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On a planet similar to Earth, there is a society similar in technology to the society of ancient Greece. They believe in a single, all-powerful deity. This deity performs miracles on a regular basis. These are the common ones:

  • Intervening in battles on the side of the civilization in the form of a bearded warrior
  • Protecting the cities against strong storms by creating a giant transparent dome around them
  • Starting fires from nothing and having them move towards and engulf those he considers evil
  • Controlling the wind, and causing gales to come out of nowhere and then suddenly stop

As you can see, the deity mainly focuses on accomplishing his goals by controlling the weather. He needs to come up with a good explanation for this, and the explanation needs to cover all four miracles, not just one.

Furthermore, the deity needs to spread this logic, because he wants to see how many of his followers will believe in him even when faced with perfect logic. He can't just come out of the sky and say, "I don't exist." By that logic, he does exist, and so his plan is ruined. Q.E.D.

The god would like to continue doing the miracles, would like there to be another explanation for them, convince about 95% of the people with about 95% conviction, and do it within about a year. It's a test; he won't force them.

I'm not looking for actual explanations of the miracles, just a way to spread them. I considered that he could simply come down in disguise as a normal human, but the society is really religious. If he outright says it, he'll be burned at the stake as a heretic.

How can he convince people that he doesn't exist?

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jul 9 '15 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ I know you won't probably accept such answer (infact I made it a comment), but if the god suddendly kill all people, there will be no one left alive to believe in the god ... :D $\endgroup$ – GameDeveloper Jul 26 '15 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ just keep doing what he's doing now.. $\endgroup$ – insanity Nov 23 '15 at 14:45

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He needs to give his powers to the people.

That wasn't god, that was Bob! He can make a weather shield and he doesn't even go to temple!

If any one of the people (or perhaps only a select few skeptics) in the society can also perform the miracles then the need for the god will disappear. Once people realize that there doesn't need to be a god to create the miracles, it will be easier to entertain alternative reasons for the "true cause" of the miracles.

You can imagine it like this, a weather shield appears apparently without cause, people say "it's god!". Now the weather shield appears whenever Tom wills it or Sally makes the wind blow when she wants it to and people will say "Ok, how did you do that?". It will probably be best to introduce it slowly, and require some practice for people to get it with any consistency (like wiggling their ears, we all have the muscles for it, but not everyone can do it without some practice). This way people can explain the sudden appearance as simply a lack of knowledge or skill before. Eventually it becomes so blasé that it's not even a miracle anymore.

This removes god, but doesn't pin down a single natural cause for all the events. It makes the cause to be people. Clearly there can't be an actual natural cause for real supernatural events, but when it's regular humans performing these acts then it soon becomes as miraculous as whistling. The god can still perform the miracles and people will simply assume some other human is doing it.

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    $\begingroup$ @Aify That's not impossible, for the first few, if they practice such a punishment. This situation has many no-win paths it could take and no answer could possibly be guaranteed to make 95% of a deeply religious society stop believing in a god in a year. We can't even get that in our highly-scientific-miracle-free society. The only way I see to making miracles not miraculous, is if anyone can do them. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jul 7 '15 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ A neat trick could be to make the powers given out be "lesser" than the god's powers. If the god's abilities are like everyone else in kind but greater in magnitude, the explanation that the god is just another mortal who is a bit better at it might make more sense than the god is a god. This allows the god to continue to bias results in the direction the god wants. And a great way to spread this would be written words/instructions on how to do it. $\endgroup$ – Yakk Jul 7 '15 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ @yters That's a bit of a misunderstanding, I think. The real point is that "a god did it" is not an explanation. It doesn't allow you to build any predictions, it doesn't control your anticipations. You just said x = y. But what's y? Sure, science doesn't know everything, but expecting it to do so is just pandering to religiousness - after all the priest sad he knows everything, and the science professor openly says he doesn't! Why should I switch to this inferior science thing? The answer isn't perceived control (you had more of that with god), it's just that it actually works. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Jul 8 '15 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Luaan: surely you've read the Kurt Vonnegut novel from which the quote "science is magic that works" comes (ironically, uttered by a guy who doesn't really get it). $\endgroup$ – Tobia Tesan Jul 9 '15 at 11:00
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    $\begingroup$ @TobiaTesan It stops being magic when our expectations start to reliably come true. In a way saying "magic" is nothing but professing an ignorance - which would be fine, if only people didn't go one step further and proclaim that it's inherently irreconcilable with science. Nothing that actually exists and can interact with our world can ever be irreconcilable with science. Either it doesn't exist, or we don't have the explanation yet. But magic is a tag, not an explanation. And it's not just stupid people who make this mistake either - Lord Kelvin is a nice example. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Jul 9 '15 at 14:06
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I liked Aify's answer of a robot: maybe a simpler mechanism that they can seem to understand, but here's my stab, for what it's worth:

