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Why Does God Play Hide and Seek?

This piece was originally published on AlterNet.

Blake god If God exists… why isn’t his existence obvious?

And is “free will” a good answer to this question?

A few weeks ago, in this very publication, I posed the question, “Why did God create atheists?” If God reveals himself to religious believers, in visions or revelations or other spiritual experiences… why doesn’t he do it with everyone? Why are those revelations so contradictory — not to mention so suspiciously consistent with whatever the people having them already believe or want to believe? And why doesn’t everyone have them? If God is real, I asked — if religious believers are perceiving a real entity with a real effect on the world — why isn’t it just obvious?

Hide and seek Why is God playing hide and seek?

When I wrote this piece, I addressed (and dismantled) two of the most common responses to this question: “God has revealed himself to you, you’ve just closed your heart to him,” and, “God doesn’t care if you’re an atheist — as long as you’re a good person, he doesn’t care if you believe in him.”

But I neglected to address one of the most common religious answers to this question:

Free will.

“God can’t reveal himself to us clearly,” this argument goes, “because he wants us to have free will. We have to be free to believe in him or not. If he revealed his presence to us, we’d be forced to believe in him — and our free will is a precious gift. It’s what makes us God’s unique creation.”

It’s a really, really bad argument.

I’m going to dismantle it today.

The Freedom of Information Act

Jury1 Imagine you’re on a jury. You’re asked to decide whether something is or is not real, whether it did or did not happen: whether the accused stole the diamonds, or set fire to their warehouse for the insurance, or shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. The prosecution doesn’t offer much evidence at the trial — it’s all circumstantial at best, third-hand hearsay at worst, with excessive appeals to emotion and fear, and arguments based on faulty logic. So you decide to acquit.

Videotape And then, after you’ve reached your verdict, you’re told there’s a videotape, clearly showing the accused committing the crime.

You’re baffled. You’re outraged. You confront the prosecutor in the hallway, and ask, “Why didn’t you show us this evidence at the trial? Why show it to us now — when it’s too late to do anything about it?”

And the prosecutor replies, “Because you had to be free to decide for yourself. If we gave you that videotape, it would have made your choice too obvious. Free will is a precious gift, a crucial component of the justice system — and in order for the jury to have free will, we can’t make the right verdict too obvious. That would have forced your hand.”

Would you nod your head sagely in agreement? Would you think that was a sound and reasonable explanation?

Or would you think they were out of their gourd?

And if you’d think this was a ridiculous and outrageous explanation from the prosecutor — then why on earth would you think it’s a good argument when it comes to God?

Freedom of information act Having more information doesn’t make us less free to decide what’s real. It’s the exact opposite. The more information we have, the better able we are to make a free, independent conclusion about what is and isn’t true.

If God was real, but was playing hide and seek? If he was deliberately hiding himself from us? If he was leaving maddeningly frustrating and inconsistent hints about his existence, always staying one step ahead, always keeping carefully out of sight? That wouldn’t give us free will. That would make us pawns in his manipulative, passive-aggressive game. (Especially if he punished us at the end of the game with intolerable, permanent torture, just because we guessed wrong.)

And even if clearly revealing himself somehow “forced” us to recognize God’s existence… how would that force us to worship or obey him?

SFPD+logo I mean, I have no doubt whatsoever that the San Francisco Police Department exists. They have made their existence very clear indeed. But I still have a choice about whether to obey the laws they enforce. I have a choice about whether to jaywalk, hire prostitutes, drink beer on the street. I usually obey these laws; I occasionally disobey them. I sometimes make that decision based on my fear of the cops; I sometimes make it based on my own conscience or convenience. But my freedom to obey or disobey the law does not hinge on my ignorance of the fact that the SFPD exists, and has power to enforce these laws. My awareness that the police are real, that they are not mythical creatures, does not in any way eradicate my freedom.

Why would it work that way with God?

Now, some people will argue that God is a special case. They’ll argue that, because God’s power is absolute — which the SFPD’s clearly is not — revealing himself to us would be tantamount to coercion. It’d be like having the cops follow every one of us day and night… with the absolute power to put us in Abu Ghraib forever if we broke even the tiniest law.

But why would that have to be true? Couldn’t God clearly tell us all, “Hey, I exist — but I think you need to make your own moral decisions, so I’m not going to punish or reward you for good and bad behavior”? Or at least, “I’m going to make your punishments and rewards proportionate to your actions, and I’m going to clearly spell out those punishments and rewards ahead of time, so you can decide for yourself if it’s worth it”? There’s no reason free will couldn’t be consistent with knowing that God existed — or even with knowing that God was all-powerful, and could kick your ass from here to Saturn if he felt like it.

