Why is God Hidden?

god's hiddennessThis is the most powerful argument against Christianity, in my opinion. If the Christian god existed, he would at least make his existence obvious to all of us. He loves us more than we love ourselves, and he knows the consequences of our not believing in him, so he would make sure that we at least knew that he exists.

But that this obstacle to belief does exist—a trivial obstacle from God’s standpoint—is strong evidence that God doesn’t exist. Could he have good reasons that we can’t imagine? Sure. This argument doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but this question is what you would push only when you want to support a presupposition that God exists. Instead, we want to follow the evidence, and that points to no God.

The Christian might respond that getting obstinate atheists to accept that God exists isn’t a trivial obstacle, but this underestimates what an all-powerful, all-knowing god could do. For example, he could give us all an identical, instantaneous revelation that lays out his existence and plan.

The Christian response

Jim Wallace at the Cold Case Christianity blog has written a couple of articles arguing that it makes good sense for God to be hidden. In “Why Is God So Hidden?” he nicely lays out the problem.

During my elementary school years, I found it difficult to understand why anyone would believe in God without visible evidence. I knew my parents, teachers and friends were real, because I could see them and I could see their impact on the world around me. God, however, seemed completely hidden. I often thought, “If God exists, why would He hide in this way? Why wouldn’t God just come right out and make it obvious to everyone He exists?”

Great questions! After many years, he now has answers. In short, love constrains God. His argument has several points.

Love requires freedom. “Love requires a certain kind of world,” and a loving God would make a world in which love could flourish. “True love cannot be coerced.” A loving world would be one in which we would have the freedom to respond through love rather than fear.

Why is love so central to this popular Christian view? Love certainly isn’t obvious within the world. Living conditions suck in large fractions of the world. Beyond our world, the universe is an extremely hostile place. “Love” is not how you’d summarize God’s creation. And it’s not at the top of the list of attributes the Jews in New Testament times would’ve given to Yahweh.

Wallace’s pushing love to the top of the list reveals his agenda, not God’s.

But let’s return to his point. He’s right that love can’t be coerced, but that’s not what we’re talking about. Question one is, Does God exist? Question two might be, What is God’s nature? or How should I respond to God? or something similar, but question one is the foundational question and must be answered first.

Love requires faith. “We must trust the person who loves us has our best interest in mind, even in times of doubt. . . . Trust often requires ‘hiddenness’ on the part of the ‘lover’ if love is to be confident, powerful, and transformational.”

Huh? I see no benefit to hiddenness in a relationship based on either friendship or love. If you’re saying that we put up with hiddenness by giving our partner space—he needs a little time in his man cave every evening or she wants the occasional weekend away with her girlfriends—that’s fine, but that’s no justification for not knowing that your partner exists. It never works that way in healthy relationships.

Love requires evidence. “While we may not want to coerce our children, we do need to give them sufficient reason to believe we exist, support and love them. . . . The natural world has provided us with sufficient (albeit non-coercive) evidence God exists. We have the ability, however, to deny this evidence if we choose.”

The lack of evidence for God in the natural world argues against your position. Ask any of the four to five billion people who is part of another religion—they embrace the supernatural, and yet they’ll cheerfully inform you that your god doesn’t exist.

And yes, we need to give our children sufficient reason to believe we exist. You’re conceding the obvious, that we must know that the other person in a relationship exists. But how is a child knowing his parents exist anything like knowing God exists? You’re saying the evidence for both is equally powerful? Children would never know there was a god to look for unless you told them so! That’s how non-obvious your god is.

Love requires response. We must be reliable to our children, “even though we may have to be ‘hidden’ at times in their lives.”

You mean we give them space and sometimes let them fail? Yes, we may need to do that, but that is irrelevant. They know you exist.

“The Christian Worldview maintains that God will respond visibly at ‘the end of the day.’ While He may sometimes seem ‘hidden,’ He will ultimately be evident to all of us.”

So if you’re a Christian, you can sometimes talk yourself out of the problem of God’s hiddenness? Maybe, but that does nothing to convince the outsider. An atheist won’t trust the Christian worldview for evidence to support the Christian worldview.

He wraps up with the Hypothetical God Fallacy (let’s assume God first and select facts to support this conclusion) and an unjustified reference to Romans 1:20 (“[God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen . . . so that [atheists] are without excuse”).

Wallace has responded in what appears to me to be typical Shermer’s Law fashion: he believes for emotional reasons, and he picked his flavor of Christianity because it was a familiar part of his environment. But admitting that he’s simply reflecting his environment won’t do, so he cobbles together intellectual reasons to shore up his belief. He wants you to believe that these reasons are how he justifies his belief, and if you undercut them, he’d reject Christianity. Others might embrace a belief for identity or comfort, but not him.

I’m unconvinced. As I see it, this is merely justification after the fact.

Concluded in part 2, where we critique an analogy that Wallace thinks justifies God’s hiddenness.

You’re a pawn in God’s dollhouse.
He moves you this way and that,
and if he didn’t pick you out of the toy box,
you wouldn’t have any meaning.
You’re making it sound so appealing!
— commenter Kodie

Image credit: Andrew Russeth, flickr, CC

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  • busterggi

    Look, if you designed things so embarrassingly poorly (exceept maybe for viruses – they work really well), killed off billions of people & other creatures in a snit and couldn’t communicate with any consistancy then you’d hide too.

    BTW, just when did god become ‘love’ anyways? Not in the 18th century https://www.enotes.com/topics/sinners-hands-an-angry-god if we listen to the contemporary preachers. Certainly not when my grandmother was born around 110 years ago because she was constantly terrified that god might smite her any minute for any infraction. Not when I was born some 60 odd (some odder than others) years ago when my catechism classes taught me that missing just one Sunday mass (that was when only Sundays counted) was enough to condemn you to hell for eternity.

    • you’d hide too.

      Yes, if God exists, he has some explaining to do.

      just when did god become ‘love’ anyways?

      The great preachers of the First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, didn’t have much use for “God is lu-u-uv” talk.

      Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

      • Dangitbobby

        It’s interesting to see the development of the “loving god” talk from christians considering church history.

        I’m going to go out on a limb and suppose that much of the development of a “loving god” has to do with the development of culture and technology of the last 150 years.

        Back then – you had only a few denominations and only a few churches in a town. You got all your news, your social interaction and much of your education from the pews. Christianity didn’t have to be loving, it simply had to be the only choice in town. As we know from business monopolies, a business can charge whatever they want and have however shoddy service they want. Churches were like that and the theology followed suit.

        However, as technology increased with mass communication and rapid urbanization becoming a thing, the “church” found itself without a primary job. People had choice. They didn’t need to go to church to get their news. They didn’t need to necessarily get their friends or education there. They certainly didn’t need to get entertainment there.