Create an Animal

The Greeks believed in heaps of imaginary creatures, from the pegasus to the cyclops. Although I can't find evidence of belief in 'dragons', I think it's time your God creates one, with the ability to breath fire, to flap its mighty wings for and against wind, and to swoop into battle on the 'good' side (however you like to define 'good').

After the first few times, there will be wondering why the dragon is now visible, so the dragon demonstrates that it not only can be invisible, but can take the shape of a man. After a year, it becomes ubiquitous knowledge that there is at least one dragon out there, and it seems to like the Greeks better than the Persians - or whatever.

New phenomena throughout history, no matter how miraculous, becomes day-to-day pretty quickly. Look at wireless internet: while I think it's total witchcraft, we don't even think twice about it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've undeleted it for reference purposes. $\endgroup$ – Aify Jul 7 '15 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Aify - thanks, I think it's a good idea, although I would simplify the mechanics of the robot a bit. Either way, +1 $\endgroup$ – Mikey Jul 8 '15 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for wireless internet being total witchcraft. I'm a computer and physics nerd and I still don't quite get how one device can wirelessly connect to multiple other devices. $\endgroup$ – TheZouave Oct 20 '16 at 18:24
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Find scientists or alchemists that would attribute the weather miracles to another non-god cause, and make miracles occur at the times and places that would support their theory. Also don't create miracles when & where the theists would expect them every time. For example, if a big storm is coming, and they expect the invisible dome to appear, don't create an invisible dome (if the storm isn't going to wipe out the people after all).

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Get a prophet

Actually, get two. Both are employed by this god that doesn't want to "exist" anymore. Have the "True-believer" prophet preach faith in God but ensure he has a really loud, annoying voice and a generally insufferable arrogant personality. Have the "No God" prophet be charismatic, ethical and very smart.

Have TrueBeliever arrive first. Establish his authority by invoking the power of God and working mighty miracles. Anything TrueBeliever asks God to do, it gets done. People will overlook his grating personality because "he is God's chosen prophet!"

NoGod won't be able to initially proclaim that there is no God because he'll be burned at the stake. However, he can start preaching a message that is very appealing in opposition to the annoying/oppressive drivel that TruBeliever is teaching. It will be easy for NoGod to gain adherents because he's teaching what is popular and people want to hear that. As the number of his followers grows, he'll be able to start teaching, in private, that there is no god. Eventually word of this heresy will get out but because NoGod is popular with people who will defend him, so he doesn't get burned.

Explain the Burly Bearded Man as trick of the mind. Have NoGod say something like, "You saw him because you wanted to see him. You were in battle, about to die, but you were saved by someone who slightly resembled what the stories said. Who wouldn't want the honor of being saved by a God? If there was a God, I'd want to be saved by him too."

He can explain the weather in terms of natural phenomena, not the actions of a God. Teaching the people about confirmation bias will go a long way to opening up their minds and sewing doubt about the existence of God. People will ask themselves, "Do I believe in God because there is a God or just because I want there to be a God?"

Naturally, NoGod and TrueBeliever will hate each other for lots of different reasons, if for no other reason than the differences in their personalities. This dislike will lead to open confrontations in the public market. Increase doubt in TrueBeliever by having him attempt to invoke a miracle then nothing happens. Not only will TrueBeliever be incredibly embarrassed but doubt will begin to grow in the believer's hearts.

Have TrueBeliever challenge NoGod to the end-all, be-all challenge in the main market in two weeks time with the understanding that whoever loses the challenge has to openly acknowledge they were lying about God. Make that event the talk of the city. Everyone will be there.

Repeat the challenge as many times as it takes to squash that last flicker of faith.

The day of the challenge arrives. TrueBeliever has promised an awe-inspiring show of the power of God. NoGod makes no promises other than "it will be interesting". In front of cheering crowds, TrueBeliever and NoGod walk into the square. As God, don't do anything. Just let TrueBeliever fall on his face. His credibility will be shattered. NoGod need only offer a plausible explanation for the miracles that doesn't reference another god and the transition should be complete. There will be a few that still believe that the miracles are the result of God taking action but there won't be many and such beliefs will be extremely unpopular. The miracles can continue to happen but they won't be ascribed to God anymore. They just happen.