HansMemlingHell It’s arguable, I’ll grant you, that while free will could be consistent with the clear, non- hide- and- seek revelation of this more open and moderate (albeit clearly non-existent) god, it wouldn’t be possible with the more common notions of permanent, perfectly blissful heaven and permanent, perfectly torturous hell. But if what God wants for us is our free will… how would that version of the afterlife help matters? To return to the jury analogy: How would it make the jury more free to deny them the videotape of the accused committing the crime… and then throw them in Abu Ghraib forever for giving the wrong verdict? If that’s the god you believe in… then with all due respect, your god is a capricious, sadistic jerk, who plays a cruel game of hide and seek with his most beloved creation, and then punishes us with intolerable, permanent torture when we lose. In which case, the only moral choice would be to reject him. (Which, supposedly, he made us free to do.)

Doré,_Gustave_-_Paradiso_Canto_31 And even the idea of Heaven raises its own set of problems here. Namely: If our free will depends on God playing hide and seek — then how do people have free will in Heaven? In Heaven, God’s existence is supposed to be blindingly clear. We’re supposed to spend eternity basking in his presence. If knowing for sure that God exists eradicates our free will, then how do souls have free will in Heaven? And if souls don’t have free will in Heaven, doesn’t that undercut the idea of our freedom being the most precious and unique gift God could have given us?

It makes no sense. Again: When people are trying to make a decision, not just about what’s real but about how to act on it, denying us relevant information does not make us more free. It makes us less free. In every area of life other than religion, this is clearly understood. It’s the foundation of the principle of informed consent: when relevant information is denied us, our consent is impaired at best, and negated at worst. Having the best possible information about reality is essential to making good decisions about how to act in that reality.

Why is God an exception to that rule? Why is it that with everything else in our lives, having more information makes us better able to make a free choice… but with God — and only God — clearly revealing the simple fact that he exists and has power to enforce his rules would somehow turn us into his mindless robotic slaves?

How does that make any kind of sense?

Why Are There Special Snowflakes?

Special_snowflake So when believers argue that God can’t reveal himself to anybody without mysteriously eradicating our ability to make our own choices, that’s my response. But that’s not the only belief people hold about God and his supposed relationship to humanity. Some believers think that God reveals himself to some people, but not to others. Believers in the Bible, for instance, think that God used to reveal himself to people all the time: to Moses, to the prophets, and so on. Heck, the whole Adam and Eve story is based on the notion that they knew full well who God was and what he could do… and disobeyed him anyway.

And even people who don’t believe in the Bible’s literal truth still make an argument very much like this one. “Personal religious experience” — i.e., the belief that God communicates his existence and/or intentions to some people directly — is one of the most common reasons believers give for believing.

Which brings us back to the original question:

Why are there atheists?

Why does God reveal himself to some people, and not to others?

If it would eradicate my free will for God to make his existence obvious to me… why doesn’t it eradicate yours? Or your neighbor’s? Why doesn’t it eradicate your priest’s free will, your minister’s, your rabbi’s, your imam’s, your guru’s? Why didn’t it eradicate Paul’s, or Moses’, or Muhammad’s, or Adam and Eve’s, or that of any of the prophets and figures in religious texts who God supposedly spoke to?

If clear visions of God’s existence would eradicate our freedom to believe in him or not… why does anyone have them?

I’m not looking here at the problem of why God reveals himself in such wildly different and even completely contradictory ways to different people. I’m not even looking at the problem of the mind being a highly fallible instrument, prone to a wide assortment of cognitive errors, and so if you think God is talking to you, you really need to confirm that hypothesis with external corroborating evidence.

Conversión_de_San_Pablo I’m talking here strictly about the problem of free will. And I’m talking about the glaring contradiction in so many religious beliefs: the idea that, on the one hand, God reveals himself directly to some people and has done so many times in the past… and that, on the other hand, God can’t reveal his existence to everyone, because doing so would somehow make us not free. I’m asking the question: Why are some people special snowflakes, able to communicate with God without it impairing their freedom to believe and obey him… while the rest of us aren’t?

You can’t have it both ways. Either God revealing his existence would undercut our free will — or it wouldn’t. If it would undercut our free will, then God must not be revealing himself to anybody… which means you can’t count personal religious experience — yours, or anyone else’s, including the prophets who wrote your holy book — as evidence of his existence. And if it wouldn’t undercut our free will, then we’re back to the question: Why isn’t God making his existence clear?

Why does every religious believer have a different understanding of him, many of which are totally contradictory?

And why do some of us — more of us every day — not believe at all?

Why Are We Even Having This Conversation?

God-monty-python I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If God existed, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. If God existed, it would just be obvious. If God existed, there’d be no reason for him to keep his existence a secret. There’d be no reason for him to create life, and yet somehow make that life look exactly like it would have if it had evolved naturally… right down to the inefficiencies, jury-rigs, superfluities, mind-numbing brutality, and other glaring flaws in life’s supposed “design.” There’d be no reason for him to animate conscious beings with immaterial souls, and yet somehow make those souls look exactly like they would have if they were biological products of the brain…. right down to the radical changes in people’s consciousness and character that happen when our brains change. There’d be no reason for him to hide.