        More than just choice, as technology has increased, our lives have gotten easier. This fundamental shift in the amount of time we spent working and worrying less about our next meal means more time to think about higher-level abstract stuff.

        Between the two, you see an explosion of church denominations and advancements in theology – the church needs to present a loving god because they can’t just preach abstract fear when you have a church next door who says this same god won’t send you to the fires of hell for much of anything.

        That’s my theory at least.

    • Michael Murray

      Wasn’t it such a relief to discover that the fires of Hell have been put out! Now it is just “lack of God” and being atheists that’s what we want. So Hell is just what we want. Thank you God !

      Sometimes I wonder if I’ve spent to long at Strange Notions and damaged something ?

      • TheNuszAbides

        thanks for reminding me to be masochistic more often.

    • Michael Neville

      Eating meat on Friday would be enough to get you into the Lake of Fire. And there’s the old military saying: “One aw-shit wipes out a thousand atta-boys.”

      • busterggi

        Except for fish which obviously are vegetables.

        • I never understood how they could claim fish aren’t meat.

        • Greg G.

          My sixth-grade teacher also taught Sunday School at my church. I have a recollection of her explanation but I don’t recall the setting. It’s not that it was a “meat vs. vegetable” issue but a “food for rich people vs. a food for poor people” thing. Poor people couldn’t afford to eat the meats that rich people ate so they ate what they could catch. The rich folks gave up rich foods every day of Lent. I don’t know that she was right and I don’t know that I remember it exactly, either.

          Through a long line of equivocations, it became a rather silly tradition that is only practiced one day of the week for a month and a half.

          PS: I see that kraut2 posted this link while I was typing:

          http://www.kencollins.com/answers/question-38.htm

          It confirms what I was thinking. But I liked the fish sticks smothered in ketchup on Fridays in the school cafeteria and never realized why it was served.

          BTW, did you hear about the nun who gave up chastity for Lent?

        • busterggi

          Geese also aren’t meat according to the RCC – conveniently geese were supposedly grown from barnacles which made them fish.

        • TwoRutRoad

          Praise Jesus and pass the geeses!

        • epeeist

          BTW, did you hear about the nun who gave up chastity for Lent?

          Our prime minister here in the UK has given up Salt and Vinegar Crisps for Lent.

        • Greg G.

          If that doesn’t prove his faith…!

        • kraut2

          her faith, her faith…

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve given up piracy on the high seas for Lent. BTW, does anyone know where the low seas are?

        • Kodie
        • epeeist

          does anyone know where the low seas are?

          Personally I am still baffled as to how one can sail a ship in the low lands.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s the low lands, not the low seas. Incidentally the skipper of the Golden Vanity would have trouble getting sailors for his next voyage. The word would get out: “Don’t trust this guy, he’ll go back on his word and he’ll kill you without hesitation.”

        • Greg G.

          That was pretty good. I had to listen to the end. What a bastard!

        • MNb

          How do you mean? There is a lot of sailing going on in The Low Lands.

          http://www.columbusmagazine.nl/images/user_images17/18145/1200×630/18145.jpg

        • epeeist

          I don’t see any ships, lots of boats but no ships.

          EDIT: I used to sail, until my children got too old and my crew moved away. I have a few photographs. The trips in the first couple of photographs were hard, but someone had to skipper them…

        • Kodie

          No ships, Sherlock.

        • RichardSRussell

          In the name of efficiency, I gave up religion for Lent so I’d never have to deal with the issue again.

        • TheNuszAbides

          nice loophole!

        • I see, that makes sense. Though to nitpick, for some religious fasting does mean abstaining from food completely (Islam is an example). I also note the obligatory knock against us evil “modern” folk.

          Those naughty nuns…

        • Greg G.

          I see, that makes sense. Though to nitpick, for some religious fasting does mean abstaining from food completely

          Christianity is about making a religion easier than Judaism.

        • I guess then Islam is about making it more difficult, since they add even more restrictions.

        • Greg G.

          They thought Christians had it too easy.

        • Perhaps so.

        • busterggi

          Such is the mystery of faith.

        • Greg G.

          https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/thoughtful-animal/once-upon-a-time-the-catholic-church-decided-that-beavers-were-fish/

          So in the 17th century, the Bishop of Quebec approached his superiors in the Church and asked whether his flock would be permitted to eat beaver meat on Fridays during Lent, despite the fact that meat-eating was forbidden. Since the semi-aquatic rodent was a skilled swimmer, the Church declared that the beaver was a fish. Being a fish, beaver barbeques were permitted throughout Lent. Problem solved!

          The Church, by the way, also classified another semi-aquatic rodent, the capybara, as a fish for dietary purposes. The critter, the largest rodent in the world, is commonly eaten during Lent in Venezuela.

          I have also heard that people have justified alligator and duck as acceptable for Lent.

        • kraut2

          “his flock would be permitted to eat beaver …on Fridays”

          I hope not only in Quebec…..

        • Kevin K

          Alligators are cold-blooded, so would qualify if cold-bloodedness was the criterion. But ducks? They’re swimming chickens.

        • kraut2

          No, its complicated…
          http://www.kencollins.com/answers/question-38.htm

          http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/04/05/150061991/lust-lies-and-empire-the-fishy-tale-behind-eating-fish-on-friday
          “Technically, it’s the flesh of warmblooded animals that’s off limits — an animal “that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us, if you will,” explains Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?
          Fish are coldblooded, so they’re considered fair game. “If you were inclined to eat a reptile on Friday,” Foley tells The Salt, “you could do that, too.”

          of course some has to do with sex, the bane of Catholicism:
          http://taylormarshall.com/2014/03/why-is-seafood-allowed-on-fridays-in-lent-st-thomas-aquinas-provides-the-theological-answer.html

          “Such are the flesh of animals that take their rest on the earth, and of those that breathe the air and their products, such as milk from those that walk on the earth, and eggs from birds. For, since such like animals are more like man in body, they afford greater pleasure as food, and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust. Hence the Church has bidden those who fast to abstain especially from these foods”

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Every sperm is sacred… WHAT THE FFFFUUUUUCCCKKK?!!?

        • Carol Lynn

          You all miss the point – medieval fish ponds were mostly owned by the local churches and they were also the ones that regulated that fish had to be eaten at certain times which certainly enriched their own purses. All the rest is post-facto justification. I suppose it could be argued that they constructed the fish ponds to provide the fish that they had already determined had to be eaten at certain times for other reasons but I suppose it’s an… er… chicken and egg problem as to which came first.

    • kraut2

      “just when did god become ‘love’ anyways?”

