The “Hiddenness” of God

In addition to the “Problem of Evil,” one of the most common objections to the Christian faith is the supposed “hiddenness” of God.  If God is real, and desires a relationship with mankind, why is He not more evident?  Why can we not see clear, compelling evidence of His existence so that everyone will follow Him?  As famed atheist Bertrand Russell reportedly remarked when asked what he would say to God to justify his unbelief if they met in the afterlife:  “God, you gave us insufficient evidence.”1

The supposed hiddenness of God is a legitimate question that unbelievers ask and with which even believers can struggle.  But is it a genuine argument against God?  Or are there real answers to explain why God is not more apparent?

The “Easy” Answer

In one regard, there is a very simple reason why God’s presence is not more obvious.  Just as with the problem of evil, mankind’s sin is the primary issue.  There are several reasons for this fact.

As we discussed here, God is perfectly holy and cannot tolerate the presence of sin.  So our sin creates “separation” from God (e.g. Isaiah 59:2, Habakkuk 1:13, Psalm 5:4, 1 John 1:6).  This separation results in broken fellowship with Him.

It is interesting to note this broken fellowship goes in both directions.  While God is willing and desiring to offer forgiveness, our sin is offensive to Him and results in our removal from His presence (e.g. Genesis 3:23).  Furthermore, as we sin, we become less desirous of and interested in a relationship with God (e.g. Genesis 3:8).  Aware of our own guilt, we either seek to run from God or even deny His existence so we can pretend we are not accountable to Him.  Either way, each of us willingly walks away from God, at least to some extent.

Perhaps the most striking example of how sin breaks fellowship with God is when Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  Jesus’ quoting of Psalm 22 not only points to a prophetic, Messianic passage in the Old Testament, but also clearly demonstrates that Jesus was experiencing an excruciating and desperate separation from God as He took on the weight of our sins.  Our sin creates such a barrier to relationship with God that even His perfect son struggled to bear it.

The biblical narrative is clear and consistent.  Sin creates separation from God.  Given that we all sin, and do so regularly, we should not be surprised that God can appear far away at times.  Because we continually push Him away, and through our actions, ask Him to leave us alone!

Is God Really that Hidden?

Rather than simply stop with explaining how or why God may not be more obvious, we have to dig deeper and ask “Is God really that hidden?”  Obviously, God has not chosen to write “I am God” in flaming letters across the sky.  But has He provided clear, compelling evidence for His existence?

As Logic & Light has covered in multiple posts, God is clearly evident through the fact of His creation (e.g. Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1).  From the sheer improbability of life’s existence, to its clear indication of design, to the evidence of a supernatural origin for existence itself, God is the best explanation that fits the available evidence.  Science and logic demand that a creator exist.

God has also provided evidence of His existence through the Bible.  There is no debate that this text, despite centuries of banning, burning, and criticism, has survived all challenges to become the world’s most widely read and influential book of all time.  And it has repeatedly proven its truth with remarkable historical accuracy, internal consistency of theme, and stunning prophetic precision.  Logic & Light has covered these topics more completely in numerous posts.  Given these facts, it is reasonable to believe that through the Bible, God directly reveals His will for humanity and records His direct interaction with us across multiple centuries.

Often unbelievers ask for evidence of Christianity that would qualify as miracles, which can be defined as clearly divine interventions in the world that would otherwise be impossible given natural laws.  The lack of such examples, they claim, is evidence that God does not exist.  But are there examples of legitimate miracles?

Real-Life Miracles?

To start, we have to set some ground rules.  If God is the one that created and established natural laws (which Christianity teaches), then it is logical to assume He would not intervene to over-rule them very often.  After all, the natural laws reflect God’s general will.  This is exactly what we see in the Bible.  While the Bible is often accused of having many fantastic, mythological stories, occurrences of miracles are actually quite rare.  Given that the Bible covers 2,000+ years of history, multiple nations, and millions of people, there are only a handful of miracles recorded.  So we shouldn’t expect to see them everywhere.  But do we see them at all?

To answer this question, we will ignore anecdotal miracles that either cannot be proven, demonstrated by multiple witnesses, or that have other plausible explanations.  There are countless examples of instances where people have experienced “miraculous” healings, strokes of luck, or strange occurrences.  While any of these may very well be legitimate miracles, they cannot be proven as such so we will ignore them for our purposes.  Logic and Light contends that even with this restrictive view, there are at least four, broad-scale examples of such miracles that verify God’s existence and His interaction in human affairs.

