Why Doesn’t God Make Himself Obvious?
Why is faith so difficult? Why isn’t God more obvious? Why doesn’t God come out and provide irrefutable proof that he is God so that there is no more doubt? Greg’s father raised such questions and Greg’s responses are recorded in the book Letters from a Skeptic.
What would happen … if God individually wrote a message in the clouds for every person alive? What if he wrote, “Jesus is my son. Believe in Him or parish”? Would all people now put their love and trust in Jesus Christ? I suspect not. When Jesus was here on earth and did all his miracles, those who didn’t want to follow him still doubted. When the father spoke from heaven “This is my beloved son,” those who didn’t have a heart to believe said, “It thundered.” And even when Jesus rose from the dead, there were a number of Roman guards who witnessed it, and yet they joined in with the religious leaders’ conspiracy to cover it up! …
There are many reasons for this, I suspect, but four, immediately to mind. First, the impression stupendous events have on us is rarely permanent. The impression fades with time. I have myself seen God do some incredible things with people, but in the weeks, months, and years after the event, the force of the initial impression wears off. Precisely because the event is extraordinary, the mind seems to remember it more like a dream then a real event. It doesn’t continue to impact life. If a person does base his faith on miracles, he needs a steady diet. … So even if God did address everyone with a message in the sky, this might convert many at that moment, but the lasting effect would, I suspect, be nil.
Second, there’s almost nothing which can’t be explained in more than one way. The cloud which says “Believe in my son” could be a strange cloud formation, a hoax, a demon, a hallucination. The voice which says the same thing could be thunder. Jesus’ miracles could be tricks, coincidences, or, as the religious leaders of his day thought, demonic activity. Things can always be explained away. …
Third, divine things are not as clear in the world as they might otherwise be because our world is caught in the crossfire of a spiritual, cosmic war. There is an enemy of human souls which utilizes his destructive power to blind the eyes of people (2 Corinthians 4:4). So there is evidence of good, but also evidence of evil, which clouds every issue. And some of the time when things are not clear to people, it’s not because the issue itself isn’t clear; it’s because their mind, deceived by the will of demonic forces or their own evil-bent free will, is cloudy. God can holler all he wants, but if people are covering up their ears, they cry out, “Why doesn’t God talk?”
Finally, even when God’s “direct approach” does seem to work, it doesn’t. God desires a loving, trusting relationship with us. We were created to this end. But does parting a Red Sea do that? Does speaking from the clouds do that? Does opening up the earth and swallowing the ungodly do that? He tried all of these and they didn’t work. At best they can wow or scare people into submission (and that only temporarily). They can coerce obedience. They can temporarily modify behavior — including the fear-filled words “I love you.” But they do not produce love. If God were to answer obviously all our prayers, if he were a genie in a bottle granting our every wish, this would mean that we’d use him, not love him. …
Love must be chosen. It must be free, and it must be from the heart, without external motivations. But, quite frankly, it’s very difficult for an all-powerful God to behave in such a way that love can occur with these qualities. If he uses a “direct approach” — to the point where an alternative explanation is not possible (if it’s possible to do this), and continuously enough so it doesn’t fade from our memories — he only succeeds and blowing us over or in spoiling us with a magical Genie.
Luis Argerich via Compfight