      I m wondering about that too. Having been raised catholic in the fifties it was about gods wrath and punishment, with some sprinkling of asking Jesus for forgiveness. Sort of good cop, bad cop. God (daddy god) was the nasty cop, Jesus (junior god) was the one who gave you the cigarette…talk about getting the trinity straight.

    • RichardSRussell

      You’re right about viruses. Mark Twain, who didn’t have the advantage of modern medical science, made the same point with regard to houseflies, which he described as Yahweh’s all-time favorite creation, since the world was obviously optimized for them.

  • Han Solo

    The question of whether God exists should not even be relevant if his existence were at all obvious.

    Consider my earthly father. Now, I could play a rhetorical game and argue that he does not exist, but to do so I would be engaging in sophistry. Such a discussion could prove interesting, but ultimately it would be tangential. At a certain level of skepticism, every piece of knowledge becomes suspect. At the minimum, I know the following about my human father:

    1. He talks to me. Physically, audibly, and in-person.
    2. He sacrificed decades of his life to raise me, and to provide a comfortable life.
    3. When I visit my father, he hugs me. I can see him, touch him, experience his presence.

    To doubt the existence of my father would be lunacy, nothing more than an academic exercise. Now, it is certainly reasonable to debate my father’s character. Is he a person of integrity? Is he worthy of my affection? Did he raise me in a commendable manner? But these questions are about the nature of my father, not his existence.

    Now, consider my purportedly heavenly father. Even IF it could be established that he exists, all the same questions regarding my earthly father’s character remain relevant. But the question of God’s existence is fundamentally different from that of my human father.

    At its core, I have never experienced God in a way that could be incontrovertibly attributed to him. I used to believe that I spoke with him, but that fell to increased scrutiny. I used to believe he cared for me, but ultimately that was due to what other people claimed, not any direct evidence. Every proof of God’s existence was ultimately an inference, not a tangible, undeniably experience.

    In the end, I don’t want a God that needs to be inferred. I want a God that can be experienced.

    Suppose I had never met my human father, but instead was forced to rely on stories about him from others, and letters purportedly penned by him. In that case, why should I care about him? Why should I listen to him? Why should I follow his dictates/advice? Even if there were a real human behind the stories and the letters, such caricatures would be a sorry substitute for the real person.

    A silent God is worse than a nonexistent God.

    • Sastra

      Suppose that you’d not only never met your father, but that you’d been raised in another family with another father, whom you are led to believe is your own. You love this man dearly, and dismiss vague hints and anonymous letters telling you that your real father is someone else who is in hiding.

      Why would he do this? Well, he set the situation up to see if you have enough love in your heart to wander off believing vague hints and anonymous letters– and thus reject the man who raised you.

      That’s closer to the atheist’s situation, because the alternative to God is not a vacuum, but nature. We have excellent reasons for believing our only “father” is the metaphorical one of a natural reality. But apparently this is supposed to discontent us, and the fantasy that we’re secretly adopted from noble birth is supposed to entice us — knowledge instigated by a form of ESP, presumably.

      • Speedwell

        Gorgeous analogy. I got as far as “being a high school girl who thinks she has a boyfriend because her friends whispered to her in the hall one day that a boy she never met, who goes to a different school in another state, likes her”.

      • Kevin K

        It’s a trope — like Harry Potter being raised by his aunt and uncle, not knowing he was a wizard.

        • Greg G.

          ..like Luke Skywalker being raised by his aunt and uncle, not knowing he was a Jedi.

        • epeeist

          Like King Arthur being raised by Sir Ector and not knowing he was a prince.

          Like Siegfried being raised by the dwarf Mime not realising that he is to be the salvation of Wotan.

          And so on…

        • Kevin K

          Exactly. Things don’t become “tropes” unless they’re common.

    • TheNuszAbides

      A silent God is worse than a nonexistent God.

      well-said. it’s practically an unGod.

  • Michael Neville

    The natural world has provided us with sufficient (albeit non-coercive) evidence God exists.

    What sufficient evidence is this, Wallace? Which old wheeze will you be bringing out to show your god exists?

    • busterggi

      Pretty flowers, butterflies!

      (ignore the parasites & such)

    • MNb

      Presuppose god and you will recognize the evidence.

  • eric

    True love cannot be coerced.” A loving world would be one in which we would have the freedom to respond through love rather than fear.

    Is he saying non-hiddenness = coercion? Because if he is, then he’s implying the disciples couldn’t love Jesus, the Jews couldn’t love Yahweh, and that pretty much no human can non-coercively love their spouse.
    OTOH if all these things are love, then “love” is not a reason for God to stay hidden.

    We must trust the person who loves us has our best interest in mind, even in times of doubt…

    Ah yes, the many meanings of that word “faith.” This is a semantic boogie, changing meanings in mid-argument. Sure, I occasionally show faith to a loved one or spouse. That’s a different thing than religious faith though. One word, two meanings. No argument based on conflating them is valid.

    the natural world has provided us with sufficient (albeit non-coercive) evidence God exists

    At best this gets you to a generic creator. He can’t possibly argue that the natural world provides “sufficient” evidence for the things most Christian sects are necessary for salvation – belief that Jesus is God, request for forgiveness, etc.. That’s crazy on its face, and it’s empirically just not true that human cultures without any contact with Christianity develop it “naturally” through observing bugs and bees and rocks and stars.

    Personally I don’t even think it gets you to a generic creator. However, if the point is that god’s hiddenness is no barrier to salvation, then this argument is invalid because according to the tenets of practically all mainstream Christian sects, the belief you might get from ‘nature’ is not sufficient to achieve salvation.

    We must be reliable to our children, “even though we may have to be ‘hidden’ at times in their lives.”

    That’s because we are not omnipotent and not omniscient. He must either claim here that it is metaphysically impossible for God to be reliable to his children without being hidden (in which case, not omnipotent), or he must claim God doesn’t know how to be reliable to his children without being hidden (thus, not omniscient), or that he could be reliable to his children while not being hidden but chooses not to be (given the result for many humans is eternity in hell, this equals ‘not maximally benevolent’).

    • TheNuszAbides

      He can’t possibly argue that the natural world provides “sufficient” evidence for the things most Christian sects are necessary
      for salvation – belief that Jesus is God, request for forgiveness,
      etc.. That’s crazy on its face, and it’s empirically just not true that
      human cultures without any contact with Christianity develop it
      “naturally” through observing bugs and bees and rocks and stars.

