Tuesday 4 October 2016

Where is God hiding? (warning: contains sarcasm)

“Atheists often object that God should just make himself clearly obvious if he exists. So why doesn't he?”
The above is how a link on Facebook introduces an article in Premier Christianity magazine entitled “Why is God hidden?” with the strapline “Joshua Parikh tackles the tricky question of why God's existence isn't more obvious to nonbelievers.”

The article begins by exposing the author's bias from the outset, so at least we know where he's coming from:
“The so-called hiddenness of God has been an existential problem for believers and non-believers alike for thousands of years.”
“So-called hiddenness” — so you know, not really hidden.

After a brief introduction to the problem of God's “perceived” absence (so you know, not really absent), Joshua Parikh outlines three arguments:

1. The context of hiddenness

The reason why you think God's hiddenness is a problem is that you've been cherry-picking. You've only looked at places where evidence for God is absent, and ignored places where there is evidence. What is this evidence? Miracles, of course! For example, miracles related by “highly regarded” scholar Craig Keener, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, and an ordained minister. Not that he has any stake in this, naturally.

2. The problem on our end

Non-believers are resistant to the idea of God, so they can't see him, or his works. “...if the argument is that non-resistant non-believers exist, then this is not obvious.”

3. What God's hiddenness brings

Hiddenness is apparently a good thing, for several reasons:
  1. Hiddenness builds character.
  2. Hiddenness gives Christians opportunities to preach at non-believers.
  3. Hiddenness allows God to throw his revelations into sharp relief, which he couldn't do if he was obvious.
The author concludes this meagre bowl of unbelievably weak sauce with the following paragraph:
"For more answers, I recommend Blake Giunta’s excellent website BeliefMap.org, but I think these all point to a story by which Christianity can fully answer the difficult question of why God remains apparently hidden, however troubling it may seem."
Probably a good idea, as this article on its own is nowhere near good enough.