Remember that human memory is extremely malleable. With a little massaging, you can turn it into whatever you want.

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    $\begingroup$ It must not necessarily teach tah God does not exists, He could also teach to believe in something else (a polythesit phanteon, a devil, believe into the universe, a mountains eating dwarf, a green man living on the moon) $\endgroup$ – GameDeveloper Jul 26 '15 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ Teaching people about confirmation bias is something statisticians have been doing for long and mostly failed. I wouldn't expect a prophet to fare better. $\endgroup$ – Pere Dec 26 '16 at 20:48
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In a single generation? Probably not going to happen, if we're looking for a realistic total deconversion here. Give it a couple thousand years of silence, though, a dark age that destroys the paper trail necessary to verify the stories, a rising standard of living and education, and interactions with a society that doesn't share their religious views where they both have an incentive to play nice, and I think you might see it eventually fade away.

Of course, it depends on the nature of the deity. What I describe would work in a sys-admin in the sky scenario. But if the deity exists within the same world as everyone else, that could make things more interesting. They'd have to find a way to escape detection for all that time, which could play into a "What if God was one of us?" trope. And if the deity fails to escape detection, well, there's all that hard work and waiting gone down the tubes!

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Make Magic Into a Science

He can make someone (a meat puppet) wander down and say, "Hey, I've been helping you out all this time. I found these weird rocks, and if you arrange them in a certain way a bearded warrior -- who in no way looks like Chris Hemsworth -- appears and does battle. Do this another way and weird weather effects happen. I didn't come forward before and claim credit because I was still experimenting and, well, when you put the rocks in a skull and crossbones pattern it turns out that nasty things happen. Ask the last town. Or what's left of it."

They might think it heresy, but, eventually, if people can reproduce the effects, I think they'd accept it. Lightning rods eventually went up on churches, blasphemous denial of God's wrath or not.

Of course he (the god, not the meat puppet) has to keep up the charade forever, and sometimes come up with reasons behind the reasons. "Why do these rocks keep attracting each other? Oh, I'll just call it magnetism."

Eventually, when they've developed relativity and quantum mechanics and decide that they don't always work together, the people will decide that's just their limited math and physics understanding, giving the god a bit more time to reconcile the two.

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I don't know that what you are asking can actually be accomplished by anything other than generational change and even then it would take more than just time.

If my neighbor Bob always makes great steaks for me and I see it happen...I believe that Bob makes great steaks...for good reason, I know it to be true.

What you are asking is for me to forget what I know even though I know it to be true. It would be different if you were talking about something that was solely based on faith...you show a scientific solution and BAM, faith can plummet.

But in your case, god does in fact exist, and whats more is the people have seen what he does on their behalf.

There is no way to logic out of this situation when one of your premises is: diety x exists and I have seen his miraculous works.

Short of mass amnesia or maybe faking his own death, that belief is not going to fade anytime soon no matter what sort of straw-man, slippery slope logical arguments are made. Especially if the miracles continue to occur (by any means).

There are people (by some measures intelligent people) that have seen the science on climate change and yet don't believe it...on religious grounds. Belief is hard to kill.

TL:DR: A lack of action combined with time is likely the only thing to eliminate belief/faith in your deity.

Perfect logic implies truth. You can't have a premise that contradicts a conclusion.

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  • $\begingroup$ "On religious grounds"? Don't want to start a debate, but out of curiosity, where do the gospels say anything that can be interpreted that way? If they do, the Pope must have his facts wrong: edition.cnn.com/2015/06/18/world/… $\endgroup$ – Tobia Tesan Jul 9 '15 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @TobiaTesan they don't, and i completely respect Pope Francis for his acceptance of reality, but religion is far bigger than the pope or even Catholicism, just look up some climate change denial stories...I have read some that basically say "Humans are arrogant to believe they could do anything to hurt God's creation" $\endgroup$ – James Jul 9 '15 at 20:23
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The best plan is to make all these events commonplace.

Bearded warriors can be seen hanging around town during peace time and behaving normally. Because they live with the good guys, it's only natural they will support them when there is a battle.

Giant domes appear during good days as well as bad with no apparent logic. It's weird but just a natural phenomenon.

Fires start up but don't engulf anyone most of the time.