      Anglican vicars got some valuable leeway in the 19th century for relatively scientific examination of “God’s works” as [e.g.] astronomy and geology more rapidly accumulated useful data. it’s funny i’ve only ever seen this pointed out by Bill Bryson (h/t), and not waved around by apologists as yet another mis-attribution that religion inherently promotes/initiates science; but as far as today’s bumblers bringing up the nature-as-evidence canard, i can’t see how it’s any more than a diversion.

      wait … all apologetics is diversion!

      but this particular scrap can be more insidious because it might mis-encourage a budding “creation scientist”.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Love is the vacuum of outer space sucking the life out of a human being in no time flat.

    • TheNuszAbides

      and more!

  • Sastra

    Wallace has taken an apologetic trip to the Land of Bad Analogy. When dealing with the atheistic Argument From Divine Hiddeness, someone journeying to that destination is like a frog in a blender. The bad analogies just keep thrashing around and getting messier.

    The real problem for theists is that this argument doesn’t so much force them to confront contradictions in God, but contradictions between the way their religion forces them to see people –and the way people really are. Note how Wallace has to treat nonbelievers like perverse teenagers pretending they don’t hear their dad’s voice calling them, instead of honest seekers of truth coming to a mistaken conclusion. The latter situation would mean that more evidence of God’s existence would lead to more belief — and more love. That makes god’s hiddeness a flaw in god’s purpose.

    So the flaw has to be placed instead in the human “heart.” All those who don’t believe on poor evidence wouldn’t believe on better evidence, either. Honest theists must become dishonest humans — because they have to throw out respect and understanding for others, along with respect and understanding for the difficulty and nuances of questions about God and its existence.

    Deep down, everyone already knows Christianity is true: bad people deny it. Easy peasy. God “hides” as a sort of party trick, only in order to allow you to reveal yourself and your humble awesomeness.

    • epicurus

      It’s a common tactic, claiming one won’t believe the religion in question because of rebellion – even particular subsets or denominations within a religion will accuse each other.

      • Kingasaurus

        Yes, the apologetic in question does double duty – which explains its popularity. It purports to explain why their god doesn’t behave like you’d expect if he was actually real, and also allows them to look down their noses at the “rebellious” and shift the blame on to them. Clever.

    • Kevin K

      Of course, this “flaw in the human heart” seems to indicate that their god is pretty impotent. After all, if this god wants to be known, wants to be loved, needs to be worshiped, but can’t get 2/3rds of the human population to believe in it…whose fault is that?

      • TheNuszAbides

        pick one or both: Satan; stubborn fallen free-willed(TM) mortalz.

  • Jason K.

    True love cannot be coerced.

    That’s an argument against Hell, not for divine hiddeness. True love can’t be coerced in secret, either.

    But the fact of the matter is we are openly coerced with threats of punishment, both by the God of scripture and by Christians. So clearly our love is not what any of them are after. They want our obedience.

    • adam

      “They want our obedience.”

      Because I can only upvote once.

    • Haecceitic

      As I often say, the entire evangelical worldview can be boiled down to the implicit Zeroth Commandment:

      0. Thou shalt believe what thou art told.

      • Greg G.

        I expect I will say that often from now on, too.

    • Kodie

      They’re mad because we don’t just believe what they say.

      • TheNuszAbides

        or at least “leave them alone”. while they poison the minds of children and adults alike.

  • Tony D’Arcy

    As I was walking down the stair
    I met a god who wasn’t there.
    He wasn’t there again today,
    I wish to hell he’d go away.

    • Jim Jones

      That’s a meta rule poem.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    If love requires faith, does that mean the souls and angels in heaven don’t actually love God?

    Actually, this is just a variation on the “if we had evidence for God, we would not have the free will to disbelieve” nonsense.

    Or worse, the “if we knew God existed then we could not freely choose to follow him.” Which, according to legend, at least, is nonsense because Lucifer knew damn well that God existed, and, in fact, was supposedly omnipotent, but still rebelled. Which really makes no sense at all.

    • kraut2

      “if we knew God existed then we could not freely choose to follow him.”

      Time for a Godwin. People knew Hitler existed and some choose not to follow him. Others did, to their everlasting shame…

      • Michael Neville

        Doesn’t even need a Godwin. According to the propaganda Satan knew God existed but rebelled along with one-third of the other angels. So knowing God doesn’t require following him.

        • al kimeea

          The movie Prophecy is based on that rebellion and has Chris Walken as Gabriel and Viggo Mortenson as Satan

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Hitler wasn’t omniscient and omnipotent, though.

        • kraut2

          Ha, that is not what some Nazis believed…

        • al kimeea

          The movie Downfall shows that some in der bunker still thought Hilter could pull something outta his arse and save the day when the Russians came knocking

    • Kingasaurus

      100% correct, which is why I use this exact argument whenever this subject comes up.

      The existence (in their theological framework) of non-human entities with free will who don’t obey God is a major monkey-wrench for all their apologetic attempts to explain why humans need to do this-or-that, or their god needs to do this-or-that when relating to humans. It’s a gigantic mess that can’t be intellectually salvaged. it’s bunk.

    • quinsha

      Makes you wonder what Lucifer knew about god.

      • TheNuszAbides

        Dirty Divine Laundry: the Doom of The Morning Star

    • Jack Baynes

      Strangely, I’ve seen people bring up Satan’s knowledge of God as an argument for why God shouldn’t have to prove his existence. Somehow, the idea that Satan knew that God existed but rebelled anyway means that God shouldn’t bother proving evidence.

      • Kingasaurus

        Heads I win, tails you lose!

  • Jack Baynes

    Feel for the poor 12 Disciples, because Jesus had to prove his existence to them they had to be damned to hell because they could not truly love him.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Doubting Thomas FTW!!

  • MNb

    “The Christian might respond that getting obstinate atheists to accept that God exists isn’t a trivial obstacle.”
    AfaIc it totally is. If the christian god could have send his son once he could have done it twice – in say Amazonia or Papua-New Guinea, areas that were completely unknown in Judaea and Galilea 2000 years ago.
    He didn’t.

    “True love cannot be coerced.” A loving world would be one in which we would have the freedom to respond through love rather than fear.”
    Yawn. All the people I have met in my life totally were not hidden. In every single case I had the freedom to respond through love rather than fear. This argument fails on its own conditions. Wallace obviously doesn’t apply it to his loved ones, so he’s guilty of a double standard.

    “The natural world has provided us with sufficient evidence God exists.”
    In other words: god is not that hidden after all. In that case Wallace doesn’t have to explain why his god is hidden. He’s contradicting himself.

    “We have the ability, however, to deny this evidence if we choose.”
    Shrug. We have the ability to deny the evidence for evolution, climate change and the spherical Earth as well. What Wallace needs to make clear is on what grounds he accepts evidence for what.

    “While He may sometimes seem ‘hidden`
    Then most of the times Wallace’ god is not hidden. He should make up his mind.

  • Jim Jones

    > Why is God Hidden?