So why don’t we see him?

Doesn’t it seem likely that the reason we don’t see him is that he doesn’t exist?

Earth_Eastern_Hemisphere The world does not look as if it was created by a supernatural being who intervenes with it on a regular basis. Or even on a semi-regular basis. There is not one scrap of good, solid evidence supporting this hypothesis. The world looks like physical matter and energy, governed by natural laws of cause and effect (and by that special version of cause and effect known as “randomness”). As Julia Sweeney says in her brilliant performance piece Letting Go of God, “The world behaves exactly as you expect it would, if there were no Supreme Being, no Supreme Consciousness, and no supernatural.”

Given that that’s true… which is the simplest, most plausible explanation?

That the world really has no Supreme Being?

Or that the world does have a Supreme Being, who created the world to look exactly as if he doesn’t exist… just so he can play a cruel game of hide and seek with his most precious creation?

If you think the latter is true… you’re certainly entitled to that belief. But if you care whether the things you believe are true, you’re going to need a really good answer for why this is.

And “free will” isn’t going to cut it.

(Inspired in large part by One More Burning Bush: The Argument from Divine Hiddenness, by Ebonmuse.)

Comments

  1. JustDucky says

    …and how do believers reconcile “Free Will” with “God has a plan”? If God has a plan, and everything is a part of that plan, and God knows all, how is that anything resembling free will? Either Destiny or The Future Is Yet To Be Written – not both.

  2. says

    I discovered your blog through Hemant’s some time last week, and I’m loving it more every day. Occam’s Razor at its finest: If god exists, why does the world behave exactly as if he/she/it didn’t? Why has there never been any provable evidence for anything supernatural? Because there ISN’T anything supernatural. But there’s still everything in the world, hell, the universe, and that’s more than enough for me. That’s the thing that really helped me let go of god in the end: I still get beer and cheesecake. :)

  3. Demonhype says

    Yeah, and when these same “God can’t let his existence be known because Free Will” used to talk to me and my mom back when I still believed in psychics and new age woo, this argument doesn’t count for squat. When someone who has a different supernatural belief says “I believe in God too”, they reply, “Well, so does the Devil, sinner, and he’s in Hell!”
    All apologetics involve a hefty amount of goalpost-shifting depending on what’s being debated. This “free will” crap is their way of trying to deflect Problem of Evil arguments and Why Is God Hiding arguments, but it’s amazing how quickly they forget about free will when another aspect of belief comes up, and next thing you know it’s suddenly possible to have absolute knowledge of God’s existence while rejecting him (Devil).

  4. Jan says

    Loved this piece of plain speaking, it really put together the way I thought more succinctly than I could.
    I also agree with Justduckys comment
    and I also hate when anyone says ‘nobody knows his plan’. Also ‘God is testing you, he won’t give you more than you can bear’!! That sounds very evil to me, not comforting or supportive at all.

  5. says

    If it would eradicate my free will for God to make his existence obvious to me… why doesn’t it eradicate yours?
    Maybe it does. Maybe that’s the reason they do and say so many weird things. Once god has revealed himself to you, you no longer have free will. You become an automaton, a slave to the divine will. You cease being human.

  6. Rose says

    This article supposes God never revealed His self in a physical form. Because they expect grandiosity and not humility in what they would need to “see/believe” the image of God, they cannot accept that Jesus is the divination of the Creator revealed to us. Jesus said he was, “the way the truth and the light.” and “Who ever believes in me shall have eternal life.” He also is quoted as saying, when asked directly, “I am in Him and He is in me” Just like today, many ccouldn’t accept this humble idea of God, and so rejected and killed Him as Jewish law demanded they did of a blasphemer (which they believed him to be-also Jesus understood this consequence but still declared this); But while seemingly defeated and while dying on the cross, a fellow criminal asked for forgiveness and asked for Jesus to give him salvation, to which Jesus declared, “This very day you will be with me in paradise.” Many of the Jews were looking for a Messiah/savior/King that would be a great military might and defeat their enemies, Jesus certainly didn’t fit their image of the Messiah. Then as now, it would be criminal and the worst behavior for a Jew to point to a human being to declare himself to be God. For Jesus or any of his followers, and His mother to promote the idea of Jesus as the Messiah (in their mindset as religious Jews) would be the sin that would destroy their own selves for all eternity. Pretty big stakes for one who wa raised to believe in the Jewish God. It would have been thought of as the most heinous crime among Jews if it were not true. These mostly devout Jews, not only promoted the idea, but would allow themselves to be arrested and often beaten, stoned, also crucified and ostracized from society and be fed to the lions rather than declare it a lie. How could so many be so willing to put all that at risk? And for a “dead” guy? Parents would allow their children to die, rather than declare Jesus and the Spirit they received, a lie. It is illogical unless they witnessed God and His truth revealed in Jesus. Those who never will believe, who reject God completely are choosing for themselves an eternal life outside of God’s presence. It is simple. If you are comfortable in that, it is your free will, as is mine to believe in the salvation God offers all, and TRIED to show us in a tangible way. In any event, the fact that there is a deep search for the truth is very good. All of us who did grapple with the q before we humbled ourselves enough to say something like, “Spirit of God Enter my heart”. God was then discovered in a very real way. Ask the Lord and Savior to open your heart and enter. Say this “in Jesus’ name”. Then actually allow a small crack in the wall of resistance that you have built, for the spirit to enter. do this with sincerity and then you will understand why non-believers turn into believers and are so passionate about the reality of the spirit of God. Anyway, if you do this with a true opening in your heart, and nothing happens, the most you have to lose is nothing. So what are you afraid of?

