"So you are the Christ, yes the great Jesus Christ!Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Therefore, when an ordinary-looking character claims to be God, Satan, a wizard, time traveller, robot, or alien, skeptics nearby will often demand a God Test to prove those claims. This will typically be a fantastic feat of some sort, something to be done that a regular person would never be able to do. The challenged party succeeding at the test is fairly rare, but they may respond with an explanation as to why they won't or why the test isn't meaningful. Thanks to Jesus' classic example there's a fair chance in the story this means they're on the level. Coming up with a test and having the God fail it is a good way to expose an impostor. Often expressed as "If you're <X>, then do <Y>!" Note that, despite the name, the test is not limited to deities; any character claiming extraordinary abilities can be challenged with such a test. Might overlap with Give Me a Sign. Contrast with Secret Test. Also see Trust Password and If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten.
Prove to me that you're divine; change my water into wine!"
Prove to me that you're divine; change my water into wine!"
— Jesus Christ Superstar, "Herod's Song"
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- During Peter David's run on Supergirl, with the "angel" version of the character, she meets a little boy who claims to be God, come to speak to her. She asks for proof, and He asks what sort of miracle would prove anything in an age of superheroes who can fly, transmute elements, etc.; so she's just going to have to take it on faith.
- In Superman story The Black Ring, Lex Luthor meets Death and he immediately demands proof. She softly pokes the tip of his nose, and it turns grey and begins cracking.
- During the "Heroes Return" story arc in Marvel Comics, most of Marvel's heroes have had their memories of their "real" lives erased and they lived in a pocket universe for a year. They are confronted by a Celestial who demands that they return to a home they don't remember. If they don't, either the pocket universe will be destroyed, or the regular Earth will. Thor objects, saying that he thinks all of them together could take her. In response, she snaps her fingers and turns Thor, a god in his own right, into a frog. He retracts his objection.
Films — Animated
- In The Road to El Dorado, the Doradans challenge the explorers to a ballgame... two gods against 15 mortals. In that same film, Tzekel-Kan asks for a display of power. And a volcano begins to erupt, before quickly stopping. And the funny thing is that Tzekel-Kan did it accidentally since he didn't really doubt about their divinity so far and merely wanted them to act like proper gods.
- Aladdin pulls a very clever version of this on the Genie. He challenges him, dismissively, "I bet you couldn't even magic us out of this cave!" The Genie does it, then tells Aladdin he has two wishes left. "Oh, no... I never wished to be out of the cave. You did that on your own..." To Genie's credit, he takes it in his stride, but couldn't give any more 'freebies', even when Al was in danger of drowning.
- Near the end of Hotel Transylvania, when the monsters are at an annual Monster Festival, one of them asks them to prove that the Dracula they're with is the real deal. Dracula then hypnotizes him to smash his mug against his forehead. He casually accepts this as proof.
Films — Live-Action
- In Oh, God!, Jerry Landers asks the old man claiming to be God to prove it by making it rain. On cue, it suddenly starts to rain... inside Jerry's moving car. Later, God proves His divinity in a courtroom by making a deck of cards appear and disappear in plain view. He concludes his visit by vanishing in full view of the audience, and there are no recordings (audio or written) of His testimony.
- Played with in Bruce Almighty, when Bruce tries to catch God (the other one) with a How Many Fingers? test. After God guesses correctly every single time, Bruce tries to fake him out by holding up five fingers on one hand and two on another, then very quickly putting two fingers away when God says "Seven." When Bruce triumphantly holds up his one hand, it suddenly has that many fingers. Apparently, God also pulled the same stunt on Gandhi, who took it a lot harder than Bruce.
- M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender has one of these.
"The Avatar would be an Airbender. Can you Airbend, boy?"
- The test goes on to show the elements reacting to Aang's presence- i.e. rocks move towards him, water falls into a perfect circle, etc. The scene is infamous for making very little sense, because it doesn't explain why the elements don't do it all the time, suggesting that Aang did it on purpose, allowing himself to be captured.
