God and a little more evidence

God in his omniscience knows what it would take to make a person believe in Him without interfering in the person’s free will. He could provide just enough evidence for the person to believe. Why does God not do this?

1 Like

Because of free will

Peter Kreeft: “God left just enough evidence for those earnestly seeking him to find him but not too much evidence to compel those not interested to discover him”

6 Likes

He did. Our Lord even performed miracles to show His divinity. But there were still many who did not believe. Faith does not merely depend on evidence. It also depends on our righteousness.

1 Like

Evidence is not about believing; no one “believes” evidence, but believes a person talking to them.
Abraham believed God, believed the Angel of the LORD, talking to him, and headed out on his trek that ended in Hebron. The disciples believed Jesus, in Jesus, wanting to trek with him. We believe those sent to us (thus, the Apostolical, the Catholic Church), and we want to trek with them as one of them, so we ask to be baptized and taught. If we do not believe the person sent to us, we will also not have believed the One who sent him - it has nothing to do with evidence. Blessed, actually, are those who have not seen and yet believe - that is the reality of 2019 so far as God goes - in his Omniscience he created us to take other persons seriously when sent from Him.

1 Like

Given that humanity has tended toward religiosity for all of the human history that we know of, God has presumably done what you ask here over the course of time. What else would account for the ubiquity of religious and spiritual inclinations for the easy majority of folks?

Faith is assent to a proposition whose evidence is unknown to us or not clear to us. If the evidence for a proposition is already known, then we don’t believe; we know the proposition as a fact.

However, evidence has a role in faith. But its role pertains to the credibility of the proposition to be believed. That Christ performed a miracle does not automatically establish His divinity. But that evidence (the miracle) gives credibility to His claim that He was divine.

It is true that faith is often about a truth revealed to us by another person. One of the evidences we are looking for, before believing his word, is his reliability and his honesty or trustworthiness. If the person making the claim is known to be a liar, then we don’t easily believe what he says. But if it is God Himself who is making the revelation, then we believe Him because by nature He is honest and reliable.

1 Like

How do you know He doesn’t? Since we know that God provides each and every person with sufficient grace to be saved, it seems to me that this encompasses exactly what you state. What it comes down to is that people can (free will) simply reject that information because even though it is sufficient, they will not allow it to be so.

How many people do you know (I know plenty) who see things happen in front of them and yet reject them?

The people at Fatima who saw the miracle of the Sun --you’d think every single person would believe it was a miracle, right? Nuh-uh. "I must be undergoing a mass hallucination’. “There must have been some kind of natural phenomenon that for some reason was exaggerated.” "I saw something but because my vision was somehow affected–through natural causes of course–what I THOUGHT I saw I didn’t really see’ etc. etc. etc.

1 Like

That doesn’t explain the thousands of gods that are worshiped.

I think you answered the question in the first sentence.

you’d need to provide an alternate (and credible) reason that accounts for the proliferation of religiosity and spirituality among humans from the earliest times of record up to now.

How do you know that He does not? That is to say, how do you know that God doesn’t give the opportunities for belief… but doesn’t interfere when a person (in his free will) decides to say “no thanks”…?

What you say doesn’t make sense. If you were provided with enough evidence that the earth is a sphere you would not logically say “no thanks, I do not believe that”. If the evidence is compelling and persuasive you will believe it. Your beliefs are not subject to your will.

1 Like

Sometimes beliefs certainly are subordinated to our wills (what we want to be true). Reason does not always triumph. We have hearts and desires and other aspects of ourselves to contend with. This is true for atheists just as much as for theists. It’s just part of the human experience/condition.

Hence, The overwhelming majority of all humans have been spiritual/religious. The “evidence” of human history clearly indicates the tug toward the divine in all cultures everywhere.

So, who really knows how much Catholic theology you’ve been exposed to, but God is not another being (another object within the universe-the biggest one-for which we can muster physical evidence). The Earth is a physical object, so expecting physical evidentiary claims to be made about it is quite natural.

I suspect that for most people God is arrived at as that which accounts for the otherwise unaccountable. Everything from the contingency of being to experiences of rapturous beauty to consciousness itself to one’s internal desire for transcendence to moral norms in the world to our desire to know truth to our internal sense that we are intrinsically valuable to our universal understandings of love and justice—all of these things find both a beginning and an end (a source and a terminus) in God.

So, one’s mind and heart being drawn to God is disanalogous to physical, evidentiary processes (like whether the Earth is round).

There are some who would refuse to believe if God personally appeared to them then slapped them on the head and left a symbol permanently visible on their forehead.

2 Likes

Then why do theists always argue that God is hidden because if he were too obvious it would interfere with our free will?

I don’t think all theists always argue that.

Is the evidence for the moon landing compelling? And yet, some people choose to disbelieve it.

What about juries? In a hung jury, the jurists have all examined the same body of evidence, and some have found it “compelling and persuasive” and others have not. Is this not evidence that there’s a dynamic of “will” at play?

Your rational conclusions are, though. And, once you’ve rationally concluded on a body of assertions / evidence, you can call it a ‘belief’ all day long, but that’s just sloppy terminology: it’s really just a generally-held conclusion which you continue to support.

So, yeah… what you call “belief” here is really “rational conclusion”, and yes, it’s subject to your rationality.

St John Henry Newman discusses this at length in his Essay in aid of a Grammar of Assent. He asserts that this “illative sense” is what individuals utilize in the consideration of propositions which are able to be assented to (or not). You would do well to read this essay – you might be surprised at what you learn!

Is that gift of free will therefore beneficial to both those who find G-d and those who do not? In other words, does G-d penalize people who do not find Him based on the exercise of their free will, which He gave to them?

I have seen atheists offer “hiddenness-of-God” arguments as a reason for disbelieving. As in, if He is really there (here), why does He seem so hard to find?

If God is love (which He is) and desires that all people are saved (which He does), then He is ever reaching out to all humanity, ever at the door of our hearts and minds.

‘Evidence’ is a relative term, by the way. For the unbeliever, no amount of evidence would be enough.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.