googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Does God hide himself?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Does God hide himself?

In a list of arguments against God's existence, one critic at Backyard Skeptics questioned the existence of God based on what he called, “Divine Hiddenness.” From the article we read the following:

Why is God so stingy with direct evidence?... [T]he supposed miracles that attest to a supernatural power all happened in ancient, pre scientific, times, in which there existed no means of reliable verification. These supposed miracles are not being duplicated today so that we could see that such things are possible. Scientific errors in the Bible and its other flaws, including the commanding of atrocities, all make Scripture much harder to believe. A loving God would not erect such high barriers to belief and then further compound the difficulty in believing by providing us with such strong evidential circumstances against the supernatural, such as the inviolability of the laws of nature.

The implication being made is that, if God were real, He would openly reveal Himself to His creation; since He doesn't openly reveal Himself, it is evidence that He is not real. I've heard this same argument raised many times. Often, critics will sum it up with the question, “If there is a God, why doesn't He just appear to us?” I don't recall having heard the term, “divine hiddenness” before but it seems to make the same point. Here are some of my thoughts on that subject.

First, I would question the premise that God would necessarily reveal Himself. In the above quote, the author stated rather firmly, “A loving God would not erect such high barriers to belief.” Really? I've always considered it a bit presumptuous of people to tell me what God will or will not do. I agree that I might expect Him to appear, but on what grounds could one argue that He must? I can't think of any reason that obligates Him. Constructing a false narrative about how God should act, then criticizing God for not acting according to the false narrative is a logical fallacy known as a straw man.

Beyond that, though, I would say that God does not hide Himself. At the most fundamental level, we see God behind His creation. Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.The enormity, the complexity, indeed, even the existence of the universe tell us plainly that there is a Creator who made it all. Romans 1:20 goes even further, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

God also revealed Himself in special ways to people of the Old Testament. He appeared to Moses in the burning bush. He lead the freed children of Abraham through the desert as a pillar of fire or a cloud of smoke. The people heard His voice audibly at Mt Sinai. These examples and others show that God is a personal God who has made Himself known to His people.

God also made Himself known through the prophets and apostles. In many passages, the writers recite the words of God verbatim, prefacing their remarks with, “Thus saith the LORD....” As evidence that they were speaking with the authority of God, they were often given the ability to perform miracles. By extension, the words given to the prophets of old have become our Scriptures today. The canon of Scripture is God's revealed word to us.

But above all these is the incarnation – the birth of Jesus, our Emmanuel (God with us). John 1:14, 18 says, And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.... No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. God has revealed Himself in the Person of the Son. He told us who He was and proved it through many miracles including His own resurrection. He told us that we can have eternal life through Him and He gave His own life as the atonement for our sins.

People who would claim that God remains hidden have to ignore the clear evidence for His existence in His creation; they have to ignore His revealed word in the Bible; and they have to ignore the historical certainty of Jesus Christ. Of course, some critics still complain saying that the Bible was written so long ago and where is Jesus now? I'm sorry, but God has already made Himself known to them and there is no obligation that He reappear every few years to remind them that He is still Lord of the universe and that they will someday have to give an account of their lives to Him.

Even if Jesus did appear today, it still wouldn't change the mind of some people. Many of the people He appeared to in the Bible refused to believe in Him. It's not so much that God is hidden from them but rather they have blinded themselves to the truth.

2 comments:

Josue Cruz-Perez said...

Also many people who heard His voice in Mt Sinai refused to believe. Even made an idol in front of His presence.

RKBentley said...

Josue,

Thanks for your comments. I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond before now. You've made a great point. Many critics claim God should just show Himself and end all debate over His existence but that's never happened in the past when God has revealed Himself in miraculous ways. Unbelievers will always find an excuse to not believe; it's evidence of their stubbornness rather than their skepticism.

God bless!!

RKBentley