  7. says

    Rose: What evidence do you have for any of this?
    There is serious question as to whether the historical Jesus even existed… much less whether any of the events of his life and his followers were accurately described in the Bible. More on this:
    Choking on the Camel
    The historical evidence for Jesus
    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/camel.html
    As for the argument that nobody would ever hold a dangerous religious belief unless it were true… that is patently absurd. If we accepted that argument, then the followers of Jim Jones or the Heaven’s Gate cult must have been right as well.
    And the “open your heart” argument is terrible. You’re basically asking people to bias themselves in favor of a conclusion before they decide on the evidence for it. But in fact, most atheists were once believers. We weren’t just open to the possibility that religion might be right — we actually believed it. It was only after we considered the poor logic and evidence supporting it that we reconsidered, and left our belief.

  8. says

    God does not play hide and seek;
    He makes Him clearly known through the precise “Mathematics” He has wonderfully executed, when creating the Universe, and His own Word;
    This is what has genuinely been promised by all His great Prophets: Moses, Jesus, David, Muhammad, for this Last and Third Day/Millennium now;
    So if we open our eyes now, and see Him clearly through this matcless empirical “Mathematic Evidence” that He has wonderfully executed, within His Universe, and within His Word, now,
    we shall also get all the answers to all those questions above in His “Mathematically Proven” matcless “Excellent Word” now, and we will also see Him Personally, thereafter, when the Time comes.

  9. Maria says

    One of the mysteries of woo, that I’ve often pondered, is its fear of paragraphs, and its love of random capitalization…

  10. says

    Maria: also, punctuation.
    This also makes me think of Dr. House’s statement from last week’s episode (paraphrased from memory): “If you’re punished, it’s proof god exists. If you’re not punished, it’s also proof god exists.” Or “math works, therefore jesus”. Of course, whenever things (seemingly) don’t work as “math” (or “science”) says, then it’s “math doesn’t work, therefore jesus”. Heads I win, tails you lose…

  11. says

    It’s not so complex and not difficult;
    If you go and carefully take a look at that
    matcless “Mathematical Calculations & Designs”
    in that excellent and superb “WORD of one and only true GOD” now;
    which has also thus been unmistakably prophesied and promised
    by Moses 5000 years ago,
    by Jesus 2000 years ago,
    by Muhammad 1400 years ago,
    and then if you can produce and bring anything like that (you can seek help from whomever you want on this planet, or in the Universe, or Universes,
    then Godlessness win;
    but if you cannot do this, then the one and only true GOD of Moses, Jesus, David, Muhammad
    –who thus created this Universe and this Word by His excellent and matchless Mathematic Intelligence and precise superb Powers, from the very beginning–
    win!
    Is it fair enough now?

  12. Maxx says

    Good evening:
    Um, I agree with “themann1086.” I’m sorry – I’m a fair poker player, but – what?
    From what I’m reading, you have committed a genetic fallacy by your synthetic integration of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – which by the way, are not the same thing and are not saying the same thing. Religious relativism is not very hard to refute.
    On the other hand, if I understand you correctly, you are invoking the mathematical impossibilities of prophecies as fulfilled in the Bible by mere human beings.
    Interesting. Never heard it put quite that way – if I understand correctly.
    Thank you

  13. Locutus7 says

    Ancient rationalist prophecy foretells that devout believers will signal their sharp departure from reality by foregoing paragraph breaks.
    Thus believers will be known by this idiosyncratic writing style, and will be forever marked as faith-driven creatures bereft of reason.
    So it was told, and so it is demonstrated.

