"Sir, why did you take such pains to hide yourself?"
In a survey of the top reasons that skeptics tend to reject God, in the top three, is the challenge embodied in Russell's complaint:
"God, if you are there, why are you so hard to find?"
Perhaps the most quoted of all skeptics, Friedrich Nietzsche, also fired salvos against Judaism and Christianity with similar attacks. He wrote there should be "a Duty of God to be truthful towards mankind and clear in the manner of his communications." In other words, WHY isn't God more clear, more obvious, more open in His dealings with mankind?
With Nietzsche in the 19th century, and Russell in the 20th century, I would like to suggest a radical answer here at the outset of the 21st century (actually this answer goes back to the very beginning, at the origin of humanity).
God is not hidden, and if He were any more open, then belief in Him would border on coercion instead of free will.
Wow. Not only do I reject the premises of earlier skeptics, but I posit the opposite. That's a pretty significant gap between our positions. Where am I coming from? To put it simply: logic, science, history, and the Bible.
Imagine walking up to the famous painting of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris. As you admire this incredible and mysterious work of art, you turn to the person standing next to you, and you say: "Isn't it amazing that no one painted that painting." With an incredulous stare, the person (and rightly so) turns to you and exclaims: "Excuse me?" "Yeah," you continue, "no one painted that. It is the result of random processes over vast ages of time, through well-known chemical and other natural processes." With raised eyebrows and head-shaking, the crowd around you would, no doubt, slowly disperse.
Why would you be rejected in your position? For several well-founded reasons, including:
(1) the complexity of the painting
(2) the form and function of the image
(3) testimony of historical sources confirming the origin of the painting
(4) comparison with other known works of man-made art
(5) improbability of natural processes arriving at such a product.
Let's look at just ONE facet of creation: DNA.
The DNA in your cells contains the complete instruction manual of how to build and maintain---YOU. It defines organs, systems, and life-processes that make YOU possible. It is an unimaginably complex, encoded system of information storage, averaging over 3 billion bits of data.
"When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you can’t survey that going through page after page without a sense of awe. I can’t help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of God’s mind."
Werner Gitt, a professor of information systems, states:
"The coding system used for living beings is optimal from an engineering standpoint. This fact strengthens the argument that it was a case of purposeful design rather than a [lucky] chance".
Whether we look inward, to the very small and microscopic world of chemicals and DNA, or outward to the vastness of space and the beauties of the galactic landscape, we are confronted with the reality of not only a superintelligent God, but a super-creative God, a God of unimaginable power.
The late Sir Fred Hoyle, considered one of the greatest astronomers of the modern age, made this observation:
"A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."
Hidden? God is not hidden at all...perhaps only to those who would rather imagine that He doesn't exist. Perhaps the reason that some skeptics don't find God is the same reason most criminals don't "find" a policeman--they aren't looking for Him, and, in fact, have a great vested interest in NOT finding Him. Everything complex and beautiful in life and in nature is explained away almost as quickly as the sleight of hand of the skilled magician.
"Why doesn't God just say something, audibly, or write a message in the sky, or do something fantastic for all to see?" This is a common query. It supposes that just such an action would immediately satisfy every skeptical doubt, and move humanity into the "God" column. I was struck recently when I paid attention to the words of a song written by Carolyn Arends. She cries out:
"I was hoping you would write to me a message in the stars.
As if the stars themselves were not enough."
Let me restate my earlier premise: God is not hidden, and if He were any more open, then belief in Him would border on coercion instead of free will.
In my many debates with atheists and skeptics, I have often asked a simple question: "What evidence would you accept as conclusive proof of God's existence?" Almost immediately you will get one of the following "standards" of evidence:
1-God would do something supernaturally visible, like appear to them in the sky, etc.
2-God would speak to them audibly, perhaps announce that He is there and that He loves them.
3-God would give some physical object would supernatural abilities, and let us see it, touch it, use it.
4-God would do something medically impossible, maybe raise the dead, heal an amputation, etc.
I will show how each of these supposed "faith-clinchers" would do no such thing, at least, not for long.