Gales start up and die all the time - that's just the local climate.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is good, but I wasn't asking for possible explanations, just ways he could use those explanations. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jul 7 '15 at 23:53
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, so there is a priesthood. They make increasingly ridiculous claims about what the god can achieve. They raise expectations to a ludicrous level. No-one can complain they are anti-religious. When they reach a stage when everyone thinks they are deluded, they start to 'explain' the true miracles, but no-one believes them. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Jul 8 '15 at 0:08
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Build a secret shrine

How about the god planting a shrine of some kind for the people to discover. the shrine would have texts that were 'left by an ancient civilisation' that is now extinct. They had uncovered some of the mysteries of the universe and when they died out their expert knowledge allowed them as spirits to control certain aspects of the real world. maybe explain in the texts some fake way of attaining these powers when you die, so people will start practising these methods instead of believing in a god.

does this just shift the problem, or does this actually achieve your goal?

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  • $\begingroup$ Spirits in the sky, not God, THE spirit in the sky. Okay, that would work. $\endgroup$ – Caleb Woodman Jan 27 '16 at 17:23
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So if I understand correctly, this God has performed a bunch of miracles for his Greek-esque civilization, and now he wants to make them all think it wasn't him - or more specifically, that He 'doesn't exist'.


Now my natural inclination is that he could create a set of logical rules by which his 'miracles' can be re-created by his people, and set up a group of people to re-create them, such that they can prove that all these miraculous events are re-producible by man, and thus proving he doesn't exist.

Now, in today's society we have a large group of people like that called 'scientists', and to this day we've still got a lot of religion going around, so that's clearly not going to work, much less in the span of a year.


Now, he could also set up a bunch of these miracles for a rival civilization, just for a year or so to 'test' his people. They would see 'God's Work' being done for the unfaithful, and no longer believe they were ever blessed by god, yes?

Well...no, because then the unfaithful might start believing that God simply went onto their side, and if these 'miracles' worked often enough for them, there'd be very few of God's original faithful left to look at for test results.


I would say the simplest way to test the strength of people's faith, and to convince them that God does not exist, is simply to set up false gods.

There's a few ways to go about doing this:

  • Give some power to the people, posing as a False God, telling them individually that the Old God is fake, and that they are the True Gods of this world.
  • Set up a false temple, and begin performing wonders for this false god, so that the heretics will have something to back up their faith.
  • Do entirely different things as a God that are not related to the weather, or that are completely unexpected of the God that people have been writing about, to create the illusion of a second God, then after some people start following you, appear before them and declare yourself the 'One True God' while performing a miracle.

Any or all of these would convince people that the "new" gods are the True Source Of Power in the universe, and that your original God never existed at all.


Of course, why you would ever do any of this is a mystery to me.

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  • $\begingroup$ The conundrum of this question is that he wants to prove he doesn't exist. All your methods allow doubt to be cast, but there is no proof (I don't think there can be) $\endgroup$ – James Jul 9 '15 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, many faiths openly recognize that other false gods will tempt followers to lose their faith, so remaining faithful in spite of this temptation is actively rewarded. You might even say false gods only strengthen belief in such faiths. $\endgroup$ – talrnu Jul 9 '15 at 17:39
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Make the people want to proof god isn't real

Disclaimer: This idea is based on a quote from Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books.

It's always easier to make others want to do what you want, in all situations in life.

The best example for this trend is the whole business of crowd funding, where you present your idea to people, get them excited about it and make them want to pay you to do it.

An example of how Douglas Adams did it in one of his works:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

By giving the Babel fish (a parasite organism that feeds of brainwaves and as a byproduct excretes a translation of everything the host's ears hear, into the host's native language) to the people, he basically gives them something that undeniably proves his own existence.
Now as religion (assuming the religion features a god) is built up on the fact that the existence of god cannot be proven but is shown everywhere in a way that still leaves room for speculation, and undeniable proof of god existing would be such a crass contrast and such an obvious thing, that man will immediately claim that it cannot be proof of god's existence and hence god proved that he/she does not exist for man.