  14. Maxx says

    For Locutus7;
    1. All who fail to make paragraph breaks are bereft of reason.
    2. Only believers fore-go paragraph breaks.
    3. Therefore believers are bereft of reason.
    Well, O.K., the argument may be logically valid, but I question if it is sound.
    Good argument – keep up the hypo-collaborative correlation of your quasi-relevant but egregious reciprocity addressing your despondency concerning concurrent semantic post-structural distillations in relation to the concomitant value of your equivocally differentiating allegations in reference to the relation to your accusations of pseudo-semantic homogeneity para-oscillating from your scabrous diatribe in an attempt to appeal to a quantitative locus masquerading as hyper-qualitative hubris in the name of erudite pedagogy.
    Just thinking…

  15. David says

    Um, the New Testament Book of Romans has already answered your question.
    Now, before I begin, just because someone may not like the answer; (and just because most Christians may not like the answer) does not negate the answer which is given.
    The answer will most assuredly play into a person’s view on “justice”, but regardless, it is a very definitive and concrete answer specifically addressing your question.
    Romans 9:10-24 states:
    Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
    What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
    “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
    It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
    One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
    What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.
    -end quote-
    —-
    So why you ask does God play hide and seek? Well, as Romans states, because some people are destined for wrath, which all men deserve, yet not all men will face, and not because of anything good in themselves, but simply because of undeserved mercy shown towards them.
    Someone might not like this answer, but it specifically answers your question very clearly and directly. And to wit: it is an answer straight from what Christians claim are the very words of God.
    :-)
    Cheers!

  16. says

    @David
    Thanks for digging up the Bible quote. However, the general point was made in Greta’s original post: “If that’s the god you believe in… then with all due respect, your god is a capricious, sadistic jerk, who plays a cruel game of hide and seek with his most beloved creation, and then punishes us with intolerable, permanent torture when we lose. In which case, the only moral choice would be to reject him.
    So, yes, that quote is good justification for not worshiping or respecting the evil entity described in Romans.
    But it does nothing to justify the claim that the entity exists. And, as shown in various other posts on this very site, there is considerable evidence against its existence.
    Which is convenient, as it frees all of us up to deal with the many real problems in the real world.

  17. Fred says

    Free will is an illusion, and recent neuroscience has shown this. Understanding how this is so within yourself, solves the free will “paradox.” Do something that quiets that left-brain, analytical identity and learn to listen to your mind and you’ll realize this entire article is based on a limited and false understanding of reality. A left-brained, rational analysis of the possibility of the existence of God always leads to atheism. A more accurate understanding of your own reality leads to realizing that atheism is a construct which is erected by people who have the majority of their consciousness unavailable to them. Self-awareness is the key, don’t take my word for it.

  18. Maya says

    You said:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If God existed, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. If God existed, it would just be obvious. If God existed, there’d be no reason for him to keep his existence a secret.

    — How can you speak in the name of a God in which you don’t even believe? I mean, what makes you so confident about what God would have done if He existed? What makes you build such a firm conclusion? Isn’t it that you see God as an entity that thinks and acts like a human being would do, following a “human logic” and with a “human perception”, most likely like yours?

    — And, you contradict yourself when you say “there’d be no reason for him to keep his existence a secret.” How do you explain that there are billions (yes) of people who believe in God then? Maybe His existence is not that secret? Maybe if He did not exist, we will not be having this conversation!

    But I guess you’d say He’s a construction of the human mind: why this cannot be true about atheism?

    You said:

    There’d be no reason for him to create life, and yet somehow make that life look exactly like it would have if it had evolved naturally…

    — Okay. You know that believers see life as evidence of God’s existence, so here again you contradict yourself because life looks exactly like it would have if it had evolved naturally (godlessly) for atheists, but not for believers! That’s for the logic of it, now let’s see the facts: Of course, life does look like it has been evoving naturally: how the fact that life evolves naturally proves that God does not exist? the “natural” way it evolves is not random, nature follows specific laws and operates in a very precise manner: why not see this as a manifestation of a greater intelligence? Why wouldn’t have God just set the rules and the canevas for nature, and made it as matter, to go in its way continuously? And enabled us, by the gift of intellect, to understand the way it operates so that we may take the best of it as healing, food, shelter etc?

    What? Do you imagine that for God to exist there must be winged cute angels turning the globe and pulling vegetation to get it grow from the soil, and that we would see them with GoogleEarth? That we would meet the “goblins” of God shaking clouds to make rain fall and that we will salute them in the streets?!!! If that’s what you think is the God that does not exist, his name is Santa Claus and he does not exist for sure, no doubt, no conversation… Anyways, there is more:

    You said:

    right down to the inefficiencies, jury-rigs, superfluities, mind-numbing brutality, and other glaring flaws in life’s supposed “design.”

