This will be my response to a Christian Apologist (who some of you may be familiar with), concerning the argument from nonbelief or as it is also called, the argument from Divine Hiddenness. I initially posted an article here where I presented my case. You can find her response to my article here .
I will not tackle everything point by point, since I can’t tackle every Bible verse presented but I will hopefully adress all the main contentions that she brought up. After presenting my argument her first part of the response was this:
“Rene has made a handful of assumptions to which I will offer responses. His primary assumption is that God does not make Himself known to us. His next assumption is that all humans need to believe in God before they die or God does not exist. This assumption is based upon his unwritten assumption, which is that all humans want to believe in God. Rene further questions God’s inherent goodness. The unwritten assumption he makes in this assertion is the possibility of an evil God exists. Finally, Rene identifies other religions to propose that believing in the Christian Lord cannot be true by virtue of the existence and prevalence of other religions.”
My response: Right away I have to strongly disagree. It is my contention that the Christian God has not made his existence universally known to all of us. It may be the case that he has made his existence known to you and other Christians, he hasn’t done the same for me and for other Non-Christians. The evidence for that is the fact that clearly not everybody believes as you do. This is not merely to say, that not everybody worships as you do, but not everybody has the propositional knowledge that you have, namely that Christianity is actually true. I know for myself at least, that I have no such propositional knowledge and I think it is reasonable to assume, that Muslims Hindus etc. also don’t have this knowledge, because then they would purposefully worship a false deity knowing full well, that they will miss out on an eternity of Heaven as a result.
“His next assumption is that all humans need to believe in God before they die or God does not exist” . This again is false. I was making an inference: God exists and wants all people to come to saving knowledge of his existence, so that they may have a loving relationship with him, most people don’t have that knowledge and subsequently won’t enter this relationship. I see a conflict there and that is what I argued needs to be resolved. I think the best explanation is that the proposition is false and that the Christian God does not exist.
“This assumption is based upon his unwritten assumption, which is that all humans want to believe in God.” I’m not trying to pick on you but this once again is not what I said. In fact, it’s an integral part of my argument that this is not the case. The reason for that is, that many Christians as a first reaction will claim that it would violate free will to make everyone know that God exists, because then everyone is forced to believe in him and worship him. Now we would be forced to believe he exists, since belief is an involuntary reaction. After all, I believe that you exist Christian Apologist. I have no choice but to believe it. I do have the choice to take several courses of action based on this knowledge: I can either ignore, I can try to have a chat with you or I can respond to your article. The same is true for God: I can either worship him, I can ignore him, I can actively work against him etc. .
I know for a fact, that not everyone wants to believe in God and that they wouldn’t worship him if they knew he existed. We call them “Anti-Theists” . While I don’t want to give away this persons name, since this person told me this in a private conversation on Twitter, I know at least one Atheist who wants to believe in God but this person just fails to see any compelling evidence for him. This person would welcome a divine revelation from God.
“Rene further questions God’s inherent goodness. The unwritten assumption he makes in this assertion is the possibility of an evil God exists.”
This is true. It is possible that an evil God exists who simply wants to stay hidden, so that we won’t have knowledge of his existence so that he can prevent us from going to Heaven and maybe even let us go to hell (I don’t know if you believe hell exists or what you understand hell to be; I know some Christians don’t believe in hell so I didn’t want to assume anything).
” Finally, Rene identifies other religions to propose that believing in the Christian Lord cannot be true by virtue of the existence and prevalence of other religions.”
Partially true. I would say the fact that there are believers out there who genuinely believe in a false God certainly is a problem. The reason for that is of course, that God allows them to worship false idols knowing full well, that this is heretical and therefore punishable. It however doesn’t mean that this falsifies Christianity altogether. It means that we have a conflict here and I believe the best explanation is that Christianity isn’t true. I am presenting an inductive case here.
The Apologist in her section ” Does God make Himself known to us?” goes on to quote from various Psalms written by King David, who apparently also complained about the Hiddenness of God. Saint Anslm of Canterbury (the first proponent of the Ontological argument for the existence of God) as she notes had similar concerns.
The Apologist then lists off various arguments for the existence of God: ” These arguments include the moral argument, the cosmological argument, the argument for purpose, the explanation of pain, and the teleological argument.” I personally find them unconvincing as do many others, though explaining why that is, would go beyond the scope of this article as it will be long enough as it is.
She then quotes A.W. Tozer on two occasions. He says this: “The ancient image of God whispers within every man of everlasting hope; somewhere he will continue to exist” (Tozer, 1961, p. 41).
In aother work of his he expresses the following: ” “The voice of God, however, is alive and free as the sovereign God is free.” Tozer (1948, p. 70)
Furthermore he says this: “Even those persons who have never heard of the Bible have still been preached to with sufficient clarity to remove every excuse from their hearts forever” Tozer (1948, p. 72)
It may be the case that he had a relationship with God. That’s my point though. Not everyone who is open to this relationship, has this relationship. Why is this the case?
I have to disagree with the last assertion of his. I am not sure what supporting data he has to know that every single person in this world has been preached to, such that they have no excuse (or at least everyone above the age of accountability) but I don’t see any reason to assume. After all new people are born every day others die every day. In a world of 7 billion people, are you positve that we won’t find at least some people, who have not “been preached to with sufficient clarity” ?
She also brings up various Bible verses such as John (6:63), (Romans 1:20), 2 Chronicles 16:9 and Matthew 7:7 . Once again dissecting all those verses would go beyond the scope of this article but she said the following to which I want to respond:
“2 Chronicles 16:9 indicates that God makes Himself clear to those who open their hearts to Him. God doesn’t ask us to walk up the entire staircase when committing to Him. He merely asks us to take that first step by opening our hearts to Him. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7).”
This is where I see a big problem. God seems to ask us, to take the first step when entering this relationship with him. How can this be possible if we don’t have the propositional knowledge or at least the belief that Christianity is true? Wouldn’t I have to be convinced of his existence prior to seeking him out?
Consider the following analogy: Suppose I was at a Party when I was 17. I drank too much and after a one night stand with a girl, we both agreed to part ways and not enter into a relationship. Now I am 20 years old, she contacts me and tells me that she got pregnant. I am the father. While I am in total shock, I still desire to have a relationship with my baby daughter. How would I go about having that relationship? Would I wait for her to seek me out, or would I visit her and seek her out myself?
The correct answer is the latter. I can’t rely on her finding me if I desire that relationship. She doesn’t know I exist. Sure, she may eventually find out that she did have a father but it’s rather tough for her to find me.
Likewise God wants that relationship, I and others don’t have propositional knowledge that he exists, we are unconvinced that Christianity is true, therefore wouldn’t it make sense for God to take action? Yet he doesn’t.
She then continues to describe what is it like to enter that relationship with him, to have that revelation among those verses are John 14:21-23, John 1:9 and a quotation (Tozer, 1948, p. 56).
She then offers a possible reason why Anselm didn’t receive a response when he called out to him, namely so that he would go on to coin the ontological argument. Wasn’t it the case though, that St. Anselm was convinced that the Christian God exists? I don’t know much about him, besides his contribution to Christian Apologetics, but didn’t he too have knowledge of, or at least belief in God? Wasn’t he convinced of his existence? Because it is exactly that what Non-Christians lack: The Conviction that Christianity is true.
This conviction is a prerequisite for a relationship. I know I’m unconvinced of his existence. I know I’m open to change my mind on it. I am also open to becoming a Christian but this will be topic of part 2 of my response.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation