Who has never asked the question: “if God wants me to believe in him so much, why does he remain so hidden?”
The assumption of course, is that the best argument against the existence of a Christian God who is there and eager for relationship, is to simply point to the void. To the silence. Where is this “speaking God”?
But then you open up the Bible and the Apostle Paul seems to be living in a completely different world to this modern skeptic. He says in his letter to Roman Christians, Chapter 1:19,
- “They [meaning all non-Jews] know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.”
What’s surprising is his choice of this word, “obvious.” He could have said, “the Truth about God is discoverable through meticulous research.” Or “the Truth about God is available if you suspend your reason and look deeply inside your heart.” Nope. He makes no such caveats. Just, it’s obvious. “We hold this truth to be self-evident.”
What truth exactly? Obviously not the specific truths of the Christian faith. No, not those. He says what truths exactly are “obvious”. Rom 1:20:
- “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
This implies that not only is the knowledge of God obvious, it is so obvious it has to be actively repressed, to be avoided!
Wow, if that’s how God sees it, we have a serious disagreement on this issue! In short, we think that God has a problem not us.
- We think it’s a revelation problem.
- God thinks it’s a response problem.
Revelation or Response
Which is it? Well, I think we’ve been told so often that study of the natural world (AKA: science) makes belief in God unnecessary, that we stopped paying attention… to SCIENCE!! By the way, that is a pretty old idea, that science necessarily leads one to become a physicalist. It does not.
Case in point. Atheist Thomas Nagel. Though an atheist he is not a physicalist/materialist. He’s written a book called Mind and Cosmos, the subtitle being, “Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.” Now you say, he’s an atheist, so how is this making your point, Rick? The point is, his study of nature says that there is no way that atoms in motion explain everything. Somehow, he believes, that immaterial realities MUST be imposing themselves on the world all the time. He believes the universe cannot be understood without appeal to design and intentionality.
Of course this doesn’t make him a God believer. But it refutes the idea that unbiased science gives us no clues whatsoever about what Paul said was obvious – the existence of an immaterial Mind, and a Designer of the cosmos.
Through the Eyes of Children
In some sense, we must turn to children to realize Paul’s word, “obvious” is really a good word, and the problem is NOT one of revelation deficit. If God belief was so utterly unobvious as claimed, then surely children raised by Atheists would find no reason to ever accept God as true. Surely the only reason people have God belief is because it’s forced on you by parents. Kids unburdened in this way would 100% adopt atheism since they would be liberated to see the only thing obvious about God is a complete lack of evidence.
And yet, in reality Georgetown’s Mark Gray found that only 30 percent of people explicitly raised as atheists remain so as adults. The idea of a Designing Mind is deeply, intuitively, instinctively plausible (obvious!) to the human mind.
Turning to the evidence, there’s probably never been a better time to be a Believer in God. I mean, we look at nature and we have scientific discoveries that vindicate Paul’s statement in powerful ways. I’ll mention four without elaboration:
- The Origin of the Universe.
- The Fine Tuning of the Universe.
- Biological Complexity.
- Objective Moral Law.
Of course, I’m not so naïve to think that everyone agrees with the weight of this evidence. And if we are fair, we must admit, that signs, wonders and miracles – overt evidences of the supernatural – are very rare indeed. (Though not nearly so rare as claimed, see “Case for Miracles” by Lee Strobel.)
A Few Reasons
There’s good reasons why God doesn’t write your name on a cloud, or “trust Jesus” in everyone’s Alpha-bits Cereal ©. I’ll give two.
One, is that a world where God is intervening constantly, is a world we can’t trust. It’s a world without regular laws. It’s a world where science is impossible, because no one knows when the speed of light will change or the force of gravity. God has instead chosen to make this very regular playing field. This is the arena where we must relate to other souls, and only on such a common, stable, regular field of play can our souls be made what they will be for eternity.
Two, miracles of the type that Atheists say they would welcome, are really a type of coercion. The irony is thick. People deride a God giving us what they see as tyrannical rules for life. But when he chooses to be coy, to make his evidences “obvious” yet “subtle”, to defer to freedom and opt for non-coercion, he is guilty of inaction!
Every miracle, in some ways forces belief. But what if mere belief is not what God wants? Mere assent to his existence? Don’t demons give him that? What if God wants relationship and intimacy and trust? Of course one must first believe in God’s existence in order to trust, but we’ve already established that God has given evidence that he is there. Now, he is wooing by other, less obtrusive means to call people into relationship by faith. And perhaps the very “hidden-ness” of God helps determine the hungry seeker from the disinterested or self-interested.
Someone once said, “God has put enough of himself into this universe to make belief in him rational. But God has left enough of himself out of this universe to make belief in him optional.
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