To address all the points mentioned:

Current miracles

All the current miracles are intangible, your god does never give his followers anything really physical that undeniably proves his existence.
We can build on that by either giving them something physical that is so undeniably a proof of god's interference, that the believers will henceforth decide that it can impossibly be a proof of god's existence as it clearly does not fit his established style, still they cannot explain it with any of their established science, etc. - making them start to doubt/think

Weather

By stopping to perform weather wonders or even by starting to let through some bad weather / direct it at his followers, they would instantly become wary about these changes - they would clearly indicate his presence, so bad idea

Instead he could further feed their doubts by making the previously mentioned physical proof a thing that controls weather up to a certain extent (e.g. bundles heat on a spot, and other things)

Spreading

Naturally news about such a discovery (physical proof/scientifically impossible machine) will spread by themselves along trading routes, etc. So there is no real need to artificially spread it faster

Appearing as a person

As your last paragraph mentions, he could simply appear as a normal human and claim to be god. He would be burned and hence not exist anymore - problem solved (but without any explanations)

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It's commonly said that magic (spells, miracles, etc.) is merely science we don't understand yet.

The only way you can truly unmask a god is to show ordinary people how to become that god. Simply giving them godly powers isn't enough - they have to understand the source of those powers and how they work. They have to see that there is a logical connection between those powers and the way the world as they understand it works.

In my mind, this is why religion will always exist: as long as something remains unexplained (and even long after an explanation is found, until it becomes common knowledge), at least some people will assume a higher power is responsible for it.

It doesn't matter if you make them forget about their god, or get them accustomed to being unable to explain the things that happen around them, or give them any degree of control over the unexplained. Humans naturally seek to understand everything about their world, and some satisfy their lack of understanding by believing the things they don't understand are beyond comprehension because they are part of a power operating beyond their own limitations.

Note: I don't intend to discredit religion or imply superiority of any particular mindset. Let me know if you find this answer offensive in any way and we'll try to rephrase it accordingly.

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  • $\begingroup$ You should read the MistBorn series. $\endgroup$ – Caleb Woodman Jan 27 '16 at 17:26
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Make the world seeming an illusion. If you convince people they are not really seeing the real world but just an illusion, then they could accept everything happening without attributing it to a god (but just to the illusion mechanism). The same happens in Matrix, Neo can't change things inside matrix until he understand that everything is an illusion and he need to change himself to make things happens.

A modern way to achieve that would be suddenly replace mountains or buildings with holographic projections with jitter and a message box saying "error loading this building, contact maintainer" (Lol, just thinked about a night sky with a "blue screen" in progress XD). People could believe is living inside a computer simulation, so anything happening could just have no sense. The important part is to make such things "random" with no clear intent, so that people could exclude a divine design.

In a certain way, randomness of certain physical phenomena could be a way for a real God to tell us "toss away the God concept a go deeper". I remember Einstein sad something like "I don't think god play dices" about eisenberg indeterminism. It could be possible indeterminism is itself a God design, or simply something we can't fully observe and hence appear as "random": In example a computer program can't observe and predict its own execution (what will be the content of a particular memory location? Undecideable problem, appear as random from within the program, and undecideable from external observer)

Returning to illusion stuff.. Of course if you meet someone teaching you about a Fake World this does not necessarily means he's some god trying to convince you that god does not exists: I'm not a god and I'm not trying to convince anyone that god does not exist but I came with this idea (well in reality it is not a mine idea, some cults use the same concept of Fake World to make proselytes, and I doubt they created the concept, in fact who study philosophy know Greeks first thinked to such stuff of abstract world, there's really a lot about the topic, I can't afford to go deeper on such question.)

Another thing a God would leave is free will, a god will not give any visible reward or punishment for any action because that would make appear a divine design and hence people would suspect the existence of god. Anything that is against free will will probably be something opposite to a such God, so slavery, mind control (and in a certain way also money). In example if a priests says "God exists and you must do something for him" you will both start believing in it and lose the free will at same time.

however since the God you are examining want to continue making miracles, I think making believing the world is an illusion is a good bet, and he also must be sure that such miracles appear as random. How could he achieve that.. mm In example making suddenly some ocean or land end and starting becoming written paper, so people think to be part of a book or a scroll.

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Assuming a similar level of technological advancement (Actually, higher than our current technology), He could just build a giant robot and pass it off as a mythical creature.

Step 1: Make robot

This robot must have removable casing, such that all the people can see that it is actually a robot (eg: they can see wires and everything).

Include a nuclear power plant inside to power this thing.

This robot gets seen in the sky, and has giant fans somewhere on its body that can produce winds. Of course, this means it can fly. Perhaps once every week, someone reports a giant robot moving clouds, or performing x miracle.

It looks like a bearded warrior.

It has flamethrowers somewhere, and lasers and nanomachines to start fires with as well.

It may require some camo capabilities. Cut like diamond, perhaps, to avoid radar. Since it usually stays in the sky, it can probably stay inside a cloud or something to hide.

