks God heard and answered their silent prayer, then that person believes God has the power to hear their thoughts. Therefore, that person could very conceivably hold you to such a standard of proof.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934
    Secondly, all human brains are embedded with technology that records what is constantly going on and can transmit that information to the mothership for processing. Done!
    Ok, so what exactly is the thought experiment? I mean, if it's just a matter of imagining some mysterious technology that answers every challenge presented, what's the point of even thinking about what the specific challenges might be?

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934
    P.S. Are you religious? (not that it matters)
    Yes, I am religious. I belong to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    I'm not sure it matters if you think God has telepathic powers. You're dealing with the beliefs of the Christians; you're not dealing with what you think or want them to believe. And if you're dealing with even one person who thinks God heard and answered their silent prayer, then that person believes God has the power to hear their thoughts. Therefore, that person could very conceivably hold you to such a standard of proof.
    Well, surely not even all Christians believe in all their own beliefs. But this is where it gets interesting - the onus is now on Christians to show that indeed their God does indeed have such powers in a repeatable way and not totally randomly. Everyone knows of Rick Perry's famous mega prayer events for rain that didn't work. So it's not really on me to come up with a solution to such a claim, even though I did. At that point, since I can answer such prayers and questions in a repeatable manner, I am actually more powerful than God, who doesn't.

    Ok, so what exactly is the thought experiment? I mean, if it's just a matter of imagining some mysterious technology that answers every challenge presented, what's the point of even thinking about what the specific challenges might be?
    The idea is that if God doesn't exist as a deity but a race of aliens experimenting on us, then they should accept that as a possibility as much as their own deity. It's not going to convince anyone God doesn't exist but they can't claim that a deity is the only solution to the miracles and every other claim they decide that their deity fulfills.

    Yes, I am religious. I belong to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
    Of magic glasses fame? So that could be explained by something similar to Google glass that overlays English over the hieroglyphics.

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    Well, surely not even all Christians believe in all their own beliefs. But this is where it gets interesting - the onus is now on Christians to show that indeed their God does indeed have such powers in a repeatable way and not totally randomly. Everyone knows of Rick Perry's famous mega prayer events for rain that didn't work. So it's not really on me to come up with a solution to such a claim, even though I did. At that point, since I can answer such prayers and questions in a repeatable manner, I am actually more powerful than God, who doesn't.
    Why does the burden shift to them? You challenged them to provide a demonstration of a power they believe their God has, and you can either do it or you can't. It's not for you to challenge what they believe once they've told you what it is. It's for you to hold up your end of the deal where you said you could meet any challenge of belief they presented.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934
    The idea is that if God doesn't exist as a deity but a race of aliens experimenting on us, then they should accept that as a possibility as much as their own deity. It's not going to convince anyone God doesn't exist but they can't claim that a deity is the only solution to the miracles and every other claim they decide that their deity fulfills.
    But how does an experiment where we just pretend we've invented some technology that answers all challenges do that?

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934
    Of magic glasses fame? So that could be explained by something similar to Google glass that overlays English over the hieroglyphics.
    What?

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Why does the burden shift to them? You challenged them to provide a demonstration of a power they believe their God has, and you can either do it or you can't. It's not for you to challenge what they believe once they've told you what it is. It's for you to hold up your end of the deal where you said you could meet any challenge of belief they presented.
    The scenario isn't a blank cheque to come up with anything that can randomly come to mind! Otherwise, it wouldn't make much sense. The scenario is to come up with realistic challenges to said alien based on established understandings of God's powers. For example, God never brought a skeleton back to life, so we can safely assume that this power is not available to him (although our alien would already have the genetic makeup and brain imprints, so he could).

    God can't do illogical things either such as creating a rock he can't move. Neither has he reversed time or any other scenario that you could conceive of if it weren't limited to what you would expect God to be able to do.

    So I disagree that it's any challenge of belief they presented; though as a theist, it's actually any challenge you can realistically come up with. I have to reject your scenario of changing your mind even though I believe it is possible to achieve: there is no evidence that God can actually do this himself.

    But how does an experiment where we just pretend we've invented some technology that answers all challenges do that?
    Well, the technology has to be fairly plausible and realistic and within the realms of physics. You can't ask for two Suns (even though that would technically be possible) but you can ask for the Earth to be re-flooded (which would be done by shipping lots of water from other planets - or melting the polar ice caps).

    What?
    I was taking Joseph Smith's claims that he wrote the Book of Mormon based on interpretations of Golden Plates using the Seer Stones. That's part of your religion right?

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    The scenario isn't a blank cheque to come up with anything that can randomly come to mind! Otherwise, it wouldn't make much sense. The scenario is to come up with realistic challenges to said alien based on established understandings of God's powers. For example, God never brought a skeleton back to life, so we can safely assume that this power is not available to him (although our alien would already have the genetic makeup and brain imprints, so he could).

    God can't do illogical things either such as creating a rock he can't move. Neither has he reversed time or any other scenario that you could conceive of if it weren't limited to what you would expect God to be able to do.

