>God even created sin because he gets awfully bored in the void and created it as a means to create entertainment for him.
Okay, see, THIS I don't buy.
When we try to think of a reason why God created everything, our monkey brains typically turn to what we consider a reason for living, which is enjoying/amusing ourselves. But this is kind of a narrow purview, God is supposedly from an infinitely broader, different context. When we think he created everything just because he got bored, we're projecting our own raison d'eitre onto him because we can't conceive of a different reason He'd do anything.
I don't believe God would be capable of being bored in the sense that we perceive it. I think whatever 'reason' He has is something beyond our comprehension, much like He is. Reason itself is a construct of man, and the existence of the universe itself is something beyond reason. Therefore God would also be beyond reason.
>I did specify something beyond the material so no AI, no matter how advanced, would qualify nor would anything else created by humans. Some kind of immaterial pervasive "thing" is quite a sufficient starting point. Let us also assume that it "acts" somehow on our material universe despite being beyond it.
Do you mean to say that a very powerful AI, with abilities that we would consider 'Godlike' from our current perspective (I.E. manipulating all forms of matter and energy, travelling through time, resurrecting the dead) would still not be anywhere near to a true God? Why do you believe this is? Is it because a manmade powerful entity would still be material and therefore finite?
I can understand this reasoning insofar that there may be a limit to how much we can manipulate the world around us, but what if there is no limit? What if reality can be manipulated like code in a computer? We don't know if that's possible yet, and we can't confirm or deny if it is, so the jury's still out on that. There is a saying by Arthur C. Clarke that says "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", and I do believe that to be true, so it's all a matter of how advanced technology can get. But for now, you could be right that there is a limit and that something like that would never attain the status of the divine or immaterial. That's not something you can just 'earn'.
>Whether you believe Christianity or not depends not on your own intelligence but on whether you find the messenger credible. Do you believe me? If you had lived 2000 years ago, that would be that. You would judge for yourself whether St Paul or whoever was an honest, credible man. Whether you could believe him when he said Jesus rose from the dead or is he lying? Since you don't, there is an added difficulty. Maybe I'm not lying as such but I'm just mistaken. Maybe it's a case of Chinese whispers or maybe honest men were duped originally and it was their honesty that spread Christianity. You're going to have to make a gut decision about that.
You seem like a swell guy and I believe that you believe what you believe, but like you said, man is susceptible to delusion, deception and exaggeration, and this is even stated endlessly in the Bible. So it's hard to make a judgment call on it. Offhand, I can't say I fully believe it, even if it was written by good people throughout the generations, it is something difficult to take seriously. People who've claimed they've talked to God or seen angels could've just been hallucinating or delusional - Terry Davis claimed to hear God and he was de-facto schizophrenic. But it could just be that I don't have enough information. If I could meet and get to know the people who wrote the bible, you're right, I would be able to make a better judgment call. But ultimately, EVERYONE is capable of lying, so I think no one is credible by default. It's the reason why simple hearsay isn't admissible evidence in a court of law, even if it is under oath. Correlating testimony could be, but it's still susceptible to false interpretation and embellishment.
I am sad to say that without material proof I find these things very hard to believe, even though I want to. If Jesus himself showed up at my doorstep and performed miracles in front of my eyes, that'd be good enough, that'd be all I need to believe in him. But that's probably not going to happen, so it appears to me that religion is a leap of faith.
It pains me that I crave material evidence. I wish I could just cast that aside and believe like the rest of you that God and Jesus and the Bible are real. But alas, I am but a simple scared monkey, and I need to see, touch, smell and taste the banana for me to believe there is a banana. I don't wish to be cast out. I want to enter Jesus's kingdom but I am blocked by this desire for proof.
I think atheists and agnostics envy you. It must be comforting and beautiful to be so certain. We are uncertain people.