    For the same reason that Batman is hidden.

    I need someone to show me some evidence for ‘god’ without relying on a human telling me about it. Humans lie. More is needed.

    • Kompi

      Perhaps like criminals, heretics are a superstitious cowardly lot?

      I like the mental image of god running through a cave, seeing nothing, and deciding to dress up as nothing in his fight against crime heresy.

      While labeling everything god-something. The godmobile, the godsuit, the god-shark-repellent-spray…

    • Kevin K

      Commissioner Gordon lost the Bat Signal?

    • TheNuszAbides

      cooperation and accountability? funny how the vast majority of religiosi seem to prefer tribal demarcation to undermine such things.

  • Ficino

    Good article, and good comments.

  • TwoRutRoad

    The natural world has provided us with sufficient (albeit non-coercive) evidence God exists.

    It’s interesting that he says “natural” world. Wouldn’t we then live in a partly supernatural world?

    • Sastra

      I suspect that the “natural” world is really being contrasted with our inner “mental” worlds, which are assumed to be closely connected to the supernatural, if not supernatural themselves. The personal feeling or sense that God is watching one, or loving one, or speaking to one, or just must be “out there” somehow– maybe in another, higher realm or state of existence — is private evidence, as opposed to the public evidence of the physical world. It’s the theist’s basic, underlying method of understanding reality.

      • TwoRutRoad

        Yes, I agree. I tried to talk myself into the same “feelings” when I was young. I was trying to see God in everything, like a good little catholic should. Eventually, I gave up. Simple things, like enjoying God’s bounty by picking blueberries in the forest, also included a bad case of poison ivy. I couldn’t give credit for one and not the other.

        I like your reply, but isn’t that just a gentle way of saying they are delusional?

        • Sastra

          Yes, but it’s such a common sense delusion that it’s understandable. It’s like thinking the body will heal itself if only the vital energy isn’t being blocked. Wise people once thought this perfectly reasonable. It’s only considered delusional to believe it today because believing it now requires not just ignorance, but the ability to weave romantic little stories in one’s head and believe them. And if you’re part of a large enough group stubbornly sticking with tradition and calling it “innate wisdom,” you might not even need that.

        • TheNuszAbides

          And if you’re part of a large enough group stubbornly sticking with tradition and calling it “innate wisdom,” you might not even need that.

          and charisma, fearmongering and/or slick rhetoric – at least from the occasional leader – cut through all kinds of defenses …

    • al kimeea

      Wallace could be referring to sunsets, rainbows, love, music or even science being how we learn of doG’s creation. If he’s one of those whose doG is outside nature and unknowable. Hard to say, as they’re slippery people

  • Is Wallace constrained to love his family and friends by the fact that they exist? Even asking this is kind of absurd. Why is it any less absurd to think that God obviously existing would constrain people? The Bible itself has plenty of examples where people certainly know God exists, but don’t love him. Being unsure of some other person’s existence can hardly help in building your trust for them. Wallace claims to use his skills as a detective in regards to God’s and Christianity’s truth. Given what I’ve seen of his work, I think either those skills aren’t particularly that relevant, or he greatly lowers the standard for proof (possibly both). The kind of “evidence” he adduces would never fly in court.

    • Kevin K

      The Bible itself has plenty of examples where people certainly know God exists, but don’t love him.

      Beginning with the most beautiful angel in his creation — Lucifer.

      • busterggi

        Funny how the one who knew him best rejected him.

        • Yes, even though it must have been known as futile, they still did revolt.

      • Exactly.

    • He flogs the “yeah, but I’m a detective!” thing far more than makes sense. A true detective would be an atheist.

      • I can’t say I’m impressed with his detective skills on this. Would a good detective take four anonymous statements which contradict basic details of the events for evidence? I sure hope not.

  • Kevin K

    Occam’s razor.

  • Kevin K

    Of course, the primary problem with this apologetic is that their gods weren’t hidden in the past. In the OT, Yahweh and the others were everywhere, talking to normal humans, wrestling with them, laying bets against them, and all kinds of activities. If you take out the revisionist Jewish history, smutty poetry, and dietary guidelines for people without ice, what you’re left with are the exploits of Yahweh here on Earth in direct interaction with humans. That’s the exact and complete opposite of being hidden.

    And the entire New Testament is offered as evidence that a person named “Jesus” was the human avatar of Yahweh. That’s the least-hidden god-man since Hercules! And each and every supernatural act (aka, miracle) performed by this avatar is supposed to provide EVIDENCE not merely that he existed at that place and time, but that he had superpowers consistent only with a supernatural being — aka, a god.

    The only “hiddenness” problem is the fact that these days, instead of having someone walk on water or raise people from the dead, the gods are reduced to demonstrating their existence by appearing on burnt toast.

    • Greg G.

      the gods are reduced to demonstrating their existence by appearing on burnt toast.

      Among other places:

      http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/heavenlycreatures/files/2011/11/angusmacdougalljesusbutt-233×300.jpg

      • TwoRutRoad

        Why does that make me want to look under my dogs tail?

        And when that dog poops, can I say Holy Shit?

        • Greg G.

          “And when that dog poops, can I say Holy Shit?”

          Sure, he would already be defiled.

          Mark 7:18b-20
          18b Don’t you perceive that whatever goes into the man from outside can’t defile him, 19 because it doesn’t go into his heart, but into his stomach, then into the latrine, thus purifying all foods?” Mk 7:20 He said, “That which proceeds out of the man, that defiles the man.”

  • RichardSRussell

    So Jim Wallace not only starts by assuming that God exists, he also assumes that God loves all humans, which explains (?) why nobody can see him. Wouldn’t it be just as easy to assume that there is no God, only Satan, and he’s set it up so that only those dumb enuf to fall for the “loving God” story will go to hell, but he can’t come right out in public and say so because it would blow the scam? Both hypotheses have exactly the same amount of evidence going for them.

  • watcher_b

    As a former calvinist, I would explain away the terrible things in the world as not fully understanding God’s love. Something doesn’t seem loving? God is the very definition of love, so it must be loving.

    And the ultimate expression of that love was Jesus’ sacrifice and the offer of salvation.

    But then I was in an argument in with another Christian at the time who was claiming I was obviously not listening to the Holy Spirit and he obviously was. I was struck by how there is no objective measure for such things. Then I thought about how easy it would be to believe one was saved, but again there was no objective measure. So one Could believe they are saved and not be and there would be nothing objective to lead them to believe other wise.

    So God’s ultimate expression of love was hidden. Meaning, I had to believe that God loved everyone by hiding his love from some people and letting them believe they were saved when they in fact were not.

    I realized that I was just making excuses for this idea of God that I was holding onto. And what kind of God is that?