    So I disagree that it's any challenge of belief they presented; though as a theist, it's actually any challenge you can realistically come up with. I have to reject your scenario of changing your mind even though I believe it is possible to achieve: there is no evidence that God can actually do this himself.
    Well, I would suggest that virtually ALL Christians believe that God hears and answers all prayers (just that sometimes the answer is 'no'), therefore the challenge to provide the question that existed only in the person's mind is a perfectly reasonable expectation. This isn't some blank-check challenge; this is perfectly within the belief structure of virtually any Christian.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934
    Well, the technology has to be fairly plausible and realistic and within the realms of physics. You can't ask for two Suns (even though that would technically be possible) but you can ask for the Earth to be re-flooded (which would be done by shipping lots of water from other planets - or melting the polar ice caps).
    So as long as the thing can be done, we imagine a technology that can do it? What sort of a challenge is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934
    I was taking Joseph Smith's claims that he wrote the Book of Mormon based on interpretations of Golden Plates using the Seer Stones. That's part of your religion right?
    Ok, so... what are you asking me?

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Well, I would suggest that virtually ALL Christians believe that God hears and answers all prayers (just that sometimes the answer is 'no'), therefore the challenge to provide the question that existed only in the person's mind is a perfectly reasonable expectation. This isn't some blank-check challenge; this is perfectly within the belief structure of virtually any Christian.
    Sure, I've answered those scenarios. And I can randomly not answer certain prayers or questions too, this is in a manner consistent with what Christians already experience. It would be more unrealistic to answer every prayer in fact!

    So as long as the thing can be done, we imagine a technology that can do it? What sort of a challenge is that?
    That's the point, if technology is the only differentiator between God and us then Christians don't need to appeal to 'supernatural' claims nor do they really need to posit a deity to do all the things that they claim. If God is just (or could be) a sufficiently advanced alien (or race of aliens) experimenting on us, and there is no distinction then on what basis do Christians have to make the claims they do?

    Ok, so... what are you asking me?
    Nothing, I was just giving an example in your particular religion as to how an alien could influence Joseph Smith's experiences. And if you accept that this is possible, even though it may appear likely, how would you make the distinction between God did it or an alien did it?

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    Sure, I've answered those scenarios. And I can randomly not answer certain prayers or questions too, this is in a manner consistent with what Christians already experience. It would be more unrealistic to answer every prayer in fact!
    Except for one: Christians don't ask God for proof of his existence. You, on the other hand, have offered to provide such proof. Therefore to withhold the answer would not be consistent with what you said you would do, and thus the challenge is unanswered.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934
    That's the point, if technology is the only differentiator between God and us then Christians don't need to appeal to 'supernatural' claims nor do they really need to posit a deity to do all the things that they claim. If God is just (or could be) a sufficiently advanced alien (or race of aliens) experimenting on us, and there is no distinction then on what basis do Christians have to make the claims they do?
    Such as God hearing our prayers? I'd like to see that challenge answered.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonJones8934
    Nothing, I was just giving an example in your particular religion as to how an alien could influence Joseph Smith's experiences. And if you accept that this is possible, even though it may appear likely, how would you make the distinction between God did it or an alien did it?
    I would ask you what I was going to ask my wife, but didn't. If you could not provide the answer, I have no reason to think you're who you say you are.

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Except for one: Christians don't ask God for proof of his existence. You, on the other hand, have offered to provide such proof. Therefore to withhold the answer would not be consistent with what you said you would do, and thus the challenge is unanswered.
    Sorry, losing track. Which challenge is unanswered. I have met both whispering and prayer ones. My only point was that having some unanswered prayers is more consistent with all prayers being answered.

    Such as God hearing our prayers? I'd like to see that challenge answered.
    I did already, with listening devices laid down over the last few centuries and brain imagers since birth.

    I would ask you what I was going to ask my wife, but didn't. If you could not provide the answer, I have no reason to think you're who you say you are.
    OIC, well, the scenario isn't me actually doing it but me playing the alien with sufficient technology to do it. I am neither an actual alien or God! My role is to come up with a reasonable technology that could achieve that if I were a sufficiently advanced alien race.

    Again, the point being that if everything you can reasonably come up with can be achieved by technology then being a deity doesn't appear to justify the worship plied on them.

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    Sorry, losing track. Which challenge is unanswered. I have met both whispering and prayer ones. My only point was that having some unanswered prayers is more consistent with all prayers being answered.
    The challenge is for you to provide some sort of example of a technology that would enable you to describe to me what I was planning on asking my wife, but did not.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934
    I did already, with listening devices laid down over the last few centuries and brain imagers since birth.
    I disagree that you've answered the challenge. Brain imaging does not yet render verbatim thoughts, and I am unaware of any expectations that it will do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934
    OIC, well, the scenario isn't me actually doing it but me playing the alien with sufficient technology to do it. I am neither an actual alien or God! My role is to come up with a reasonable technology that could achieve that if I were a sufficiently advanced alien race.

    Again, the point being that if everything you can reasonably come up with can be achieved by technology then being a deity doesn't appear to justify the worship plied on them.
    Well, this is really just another way of saying 'anything that can be done, can be done'. I don't know that religious people necessarily believe that things that can be done can ever only be done by a deity, so I'm not sure what lesson to take from a alien race that has the technology to do all doable things.

