Apologists argue that God’s hiddenness and lack of making His existence obvious is because doing that would interfere with our free will. That is to say, if HIs existence was undeniable we would lack the free will to not believe in Him. However, Adam and Eve would have been 100% convinced of God’s existence since God directly interacted and spoke to them; and yet this did not interfere with their free will decision to disobey. Based on that it seems the apologist argument about hiddenness fails.
The will of the human rational soul, is free to make moral choices, therefore responsible. God gave the supernatural gift of grace to them and the conditional preternatural gifts of bodily immortality (capable of not dying), integrity (exemption from concupiscence), and infused knowledge (God, moral law, and universe).
God’s not hidden in the sense that JESUS is His Very WORD…
The Angels have free will. They know GOD in more direct ways than us humans and yet some chose not to serve HIM.
So this “hiddennes” is not such a good explanation. The reality is that as them we can choose to disobey HIM, perhaps we think that we can get away with it.
As the story of Adam and Eve teaches us. So it seems that your conclusion is correct.
I don’t think I’ve heard that apologetic argument.
Revelation is a key concept in Christianity. God reveals himself.
What God doesn’t do is force himself on us.
Adam and Eve we’re enlighten humans before the fall. Yes they talked with God in a more real sense than we do. I don’t think they saw God face to face so their free will was not taken away. Obviously!
Lots to talk about here, @MasterHaster. In part, the answer is “misunderstanding” and/or “mischaracterization”.
However, another part is “good questions!”
Nope. That’s not the response – and, it’s not even addressing the question that leads to the response!
Here’s the real question that’s asked: “why doesn’t God physically / personally / empirically reveal Himself to all peoples in all times and places?”
Hence the answer: if He did so, then wouldn’t He be – de facto – forcing Himself and His will upon us? Wouldn’t He therefore be removing the opportunity to ‘choose’ to accept and love Him?
This holds only if you hold to a literalistic interpretation of Genesis 2 and 3. At the very least, the Church teaches that Genesis 3 uses figurative language. So, “no”… the Church doesn’t teach that God has feet to allow Him to walk in the garden, nor that God has a body that would be observable by our first two truly human parents.
So… did our first truly human parents have empirically-verifiable, physical interaction with God? On one hand, we might say “yes… they had preternatural gifts, so they perceived God more directly than we’re able to, today”, but on the other hand, we might say “no, God isn’t physical, so it would be illogical to suggest that they did.”
Not so fast. It’s a good question. Nevertheless, the theological answer is that they didn’t have access to the “Beatific Vision”, which would preclude rebellion.
Yet, how can we answer this objection? From a theological perspective, I think that the answer is that this gives voice to the notion that free will is stronger than rationality or will, and so, even before they’re “clouded and darkened” by sin, there’s still the opportunity to say “no”. That’s a different question than the one you’ve (implicitly) raised, though, isn’t it? There’s a distinct difference between “real, physical interaction with God” and “figurative narrative of interaction with God”, isn’t there? It’s a good question, but I wonder whether the question has valid foundation.
What on earth does that even mean?
How does revealing Himself to people take away their free will? That is the point of my question and there are plenty of examples where He did so and people still exercised their free will to disobey.
Because the way that the suggestion is usually phrased is “why doesn’t He reveal Himself such that there’s no doubt and no reasonable cause to reject Him?”. In other words, an enduring, incontrovertible, undeniable presence, which has the effect of removing all opportunity for faith (and replaces it, in fact, with an in-your-face mandate for acceptance).
That’s why it’s an unreasonable suggestion.
Which was exactly the case with Adam and Eve, Abraham and others and did not deny them free will,
Yes, the apologist argument about hiddenness fails.
Nope. We already covered Adam and Eve (or are you ignoring that on purpose?), and Abraham never saw God – he spoke to angels in human form.
I was with you until ‘no reasonable cause to reject Him’. I’ve only seen it presented as a question of why God doesn’t prove his existence. As was mentioned above, angels presumably have no doubt of God’s existence, but not all chose to follow and obey him. So merely having God’s existence proven to you doesn’t remove your free will to accept or reject him. There’s certainly a large number of people who, if shown God exists, would choose to follow him.
Angels are a different case than humans, so it’s important to understand their context on its own merits. They are of a highter order than humans, and have infused knowledge, so they simply know (whereas we as humans must learn). Therefore, their refusal is one of pride. They already know who God is (remember, “infused knowledge”, right?), so this isn’t about accepting that God is God. It’s about not accepting God’s plan for salvation.
So, the dynamics are different, for angels and for humans. For us, a constant physical presence of God would speak to His existence, but angels already know that. They don’t need proof of His existence – it’s already a fact known to them. We, on the other hand, would be forced to admit, without the opportunity to believe, who and what He is.
A&E didn’t know God, in an immediate sense, as well as humans must come to know Him in order to love Him, and therefore to obey Him. They didn’t yet want to; “In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned Him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good” (CCC 308). They were more or less neutral towards God at their creation with the option of moving nearer to or further from Him but from the larger perspective they were already on a “journey to perfection”, a journey that God placed all of His creation on at the beginning according to Church teaching. Man’s perfection consists in deciding for God; Adam did the opposite at first:
1731 Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.
1732 As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil , and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach.
“Apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Adam was free, and so are we. Except that, in our case, we have the “advantage” of having tasted, of having “known” evil, and so of being able to contrast between good and evil and so identify the two as such, and ultimately decide between them with the help of grace. The Master may be gone away in the sense that we can easily ignore His existence, but His servants are still obligated to choose and to do the right thing.
Adam & Eve’s sin was essentially a sin of disbelief; by disobeying God, by not recognizing His authority and heeding Him, they denied His very existence as God; they denied His godhood by becoming their own “gods” for all practical purposes. And this is why faith is the first step back to God for man. So Adam and Eve needed to learn what we all need to learn first above all else, that God is , and that we need Him, a direct, intimate communion of loving subjugation with Him that we were made for in order to have “life and life abundantly”, life worth living eternally. Our true happiness depends on it.
It is from Genesis - along with our Reason - that Free Will was and is self-evidently given to Humans.
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