    — How can you recognize quality if there is no flaw, and positive if there is no negative, and darkness if there is no light, and strength if there is no weakness: how can you be atheist if there are no theists and vice versa? Among “the natural way life goes” there is the law of coherent opposites which define each other and support each other. How can “life’s supposed design” not be true just because there are things that “seem” wrong or incomplete or flawed? : if you make a pot, isn’t the emptiness inside which will be used to contain things? but again, how can this emptiness be used if there is no pot? Design uses opposites, and it’s the flaw that makes the quality, and the brutality that makes the softness in the world we’re living in, as it is. If you think the world has to be any different from what it is for God to be, then that God you don’t believe in is a chaotic dumb.

    You said:
    There’d be no reason for him to animate conscious beings with immaterial souls, and yet somehow make those souls look exactly like they would have if they were biological products of the brain….

    — Okay… why not? Earth looks flat but it is not. For long time people believed it was flat because it looked flat until it was discovered that it is not. So the soul might look like the biological product of the brain, while it is not, and our science is not all-ecompassing nor flawless and is continuously reviewed and corrected because science observes the world and describes it, and it can only do that within the limits of what both mind and technology (which is nothing more than product of the mind). But that’s just a part of my argument: maybe the soul as an entity does emerge as a biological product of the brain, just like any other natural process that you can observe operates as the product of something interfering with something else and so on. Let’s assume it is a biological product of the brain, it still “is”, don’t you think so? The fact that it may be just a product of the brain does not exclude the fact that it “is”, it just “is” what it “is” the way it “is”! And what does this have to do with God’s non-existence?

    right down to the radical changes in people’s consciousness and character that happen when our brains change.

    — Soul’s definition differs from a religion to another, and it has different names: prana, energy, Qi, … it is that which makes difference between a dead corpse and someone alive. It’s what makes difference between a cell and some gelly microscopic thing. See, to create “life”, scientists use alive cells, because we can’t create life out of nothing alive. That’s the soul. So, if brain damage occurs and people’s consciousness and character differ, they remain “alive”, what’s that “life” thing anyways?

    There’d be no reason for him to hide.

    Yes, there is no reason for him to hide, that is why He is just not hiding!

    See, God has among many attributes, two attributes “the Hidden” and “the Manifest”. Add to this that he is the “Creator” so obviously a creator has to create, otherwise he’s not a creator.

    Of course, if you believe that the universe just happened to be here by accident, you will not see it as a creation of a creator, and you will not see it as the design of a designer.

    So you’ll think that there is no God.

    But you also know that the very idea of “God” includes the idea of “creation”, so with respect to this idea it is coherent that the creation is the evidence for the creator. And since creation is material, thus, it is manifest. Thus, God has made Himself known as a creator by creating the creation, and He has made Himself hidden as entity, as a “being” since we cannot see “Him”.

    Of course, if you believe that there is no God, then the universe is no longer a creation, it’s just “something out there”. Fine! You stop there. And what ultimately makes the difference between seeing the universe as creation and as “something out there”? : choice, and choice determines the perception which then rationalizes the whole thing and becomes a “belief”. The starting and the ending point remains the “choice”.

    So why don’t we see him?

    — Well, who is He? What is He?

    If God is a creator, you see His creation. If God is Alive, you see life everywhere around you. If He is He Who creates death, then you see death everywhere around you. If God is the Expert and All-knowing, you see the tremendous abilities of the human mind. If God is the Light then you see light, and you can only see light because there is darkness. If God is the Sustainer then you see how life is sustained in nature, etc… If God is beautiful, you see beauty, and you can see it only by opposition to ugliness.

    Yet, you don’t see Him as an entity, as a being, what He looks like. And guess what? Among His attributes is that He is the Hidden. So here are many of His attributes which you can get a sense of everywhere around you (the Manifest), but you want that single part which He kept for Himself (Himself!!!) to be your “evidence” for His existence. So you see Him, it’s just that you don’t see “Him” as a being.

    Doesn’t it seem likely that the reason we don’t see him is that he doesn’t exist?

    — Well… with respect to what I said above, we can actually see Him but not see “Him” as being, so my reply would be :

    Doesn’t it seem likely that the reason why we don’t see “Him” (as a being) is because He doesn’t want to? Maaaaybe?

    But let’s forget what I said and consider your question for what it is, then my question is:

    Doesn’t it seem likely that the reason why some of us see Him (His attributes) is that he exists?
    Doesn’t it seem likely that the reason why some of us don’t see Him (His attributes)is that they chose not to?

    I’m aware that atheists think that believers defined God themselves and constructed meanings around Him to justify His existence. But beware that the same can be told about atheists: that they defined Existence as godless and constructed meanings around this idea to justify the non-existence of God.

    So are we putting a full stop to that never-ending debate on God’s existence?! Are we going to give up arguing pointlessly?

    No, because belief in God is a matter of choice (which you’re denying with poor arguments), and choice is subjective, and our view on God’s existence depends on where we stand, and where we stand is where we choose to stand. It’s just as true as there have always been believers and disbelievers, and there always will be.

