cl, I'm not at all interested in suspending my
Oh, wait a second. I'm not switching gears here, this is live argumentative progress. cl, you've been accused of being a sophist; what I've just now realized is that you are a rhetorician. You want to find the best arguments so that you can tear them apart, honing your skills in the process (and if your opponent du jour doesn't "get that," well, it's their loss! There's plenty of opponents about!). You just happen to also believe in some supernatural critters, and so in the sense that you don't buy what you see as our own version of dogma ("Yay metaphysical naturalism! Boo supernaturalism of all kinds!"), you call yourself a freethinking theist. You don't even appear to have much of a creed at all, at least not that you've laid out in non-platitudinal language. Have I got it so far?
OK, so with that in mind, I understand the rhetorical move you're making in the OP. You offered to convince me why I shouldn't believe God exists, despite my own hypothetical best evidence. This can be done for any such evidence besides second-order knowledge (which I believe is impossible, and so I cannot honestly employ it in my defense). What this would accomplish rhetorically would be to show me that my own position is silly since you would be showing how a principled application of it will lead me to a contradiction. What this involves, though, whether by chance or design, is the promise to tell me why I should not trust the results of an empirical test of my own design, should it be performed. Yet you just asked me what results of an empirical test would I in fact trust? You'll set the very best of my very own argumentation against itself, hoisting me by my own petard as soon as I've done the hard work of putting my actual belief on the line for you. And you know what? You'll always win that rhetorical game against people like me, because every individual experience is subject to doubt, so we maintain. No empirical test proves anything once and for all, and God is no exception - there is always some argument or thing that could happen to undermine my God test. What makes me vulnerable to this attack is not a flaw in my position, however, but rather the simple fact that I deny myself the pseudo-justification, "just 'cuz." Every belief system that doesn't rely at some level on "just 'cuz" must perforce be subject to this kind of rhetorical maneuver, including yours, whether you admit it or not (unless you actually believe that saying "just 'cuz" is a legitimate justification). So... do I explain what would convince me, only to watch as my own argument disembowels itself? Or do I try to patiently explain that of course I can never "really" prove God with science, because science is fundamentally provisional?
Oh, double-wait. You asked me what would "prove God" to me, and that's a subjective question. Now you're going to explain why you think I shouldn't be convinced by it, and the only way you can do that is to show some way that I might be wrong. Which, yeah, simply is correct: at any given moment, I might be wrong. This is what honest skepticism is all about, buddy. But can you show me that I'm actually wrong on this or that thing I believe? If I got evidence for God and you didn't buy it, how would you convince me that your decision not to accept it is a legitimate one and not mere stubborn obstinacy? Is there something that makes it stand out as more worthy of further scrutiny than ideas upon which we might agree? After all, I'm not saying that this or that evidence should convince everyone of God, I'm simply saying what I think would probably convince me, which is itself a testable claim because I can be presented with such evidence and thus can in principle determine whether I put my ontological money where my epistemological mouth is. Any counterargument changes the situation, so the old prediction no longer properly applies and I need to come up with a new one. And so, I hope you see, I try to believe only things which I can check, so that we can sort out which is right and which is wrong. And so, if we disagreed on an interpretation of this or that evidence, we can also devise a test as I briefly outlined back in your sandbox.
But we already agree that I, personally, might be wrong in any given case. I know that already. This doesn't advance our discussion in any way, ever, because it's always true. It's true of you, too, for that matter, which is why I haven't bothered pointing it out before now; I thought we were taking this bit for granted. What I'm interested in is working from where we agree, to things on which we disagree, and you showing me where things I believe are actually wrong, and not just the status quo of possibly wrong.
That's a truly slick move, though: you just about got it past me, you almost baited me into choking on my own argumentative tail. Bravo! One problem. Unlike others, I'm not just going to call you a sophist and bug out; I want to run with this rhetoric deal, and so I say, "Now what," and the ball's in your court. You can either start poking your fingers into holes of doubt which already exist in everything that I believe I know, which will get us right the Hell back here every time; or you could effectively ask me to start poking holes in something you believe by proposing to convince me of it. Eventually, you're going to tell me that I as a skeptic ought to be skeptic even of my own positions. I'm just saying, "You're preaching to the choir, buddy; now let's cut to the chase."
So now you've got me intrigued. I want to know what's "double next," now that I've conceded your rhetorical point and, for good measure, all legitimate permutations of it. Now spill: what is that all for? I know all about the flaws and shortcomings I've got, and learning to live with them has been a wonderful journey so far, so what more have you got for me? What more can your brand of freethought do for me, which I cannot do for myself with my own brand of freethought? I'm honestly asking you what you have to teach me, because I'm expecting an opportunity to learn here. Hit me with your best shot.
Full Disclosure: Ultimately, the question I'm getting at is, "What does theism do for you that you cannot get from your freethought sans theism, and how can I get that, too?" Or, "Why do you believe things that I don't, and is there any reason at all why I should believe them, too?" Or, "Can I have freethinking theism, too? And how?" And if you can't explain why I should believe what you believe, then I'm awfully curious as to why you do in fact believe what you now believe, and not something else - or are there beliefs of yours to which you do not apply the beautiful freethinking rhetoric which you just now so clearly displayed? I just gotta know, now that you've convinced me that you truly understand why I can't protect my idea of God from an all-pervasive doubt, how you do that thing. Or is your own medicine not for you here? And if not, then how come?
Or, more plainly: What's the lesson you ultimately want me to learn from that rhetorical game of yours? How does this play help us in our work as freethinkers? What's the point of this if we already assume you win that first part?