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Monday, June 02, 2014

Why doesn't God Provide a Sign to Prove He Exists?

Noted philosopher Bertrand Russell was once asked how he might answer for his staunch atheism if after his death he did indeed face God. Russell famously replied, "I probably would ask, 'Sir, why did you not give me better evidence?"1 Such claims are fairly common among atheists. Some have said to me that God would need to do a miracle in front of them. Others have asked why God wouldn’t write "I exist" across the surface of the moon if He wanted all people to believe in Him. There’s even a http://www.WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com web site that believes their question is "the most important question we can ask about God."


What about this? Why doesn't God provide some kind of sign to prove that He exists? Wouldn't it be more effective than what we have now? The short answer is no, it wouldn't make real belief any easier, and that is simply because any type of evidence can be rejected. For example, the Apollo 11 moon landing was a highly documented event that was reported in real time. The astronauts took video and photos of themselves on the moon, yet there are some who believe the moon landing was faked on a Hollywood soundstage and they even use the photo to argue their case. 2

The Bible gives us another example of such a situation. Just before Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we now celebrate as Passion Week, He had raised Lazarus from the dead. John reports that "Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, ‘What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation’" (John 11:45-48, ESV).3 Even though Jesus performed many signs, the leaders’ hearts were hardened and they were more concerned about their power being taken away.

But, it gets worse! In John 12:9-11, we read that the religious leaders of the Jews were not only plotting to kill Jesus, but they realized they had to kill Lazarus as well. "When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus." Now, just think about this for a moment. Jesus had raised Lazarus after being dead four days! Jesus had proven that death was something he could overcome. Yet, the leaders were so set against believing in Jesus that they not only didn’t believe in Him, but they decided that they should kill a living breathing piece of miraculous evidence that existed right in front of them. Given that level of rejection, does anyone really think that the healing of an amputee would convince someone who simply doesn’t want to be convinced?

I understand that some may counter my claim by arguing that this is an extreme circumstance. "Sure, a few nut jobs wouldn't believe in the moon landing, but most people would, so why doesn’t God do a miracle for the majority?" I’ll look at that claim next time. My point, though, is that it isn’t incumbent upon God to provide fool-proof evidence for His existence. There is no such thing. People will believe whatever they want, regardless of the nature of the evidence. To a hardened heart, no evidence will ever be good enough. So, in your conversations, make sure you ask, "Just what evidence would it take to change your mind? Just what would be the thing that would make you believe?" I’ve had people who, after being pressed, honestly answer that no evidence would ever be good enough. And that is really where the problem lies.

References

1 Rosten, Leo. "Bertrand Russell and God: A Memoir." The Saturday Review. Feb 23, 1974. 25.

2 "Conspiracy Theories." Time Magazine. Nov. 20, 2008 http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1860871_1860876_1860992,00.html

3 The English Standard Version Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments. (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009).BibleGateway.com. Web. 2 Jun. 2014.

11 comments:

  1. God (the character in the Bible) did offer a test. It is just that he fails it, so Christians don't talk about it:

    Mal 3:10:
    Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

    In seminary I once ran across an old textbook that actually suggested this could be a proof for the existence of God, to show to non-believers. Problems is, if you know tithers, this test failed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tithing/offering, if done with humble and contrite heart, brings tremendous blessing (not necessarily monetary/material). It's obvious that you lack basic biblical understanding of what this passage teaches and promises.

      Delete
    2. Tithing is a law for Israel only, not the church. So a promise based on it is also only for Israel. Again the storehouse is the temple in Jerusalem, which currently does not exist.

      We have all the riches of Christ and eternal life. If anyone is chasing after worldly wealth, his heart is wrong with God.

      Delete
  2. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Suppose I tell you that there is someone in the next room, and I give you all my reasons why I believe it. You respond by saying, "That's not good enough for me; in fact there's NO evidence that there's someone in that room, therefore there's nobody in there." This is obviously a fallacy. Even with no evidence at all, someone could still be in there. The proper response should be, "I don't know if there is someone in there or not," i.e. agnosticism. The only way someone can say definitively "There is no God," is if one is omniscient. and no human is omniscient.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark, great post. Do you mind if I copy and paste it for my future Facebook debates with atheists?

      Delete
    2. The good news is that we atheists are agnostic and are intelligent enough to understand this. But we are agnostic atheists, for we are "without belief in gods" yet open-minded to theists providing evidence. So far, there is insufficient evidence, which goes against the God of the Bible's supposed nature. He... Demolished twin cities for lot, brought fire down that consumed watered down sacrifices for Elijah, stopped the earth's rotation for moses, or even made the earth rotate backwards for Hezekiah, made signs and wonders for pharoah, and wrestled with Jacob. And you still think this God wouldn't do any of this for unbelievers all over the world.

      Delete
    3. There can be no such thing as an agnostic atheist. http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/12/the-absurdity-of-describing-oneself-as.html

      Delete
    4. there is no agnostic atheist; it is contradictory in terms and concepts. An agnostic ignores the existence of God; an atheist denies His existence. If one denies, then that one does not ignore about the one he denies to exist at least in his thought. For agnosticism, God does not even exist in his thought.

      Delete
  3. I often encounter this in online debates. Finally, I just come out and ask them if God could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, would you repent, bow in submission and serve Him? The answer is always "no". And that is the elephant in the room. Man is sinful and but for the grace of God, is rebellious. They find the concept of fear of the Lord repulsive, and they find the concept of bowing in submission even more despicable. All we can do is continue to pray for God's grace and mercy on them, for we were once like them but for God.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, its not rebellion. I ask you now... Would you serve a god who takes pleasure in dashing of infants from mothers wombs(Jeremiah) , created evil (isaiah), flooded the earth and killed babies and innocent animals (exodus) and threatens to burn those that don't love him eternally (Matthew)?

      Delete
    2. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
      Yes, I would serve a God who is holy, just and loving.
      Merry Christmas!

      Delete

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