    • Dangitbobby

      It’s amazing what a small bit of intellectual honesty will do for someone.

      “So God’s ultimate expression of love was hidden. Meaning, I had to believe that God loved everyone by hiding his love from some people and letting them believe they were saved when they in fact were not.”

      Man, talk about mindfuckery. In order to maintain such religious beliefs you have to really work your head into a pretzel.

  • RichardSRussell

    The Sun exists. No sane person doubts it. Even blind people can detect it. Its reality is accepted and acknowledged worldwide.

    If God is really so all-fired super-duper and impressive, with powers that extend to the ends of the Universe, not merely some middlin’ solar system in one of several hundred billion galaxies, wouldn’t it be even more obvious? And yet it’s not. In fact, his fan clubs have to go thru contortions that would put Cirque du Soleil to shame to try to explain why not. Let’s go instead with the Occam’s Razor approach: We can’t see him because he’s not there!

  • TheNuszAbides

    Love requires freedom.

    but failing to attribute love to a specific divine source is choosing eternal torment for oneself.

    Love requires faith.

    but our weak, Fallen, demon-addled minds have this profane weakness for questions and evidence …

    Love requires evidence.

    but not so much that faith becomes unnecessary! and nothing actually compelling outside of feel-good storytelling contexts.

    Love requires response.

    perhaps, but Wallace’s tripe requires responses he clearly can’t handle.

    • Michael Neville

      Love requires evidence.

      but not so much that faith becomes unnecessary! and nothing actually compelling outside of feel-good storytelling contexts.

      Christians and other theists need faith because they don’t have evidence. They emphasize faith as a virtue because they know they don’t have evidence. If they had evidence they’d drop faith immediately because they wouldn’t need it.

      • TheNuszAbides

        or if they clung to it for warm nostalgic fuzzies, at least it would be explained away by the time endorphins were discovered. not that anyone wants the flock to be paying attention to that soulless and vanity-riddled scientific stuff …

  • So does it become a problem that God revealed himself too much in the Bible? And you could argue there was a touch of attempted coercion in places, like God appearing in Sinai in thunder, lightning and thick cloud. For another example, Jeremiah didn’t sound that happy with being made to speak in Jeremiah 20.

    • I’m not following. God might well have provided good evidence to some people that he actually exists in the Bible, but where’s the problem? The only problem that I see is that our evidence for God today is negligible.

      • I’m saying that if one of the problems now is that “true love cannot be coerced”, and the mere act of revealing God’s presence would be coercive, not only did God in the Bible reveal his presence but he also acted in ways that sound explicitly coercive.

        • Basically, your “hiddenness of God” argument presumably points out how odd it is that God showed himself frequently in a past time that we cannot see, but does not show himself at all in the current time.

          If the counter-argument is that hiddenness is a virtue, then surely those frequent appearances in the past are now a problem? (though I guess you need some appearances in the past to consider the authority of the Bible established).

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “though I guess you need some appearances in the past to consider the authority of the Bible established”

          I’m not following. What God claims that the Bible records their past appearances?

        • Um, the God recorded in said Bible?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Huh, so you don’t believe a God exists? You did answer the question since there is no God to do so.

        • We’re not talking actuals here, we’re talking hypotheticals.
          If there were a god, and if that god wanted to reveal itself to humans (two big assumptions), then we would expect some evidence of that god’s existence. If the evidence is alleged to be the words of the Bible as we have it now, that would mean that those who wrote that Bible must have had some evidence of God’s existence. And that evidence should surely have involved something tangible. And we should have some really good reasons for believing those alleged experiences actually happened.

          But in the context of the overall post it is difficult for me to see a good reason for those appearances then without corresponding appearances now. Either divine hiddenness is a virtue, or it isn’t. But it’s just a little too convenient that it (apparently) wasn’t a virtue back when the alleged inspired book was written, but it is a virtue now.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I think I interpreted you incorrectly as being ambiguously a Christian apologist. Concerning religious texts and apologetics I am of the same mindset as that old Star Trek quote, “What does God need with a starship?” A claimed immortal omnipresent person has no use for written language and anything a believer would want me to read about God’s existence God is claimed to be at least capable of reading out loud themself, which would be both hilarious and a perfect example of a major flaw of supernatural claims. Sorry I misunderstood you.

        • Yes, good point.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    // For example, he could give us all an identical, instantaneous revelation that lays out his existence and plan.//

    How would you be able to tell the difference between this and the same effect caused by hyper-intelligent shades of the colour blue from a distant galaxy?

    • Jack Baynes

      You’re right. It’s far too hard for God to prove his existence. He should just go home and sulk and not provide any evidence at all.

    • Sastra

      If there are no skeptics, there would be no skepticism. Your scenario would be considered only as a logical possibility — like maybe we’re all in a Matrix-like simulation which is inherently impossible to discover — instead of a realistic or live possibility.

    • You’re asking how we’d tell a god from an advanced alien? I know of no way, though perhaps they’re equivalent for any purpose of ours.

      • Michael Neville

        Clarke’s Third Law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

        • Kodie

          I think we don’t need a huge magical sign. I mean, there is the technological power now to accomplish useful things that might have seemed magical to past generations, but what civilization would develop a technology that was sophisticated enough to accomplish something really stupid? I have a vague memory of a post I think I deleted upon thinking better upon its length and wandering, that what if one day, everyone woke up to find all their sticks of butter cut neatly into pats? I mean, you wake up and make some toast, and find the butter in your refrigerator has been neatly sliced. How could such a thing even occur? If you live with other people, it might be a prank, first of all. Then your coworker says this happened, and another coworker says so, and yeah, that could be a prank on you too – a well-planned prank. But then it shows up on the news.

          What technology breaks into everyone’s home and slices their butter? This might not work because a lot of people of the world probably don’t have butter, or sticks of butter, buy their butter or butter substitutes in tubs, so think of something like that. MNb prefers the common psychic dream of an impending disaster, but I don’t think that’s right either. Technology to make it possible to do something wild and awesome is not magic, especially if you can pick apart how it works. Would an alien find it a good use of resources to do something kind of useless and affect everyone? Of course, the prank idea, I mean, there could be people who were not invaded by the butter-slicer who hoax and claim they were also affected, so it seemingly affected everyone, but turns out to be like alien abduction. One guy was interviewed, and then everyone else is a copycat.

          I’m still trying to think what would be some signal for everyone that a god could exist. It still might not tell you what it wants.

      • eric

        Simple: you ask the being to describe a test that (a) could tell the difference, and which (b) humans could carry out and see the logic of. If the being can’t give you such a test, it’s not God because it’s either not omniscient or not omnipotent. If the being gives you a test but then fails it, it’s obviously not God. And if it gives you a such a test and then passes it, then it will have demonstrated its God-ness to your satisfaction because ‘a satisfactory test’ was what you requested.