    Your videotape example is, as all your examples, biased. The jury was shown the videotape before they gave their verdict but they decided it was not evidence because the video could have been faked or the crime was acted out. What about this one huh?

    Of course your example is biased, and mine is biased too, of course they are since belief is a matter of choice! You decided that God does not exist and from that you built your example, which systematically leads to a bias. So a believer would do. There is no possible example that can be given about the existence/non-existence of God which does not stand first either on the idea that He exists or the idea that He does not exist. So your examples (I like the pink poney one though, imaginative)will always sound right and meaningful to atheists and biased to believers, and believers’ examples will always sound right and meaningful to believers and biased to atheists. In the poney example, you already chose to assimilate God to something that we know does not exist, so of course your example will convey that meaning! A believer will use something that we know exists to assimilate to God in an example, so of course his/her example will convey that meaning!

    So your arguments are just as bad as those you criticize and label as “bad” arguments. And that will always be true for all arguments about God’s existence. I’m happy to read though (in another article of yours) that you spend energy and time defending the rights of atheists, I mean f*ck it we’re all people and we’re alike, “whoever wills let him believe and whoever wills let him disbelieve”(q17)

    Good luck

  19. Maya says

    You said:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If God existed, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. If God existed, it would just be obvious. If God existed, there’d be no reason for him to keep his existence a secret.

    — How can you speak in the name of a God in which you don’t even believe? I mean, what makes you so confident about what God would have done if He existed? What makes you build such a firm conclusion? Isn’t it that you see God as an entity that thinks and acts like a human being would do, following a “human logic” and with a “human perception”, most likely like yours?

    — And, you contradict yourself when you say “there’d be no reason for him to keep his existence a secret.” How do you explain that there are billions (yes) of people who believe in God then? Maybe His existence is not that secret? Maybe if He did not exist, we will not be having this conversation!

    But I guess you’d say He’s a construction of the human mind: why this cannot be true about atheism?

    You said:

    There’d be no reason for him to create life, and yet somehow make that life look exactly like it would have if it had evolved naturally…

    — Okay. You know that believers see life as evidence of God’s existence, so here again you contradict yourself because life looks exactly like it would have if it had evolved naturally (godlessly) for atheists, but not for believers! That’s for the logic of it, now let’s see the facts: Of course, life does look like it has been evoving naturally: how the fact that life evolves naturally proves that God does not exist? the “natural” way it evolves is not random, nature follows specific laws and operates in a very precise manner: why not see this as a manifestation of a greater intelligence? Why wouldn’t have God just set the rules and the canevas for nature, and made it as matter, to go in its way continuously? And enabled us, by the gift of intellect, to understand the way it operates so that we may take the best of it as healing, food, shelter etc?

    What? Do you imagine that for God to exist there must be winged cute angels turning the globe and pulling vegetation to get it grow from the soil, and that we would see them with GoogleEarth? That we would meet the “goblins” of God shaking clouds to make rain fall and that we will salute them in the streets?!!! If that’s what you think is the God that does not exist, his name is Santa Claus and he does not exist for sure, no doubt, no conversation… Anyways, there is more:

    You said:

    right down to the inefficiencies, jury-rigs, superfluities, mind-numbing brutality, and other glaring flaws in life’s supposed “design.”

    — How can you recognize quality if there is no flaw, and positive if there is no negative, and darkness if there is no light, and strength if there is no weakness: how can you be atheist if there are no theists and vice versa? Among “the natural way life goes” there is the law of coherent opposites which define each other and support each other. How can “life’s supposed design” not be true just because there are things that “seem” wrong or incomplete or flawed? : if you make a pot, isn’t the emptiness inside which will be used to contain things? but again, how can this emptiness be used if there is no pot? Design uses opposites, and it’s the flaw that makes the quality, and the brutality that makes the softness in the world we’re living in, as it is. If you think the world has to be any different from what it is for God to be, then that God you don’t believe in is a chaotic dumb.

    You said:
    There’d be no reason for him to animate conscious beings with immaterial souls, and yet somehow make those souls look exactly like they would have if they were biological products of the brain….

    — Okay… why not? Earth looks flat but it is not. For long time people believed it was flat because it looked flat until it was discovered that it is not. So the soul might look like the biological product of the brain, while it is not, and our science is not all-ecompassing nor flawless and is continuously reviewed and corrected because science observes the world and describes it, and it can only do that within the limits of what both mind and technology (which is nothing more than product of the mind). But that’s just a part of my argument: maybe the soul as an entity does emerge as a biological product of the brain, just like any other natural process that you can observe operates as the product of something interfering with something else and so on. Let’s assume it is a biological product of the brain, it still “is”, don’t you think so? The fact that it may be just a product of the brain does not exclude the fact that it “is”, it just “is” what it “is” the way it “is”! And what does this have to do with God’s non-existence?

    right down to the radical changes in people’s consciousness and character that happen when our brains change.