I assume that the giant transparent dome can't actually be detected/seen/felt since it's transparent - the people just see that the weather doesn't reach them. As such, perhaps this robot can deploy nanomachines that move and surround the area in a dome shape, and eliminate/redirect incoming weather as required. Eg: Rain molecules are evaporated as soon as they reach the nanomachines, so the rain doesn't fall into the city, or the nanomachines act as lightning rods to redirect lightning away from the city, etc etc.

There is no pilot. There is simple software source code that can be accessed such that the people can see exactly how this robot works.

Perhaps on the very last day of the year, the robot comes down to pay its respects to its creator, and this is the chance for the people to study it and say "What the sonovaholyrobot!" After that day, the robot can fly back into the air and rarely be seen again. It just needs to show itself once in a while, and god can continue performing said miracles.

Of course, if it's passed off as a mythical creature, when the technology level gets high enough, they'll eventually realize it's robot.

Step 2: Disassociate from god

Create a dead body and grave and burial and stuff somewhere. Attribute the creation of this giant thing to this person. Now, everyone thinks the robot was built by him, and even though he's dead, the robot remains functional. Perhaps it was programmed to show itself to the people once a year.

TL;DR: Make a robot to pass off as mythical creature in ancient times, and wait for science to do its work.

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    $\begingroup$ The technology level is that of ancient Greece. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jul 7 '15 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ I missed that part ._. $\endgroup$ – Aify Jul 7 '15 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ Even though it doesn't matter anymore - the old Greeks already had knowledge and understanding of the theoretical and practical application of things such as Steam Engines and magnetism (I'm sorry I can't find the name of the docu-feature that mentioned it) $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Jul 9 '15 at 7:23
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T That information actually helps this answer even more, since they can dissect the robot earlier and help to disassociate it from god earlier... $\endgroup$ – Aify Jul 9 '15 at 16:23
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In one year? Not likely. Those miracles are very blatant and if they are going to continue, then everyone would have to be an idiot not to believe.

However, the first step, with the miracles continuing would be to create technology that does the miracle and can be controlled by someone, not the clergy, or they would have even stronger reason to hold on to the beliefs. The technology doesn't actually have to do anything, but at least appear to do so at the control of people.

Of course the simplest way to get everyone to forget the deity is for the deity to wipe the minds and change their knowledge/beliefs.

Otherwise, lots of time with no new miracles would be needed and a strong scientific society, maybe by urging science and logic they would lose belief slowly.

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The Super Hero

Make a "Super Hero" reveal himself to the world. It was always him to save the day, not god!

I think it works better if he's a "gadget" hero (like Batman or Ironman) so to attribute the "miracles" to technology rather than super-power (as these could be interpreted as god-given).

The Super Hero would look like the bearded warrior.

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Goodbye World!

A moment's revelation puts God in the picture, and takes him out.

Hello, all. I am the spirit in the sky. I have been doing nice things for you for a long time. Well, I'm tired, and unfathomably old, and I'm leaving. Thanks for all the sacrifices, they were tasty. I'm not abandoning you, though. I'm leaving behind a couple of friends to help you out. They'll be taking on my role. Goodbye.

-Massive exploding sound accompanied by nice pyrotechnics in the sky.-

Granted, with God "dead", there might be a little bit of mass suicide, but hey.

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Do terrible things

You want this done in a year? You're going to have to get your hands dirty.

The quickest and most reliable way I'm aware of to make someone question their faith is for them to suffer horribly. These acts you've been doing to support them all these years... use them to hurt your followers to make it seem random and unfair.

They'll soon set about looking for explanations that don't involve an insecure deity wanting to test their commitment.

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  • Your god wants this to be a test, then Make it a Test.

95% of people with 95% certainty gives us a little bit of wiggle room. We are going to lean on that, hard. Also, we should blame the boojum (it will make sense later).

So, pick a semi-plausible explanation. It can include any of the other answers, it can be something else entirely - this answer is about method. I'm partial to the idea that some kind of low level reality-warping ability in the population - the weather shifts, the fires come, the shield manifests, maybe the warrior comes - because people believe it does, and if enough people believe with enough power, the low-level ability from each person works together to manifest it. Those particular usages are often seen because people believe them, heard of them in stories, and as they manifest, more people believe - so they show up all the time. Anyway, your god now has an explanation in hand.

  • Now, to make people believe it, subvert your leaders.