        • Clever idea, though I’m not sure that would work in practice. (b) seems to be the difficulty. First, you assume that such a test is possible. It may be that non-god beings become indistinguishable from God beyond a certain point. Second, suppose there’s a test but we’re simply not smart enough to understand it or proctor it.

          And then there’s the question of whether a god exists but just not the Christian god.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I’ve put the universal forum (all people talking to each other and “God” all at the same time. Also, “God” doesn’t “un-manifest” unless they are dead just like real beings who exist) out there for a while now. No “God” exists to have any thoughts one way or another about that idea, but they are free to say differently before this comment finishes on the conclusion that there are no “God(s)” and posts as is… I saw ‘Logan’ today. It was pretty good, but not my favorite X-Men movie. I agree with a Cracked.com author that it did feel a lot like ‘Children of Men’… huh………………….. posting, I guess…………………………………………………………………..

    • Kevin K

      I think the one thing that distinguishes the Christian god from alien life forms is the power of omniscience. I assume that aliens would not be able to actually violate the arrow of time. So, along with its power of omnipotence and its stated characteristic of omnibenevolence, my “test” for a god is the following:

      * Announce in an appropriately universal and godlike way that from henceforth and forever, all weapons will be useless if the outcome of that use would be to harm a human being.

      In other words, weapons would fire just fine, knives cut, explosives explode and all that — except if the future result of the use of such instruments would be to harm a human. In which case, the gun would not fire, the knife not cut, the explosive not explode, the fist not harm.

      Such a demonstration requires omniscience to know which act would harm a human. And would be a power that only a god would have — aliens can maybe predict outcomes with quantum tunneling or some such computing power, but not at the granular level of individual weapons being used in the future. Accidents would be unheard of. First degree murder would be impossible. And on and on.

      • Greg G.

        What if, instead of prescience, the aliens could remove the momentum of bullets in mid-flight before they hit a person so they would bounce off harmlessly?

        • Kevin K

          In order for it to be a godlike act, it would have to be in service of a future unknown outcome. In other words, if you’re shooting at a target, the laws of physics work just fine. But if you’re shooting at the target and suddenly a child runs in front of it, the gun would either misfire or the bullet would disintegrate or change into a snowflake or something like that. It’s the forward-looking aspect of the challenge that turns it from something that a mere alien can do into one that only an omniscient god could do.

        • Greg G.

          Our technology has self-driving cars that can anticipate collisions and take evasive actions. Alien technology might employ quantum computers for all masses to make them safe using tractor beams or transporter beams or something. We know tractor beams are possible because we saw them in Star Trek and then Star Wars corroborated them. \//_ Live long and may the Force be with you.

        • Kevin K

          Those sensors detect motion, not outcome. They’re acting on change in motion from the traffic in front, not preventing a future occurrence from happening based on omniscience. Preventing a bullet from hitting a human target would require foreknowledge that a bullet was going to hit a human target. Preventing a demolition explosive from sending shrapnel into an innocent bystander would also require foreknowledge of the future event. And on and on. I think it would be quite easy to demonstrate the power of omniscience, if such a thing existed.

        • Greg G.

          The military now has anti-missile weapons that can track and anticipate the path of an incoming missile to knock it down.

          Explosives would just be mysterious ways.

        • Kevin K

          And again, that’s just the laws of physics. Newtonian calculus. Not precognition — which is impossible unless you’re a god.

      • Mike De Fleuriot

        Still something that aliens could do. Remember if you can imagine it, aliens can develop technology to do it. We did that with our current technology, we wanted to fly, so we became gods and flew. If it can happen in our reality, then Occam suggests that it is more likely to come from within our reality.

        No matter which way you look at things, everything points there being no gods. From the simple ‘I see no gods here’ to ‘Only a god could make a boiled egg sing in the colour yellow’, if it is possible here, then the reason for that happening is local.

        • Kevin K

          Based on our knowledge of physics, I don’t think even advanced aliens would have the power of omniscience. And if they did, they would indeed be indistinguishable from gods.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        My favorite Bible example is in Daniel when three Jewish youths are forced into a fiery furnace… and the fire stops making sense… It could follow that the action of thrusting a knife toward a person causes a tasty pizza to teleport near some hungry impoverished people instead of people being cut (trying to kill people with knives would be as ridiculous as that king trying to kill people with fire because who does that!).

      • In the Red Dwarf episode “Justice,” there’s a prison where everything bad you do (hit someone, for example) happens to you instead.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      Shame on you for giving this a modicum of thought more than any writer of a religious text!

  • Otto

    >>>Love requires freedom.

    It does not follow that providing unequivocal evidence is in any way detrimental to ‘love’…if anything it is the opposite. This is simply non-sequitur and all his other statements are too.

  • Dangitbobby

    Love needs hiddenness otherwise it’s coercive…

    Yeah, tell that to Satan and the 1/3 of the heavenly host who supposedly rebelled against god despite the fact that they were standing in his presence daily. I guess he wasn’t coercive enough for them to not rebel.

    I guess if god would’ve been a bit more “hidden”, Satan would’ve never rebelled in the first place.

    This whole “love does XYZ which explains god’s actions” is complete bullshit.

    We have a name for a father who acts like god: deadbeat dad. We certainly never let a person off the hook for being a deadbeat, “never there” father or husband. Nor do let off the hook a man who is abusive towards his wife or children.

    Crazy christian bullshit.

  • Lazarus

    Would God (let’s assume the Catholic God for instance) as an absolutely proven fact not severely change life as we know it? Would most people bother to work, to create, to build families? Would suicides not be the sport of the day? How many of us would think about the long view and building a better tomorrow? Would it even matter?

    I don’t pretend to have the answers to any of this. I find the hiddennes debate a
    fascinating one.

    • epeeist

      Would God (let’s assume the Catholic God for instance) as an absolutely proven fact not severely change life as we know it?

      Sounds like an appeal to consequences.

      • Lazarus

        No, it is a warning based on possibilities, a recognized exception to the fallacy.

        • al kimeea

          recognised by whom?

        • Lazarus

          Experts in the fields of logic, debate, philosophy.

        • al kimeea

          any links? because a warning of consequences quacks like an appeal

        • Lazarus

          I’m sure that there will be links somewhere. My own knowledge of fallacies stem more from varsity textbooks lost in the mists of time, and more recently two great books, being Michael Withey’s “Mastering Logical Fallacies” and Bo Bennett’s “Logically Fallacious”.

        • MNb

          https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/26/Appeal-to-Consequences

          Though I’d say Lazarus should have made clear he doesn’t use it as a an argument.