1-God would do something supernaturally visible, like appear to them, or an angel, etc.
This would be impressive, but that is all. After a few minutes or hours, the "vision" would soon be explained away as fantasy, illusion, perhaps a hallucination caused by high fever. For those who could hold the zeal of the experience for a few days, they would first begin to question and then soon dismiss this event in the face of ridicule from their peers. After the seventh or eighth person saying to them: "Well, I didn't see it," or "You've been talking with too many crazy Christians!" or "Well, of course, we know that's impossible because God doesn't exist," the conviction of it's reality would evaporate into the air. A vision, like anything historical, is difficult to hold, and impossible to prove. What about if a group or a bunch of people saw the vision? Pretty much the same result, maybe with a bit longer period until rejection since you would have an instant support group. But, then again, maybe it was mass hysteria, group hypnosis, who knows?
2-God would speak to them audibly, perhaps announce that He is there and that He loves them.
This is very similar, if not the exact same, as number one above. Visions, voices, and feelings are all far too subjective to be retained or proven.
3-God would give some physical object with supernatural abilities, and let us see it, touch it, use it.
You know, like a healing stone, or a crown of thorns that glows in the dark, or a crystal that sees into the future. Interesting. Imagine if you could take a computer back in time, even only one hundred years ago. It would have been seen as supernatural, divine, etc. No doubt, if God were to give us some object with supernatural abilities, it would be relegated as a machine from the future, or perhaps left here by advanced aliens, anything except divine. People can rationalize anything away, rather than face the truth.
4-God would do something medically impossible, maybe raise the dead, cure cancer, etc.
This is an interesting, but predictable hypothesis. If someone were to be "raised from the dead" then the obvious conclusion would be that they weren't really dead in the first place, perhaps only in a deep coma. Healings would be almost identical, such as a cure from cancer. Critics would say that the person didn't really have the disease, a medical misdiagnosis, or incorrect test or lab results. Amputations or other outwardly visible types of healing would be dismissed as new medical technology, perhaps from stem cell technology or other genetic research.
You see, it is not really about the evidence, it is usually more about the preconceived notions, in other words, the presuppositions that form the basis of our worldview. If we do not find God to be a logical concept, then nothing could ever convince a mind that has been set on not accepting His reality.
Many skeptics are in that same condition, since they have already decided on the implausability of God's existence, no evidence can surmount their prior assumptions. Any evidence can be explained away, any proof can be rationalized away, and any logical argument can be dismissed as flawed...somehow, because, well, IT MUST BE.
As the late Carl Sagan once said, revealing his immovable prior assumptions:
"The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be."
Wow. Now there's an open mind.
This may seem to be a strange turn, but stay with me. What if one of NASA's rovers on the surface of Mars found a circular pattern of perfect arrowheads in the Martian soil? Every newspaper across the globe would herald the find on their front pages:
PROOF OF LIFE ON MARS, or, WE ARE DEFINITELY NOT ALONE, or, MAN ISN'T THE ONLY INTELLIGENCE IN THE UNIVERSE.
You could easily write the headline.
But let me ask you, what is an arrowhead? It is a rock that has been shaped by an intelligence to have form and function, usually symetrical down the long axis. So, if the finding of an arrowhead on Mars would PROVE that there was intelligent life on Mars that had to make the arrowheads, then how do you explain things infinitely more complex than arrowheads here on earth, like DNA, the human brain, cellular mitosis, symbiotic relationships, genetic transcriptioning, photosynthesis, autoimmune systems, migration patterns, multicellular organization, etc?
The leap of faith and the denial of logic required to accept this is staggering, almost to the point of being funny if it weren't so sad, and so prevalent.
So, is God hidden? Absolutely not. His handiwork and proofs of His intelligence, design, and care are everywhere we look. The fact that we can intelligently discuss this intelligent matter proves prior intelligence in the Universe. Think about it.
Beware of that jaded state of mind that looks at significant evidence and says: "Wow, dead men DO bleed." Don't laugh at that as being ridiculous, it happens everyday. It is happening right now, all over the world.