- In The Man from Earth, John Oldman quietly foils his friends' attempts to prove him wrong by explaining that most of his knowledge WOULD fit in with textbooks because that's what happened. Then he starts explaining that he was both a student of the Buddha and the resulting inspiration for the biblical Christ, to everyone's dismay, but he still cannot (or at least will not) give them true proof of his immortality. At the end, he unwittingly exposes himself to be the father of his psychologist friend, (said friend looks to be twice John's age) giving the man a heart attack and proving, in the viewer's eyes, that his story was true.
- Angel-A has to prove her claims to André. First she makes an ashtray float in mid air, but he believes in a trick. Then she makes her cigarette butt grow back which eventually convinced André.
- Just Like Heaven has David convincing Jack that Elizabeth's right behind him. Jack pulls a How Many Fingers? that concludes with him Flipping the Bird. And despite this, it still takes a Something Only They Would Say moment to convince him
- The Man Who Would Be King, Daniel Dravot, is acclaimed a god when struck by an arrow which fails to penetrate his uniform. When he arrives at a temple, though, the priests want to see if he can duplicate the feat for them.
- In Bewitched, Isabel's attempts to prove she's a real witch fail because Jack assumes they're extremely clever tricks, until she propels him high in the air and pulls him back down.
- In Hook, Smee and Hook confirm Peter's identity as Pan, but see that he seems to have changed quite a bit. They tell him they'll give his kids back if he merely flies a little. (Upon failure of such, and at Tinkerbell's urging, they extend the challenge by giving him both more tasks and more time.)
- In Ghostbusters (1984), Gozer performs a god test on Ray by... asking him if he's a god. Ray fails by simply telling the truth. (Of course, there's no knowing whether Gozer would have demanded more proof had Ray answered yes.)
- Inverted and utterly subverted in Monty Python's Life of Brian, where no evidence can disprove Brian's divinity:
Brian: I'm not the Messiah! Will you please listen, I am not the Messiah! Do you understand? Honestly!
Female follower: Only the true Messiah denies his divinity.
Brian: What!? Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right, I am the Messiah!
Crowd: He is! He is the Messiah!
- The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). As a demonstration that he is a powerful alien, Klaatu cuts power all over the globe for exactly half an hour, with the exception of hospitals and airplanes in flight, which has the additional benefit of demonstrating the incredible degree of control he has over this effect.
- In Bernard and the Genie, the Genie tries to kill Bernard as soon as he's summoned. Bernard stops him by wishing he'd stop trying to kill him, but still doesn't believe he's a genie. His test is to wish that the chair he has his foot on was TV presenter Melvyn Bragg. Cue a very confused Melvyn Bragg on all fours with Bernard's foot on his back. Bernard abruptly wishes it was a chair again.
- Europa Europa: The Soviet instructors at the Komsomal academy in Poland stage one to "prove" that God does not exist for their students after one Polish boy disputes this. He's told he should pray for candy from God, which doesn't come. At the same time one of the Soviet men goes up on the roof and drops in candy to the students, which they say is from Stalin. Thus they claim God doesn't exist and won't give them candy, but Stalin always will. Solly does not look at all convinced by this, but wisely stays quiet.
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court plays with this one memorably: a charlatan claims to be able to tell people whatever is happening anywhere in the world. After listening to various plausible tales of the doings of foreign potentates, the main character takes his turn: "Tell me what I'm doing with my hands behind my back right now."
- In The Last Hero the Silver Horde try to sneak into Dunmanifestin by claiming to be 'new gods'. The locals know what's going on but, being who they are, decide to have some fun by demanding Cohen prove his bonafides by rolling a seven on a six-sided die. He does, by cutting the die in half in midair.
- In Small Gods, Om attempts to prove to Brutha that he's a Great God trapped in the form of a tortoise, but can't muster any kind of grand demonstration such as a thunderstorm. He then cites a secret childhood experience of Brutha's to prove his omniscience, only he's lying about having divinely perceived it at the time: he's just skimming Brutha's surface thoughts, a feat which Om considers so mundane that he doesn't even realize humans can't do it.
- During the Horus Heresy series, the Emperor repeatedly and vehemently denies any godhood. This trope gets inverted, however, because half the stuff he does SEEMS like it should take a god to accomplish, so no matter how much he denies it, the "true believers" just say "only a true god would deny his divinity while also demonstrating it."
