Complicated situation with this YouTuber

So, this is super random, but it’s something I’ve been struggling with understanding what it means and how to think about it.

There is a guy on youtube called Genetically Modified Skeptic who is a former Christian turned Atheist/Agnostic. He is an active proponent against Christianity and for the most part, he fits under the label of a ‘New Atheist’, i.e., very anti religion, etc. However, again, he is a former Christian. There was a time in his life where he did what he would describe as honest searching, and he came to the conclusion that God was not real. However, he also prayed, and talks about how ‘he needed to open himself fearlessly to unapolagetic inquiry’ and how, if God was real, the evidence would present itself. Obviously, though, he eventually became an atheist.

A few caveats before the question:

  1. This guy is young, and maybe (hopefully) his story isn’t over yet. Hopefully God will reveal himself, and maybe he already is.
  2. We’re assuming this guy is coming from a perspective of honesty, that he actually did ask God these things, etc. Yes, I suppose there’s a possibility he’s not but I think it’s best to take these issues head on.

So, the question is that, it appears in this case, God chose not to answer this guy’s questions. Obviously, there are many cases of people coming to Christianity with inquiries and prayers like this guy. I’m pretty sure Vince Vitale’s story is similar. Why then did God not answer this guy’s prayer? What does the Bible say about God answering our prayers. Is it possible that this guy just wasn’t predestined?

Part of me doesn’t want to ask questions like these, but I know that I need to answer these questions. I am going through a period where I’m going through the questions about God and reality, and I’m hoping God will show up on the other side. Thanks so much!

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Hey, @KayVee123! These are excellent questions, so thank you for bringing there here. :slight_smile:

I am not familiar with this guy’s story, so I can’t (nor, I imagine, could anyone else) speak to what is going on in his particular situation with God. But what you’ve brought up is an example of a very interesting issue, which addresses both the varying views surrounding ‘experiential evidence’ (is it proof of anything?) as well as the (philosophical/theological) concept of the ‘hidden-ness of God’.

Your particular questions on the heels of this are:

Why then did God not answer this guy’s prayer?

Short answer: I have no idea. :smirk: Can anyone answer for God as to his reasons? I don’t think so. But I don’t want that to be a cop-out. I actually don’t think God tends to expound his reasons to our ‘why’ questions, particularly when it comes to events in life. What I do know, though, is that we humans are meaning-making beings, and we draw our own interpretations and conclusions based on our frames of understanding. For example, one interpretation is based on your third question: Is it possible that this guy just wasn’t predestined? If you come from a Reformed background, this could be a conclusion you could draw, but I know many others who would not agree. I, myself, do come from a Reformed background, but I have my own issues with that interpretation. If you’d like to know them, I’d be happy to expand, but I’ll leave it there for present. :smile:

What does the Bible say about God answering our prayers?

A lot. Ha! That is, it depends on how you define prayer. I see it as anytime you dialogue with him. There are several different types of prayer, which can be summed up in the classic ACTS acronym: Adoration/praise, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication/petitionary (which would also include imprecatory prayers that are pleas for judgement…see Psalm 109 and the like).

With this in mind, I assume you’re speaking of when we make petitions of God…when we ask him to do something. This, in my mind, is tricky because, one the one hand, we have Jesus telling his disciples that all they need to do is ask in His name and the Father will do it. And, on the other hand, have Paul who pleaded with the Lord to ‘take away the thorn’ in his flesh, but reflected that, indeed, it ‘pleased the Lord’ NOT to do so. So sometimes it is His will to give what we ask for; however, sometimes it is not. I know many people who have prayed for a spouse or for children or for a specific job, and who have not received an answer in the affirmative. I also know people who have received an affirmative. I know people who have prayed for a ‘Spirit experience’ and received it and those who did not receive it. It’s difficult to say whether or not we can point to any particular reason for how things play out…at least where God is concerned.

Which leads me to comment on this idea which you say this guy believes:

Perhaps…but it would also depend on how one interprets the evidence. What one person sees as evidence of God, someone else can give an alternative explanation. Right now, it would seem that all he can see is evidence of absence. I wonder what he would consider to be evidence for presence? [Sidebar: Prof. John Lennox is always fond of repeating the adage: ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!’]

However, you also mentioned…

I’m curious how these questions connect in your mind? Is this an exploration of how God answers prayer? What else is it tied to for you? :slight_smile:

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Thanks so much! I really appreciate your well thought out response.