    — Soul’s definition differs from a religion to another, and it has different names: prana, energy, Qi, … it is that which makes difference between a dead corpse and someone alive. It’s what makes difference between a cell and some gelly microscopic thing. See, to create “life”, scientists use alive cells, because we can’t create life out of nothing alive. That’s the soul. So, if brain damage occurs and people’s consciousness and character differ, they remain “alive”, what’s that “life” thing anyways?

    There’d be no reason for him to hide.

    Yes, there is no reason for him to hide, that is why He is just not hiding!

    See, God has among many attributes, two attributes “the Hidden” and “the Manifest”. Add to this that he is the “Creator” so obviously a creator has to create, otherwise he’s not a creator.

    Of course, if you believe that the universe just happened to be here by accident, you will not see it as a creation of a creator, and you will not see it as the design of a designer.

    So you’ll think that there is no God.

    But you also know that the very idea of “God” includes the idea of “creation”, so with respect to this idea it is coherent that the creation is the evidence for the creator. And since creation is material, thus, it is manifest. Thus, God has made Himself known as a creator by creating the creation, and He has made Himself hidden as entity, as a “being” since we cannot see “Him”.

    Of course, if you believe that there is no God, then the universe is no longer a creation, it’s just “something out there”. Fine! You stop there. And what ultimately makes the difference between seeing the universe as creation and as “something out there”? : choice, and choice determines the perception which then rationalizes the whole thing and becomes a “belief”. The starting and the ending point remains the “choice”.

    So why don’t we see him?

    — Well, who is He? What is He?

    If God is a creator, you see His creation. If God is Alive, you see life everywhere around you. If He is He Who creates death, then you see death everywhere around you. If God is the Expert and All-knowing, you see the tremendous abilities of the human mind. If God is the Light then you see light, and you can only see light because there is darkness. If God is the Sustainer then you see how life is sustained in nature, etc… If God is beautiful, you see beauty, and you can see it only by opposition to ugliness.

    Yet, you don’t see Him as an entity, as a being, what He looks like. And guess what? Among His attributes is that He is the Hidden. So here are many of His attributes which you can get a sense of everywhere around you (the Manifest), but you want that single part which He kept for Himself (Himself!!!) to be your “evidence” for His existence. So you see Him, it’s just that you don’t see “Him” as a being.

    Doesn’t it seem likely that the reason we don’t see him is that he doesn’t exist?

    — Well… with respect to what I said above, we can actually see Him but not see “Him” as being, so my reply would be :

    Doesn’t it seem likely that the reason why we don’t see “Him” (as a being) is because He doesn’t want to? Maaaaybe?

    But let’s forget what I said and consider your question for what it is, then my question is:

    Doesn’t it seem likely that the reason why some of us see Him (His attributes) is that he exists?
    Doesn’t it seem likely that the reason why some of us don’t see Him (His attributes)is that they chose not to?

    I’m aware that atheists think that believers defined God themselves and constructed meanings around Him to justify His existence. But beware that the same can be told about atheists: that they defined Existence as godless and constructed meanings around this idea to justify the non-existence of God.

    So are we putting a full stop to that never-ending debate on God’s existence?! Are we going to give up arguing pointlessly?

    No, because belief in God is a matter of choice (which you’re denying with poor arguments), and choice is subjective, and our view on God’s existence depends on where we stand, and where we stand is where we choose to stand. It’s just as true as there have always been believers and disbelievers, and there always will be.

    Your videotape example is, as all your examples, biased. The jury was shown the videotape before they gave their verdict but they decided it was not evidence because the video could have been faked or the crime was acted out. What about this one huh?

    Of course your example is biased, and mine is biased too, of course they are since belief is a matter of choice! You decided that God does not exist and from that you built your example, which systematically leads to a bias. So a believer would do. There is no possible example that can be given about the existence/non-existence of God which does not stand first either on the idea that He exists or the idea that He does not exist. So your examples (I like the pink poney one though, imaginative)will always sound right and meaningful to atheists and biased to believers, and believers’ examples will always sound right and meaningful to believers and biased to atheists. In the poney example, you already chose to assimilate God to something that we know does not exist, so of course your example will convey that meaning! A believer will use something that we know exists to assimilate to God in an example, so of course his/her example will convey that meaning!

    So your arguments are just as bad as those you criticize and label as “bad” arguments. And that will always be true for all arguments about God’s existence. I’m happy to read though (in another article of yours) that you spend energy and time defending the rights of atheists, I mean f*ck it we’re all people and we’re alike, “whoever wills let him believe and whoever wills let him disbelieve”(q17)

    Good luck

    PS: I totally agree with Fred (except on the free choice thing, because I believe we do chose freely), well said.

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