The question of the hiddenness of God is a very important one to consider, and it appears to have a lot of weight in the eyes of the seeker or skeptic. As a Christian believer, it is something that I have personally had to think about because this question effects everyone on an emotional level. Lets take a closer look at this question and draw some reasonable conclusions.
Absence of evidence is evidence of absence?
We might think of this question as, lack of evidence for God’s existence somehow proves that he, indeed, does not exist. For this claim to be true the skeptic or seeker needs to satisfy two contentions: 1) Investigate the field for evidence without finding any at all. 2) Justify the insufficient evidence that we already have. So if absence of evidence leads to evidence of absence then only if we find zero evidence for God’s existence then it would follow that God does not exist. If the evidence we do find is insufficient then the skeptic has the burden of proof to show why the evidence is insufficient.
This claim that “God does not exist” is highly improbable based on five reasons that I will briefly mention here (note that I will not be defending these claims in this article but merely stating them and allow the reader to consider the evidence, so that I can stay on topic).
- God is the best explanation for the for the beginning of the universe out of nothing, some finite time ago.
- God is the best explanation for the fine tuning of the initial conditions of the universe for intelligent life.
- God is the best explanation for objective moral duties and values.
- God is the best explanation for the historical account about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, his ministry of working miracles, his death by crucifixion under Roman officials and his resurrection from the dead that left behind an empty tomb.
- God can be personally known through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.
Now, these assertions about God’s existence are not my own, they are frequently used by Christian academics’ like Dr. William Lane Craig to defend the faith in public debate. They do, however, allow one to stop and think about the possibility of God. I feel that this demonstrates a considerable evidence for God and therefore it would be prudent to reject the notion of a wholly unsupported case for God’s existence.
Is God to blame for unbelief?
A slightly more radical view might be that God would prevent any unbelief, if he was loving. That is to say, a loving God should be obvious enough to make a way that all people, in all contexts, might be able to know that he exists. Is God morally deficient by being hidden? Would it not be better for God to write “Yes, I do exist -God” in the sky with clouds by day and fire by night? Just like when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. As amazing as that experience might be, it simply does not seem rational for God to take freewill away and force himself on anyone. What I mean by that is, if the greatest conceivable being would appear before us we could not resist him in any way. We, like metal to the most powerful electromagnet, would be forced to gravitate towards this -morally perfect, all knowing, all powerful, maker of the heavens and the earth. A loving God must allow people the freedom to choose or reject him. If he wanted a loving relationship with mankind it would be essential that he not force or coerce anyone into such a relationship because love has to be reciprocated. I think it is perfectly apparent, given to old testament accounts, that even if God shows himself in obvious and miraculous ways that people will still choose to reject God and commit idolatry. Consider the account of the Exodus, after witnessing the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, and a literal pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night the Israelites still formed a Golden calf and worshiped it. Therefore, whether God reveals his existence in miraculous ways does not equate to all people trusting in him, based solely on his existence. Scripture says, even the demons believe that God exists, but they don’t trust in him.
Is God obvious enough?
Our finely tuned universe from nothing, moral values, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit is obvious enough that anyone with an open mind and an open heart can come into a saving relationship with God. God has given mankind everything for life and godliness. We have no excuse about God’s divine power and eternal nature when we look up at the stars at night. But God has also distanced himself enough to allow free creatures to reject him. The manifest wonders in the Old Testament clearly show the apostasy of the Israelites, with tiresome repetitiveness. This undermines the claim that God’s presence is a positive quality that should be expressed. Now that statement might surprise some of you but God is not interested in entertaining us, he is far more concerned about having a loving personal relationship with mankind than exhibiting mere showmanship.
On the other hand we are seeing allot of evidence from people coming to Christ through dreams and visions, often in a Muslim context. God is still active in the world and the big question is does God want to be obvious to you, personally. I would say, Yes! The inner witness of the Holy Spirit is something that you can personally experience and its as simple as asking God to reveal himself to you with an open mind and an open heart and watch what happens in the days to follow. There are many accounts of people that have come out of circumstances that they have no explanation for why they are still alive or why they were spared. Perhaps you, or a friend you know, has had such an account and it has left you with a sense of wonder about the possible bleak alternatives.
Isaiah 65:1 (NIV) “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
In taking a closer look we discover that there are reasonable answers for Gods existence that would nullify the claim “absence of evidence is evidence of absence”. We also looked at the whether the evidence we do have is sufficient to show that God is obvious enough to know in a loving personal way. We also discovered that God is not morally obligated to present himself purely for our entertainment. God always acts with purpose and his primary concern is every human heart, through the bond of personal, meaningful relationship.
Let me mention one person, who was paralyzed and she felt God’s manifest presence through her hard times, Annie Johnson Flint. She penned these famous words.
He Giveth More Grace
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He Giveth More Grace
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
Annie Johnson Flint