The first example is creation itself.  We have already briefly discussed this one here and have covered it in more detail elsewhere.  This represents God’s first and most obvious miracle.

Secondly, we have hundreds of miraculous prophecies found within the Bible.  Logic and Light has covered a sampling of these prophecies here and here.

Many religions claim to have sacred writings with prophetic power.  But none has anywhere near the actual prophetic accuracy of the Christian Bible.  Many of these prophecies were recorded, in great detail, hundreds of years before their fulfillment.  Such accuracy can only occur if there is an eternal, supernatural power behind them that knows the future without error.

One of the most striking prophecies is that Israel would eventually come back to its homeland and become a nation again (Ezekiel 37:21-22; Amos 9:14-15).  This unprecedented event occurred in 1948.  In fact, it is the nation of Israel that represents our third example of a legitimate miracle.  In Israel, we see a very clear example of God intervening in a nation’s history and guiding it throughout time.  In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with Israel that it would be His chosen nation through which He brings salvation to the world.  He also promised to bless Israel but also to punish it if the nation was disobedient.  This pattern is exactly what we witness in history.

Israel has endured multiple invasions, conquests, and dispersions throughout time.  In fact, since the time of Jacob, Israel has been conquered 47 times2 with the Jewish people having been scattered across the region and world on multiple occasions!  Yet they have returned to their homeland repeatedly with their language, culture, religion, and national borders intact.  There is no other example in all of history where a nation has survived anywhere near this level of persecution.

In fact, despite 2,600+ years of attack, Israel is stronger than ever.  And we continue to see Israel experience unusual protection in modern times.  Examples include their repeated victories against multiple enemies that should have them outmatched (e.g. the Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War) and recent, bizarre instances of rocket attacks3 being inexplicably blown off course.  Indeed, Israel’s entire history gives a clear impression of divine intervention.

The fourth example of a legitimate miracle is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  One can scarcely imagine a more miraculous act than that of God becoming a man.  There is no debating that Jesus is the most influential person to ever walk the earth.  He founded the world’s largest religion with over two billion followers today despite the fact that it was a revolutionary faith that faced centuries of persecution at its start.  That is quite an achievement for what some claim was just a simple, illiterate, Jewish peasant.

Beyond Jesus’ unparalleled impact is the issue of His death and resurrection.  If the resurrection happened, it is conclusive proof that God is real and the Bible is true.  Logic and Light has addressed the evidence for the resurrection in multiple posts (here, here, and here) and it is strong.  In fact, it is the most plausible of the numerous theories that have been advanced to explain the historical fact that no corpse was ever produced to refute the resurrection.

Ultimately, there are plenty of miracles that verify God’s existence.  Rather than questioning why God hasn’t done a specific one to prove He is real, we should instead look at what He has done.  When we do, we see the evidence is all around us.  As Elijah saw in 1 Kings 19:11-13, God may not make Himself known in ways we expect or wish, but He does make Himself known.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we can see that there are two simple answers to the supposed hiddenness of God.  First, our sin creates a broken fellowship with Him.  Fortunately, this fellowship can be restored through a personal relationship with Christ.  Secondly, we see that God is not that hidden after all.

God has made His existence clear to anyone that is willing to look objectively at the evidence.  Creation testifies to His supernatural power and glory.  He directly passed along knowledge of His character, will, and plan for over 1,400 years through the Bible.  He has directly intervened in and directed the history of Israel for millennia.  And He entered human history as one of us, interacted with and taught humanity, died in our place, and miraculously rose again.  How much evidence do you need?

Unfortunately, the real reason God may seem hidden is that we often don’t want Him to be there.  At times, every believer would rather follow his/her own way versus God’s.  And many unbelievers simply don’t want God to exist, so they won’t have to be accountable to someone outside of themselves.  God can appear hidden because we all, to some extent, willfully blind ourselves to His reality (e.g. Matthew 13:15-16) and choose to ignore the evidence.  But ignoring the evidence does not cause it to go away.

Notes:

  1. http://www.wisdomquotes.com/quote/bertrand-russell-11.html
  2. Geisler, Norman L. and Nix, William E. From God to Us.  Chicago, IL:  Moody Publishers 1974.  141.
  3. http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/24811/Default.aspx http://www.wnd.com/2014/07/their-god-changes-path-of-rockets-in-mid-air/
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