Pick your most influential religious leaders, your top political leaders, your little local pillars of the community known for being the most faithful and devoted followers - not more than 1% of your total population of each, maybe aim for just under 2-2.5% total instead, since you want to keep as much wiggle room as you really can. You are ranking people by how many others look up to them, how faithful and devout they are perceived by the community, how influential they are.

Have your god go to them - yes, this means they won't disbelieve in him, but if your god chose wisely, they wouldn't have anyway - have your god go to them and set them each a test of personal devotion: that they must not publicly support your god for a year, even publicly deny him. They may not explain or discuss their reasons until the year is up. If your god wants to be a little more sympathetic, would not like to be seen as insecure, or would like to eventually be worshiped again, have him blame the boojum.

  • Step three in your plan, have the "explanation" discovered

So, your god has set a test for just under 2, or 2.5, or even 3% of your society. The reason for "just under" your chosen percentage, is so that you can grab some scientists. You will need only a few, but want more than a handful - preferably widely spread, well respected, and quite devoted. They need to be convinced of your theory, so that it can spread and be believed by your general population. Come up with a few tests that "prove" your original explanation, like a psychology test ends up letting groups of people recreate the manifestations if they believe hard enough, or certain rituals will let someone control the weather, or these special rocks will let one influence the fire, or whatever proof your god came up with to fit the explanation. Some of your scientists (up to the percentage) will be lead to the experiments first (by influence direct or indirect, maybe lean on your leaders and priests), others will need direct visitation. A number of top scientists "discovering" the phenomenon "independently" will give it legitimacy - especially if some are reacting in genuine horror at the implications. It's important that the test, whatever it is, is actually reproducible, at least for your one year, as that will be the "proof". Remember to blame the boojum, your scientists will be a lot less forgiving of a deliberate crisis of faith if they don't think there's a reason!

  • Your primed percentage will now Stir the Pot

Scientists declare breaking news, warn the town criers! The scientists start spreading the news about the test, and its possible religious implications - some in horror, some in denial, and some - because their beloved god asked it of them. The ordinary people look to their religious leadership for a response, for acceptance or rejection of this test and its implications. The top ranks, and the most devout and influential - are silent. The political leadership as well. All the top ranks of the people most likely to decry the implications are silent, and some even go so far as to deny your god, or reject him publicly!

Your common people are shocked and appalled! What the hex-and-a-quarter is this! It seems to them like even, or especially, the most religious people have had their faith shaken or even broken by this test. Laymen look to their priests, priests look to their leaders, communities look to their local faithful, and they make no effort to encourage or support faith in your god, or even talk about the reasons why not (which looks like personal crisis from the outside). Individuals might have laughed of the test, or failed to believe its implications, or just not cared - but this apparent crumbling of the most steadfast, of those they look up to and who inspire them, will shake their own faith, and fast.

  • As people's faith is shaken, Watch for Resistance

The lack of leadership will do a lot to shake people's faith, but it is, after all, only two or three percent of your total population at most. Some will be convinced by the test, some more convinced by proxy - but in a population of devout believers, you will be seeing push-back fairly soon, as those devout individuals who remain start trying to rally people's beliefs back to the faith. So your god will need to wait, and watch, and look for focal people and places of resistance. Your god will want a budget - for the whole year, mind - of no more than 1% of the population (this brings your total up to 3-4%, if you're mathing). Knots of resistance can be identified, and their development monitored, by your god and/or those followers in the know.

After they have had some time to brew, the better to polarize people - you god will pick among the top leaders (looking for the minimum of those whose faith is the most trusted and leaned on), and repeat the first trick - visitation from the god they are so devoted to, asking them not to support him publicly at this time, as a test of faith - because of the boojum, of course. The loss of the top people (and again, the most trusted rather than the official leaders) will undermine the resisting group a lot - and being let down or betrayed again and again will badly shake up the faith of those who do still believe, as those who seemed to have the most personal faith seem to loose it, have breakdowns, and denounce their god and previous faith.

  • Now, WAIT.

You have a year of this - and you want people to have as much time as possible, to react to each wave of defections, the better to seriously shake their faith. You want to minimize the number of people your god visits, too - you will want as much wiggle room as you can for people who won't lose faith naturally, and you have already shaved that thin with your visitation people. Honestly, I would be surprised if you couldn't get a pretty decent majority seriously doubting the god, with shenanigans like this, and perhaps your 95% will be willing to profess disbelief by the time your year is over. Maybe that's enough, maybe not - but it is about all I've got.

  • Ah, wait-a-sec. This was a Test of Faith, remember?

