Why is God Hidden?

One purpose for God hiding himself from us is unconditional love. The impact a Loving person has on Life, when choosing to always be good for God, even when s/he cannot perceive Him or the rewards associated with the good acts is amazing!

God did reveal himself in our world. He is Jesus Christ.

I find that the first thing that happens when things get worse, is that I start praying. I’ve seen enough suffering and death to pray for acceptance, courage, stamina and the ability to transform the situation into something positive.
Also, there is a recognition that in my pain, I am closer to Christ who shares my burdens.

Actually, it is rather amazing that suffering exists at all, that it can be so bad! It is so real! It reaches to the core of one’s being.

Pain focusses the mind, reveals the basic nature of the human condition, and causes us to go beyond ourselves for strength and meaning. Only God can pull us through the most difficult of moments.

my life has become a bit dull. It’s almost as if apathy has entered my very soul.

This is probably the toughest position to be in. Suffering may be a blessing in this context, when one loses the motivation to rouse oneself out of spiritual slumber and back to the fullness of life.

These are very weak answers to the question, especially regarding free will. God was not hidden to Adam and Eve and yet they were able to exercise free will. Another possible answer to the hiddenness problem is that God does not exist.

If the previous answers are read in light of the posters’ obvious intent, then I don’t think they are weak at all. There is some point where God’s influence (assuming the attributes of the Christian God) would negate any possibility of libertarian free will. You rightly point out this isn’t what happened in the creation narrative. In fact, when God reveals himself directly in some limited way, many times he is rejected shortly thereafter according to biblical accounts.

My answer is this: God revealing himself to certain people at certain times may actually make things worse - short of imposing Himself irresistibly in contravention of free will. That’s just speculation though, as is any question about why God doesn’t do this or that thing. The only sure answer we have is that we don’t know why.

Btw, even if God remains hidden for no morally sufficient reason, it still doesn’t lead to atheism. Deists maintain that God created the universe and then left humanity and everything else to its own devices. So there are other possible reasons than that God doesn’t exist.

You provide additional merit to my point when you say:

“There is some point where God’s influence (assuming the attributes of the Christian God) would negate any possibility of libertarian free will. You rightly point out this isn’t what happened in the creation narrative. In fact, when God reveals himself directly in some limited way, many times he is rejected shortly thereafter according to biblical accounts.”

There is no need to remain hidden because of fear of negating free will. God walked among us in Jesus. Most people with whom God interacted directly were not at all constrained in their free will.

I don’t think you are taking into account God’s various modes of presence. No one seriously claims that Moses could have chosen to not hide his face before the burning bush. I’m actually agreeing with you that when God approaches human beings on earth, he generally does so in a manner that doesn’t conflict with free will. Your example of God in hypostatic union with Jesus is well taken.

My hypothesis is that God revealing Himself to mankind in a manner that doesn’t negate free will may very well lead to net rebellion of mankind. This is certainly logically possible. In other words, the extent and mode in which God reveals himself throughout history may be the best of all possible scenarios for the salvation of mankind, while still preserving free will. While logically possible, it’s still just a hypothesis on my part. Then again, your hypothesis that God’s hiddeness entails that he doesn’t exist is no more likely.

It doesn’t seem credible to me that God’s revealing himself to mankind would lead to a net rebellion. Surely almost every Christian would be relieved to see their faith confirmed and many atheists would become believers. What mentally sound people would rebel against such a revelation in sufficient numbers to offset the believers and new believers to result in a net negative?

Would you agree that the hiddenness of unicorns makes their non-existence more likely than any other thesis?

The question is whether God could do this without interfering with free will. What manner and mode of presence would you suggest would convince you and all others who do not believe to believe, short of brute force? This is a frequent theme throughout the Bible. God sent his son and many did not believe.

Would you agree that the hiddenness of unicorns makes their non-existence more likely than any other thesis?

This analogy is inapposite. God is immaterial and ineffable. I wouldn’t expect to prove or disprove his existence the same way I would a unicorn. The same goes for many other categories: the laws of logic, the laws of thought, mathematical theorems, etc.

That is precisely my point. God became “unhidden” in walking the earth as Jesus and yet that didn’t overwhelm people’s free will to force them to believe. There is no one form of presence that would affect all people the same way. There is plenty of evidence that people can use free will to reject God at various levels of being unhidden. In fact you stated the same in an earlier post: :

“I’m actually agreeing with you that when God approaches human beings on earth, he generally does so in a manner that doesn’t conflict with free will.”

You have argued on both sides of the issue. Which do you then believe, that God can or cannot become unhidden without interfering with free will?

