Im a christian myself, but I would struggle to answer this to the full satisfaction.
I know that it is the principle of God, to “first believe than see” and not the human principle to “first see than believe”.
How could I answer this when someone is asking me: Why is God not just showing up somehow to have a “proof” that God exists , so we “unbelievers” can believe?.
For us christians it is like crystal clear, that there is enough evidence which can brings us to the conclusion that there must be a Designer or a God, and it was the same as Jesus said to Peter that God revealed it to us, and not our own thinking or understanding. But somehow the unbelievers are not willing take these things.
Would that just be the fact that if God would show up, they still wouldnt believe because, he showed up 2000 years ago, and the people of this time saw him, heard his speeches and his wonders and healings he made, but they still rejected/denied him?
Or could it be that the unbelievers of course could even believe when they actually see him, but than it wouldnt be the choice of free will, means there is no real love behind the faith, because it is one of the originate reasons why God made us? That we can have free will and therefore choose to love. Because if humans were robots there wouldnt be a choice to make, and also no possibility to love.
Or is it just the plan of God, we need to trust in?
Correct me if I’m wrong at any point. Also excuse me for my bad and simple english.
@sunrise Great question A really short answer might be, “God has revealed Himself by becoming human and living among us in the Person of Jesus. Did you know there is a lot of extra-Biblical historical evidence for Jesus’ life?” I’ve included some resources below to consider when responding to an unbeliever on the problem of God’s hiddenness, a topic that has come up a lot on Connect.
However, before jumping in to those, I wanted us to remember two things. First, unbelief is not only rational - it is social and emotional as well. People need to be engaged in all three of these areas. Even if we have solid arguments, if the person we are speaking with still sees Christians as “those weird people who don’t sleep in on Sundays” it is going to be hard to reach them. We need to invite them to see what living as a Christian looks like…
social - people need to be socially engaged
rational - people need to understand the why and how of their faith
emotional - people need to be emotionally connected / invested in their faith
I think this book is helpful in understanding these elements of evangelism.
Also, unbelief has a spiritual element. Paul told Timothy that the evil one has taken unbelievers “captive” - they are like people in chains. Which is why it is so important that we share the Gospel - so that they can be set free from death to life! That also means prayer is paramount when we witness because spiritual strongholds can keep people from coming to Jesus. The allegory of Plato’s cave is helpful in this regard.
2 Timothy 2:25-26 - Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
1 Peter 2:9 - But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Good Connect Threads
God is Always At Work
The Bible is clear that God is at work in history, drawing men unto Himself and reaching out to them that they might know Him. At just the right time in history, God sent Jesus so that all men and women may become sons and daughters of the living God. God may not work on our time scale or in the way we want Him to, but He is always working. He is not distant or aloof from the affairs of the world.
Acts 17:26 - From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Galatians 4:4-7 - But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Questions for Discussion
One approach when talking with an unbeliever about this topic is to ask them a question to probe a bit deeper. Here are some questions that could be useful.
If God revealed Himself to the world right now - and He really is a holy and all powerful God - what do you think would actually happen? Do you think the nations of the earth would accept His authority? What would happen? Maybe God is being patient with people to give them a chance to repent?
What would God have to do to prove to you that He exists? Do you think once would be enough?
If God revealed Himself to you in an undeniable way would you feel that you had a choice to love Him or would you feel forced by His mere existence to obey even if you did not desire to do so? Maybe God is giving you a chance to choose Him freely?
Why do you think that if God exists He would choose to make Himself obvious? Do you think there might be good reasons to not make Himself obvious?
Have you ever had any experiences that led you to believe that God might exists?
Do you think that God could choose to reveal Himself to those who seek Him while hiding Himself from those whose hearts are not sincere towards Him? Jesus said that the pure of heart will see God.
If God Himself came to earth and lived among us would you consider that sufficient reason to believe?
What makes you say that God is not obvious? What if all of creation, right now, is testifying to His glory? What if He came to earth in the form of a man and shared His teachings with us?
Pascal’s Approach - God has given exactly the right amount of evidence
Pascal’s approach to the concept of God’s hiddenness is my favorite. In “Christianity for Modern Pagans” Peter Kreeft examines Pascal’s work. One argument Pascal makes is that God gives exactly enough light for the righteous to find Him and for the wicked to reject Him.
"He gives exactly the right amount of light. If He gave less, even the righteous would be unable to find Him, and their will would be thwarted. If He gave more, even the wicked would find Him, against their will. Thus He respects and fulfills the will of all.
If He gave more light, the righteous would not learn humility, for they would know too much. If He gave less light, the wicked would not be responsible for their wickedness, for they would know too little."
@sunrise This is not an uncommon question, so it’s good that you’re asking. While the question itself does not challenge me, I did used to grapple with coming up with an answer. And what you’ve said is not entirely wrong.
In addition to what @SeanO has provided, I’ll share this apologetics piece and also this which I found insightful back then. (I think both may be more suited for sharing than for a Christian reading, but it works both ways. Also, you can read his review of Richard Dawkins’ books and talking points, which are quite common talking points - including the question you mentioned - used by New Atheists. And while their questions seem daunting, New Atheism is not that difficult to answer). Nick Peters writes many other good apologetics pieces on his blog as well, and tackles with many of these questions, common or uncommon alike.
It’s interesting that you asked this - just last night, I taught on this very thing in my church. Here is a synopsis of what I said. There is some overlap to what has been said already, but review is good.
The more light God gives men, the more accountable they are for it. And ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, men have repeatedly shown that receiving overwhelming light does not guarantee their faith and submission.
Consider the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. They had miraculous displays regularly, and they rebelled just as regularly.
Consider Israel in the time of Christ. There was more light than would fill a world full of books, and still they crucified Him.
And to sin against greater light is to incur greater judgment.
And so, to mitigate judgment, Blaise Pascal said, “In faith, there is enough light for those who want to believe, and enough shadows for those who don’t.”
All men receive light from God (John 1:9), but ordinarily it is just enough for the next step. If a man would reject the next step of light, then there’s no point in giving him the next two. That would just un-necessarily subject him to greater judgment in the end.
The light is never the real issue – the will is the issue. No one ever believes until he is first willing to.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil – John 3:19.
And so, God in His mercy hides the light from those who refuse it. In Matthew 13:13-15, Jesus said that He spoke to the people in parables because they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not; neither do they understand…For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart and should be converted and I should heal them.
Conversely, to believe with lesser light is to incur greater blessing.
And so, Jesus said to Thomas, because thou hast seen me thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed – John 20:29.
I just would add an interest interview Dr. William Lane Craig had with Matt Fradd in his program Pints with Aquinas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YURCo2Hdapo). During the last 10 to 12 minutes, they touch this very same theme.
I edited the 5 minutes where they were talking about this issue, but it is too heavy file for attaching it, so I can send it by another mean if you need it for your friend.
I also remember an enterview in “unbelievable?” (that UK Christian program) where Peter Atkins said he would prefer to think he became crazy, before accepting whatever evidence God would put in front of him. With that attitude, there is nothing to present in front of him
I hope this helps.