1. Let's assume that some people can never be convinced that god exists via miracles. That doesn't mean that no people can be convinced that god exists via miracles. If there are people who currently don't believe but would if they witnessed a miracle, then god is leaving souls on the table by not performing a miracle for those people. As for the cloud idea, use your imagination and I'm sure you can come up with variations that would address your concerns about thinking christians created it, you could start by replacing a message made of clouds with a message made of metal beams that hover and change color. Or put the message on the moon where there are no christians. Or just cut out the uncertainty altogether and have god speak to each person individually and answer any questions they might have about his existence and past actions.
2. Fine, show me an example of a response that comes from god. Please explain how it was determined that god made that response.
3. Just because you wouldn't choose to suffer to get to know god doesn't mean nobody would. I'm reminded of the schmidt sting index, where Justin Schmidt went around and let some of the most painful insects on earth bite him just to compare how much their bites hurt. I'm curious why you think nobody with a similar level of curiosity would be willing to experience pain if the result was an increase in knowledge about god. We have plenty of examples of people going through tremendous pain intentionally (self crucifixion for example).
4. "no amount of suffering is too much to get people into heaven". That's the dangerous part. If someone actually believed that then they'd be willing to stand by and watch torture or murder as long as they believed the victim would call on god before the end. It's especially dangerous if there's ever a case where someone believed that causing suffering instead of standing by and watching would get people into heaven. That's how inquisitions and holy wars start.
5. If I thought that there was a better existence after death, of course I'd choose to be beheaded regardless of what the other option was. It would be foolish not to. That's the problem with using willingness to die as a test of truth. If you think there's a better life after death you remove any negative consequences of death. It turns the choice from 'death vs lie' to 'more happiness' vs 'less happiness'. Any rational person would choose more happiness. If someone believes there's a perfect afterlife (regardless of whether that belief is correct) the only reason to ever not choose death would be if choosing death prevented access to that perfect afterlife.
6. You're the one that brought up secular sources being undeniable testimony. I initially assumed you were talking about secular sources in the early ADs. You haven't given me any other examples so I can't tell you what you were originally meaning. The josephus reference is definitely deniable since it's generally considered to be a fraud written by Eusebius ('tribe' is a term Eusebius used frequently while josephus didn't). The others in that link are mostly just descriptions of what chrisitanity claims in much the same way that a magazine article on scientology can discuss the belief in xenu without being evidence that xenu is real.
Byrd and Harris
The Byrd study had an inconsistent pattern of only six positive outcomes amongst 26 specific problem conditions. A systematic review suggested this indicates possible Type I errors
To compound the alleged miraculous power of prayer itself, the prayers were performed after the patients had already left the hospital. .....Leibovici later stated that it was "intended lightheartedly to illustrate the importance of asking research questions that fit with scientific models
Apparently prayer works backward in time. Or the results of this study are due to chance.
8. I feel I should point out that I'm not judging god as if he were a peer, I'm judging as if he were a character in a book, no different than pointing out that it wasn't very smart for the wicked witch of the west to keep a open bucket of lethal liquid laying around or that villians should stop explaining their plans to the heros before trying to kill them.
As for god giving them an opportunity to change, how could such an attempt fail if god has infinite power and knowledge? If I gave you a large amount of resources (people,time,equipment,money) and sent you back to that time period, could you think of a way to stop child sacrifice without killing everyone? Modern medicine and farming machines alone should be enough to get you started convincing people of that time that doing things your way is better than sacrificing children. If you had powers similar to god, wouldn't that task be even easier?
1. You assume that God is not currently working in people’s lives, showing them personal miracles. This may be based on life experience, but based on stories Christians tell all the time of God working in their lives, revealing Himself to them, your claim is baseless.
2. This is an attempt to shift burden of proof off of yourself. Since you claim that God has not made a response, the burden of proof is on you to support that claim. My point being, you cannot substantiate this claim, I was just hoping you would realize this.
3. This was just a messy hypothetical, my attempt at discerning the mind of God (which I don’t doubt falls woefully short). Someone who doesn’t want to meet God or who thinks believing in Him is silly, gets cancer. Then, because of their suffering and circumstances, they learn about God and put their faith in Him as their savior would ultimately be better than never having gotten the cancer. Of course there are people that are willing to suffer to become closer to God, but that is because their inclination is already toward God.
