Why Doesn’t God Make Himself More Obvious? Evidence and Worldview

November 27, 2015 § 12 Comments

BobIngersollNoted author, lawyer and orator Robert G. Ingersoll, also known as “The Great Agnostic,” famously expresses his religious skepticism in his 1872 work, The Gods:

“We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year’s fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years.”

This same sentiment and challenge is echoed by many atheists and agnostics today in different forms, distillable to something like, If God is real, why doesn’t He show Himself? Why doesn’t He make Himself more obvious? They look to Old Testament examples of God physically manifested in a cloud, fire, an angel, or an audible voice. Or the New Testament miracles of Jesus and His apostles healing the lame and raising the dead. If only God demonstrated Himself in the same way today, we might believe the Bible and decide that God, in fact, exists!

The reality is, no, they probably would not believe, no matter what evidence they see. For the many who believed God from the evidence, or followed Jesus because of His miracles, there were also many who remained in unbelief. Jesus acknowledged this in His parable of a man in Hades wishing to have Abraham send someone to warn his brothers of the same fate. “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31).

“Evidence” is always subject to interpretation through our worldview, the filter of what we already believe. Because of this, there were many atheists and agnostics despite living in a time of more “obvious” signs and miracles. And today, there are billions of theists living in a world with relatively far fewer “obvious” signs and miracles. Conclusion? Obviousness (and obliviousness) is relative.

Given the fact that most people in the world are theistic, is it more likely that most people are seeing something that isn’t there than the minority missing something that is there? Why is the reality the opposite of what we should expect if there is not some kind of God or supreme deity?

The problem isn’t lack of evidence, but lack of belief. There are plenty of good reasons to believe in God and ways to show that our faith is logical and coherent, that Christian Theism alone makes sense of the world(1). But if you’ve already determined there is no God or no way of knowing if He exists, nothing short of the power of God will open your eyes to the truth. Worldview always matters.

1. https://askanatheist.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/evidence-of-god-from-christians-questionable/#comment-54490

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§ 12 Responses to Why Doesn’t God Make Himself More Obvious? Evidence and Worldview

  • justinfenech says:

    Would you claim there is more evidence for the Christian god than, say, the Muslim god, or even Zeus? And if there isn’t, why do you find it easier to believe in the Christian god rather than any other? Good article by the way.

    • Hi Justin! Thanks for the comment.

      Yes, I believe the God described in the Bible best explains what we experience: the universe, life, order, scientific laws, the way we think about morality and logic, and other things we take for granted. The Quran’s claims about Allah do not, and Zeus, as far as I know, hasn’t made any claims.

      What about you?

      • justinfenech says:

        I find the God of the Bible to be a disagreeable chap, but the way you put it is charming enough, and I’m happy that we can have this agreeable chat on our disagreement.
        As for me I was raised Catholic but when I became a teenager I saw that there was no evidence for a God, or any kind of God, nor – this was the crucial point – did I even want there to be a God. I prefer to get my morality from philosophy, literature and reason.

        • Justin, that is interesting, and I’ve heard about similar experiences. When you doubted your faith, did you ask a priest or youth pastor about your doubts? Some in ministry, sadly, discourage such questions, either because they think they’re above such questions or they don’t know how to answer.

          if I may ask, why do you think that you don’t want there to be a God? I’m curious because among people who have come to that conclusion, I know the answers vary. Usually it’s a theodicy—squaring the idea of a good God with the presence of evil—or fear of judgment as sinful people before a holy God. Personally, after exploring both problems and the Gospel, I’m glad to know God exists. For me, there are intellectually satisfying answers to the problem of evil, and the problem of guilt and shame in redemption through Jesus Christ. But I’m always interested in hearing where others are coming from.

          I’m also curious how you find philosophy literature and reason adequate grounding of morality?

          Thanks again! 🙂

  • Mark Colvin says:

    God has an agenda of bringing forth a people who choose His values and purposes from their own settled character. For Him to impinge via His presence upon human experience in any but the most faint and mitigated way would overwhelm and commandeer the will of any soul thus exposed.

    • Well said, Mark, thank you. I heard Catholic apologist Dr. Peter Kreeft in a lecture once say something like, “God gives us the right amount of light that is just enough to find Him if we want to but not enough if we don’t want to.”

  • You pointed out; “The reality is, no, they probably would not believe, no matter what evidence they see. For the many who believed God from the evidence, or followed Jesus because of His miracles, there were also many who remained in unbelief.” This is so true.

    Even the disciples after the resurrection still doubted;
    Mat 28:17 And when they (the disciples) saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

    Why do people still believe that the Holocaust never happened and yet there is an abundance of physical evidence to prove this event took place? People doubt because they want to doubt, they do not want to believe this event took place. That human beings could be so evil.

    People don’t want God to exist. It is the “self-sovereignty” that men chooses not to surrender.

    Dr. Frank Turek said it well in a recent interview; “When you bring God into the equation, there is a moral component, and people do not want God to exist, why? Because they want to be God. They do not want there to be a God. They do not want to give up their sovereignty. They want complete rule over their lives. They want to do their own thing.”

    If the atheists are waiting for physical evidence of the immaterial being we know as God to appear, they may never have it.

    Thomas Nagal sums up the fear in the atheist very poignantly:
    I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”(”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)”

  • Mike, I appreciate the clarity of this. It is always unbelief that keeps us from seeing God all around us. And then there’s the amazing, unexplainable mystery of God’s sovereignty. No one can come to Jesus unless he is drawn by the Father, and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit through the word of God being heard by the hearer who has ears to hear. A spiritual transaction all too high and above what we humans can comprehend. We can simply believe what God tells us in His word.

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