- In Will of Heaven, the Guest of Canghai asks Han Xin what he has to do to make the latter believe he serves a real god. Han Xin offhandedly tells him to make a river disappear. He does.
- In Red Prophet, some Indian hecklers demand that the one-eyed prophet Tenskwa-Tawa prove his powers by restoring his missing eye. The prophet rebukes them, and reveals the supernatural visions he receives through the missing eye—and ends up making new converts.
- Battlestar Galactica (1978) episode "War of the Gods Part 1''. Count Iblis claims to have great powers and knowledge. The Council of Twelve gives him three challenges: to deliver their greatest enemy (Baltar) to them, to lead the fleet to Earth, and one more to be named later.
- The Bionic Woman: Jaime Sommers has been replaced by her evil twin, and dropped into prison in her place. After escaping, and getting cornered by the cops, who have been joined by her boss, she tells him to whisper any question he wants, across a hundred yards of open field, to prove who she really is.
- Doctor Who:
- In "Smith and Jones", the Doctor met companion-to-be Martha Jones. At the beginning of the episode, she was walking to work when the Doctor came up to her, took his tie off, and said, "Like so!" Later in the episode, they met and he had no memory of this. At the end, Martha asks him to prove that he's a time traveller. He takes his TARDIS and disappears, reappearing seconds later . . . without his tie.
- Many years earlier Barbara had been subject to a God Test in "The Aztecs". She was posing as an Aztec Goddess at the time and Ian was about to be killed. She demanded they stop but they'd begun to doubt her and basically said, "If you are who you say you are, you can save him yourself. If you can't, why should we listen to you?" She ended up grabbing a knife and holding it to the Aztec's throat, claiming she had no need to use her divine powers if human ability would suffice.
- Joan of Arcadia has Joan ask the teenage boy claiming to be God to prove his divinity. He gestures behind himself to show... a tree.
Joan: "...that's a tree."
God: "Let's see you make one."
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodies this: When the gang land in Roman Times, Pearl claims they are gods, and Brain Guy has to use his powers to demonstrate. "Behold! From nothing I produce this... spoon."
- Red Dwarf: When Lister's pregnant cat's offspring's descendants mistake Lister for God, Lister tries to inform the only survivor The Cat of this, leading to this hilarious exchange:
Lister: "I am your god."
Cat: "Okay." (points at a bowl of cat food) "Turn this into a woman."
Lister: "I'm serious."
Cat: "So am I!"
Cat: "If you're God, why that face?"
- Another parody of the same concept from the same episode has the Cat test Lister's proclaimed divinity by asking him the ultimate question which could supposedly only be answered by the true Cloister the Stupid:
- The Christ-figure in the ITV (UK) drama The Second Coming written by Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies and starring Christopher Eccleston proves who he is by creating daylight around Manchester City's football stadium during the middle of the night - he is not explicitly asked to show his powers, but decides the only way to prove it is to do something on a significant enough scale to be believed from the outset.
- In Stargate SG-1, when Gerak becomes a Prior of the Ori and is asked to destroy Jaffa who refuse to believe, Teal'c asks him what makes him believe they are gods, citing various impressive miracles they could have performed. He then points out that the Goa'uld performed the exact same miracles and posits that the measure of a god is not how much power they have, but how they apply it. If they were gods, they would not need Gerak to kill anyone on their behalf, or even ask such a thing of him.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Inverted in the episode "Who Watches the Watchers." A primitive alien tribe has come to believe that Picard is God (despite his protests), and to prove it one of them shoots him with a bow to prove that The Picard can't be killed. Fortunately for Picard the alien misses his heart, but does hit him in the shoulder, injuring him and thereby proving to the aliens that he isn't God.
- Also inverted in the episode "Deja Q," where Q claims to have been stripped of his powers and exiled from the Continuum. When he asks how he can prove it, Worf suggests "Die." Guinan performs a more direct test, stabbing him in the hand with a fork and saying "Seems human enough to me." when he screams in pain.