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by JJ
    For example, God never brought a skeleton back to life, so we can safely assume that this power is not available to him
    Quote Originally Posted by EZEKIEL 37:1-14
    37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

    I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

    4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

    7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

    9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army ....
    Be it an example of a real event or a word picture/allegory etc
    The actual power to raise dry bones to life is clearly claimed by God.

    Correct your position accordingly.
    To serve man.

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    I realize that I've been missing an important aspect that makes the brain imaging challenge unnecessary.

    Suppose that you've had all sorts of recording devices scattered far and wide recording everything conceivable event in existence. Now suppose I ask you to show me that Joseph Smith did NOT experience his revelations(s). If you provide me with the recording data, on what basis should I trust that you have not manipulated the data? Such manipulation is well within the confines of physics, and YOU'RE the one who approached ME with the challenge. Therefore I have NO reason whatsoever to think that any such data you provide (including brain imaging) has NOT been manipulated to suit your agenda.

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    The challenge is for you to provide some sort of example of a technology that would enable you to describe to me what I was planning on asking my wife, but did not.
    I agree that you made the challenge, I disagree that there is any proof that your God can do this.

    I disagree that you've answered the challenge. Brain imaging does not yet render verbatim thoughts, and I am unaware of any expectations that it will do so.
    It does if you know how the brain structures thoughts, which an alien studying us for thousands or millions of years, who indeed may have created us, would be able to do. We already know now that there are certain areas in the brain that govern various processes and we know that our consciousness lags behind actual intent. So indeed, it is possible to figure out what you were about to say AND what you actually said just via imaging. Here's one paper describing it:

    TIME OF CONSCIOUS INTENTION TO ACT IN RELATION TO ONSET OF CEREBRAL ACTIVITY (READINESS-POTENTIAL) THE UNCONSCIOUS INITIATION OF A FREELY VOLUNTARY ACT
    The recordable cerebral activity (readiness-potential, RP) that precedes a freely voluntary, fully endogenous motor act was directly compared with the reportable time (W) for appearance of the subjective experience of ‘wanting’ or intending to act. The onset of cerebral activity clearly preceded by at least several hundred milliseconds the reported time of conscious intention to act.
    I don't think it is impossible to figure out thoughts (such as they are, preformed) if you know which parts of the brain does what and how memories and objects are laid down. In fact, it could even be that our brains ARE created by aliens using sophisticated biological computer chips; also possible, see Breakthrough: Organic Computer Could Change Everything which says:


    Scientists have created a biological computer capable of extracting hidden images on a DNA chip. There's nothing new about a computer reading images encrypted on DNA chips, but this is the first computer made only of biomolecules. The scientists behind the research in California and Israel say they don't expect biological computers to compete with electronic computers. The biological computer isn't pretty and doesn't look like a normal computer since it was created in a test tube by mixing chemicals in a solution that appears clear, said Ehud Keinan, the professor who led the research. Scientists don't know what impact their findings will have on technological advancement, but biomolecular computing devices could redefine what a computer is. A computer is defined "as a machine made of four components — hardware, software, input and output," Keinan said in a statement.

    Our brains are pretty much biological machines and it's just a matter of technology to recreate them. So this second answer to the challenge is completely possible, and coupled with transmission devices, could even relay our thoughts up to the mothership.

    In fact, our brains could be the receivers such that our 'souls' are actually a computer controlling an avatar on a physical planet (which incidentally, isn't even technically needed any more since it could be simulated). So in this alternative, your original message to your wife, could easily be pulled from the program dump that represents the process that you call 'you'.


    Well, this is really just another way of saying 'anything that can be done, can be done'. I don't know that religious people necessarily believe that things that can be done can ever only be done by a deity, so I'm not sure what lesson to take from a alien race that has the technology to do all doable things.
    Then what makes God 'special' if he's just an advanced alien likely experimenting with life, as we sometimes experiment on animals? Why would you worship such a being (or even beings) just because you've been asked to do so by Him (or rather a book that some people with a vested interest claim to be written by Him)? Isn't it more likely then that your deity is really an alien as opposed to a fanciful being with the keys to morality and an eternal afterlife?

    So it's not really 'lessons' per se but really about getting to the root of how you are making the distinction in your mind between this hypothetical technologically powerful alien that can do everything that your deity can. Does removing the 'magic' of the supernatural, now that we have sufficient technology to remove any mystery, also remove the miraculousness of the miracles now that they've been brought down to Earth.

    ---------- Post added at 06:32 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:29 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Be it an example of a real event or a word picture/allegory etc
    The actual power to raise dry bones to life is clearly claimed by God.

    Correct your position accordingly.
    Unbelievable! Then I have to retract the claim that God never brought a skeleton back to life.

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    Re: Thought Experiment: I am a space Alien, pretending that I am God. Prove me wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    I agree that you made the challenge, I disagree that there is any proof that your God can do this.
    When did this become about proving to YOU what God can do?

    And in any case, on what basis should I trust that you have not manipulated any data you present to me? (Including brain imaging; see my post above.)

 

 
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