It’s not an either or proposition. This is the fallacy of false alternatives. As I’ve explained above, (1) God can be present in a mode that deprives the actor of free will and (2) he can be present in a mode that does not deprive the actor of free will. (1) and (2) are not contradictory because the mode in which God appears is different. There is also the corresponding constitution of the affected actor, which will be a factor as to whether free will is deprived; but I’m ignoring that for the time being.

If I understand your argument correctly, you perceive no reason why God wouldn’t appear to us in mode (2). I do perceive a reason: because it could actually lead to net negative consequences for humanity’s salvation. I realize you don’t believe that, which is why I asked you to do a quasi-thought experiment and explain how God would need appear to convince you and other non-believers.

:thumbsup: One of my favorite hymns:

This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

  1. This is my Father’s world,
    the birds their carols raise,
    the morning light, the lily white,
    declare their maker’s praise.
    This is my Father’s world:
    he shines in all that’s fair;
    in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
    he speaks to me everywhere.

  2. This is my Father’s world.
    O let me ne’er forget
    that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
    God is the ruler yet.
    This is my Father’s world:
    why should my heart be sad?
    The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
    God reigns; let the earth be glad!

Jon

I can conceive of some ways God could appear to convince me of his existence. Perhaps some audible acknowledgement of a prayer, aligning stars in the sky to spell a message. It is difficult to conceive examples of this but so is it for you to conceive of evidence that would cause you to loose your belief. In other words is your belief falsifiable? Also, can you further explain the set of circumstance that could possibly lead to God appearing to mankind, and that resulting in LESS people believing in him.

Faith is not belief; it is a kind of knowing, and is therefore not falsifiable; rather, it grows and changes.

It is not dissimilar to how it is that we know ourselves to exist. So, do you believe you exist? Is this belief falsifiable? Under what set of circumstance would you be inclined to believe less that you exist?

Well, not really, this was long before Jesus was born as a man, he obviously did many supernatural acts while he was here, healed people left and right, by them simply touching his robes, turning water into wine, blood, etc. he did all this in clear view of lots of people…the big question is, why he will not do the same in modern times?

I think if he did, a whole lot more people would turn to Christianity.

Wrong - the only time Christ was “unhidden” on earth was at the Transfiguration. God clothed in humanity - subject to the limitations of time and space - is God hidden…

This is largely a mystery. In some sense part of God’s solution to the situation inherited by humanity from Adam and Eve is that each of us must choose to believe rather than to doubt and disobey, as Adam and Eve did. That is part of why a mortal life exists.

God want’s all his children to have faith right?

Yes - He wants everyone on Earth to have faith. Those in Heaven do not have faith - they have a direct, unveiled knowledge of God. Remember - they are outside of time; they don’t know things partially the way that we do…gaining insight with experience over time. They know everything immediately, fully, completely and eternally (to the extent humanly possible).

The easiest way would be to reveal himself in our world. Why doesn’t he do that?

That’s absolutely false. Revealing Himself on Earth would ELIMINATE THE POSSIBILITY OF FAITH. When we know God completely (to the extent that we can know Him) we will not have faith at all, but pure knowledge and awareness. Again, the exact reason that God has chosen a mortal life on Earth for us with the particular parameters He has is a mystery. We have some of the answers, but not all of them. We live by faith and not by sight…

Blessings!

I agree it is difficult to conceive examples both ways. How would I really react if a message was spelled by seemingly spontaneous movement of the stars? Would I attribute it to God, a hoax, an illusion, alien technology? Did God really answer my prayer, did I hallucinate, am I mentally ill, was the answer to my prayers attributable to purely natural causes? On the other hand, if I become a believer, is it because I am so overwhelmed by fear of what’s happened that I don’t have any choice in the matter?

The examples I can give you all come from Scripture. Pharaoh’s heart is hardened by the multiple miracles performed in Exodus 7 & 8. Jesus’ own people in Nazareth taking offense at him in Matthew 13. The multiple rejection of the prophets in the Old Testament despite miracles from God. I’m not asserting that any of these actually led to fewer people believing in God, but it does demonstrate that God’s presence is met with hostility and rejection by many. I’m not at all convinced that your examples would result in greater net belief. In fact, I can see the exact opposite being the case.

I’m not sure if you mean my belief in God (God’s existence as fact) is falsifiable or if my belief that God’s presence would lead to net rebellion is falsifiable. Either way, the answer is “no.” Neither of these claims are subject to laboratory conditions where repeatability and falsifiability are possible. Then again, the scientific method is not the only criterion for truth. If it were there would be very few things that we could know.

I tend to think though that you mean whether there is anything that could dissuade me personally from belief in God. Historically the answer is “yes.” I was Catholic and then became agnostic for many years.

Yes, a hymn is a very useful contribution to this debate.

:tiphat: Thank you. Lutherans have a fondness for hymnody, particularly since we insist it reflect doctrine. :thumbsup:

Jon

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.