I actually would be interested in some of your views on a lot of these things. I know some about these things, and don’t really have an opinion at this point (nor do I necessarily see it as a necessity), and I realize a variety of views pose plausible and/or probable answers to the questions involved. For the purposes of expanding my understanding, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I like that you bring up Paul as that’s not something I’d thought of. I have many missionary friends and feel led towards missions myself. One particular couple I know has experienced many miraculous things, including a time where the wife in this couple was working with a young woman who was paralyzed by back pain. She prayed over her, and was compelled (by the Holy Spirit I would suspect) to ask the woman to try walking, even though she thought it was a weird idea. She did ask the woman, and the woman’s pain was gone, and she could walk again. However, in contrast, there are times when she’s prayed over other physically disabled people (blind, limp, etc.), and there has not been a miraculous cure. Mulling over it myself, I realize that assuming God is required to do anything (incl. provide us with evidence we will be satisfied with to the extent this guy wants) is to assume that God needs or requires us to be in relationship with Him, which we would obviously say is inconsistent with His character. God is not required or needy to do anything; what he does is an act of profound love for us.

I think for me, (as I mentioned), I am being led towards mission work. I just recently came out of a period of six months where I lived in a foreign country sharing the gospel, and it caused me to interact with other unique ideas which, in my cultural context, I had never experienced. I am going through a time where, I suppose, I am afraid that God does not exist and if I go and spend my life in a foreign country for Him that I will be empty or perhaps inevitably faced with His non-existence when I don’t experience the supernatural things some people do. So, during this period in which I am still moving towards serving God, I also find it necessary to actually do a similar thing to what this guy is doing (with, however, a different background, outlook, and motive). I am bombarding myself with many different perspectives on whether or not God exists, if it is the Christian God, etc. I am mulling over my presuppositions and trying to determine if they are reasonable or false. I am still convinced (ever more gradually), that He does, but I am doing my best to form a concise case for myself as to why I should believe what I believe. I appreciate your help and response.

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Hi @KayVee123, I think you’re asking really good questions, and your reasons for doing so are to be commended.

I think it can be a real knock to our faith when we hear stories like the one you’ve highlighted about this YouTuber. However, we don’t know if this person made any assumptions as he made his enquiry into God’s existence, or how his emotions might have played into the way he chose to interpret things. His conclusions don’t necessarily reflect accurate processes of enquiry.

I just wanted to share one other thing I’ve observed with God, and that is he doesn’t follow a checklist of responses and actions and he doesn’t always work to the same method. We can so easily pack him into our box of understanding, thinking if we do this, this and this then God will show up/do a healing or whatever. We only have to look at Jesus’ ministry to see that he responded to each person individually. In terms of looking for God to heal people (which I think is a brilliant thing to pray for), I believe we must be careful not to place our expectations of how we think God should do things on him. Sometimes, I believe the work he really wants to do is not a physical healing but a transformation of our heart as we press into him and seek him to work in our lives. Sometimes, of course, he’ll do both but only he knows what our hearts really need at that moment in time. Sometimes, the challenge of an unanswered prayer is exactly what we need to wrestle with in order to grow in our faith. Questioning why God didn’t answer a prayer isn’t necessarily a sign of lack of faith but rather demonstrates that you have faith because you’re asking why it didn’t happen.

Now, just because God doesn’t do things the same way each time, doesn’t mean he’s untrustworthy or breaks his promises. If the Bible makes promises about who God is - that he is faithful, slow to anger, abounding in love etc - we must remember that every choice and action he does must be in line with these qualities of his. Therefore, when we see an answered prayer, we must learn that it doesn’t mean he’s unloving, disinterested or unfaithful, or even non existent, but that in his love and faithfulness, he’s taking us down a different route than we asked for and that his purposes will be fulfilled in our lives. To be able to grasp this, I think we need to get a solid trust in the word of God. So maybe, as part of your exploration into determining what is true or false, you may want to go down the lines of finding out why the Bible is inerrant and trustworthy. Once you’ve established that, you can root your trust in what it says even when life doesn’t play out as you expected.

I hope that gives you something to think about as well as the really helpful points from @KMac. Bless you as you work these things out.

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Hello, again!
So sorry for the amount of time it has taken to get back with you, but I knew that it would take a bit of time to give a considered reply. :slight_smile:

For me, the question, Is it possible that this guy just wasn’t predestined? betrays a belief that if God didn’t choose you, you’re doomed. I feel like, as probably some Reformed people do, that this is too simplistic an understanding and rather insulting to both the generosity and love of God and the dignity of humanity.

God has sovereignty; humans have agency. God is not arbitrary; we are not robots. I have no idea how the collective sum of wills all work together, and I, furthermore, think we’ll most likely never be able to understand. In Romans and Ephesians (and some other letters), the apostle Paul was attempting to expound on a mystery, and, as we are, he was working within the limitations of language.

Ultimately, I think you summarized my thoughts pretty well…

To some of your other points…

I hear you there! To say the least, that would be demoralizing, so I greatly respect where you are on your journey. Do you even exist, God? is an extremely important question for the proclaimer of God to ask. And, as you mentioned, If yes, then what sort of God are you? :100:

In my more recent experience, I am discovering that God is more spacious and more gracious than I have imagined in the past…and humans more dignified, beautiful, and complicated.

Which of your presuppositions that you are examining a present?

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