- Subverted in the Supernatural extra when the angel Castiel meets the Ghostfacers. To prove his divinity, Castiel breaks a piece of glass, and states that it is made whole again... except that it is not.
Castiel: (looking upwards) Oh, come on!
- In Season 11 the Winchesters actually do meet God. Dean is accusing Him of being a demon trying to trick them when God teleports them to the Men of Letters headquarters in the middle of Dean's sentence, then raises someone from the dead and helps him Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. All Dean can say is, "Holy crap."
Mythology and Religion
- The Bible features many examples and some of them very old. In general, the Old Testament is much more okay with God Tests than the New Testament. Old Testament God was very active, with his miracles ranging from the subtle, such as ensuring Israelite victory in battle, to the obviously supernatural, such as raining down fire. In the New Testament, God was much more subtle, his only direct miracles being the impregnation of Mary and the resurrection. Jesus was generally willing to perform miracles, but he often asked that word of his miracles not be spread around, particularly his miraculous healings, and only engaged in one 'large scale' ritual, the feeding of crowds with only a few loaves of bread and fish.
- God provided Moses with some evidence of Who sent him, starting with giving Moses temporary leprosy and turning his staff into a snake and back (with enough time for it to eat the Egyptian priests' staff-snakes), followed up by the Ten Plagues.
- Gideon has an inversion; he was unsure that he (Gideon) was really The Chosen One and wanted to make sure before he went off starting a war. He leaves a fleece on the floor overnight; once, having the fleece be wet with dew while the floor is dry, and once vice versa. Both are performed without objection.
- Elijah challenges the priests of Baal to one in 1 Kings. Both call upon their god to light an altar as proof. He mocks them when Baal fails to answer. Yahweh lights the altar, of course, and the Israelites praise him, then slaughter the priests after this.
- Satan tries to invoke this by suggesting Jesus prove he was the son of God by turning stones into bread. Jesus refused, saying "It is written; Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from Godʼs mouth." Not to be put off, Satan told him to jump from the roof of the temple, saying "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." Jesus refuses again, saying "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.'"
- Also invoked in the New Testament letters. The Apostles instruct Christians to test any spirit claiming to be from Heaven, by verifying that the spirit in question confesses Jesus is Lord and that He came in the flesh, because demons will masquerade as angels of light to try to deceive people, but will never confess Jesus's Lordship or Incarnation before mortals, because doing so would defeat the point of the deception.
- King Herod (Antipas) tested Jesus on the day of His crucifixion to see if He would do all the miraculous things he had heard about. Jesus did nothing.
- When Jesus is on the cross the authorities challenge him "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross."
- Played straight by Jesus and Thomas. When Thomas hears of the resurrection, he refuses to believe the story, thinking it incredible. It is not until Jesus shows Thomas his crucifixion wounds that Thomas believes. Jesus then says that it would have been better for Thomas to have believed without seeing his wounds.
- According to the Koran, Mohammed refused to perform any God Tests to prove that he was a prophet, since there are several such stories in The Bible and in every one of them the prophets passed the tests but the crowds still didn't believe them. Since it never works, God wouldn't perform any more miracles only for the entertainment of unbelievers.
- As the tales where this trope does pop up can tell you, it's generally very dangerous to ask The Fair Folk to prove themselves to you. Partially because, if they are of the kind that Cannot Tell a Lie, they are likely to get insulted by the fact that their word is not good enough for you; cue Disproportionate Retribution, and partially because, well, they are The Fair Folk: if the only thing you wish for is to know if they really are the beings they claim to be, don't blame them if the knowledge that they really were the beings they claimed to be is the only thing you're left with.
- One of the black cards in Cards Against Humanity instructs the players to use one of the white cards in their hand to answer the question, "What will I bring back in time to convince people that I'm a powerful wizard?" Answers can range from the absurd ("George Clooney's musk") to the mundane but probably seemingly-magical to people from the past ("that thing that electrocutes your abs") to the actually-supernatural ("being a motherfuckin' sorcerer").
- Jesus Christ Superstar. Quoth Herod to Jesus, "Prove to me that you're no fool/Walk upon my swimming pool." Of course, Jesus in the Gospels also comes up against demands for miracles to prove his status, and refuses to play along with them.
