Imagine your friend Tom tells you the spirit of Alexander the Great dwells within his heart, and that this spirit confirms to him that he is of royal blood. You ask Tom for evidence such as where a treasure hidden by Alexander might be found, but Tom responds that the spirit of Alexander can not be tested in that way. You then ask how he knows it is Alexander rather some other spirit claiming to be Alexander, and Tom responds that Alexander has assured him that he is truly Alexander. You remind Tom that this is precisely what a lying spirit of Nero might tell him. Tom produces a document containing what looks like a promise from Alexander that he would send Tom his spirit to confirm his royal heritage. You remind Tom it could be simply a forgery. Tom assures you for unspecified reasons that he can not be wrong. What is most likely? Is it the spirit Alexander the Great Tom senses? Nero? Or is it much more likely that Tom has lost control of his imagination?
Is the Holy Spirit promised to Christians as confirmation of their status as children of God truly the Holy Spirit? How do we know? Could it be some other spirit of deception? Does the apparent promise of the Holy Spirit we find in the Bible make it more likely that what is experienced is an actual Holy Spirit? How likely is it, after examining claims of holy spirits in other religions, that their spirits are not of God, and our spirit is of God? What is the likelihood of it being simply our imagination?
You may occasionally hear the claim “If there were an actual omnipotent God, wouldn’t that God be able to give you legitimate absolute certainty that it is the actual Holy Spirit you feel?” But can a God violate logic? Is it logically possible for you to know something with absolute certainty when you do not know whether the mechanism through which you’ve acquired that alleged knowledge is reliable. And does not that mechanism also need to be assessed with yet another mechanism that you must know with absolute certainty to be reliable before you can claim to have absolute certainty that it is an actual Holy Spirit of God you feel within you? This infinite regression is a logical barrier to honestly claiming to have absolute knowledge that you have an actual Holy Spirit of God. It may be an evil demon fooling you, or it may be simply your imagination. One thing that an actual Holy Spirit could do is to allow you to precisely predict the future. However, most Christian leaders will tell you that the Holy Spirit can not be tested in this way for some reason. Does this sound like truth or evasion?
Considering that many humans in other also religions claim to have some spirit within them confirming their beliefs, is it not more likely that human minds are simply more susceptible to self-deception than we’d like to admit?
Below are some evidences an actual God could have provided to increase the likelihood that we truly do possess the confirming Holy Spirit mentioned in the Bible.
- The ability to predict the future through the spirit we sense within us. Christians could, for example, predict earthquakes that could save thousands of lives.
- Scientific and medical knowledge scientist and medical researchers currently do not have. Millions of lives could be saved and much suffering could be alleviated while, at the same time, evidence of a Holy Spirit would accrue.
- The ability to locate abducted or abused children. This would not only save abused children, but would also give us more confidence that the person with the knowledge had access to a higher, possibly divine knowledge.
- The ability to solve crimes and mysteries with knowledge of details not available to normal scientific inquiry. This would also constitute evidence that there was indeed a supernatural spirit involved.
The realization of any one of the four possible outcomes listed above would not provide conclusive evidence that the spirit we sensed was the actual Holy Spirit spoken of in the Bible, but it would make it very difficult to then suggest that the sensation of an indwelling Holy Spirit was merely the excessive imagination of a fallible mind. It would be a strong step towards establishing any religious ideology claiming a divine spirit of confirmation.
(See also “Supplementary H” which more fully explains the circularity in claiming a spirit can provide absolute certainty.)