Why is God Hidden? 3 Replies to the Atheist
In our time, the two biggest objections leveled by atheists against theists are:
- The Problem of Evil
- The Problem of Divine Hiddenness
I answer the Problem of Evil in a series of posts starting with this one. While that series helps answer the problem in conversation, it does not present the strongest case against the Problem of Evil. For that case, you will need to digest Davies’ great book, which I review here. Nonetheless, my series of posts on the Problem of Evil give you sufficient ammunition for discussions with atheists.
Next, let’s consider the Problem of Divine Hiddenness and how we might answer it in conversation.
What is the Objection?
The Problem of Divine Hiddenness faults God for not making His existence more obvious. It typically goes like this:
- God should make His existence obvious if He wants people to believe in Him.
- God does not do this.
- Therefore, God (probably) does not exist.
Like the Problem of Evil, this argument could be deployed as a logical problem or an evidential problem. The conclusion to the logical problem would be: God cannot possibly exist. The conclusion to the evidential problem would be: God probably does not exist. Without going into all of the details, let’s see how we might reply.
God desires relationship with His people, not just mere acknowledgement of His existence. Mere knowledge of His existence does not imply that more people will enter into relationship with Him. In fact, as William Lane Craig points out, some people might come to resent a God who makes Himself so obvious and in your face. Trent Horn has used the analogy: many people know that eating healthy and exercising is good for them, but they still choose not to do it.
The evidence for God’s existence is very good, such that those who sincerely seek him with an open heart and open mind should find Him. God gives enough light for true seekers to find him, yet He has left enough cloudiness that those who do not want to find Him can avoid Him.
Some will claim that there are people who are truly open-minded and seeking God and have not found the evidence to be good enough. We should pray for those people and help them to see the power of the evidence. Yet, God may have good reasons for leaving some true-seekers in a state of temporary unbelief.
Along similar lines as the Problem of Evil, the atheist suffers from finite limitations such that he is in no position to render judgment on how God presents Himself. Since the atheist (or believer) cannot see the whole picture of creation, we cannot judge that God doesn’t have good reasons for making His presence more or less obvious at various times.
The Catholic Christian worldview provides an explanation for why God’s existence is not as obvious as we might want. Namely, the Fall of Adam and Eve. It’s reasonable to think that had our first parents not sinned against God, He would have “walked with us” as he “walked with them” in the garden.
A lot more could be said, but these replies should get you started if a skeptic raises the issue. If you want to study this objection more deeply, I suggest picking up my Responding to Atheism course. You can get it now for a limited time low price! The price will be going up in the near future.