Even people who don't care about God may find themselves valuing life more in the face of death than when they were disease free. This can lead to more joy. This would be even more profound if their alternate life path would have resulted in more suffering. All in a day's work for an omniscient being.
4. I will give you the point that holy wars and inquisitions are bad, and that there is a danger of crazy people misinterpreting the Bible and attempting to please God (instead of listening to what God is telling them to do). You must have missed where I said “This suffering is for God to decide, not us lowly humans who can’t even decide who to choose for president.”
5. Exactly, which means either they were deceived into believing that Jesus is God, or they saw miracles that proved it. Since they suddenly turned from mourning and despair after He died, to joy and a passion to spread the Gospel to the entire world when they saw Him alive after being crucified and verified dead by a Roman executioner, it is impossible that Jesus just pulled off an elaborate ruse. His mother, His brothers, and His closest friends were there to verify that it was in fact Jesus being murdered, and they were ultimately the ones that began testifying that He was raised from the dead, and seen by hundreds of people. You would not expect that from people spreading lies about a dead loved one. Furthermore, His brothers who did not testify to His deity before, began spreading the Gospel and worshipping Him as God. This would be extremely bizarre if they had not seen Him be raised from the dead. These people were Jews who feared God whether it was Jesus or not, and would not lie about someone, claiming they were God, when they had not substantiated it beyond doubt. The first hand eyewitnesses kindly wrote this all down for us. Not just one person, not just one book. Six writers, Matthew, John, Peter, James, Jude and Paul, and twenty seven books.
6. Wrong, the writings of Josephus are in contention but the idea that Eusebius wrote some of all of it is not certain. The rest of the writings are secular sources confirming details as recorded in the Bible by historians around that time.
Notice that while Tacitus had no favorable regard for these Christians of whom he wrote, he does mention Christ as being the founder of their belief. He also confirms that Tiberius was emperor at the time, and that Pontius was the magistrate (or Procurator) who sentenced Jesus to death. All corroborating New Testament facts.
Suetonius (Roman historian, born about 88 A. D.). While Suetonius does not mention Christ by name, he does refer to His title and to Christianity. This reference (amongst many more) clearly prove the early origin of Christianity and details that are in agreement with the biblical account. Here, a brief writing about the life of Nero whose reign began in 54 A.D. and ended in 68 A. D.:
"As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he Claudius expelled them from Rome". and elsewhere he wrote "Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous sect". (Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars).
The event is believed to be the one noted in Acts 18:2
At the very least, this confirms that Jesus was a Jew who was murdered at the hands of Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius, and who began to be worshiped as a deity by Christians after His death, people who claim He rose from the grave. That is pretty much all the confirmation you need until you analyze the eyewitness accounts themselves to verify their internal consistency, which I wrote about in point 5. It wouldn't make sense for loved ones and close friends to worship someone as God without strong confirmation, especially in Jewish culture. They were in despair when He died, and when He rose from the grave, they began worshiping Him with even more zeal.
Wouldn't you expect some contention if the Bible was a big scam, lying about historical events? Yet we find none written until much later (apocryphal writings if you can call them contention, I call them story telling). Paul wrote letters to people reminding them that they were witnesses as well, so they could not deny what he was saying about Jesus. How confident must he have been in what he was writing? Add to that the number of copies found and the date that they were said to have come from and you have a document that is more reliable than any other early written historical record.
7. Why wouldn’t prayer work back in time? This is not proof that God did nothing, to me, He may have slightly changed things for them to suffer less, but known that ultimately, they would be happier this way, or experience less suffering than the alternative healthy life path. I admit that this study does not show undeniable proof for the efficacy of prayer. Then again, we can't look into the mind of God to see why He may not have instantly cured them. Perhaps it has something to do with Him allowing them to become ill in the first place. He does not prevent all suffering. If I never knew what suffering was, then I would not know how awesome joy was (or imagine how horrific hell would be really).
8. It is absurd to condemn an infinite God for taking a life that He created in the first place. All life is a privilege that He has given to us and all life will eventually end. To say that non-lethal force should have been used is an easy attempt at knocking down the straw man that I foolishly set up by attempting to discern the mind of God. That is pretty much all I am able to do with such questions, so rather than continuing to line em up so you can knock em down, I will stop discussing such points (3,7, and 8).