- In Aristophanes' The Frogs, The god Dionysos and his servant both claim to be the real Dionysos, and the gatekeeper of Hades decides to tell them apart by flogging them. Supposedly, a real deity can't feel and won't react to pain. This being a parody, they both fail.
- Repeatedly in Ōkami, since faith in the gods is at a low ebb and gaining "praise spheres" plays a vital role in the gameplay's RPG Elements. Amaterasu sometimes displays a wicked sense of humor in answering them.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, the Lyrium-addled Templar, Carroll, repeatedly refuses to believe that the protagonist is a Grey Warden;
Templar: Go on then, kill some Darkspawn! Lets see some righteous Grey-Wardening!Warden: *Irritated* There aren't any Darkspawn here!
- The Neverwinter Nights 2 fan module The Maimed God's Saga has a cleric of Tyr as the Player Character. At one point a mob assembles in the town square demanding that you prove you're really a cleric. You can blow them off without consequence, or if you have the spell remove disease prepared, you can cure a sick woman in the crowd.
- In Futurama: The Game, Leela ends up encountering the Sun God, who was lauding his powers over the local underdeveloped civilization living on the Sun. Leela asks that he prove that he is a God, but this angers him and causes a boss fight. After defeating him, he admits the truth.
"You found me out... I'm not really a god... I'm *cough* *cough* just an ordinary... eternal, omniscient, superintelligent being."
- The first few chapters of episode 2 of Life Is Strange have Chloe testing Max's rewind power to make sure it's legit. This includes guessing the contents of her pockets and predicting the immediate future.
- In episode 55 of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Yami asks Noah to prove that he's a god.
- Tennyo of the Whateley Universe was forced to prove she was The Captain (i.e. The Star Stalker). The test involved opening a box but to open that box, a hand must be sacrificed.
- Dark Matter 2525: The Evolution of Apologetics notes that things have fallen from the days of the Bible, when Elijah showed God was real by having him do a miracle.
- Also done in the "Power Corrupts" series, which portrays our reality as a Matrix-like world whose sole purpose is testing if Yahweh can use power responsibly. It turns out that Yahweh is a regular guy who abuses his power to no end and, due to Satan's meddling, accidentally gained control over robots and thus also the real world. Finding a solution to this problem drives much of this story's plot.
- Spoofed in Beavis and Butt-Head. The duo meet a cult leader claiming to be God, and try to do the test. The problem is that the guys asking the questions are, well, Beavis and Butt-head.
Butt-head: Like, if you're God, then like, what's the name of that guy who built that ark?"God": Noah!Butt-head: Whoa!Beavis: Yeah!
- In God, the Devil and Bob, after several attempts God makes to prove his divinity, Bob still brushes him off, causing God to play hardball. Cue the entire bar split apart, growing to fifty feet, bathed in heavenly light and surrounded by doves... with a bear in a fez riding a tricycle with the banner "It's really Him!!!"
Bob: Uh, so, God... what are you drinking?
- In Family Guy, when the Griffins have Jesus over for dinner, Brian asks him to prove that he is Jesus. So Jesus instantly turns everyone's dinner into ice cream. And, at the request of Peter after the above incident, enlarged Lois' breasts.
- It doesn't come up all that often, but in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang has had to prove he is the Avatar on one or two occasions. For him, it's rather easy; just do a little Airbending, as the Avatar is the Last Airbender. He did this once on purpose on Kyoshi Island, and then King Bumi tricked him into doing it again by throwing a chicken leg at him the first time they visited Omashu.
- In The Angry Beavers, Daggett is mistaken for "The Mighty Knothead" by a tribe of Amazonian raccoons after a mishap in getting a wood knot from a tree. He is subjected to tests to prove that he is The Chosen One.
- As with many Native American peoples, the Tainos of Puerto Rico were told that the Spaniards invading their land were gods. To make sure, they caught one and tried to drown him... and succeeded. Even then they had no chance against the invaders.
- As shown above, Carl Sagan's famous quote, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," is an excellent summary of skeptics' treatment of claims with this magnitude.