So, go back to your 3-4%. Your god talked to them at the beginning of the year, recall, and not only asked them to not support or deny him publicly, but also not to speak of their reasons why - without telling most of them what else was going to be happening this year. Why does it matter? because this is also a test of faith - a fairly good one. These are people who believe, and strongly (your god picked them out of the people who probably would not turn away, recall) - and they have seen their society crumble around them while they had to remain silent. They will be looking at the societal crisis of faith, and thinking what they would have, should be, could be doing to support their students, and friends, and mentors - to do their jobs. To help their people.

It will be very tempting for these people to give in, or give up, and explain to people why they have been silent - that they didn't falter in their belief in the god. Those who manage to keep faith, and follow your god's instructions even when it must have seemed to them as if the end of the world, have passed a pretty strict test even if it isn't the same one. Those who gave in and spoke up, have failed - even though they are professing their faith in the god, they didn't have faith that his instructions were the right path. If your god is willing to accept this alternate, backwards test-of-faith, then between the extra percentages now passing the test, and the extra percentages of wiggle room for those who can't be convinced, I think your society now has a good chance of hitting that 95% population with 95% certainty.

  • And now, the Boojum

Recall I said back in the beginning, to blame the boojum? Well, you god will look pretty insecure, and possibly cruel, if he's testing people, and shaking their faith, frightening them, and upending their society just for a test. So he can blame the boojum instead. It doesn't matter what the boojum is, or what it does, or even if it is explained or not - ever. The point is, he can say the test has to happen, and it has to happen now, because of the boojum.

He can say, afterwards, that it was necessary for 95% of the population to not believe in the god at the end of the year, or a specific date, to prevent...something... from happening, because of the boojum (if that was achieved). He can say it was important for the whole society's faith to be tested during the year, whatever the actual result, because of the boojum. He can say just the leaders' faith (the percentage people) needed to be tested, and the "test results" happened to happen at the same time as that test - because of the boojum. The boojum can be an actual explanation he has - or he can just say it is an inscrutable godly thing, that can't be explained. All people need to know is that they're safe, the god's testing/meddling/whatever protected them from the dangerous boojum-thing.

So they won't blame him for the Great Crisis of Faith, or for the social unrest, or all of the trouble and fear during the year. So he can have people believe again, by having the percent-people announce their year-long test of faith (and the bargain), and perhaps appearing himself, to explain what happened and why (because of the boojum, weren't you listening), without sounding insecure. So he can meddle again, and not have to uphold the illusion of whatever explanation he concocted (which might have been annoying, being at the back and call of scientists instead of meddling freely).

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Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Except in this case, Oz is actually real.

Set up a skilled con man as a front. He doesn't have the ability to do actual miracles, but he is skilled in creating the appearance of miracles.

His attempts to credit all such miracles to a higher power (ie, You) are significantly less successful.

So everyone is amazed by his performance, but are completely convinced that he is simply taking credit for natural occurrences, or using tricks or misdirection to accomplish his feats.

So essentially, David Copperfield being a prophet.

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To get away with murder, one must destroy all evidence at the scene of the crime. sooooooooo... He must destroy the civilization or the universe or both.

In short, that god must destroy all evidence of his existence. That is anything he has done or he must destroy all of the witnesses.

a good choice is to destroy all the witnesses and therefor get rid of the whole civilization like it were Atlantis. Certainly he would have a lot of tools such as huge volcanoes , mile high tidal waves, concentrated meteor showers, plagues and so on. In any given civilization there always seems to be at least some who seem to believe there is something outside the "matrix" of their civilization that they live in. Unless he gets rid of all such people, he can't get rid of the knowledge in question. The nub of the problem is the people who want such knowledge.

Scientist have proposed that there is a "god" gene and that there is also a
"criminal" gene that causes people to enrich themselves at the expense of others. if he kills off all the people with the god gene he would have a civilization of dominant criminals gene ... some rich and some poor. the poor ones would be the ones less skillful at taking from others. But then he would have the problem re-occur when more humans with the genetically defective god gene being born in the future. So just killing off the god gene persons would not work if humans with the "recessive" god gene were to be born in the future.

This may suggest yet another way that complete self-destruction of a civilization could be accomplished: by introduction of a mere idea - social justice (where the poor rise up and kill all the rich). Then after their revolution, the poor find that their leaders take from them and become the rich at the expense of the poor. So, Have another revolution and another until the civilization gets so weak that the neighboring civilization just walks in and kills everyone. A divine comedy.

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