        • al kimeea

          he says he isn’t but from the linky:

          The problem is virtually every such warning has an implied argument, so it is very debatable what is fallacious or not.

    • Kevin K

      I don’t see why. It would certainly fill the pews of the “right” church and empty the pews of the “wrong” churches — if filling pews was a thing that this god would be interested in. But beyond that, life would go on pretty much as before…assuming that suicide is still considered a bad thing by that god.

    • Greg G.

      There are many people who already believe there is such a god and they still work and fear suicide. If a Deist god was proved to exist, it wouldn’t change my life, except for the topics of some conversations.

      • Lazarus

        Fair enough, but faith is still required. I’m speculating on a worldwide absolute knowledge of God as a fact. What consequences would that bring about?

        • Greg G.

          It is one thing to know of the existence of a being but you don’t know about wishes and intents of the being. I have very good evidence that you exist but I have no idea whether you like dark chocolate and it’s not going to change anything. I would have to know what the being wanted. If it wanted everybody to stop working, I think I would be obligated to stop working. But how would I know that wish? It could be a subconscious desire to stop working.

        • Lazarus

          Would my speculative concerns then have more weight if we knew exactly what that revealed God wanted? Let’s say my proposed God is a universalist, he loves us all and no-one will ever go to hell. Let’s assume heaven as perceived in pulp theology. What would make us stick around? Hiddennes then becomes imperative, not?

        • Michael Neville

          Let’s assume heaven as perceived in pulp theology.

          Then I certainly don’t want to go to heaven. Spending eternity singing hymns to a megalomaniac would become hell very quickly.

        • Lazarus

          Exactly. Having that knowledge (of our speculations) would make your life here on earth very unpleasant for you. You would feel compelled.

        • Greg G.

          I go to work everyday not because I feel compelled to do so, but because of the things I can do because I go to work and so that I can retire in a few years and not go to work anymore. If a god was to offer me a heaven that was 72 simultaneous eternal orgasms, I would do what was necessary with great anticipation.

          But how would I know that the god wasn’t Loki?

        • Lazarus

          My questions ask that we either have the vagueness that follows from hiddennes, or absolute clarity. If we knew exactly who and what God was, what he wanted, liked, cared about.

        • Greg G.

          I see it as a master/pet relationship rather than a master/slave arrangement. My dogs and I considered one another to be friends though I was usually the boss.

        • Lazarus

          My dogs, cats and potbellies are my masters, so I’m used to that 😉

        • al kimeea

          How big are the pigs?

        • Lazarus

          Two overweight, normal size potbellies.
          Great guys, though.

        • al kimeea

          So, 150lbs or so? Just wondering because they’re marketed as cute little things

        • Lazarus

          I made that mistake as well. I was given them while they were babies, and now they’re a good 200 lbs each. But still, good people.

        • al kimeea

          You have a place suited for them. That’s good. We have neighbours with three pet donkeys. They seem nice.

        • Lazarus

          Yes, I have a farm. They have a lot of space.

        • al kimeea
        • eric

          But as several posters have already said, your “absolute clarity” would include knowing whether God wanted you to kill yourself. If He didn’t want you to, and this absolute clarity you’re claiming leads to us doing what God wants, then none of us will kill ourselves.
          OTOH if this absolute clarity *doesn’t* necessarily lead us to doing what God wants, then your original argument (‘he’s hidden because not being hidden would cause us all to kill ourselves’) goes up in smoke.

        • Lazarus

          What if that knowledge included the fact that God did not intend punishing us for killing ourselves, or just to live recklessly, but that he wanted us to stick around for reasons X and Y? This would be an awful decision for most of us, best left hidden.

        • Susan

          What if that knowledge included the fact that God did not intend punishing us for killing ourselves, or just to live recklessly, but that he wanted us to stick around for reasons X and Y?

          Wouldn’t it depend on what reasons X and Y were? Why should it matter what it wants? Respectfully, if you’re going to speculate, please be mores specific.

          This would be an awful decision for most of us, best left hidden.

          Why?

        • eric

          I don’t see why that would be an awful decision. In fact that’s kind of the decision we all face with our loved ones now. Most adults, as they grow older, make out wills and have at least a vague idea of what they want done with their body after death. We would like our loved ones to honor those wishes, even if we kill ourselves, and not “punish” us by disposing of our body or displaying it in a way we don’t wish.
          So your “awful decision” is the one we are faced with right now: we have loved ones who will not punish us for suicide, but who want us to stick around and not kill ourselves. And that doesn’t seem so awful to me.
          ***
          I see a common theme in many of your posts, in that you keep trying to come up with some scenario where God’s ‘reveal’ gives us just enough knowledge to make life less appealing but not enough information to understand why or what God wants by having us continue to live on Earth. IMO you are correct in thinking that there may be such a scenario in theory, but you are incorrect in thinking all ‘reveal’ scenarios must be like that. Thus divine hiddenness is still a problem because while there might be some ways God could choose to reveal himself which would cause greater problems for humanity for little benefit, there also seem to be many ways he could reveal himself and not put us in that position. If, as Christian theologians posit, God is omnipotent and benevolent, then he has the ability to pick one of the more sensible ‘reveal’ scenarios and his benevolence would rule out him picking one of your more contrived scenarios. So in that sense, while your contrived scenarios are a philosophical possibility, they don’t seem to be a credible defense of hiddenness.

          Put another way, humans must often choose a ‘least worst option” because we are not omnipotent and not omniscient. The “no ideal choice” problem is due to our limitations. But God doesn’t have those limitations. So it’s much harder to see why he would have to choose hiddenness as a ‘least worst option’ since he could know and implement perfectly ideal options for any circumstance with a snap of his figurative fingers. And if he can’t do that, he’s arguably not a tri-Omni God.

        • adam
        • adam

          “My questions ask that we either have the vagueness that follows from hiddennes, or absolute clarity. ”

          Ok, so when you INVEST in something do you want hiddeness or clarity? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e50fa416547ad7ef80cbe9ea71eac304a10d220322c282b3401771f44cfc4ae4.jpg

        • Kodie

          It’s another way of trying to establish faith as a virtue. If we don’t know god but we obey and worship him anyway, that’s so much more meaningful for believers and that’s just the way god wants it. If they had clarity of god, well, then anyone could just do what god wants. They couldn’t have their special thing and go straight to despair and suicide. That’s the fucked up thinking of a theist.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          … and Loki has the power to turn you into a male horse and mind control you to do… things to her…

        • Michael Neville

          With one exception, none of the “pulp” afterlives appear too appealing. The Christian afterlife is utterly boring. The Muslim afterlife is the wet dream of a 15 year old male virgin. The Jewish afterlife is a debate society where the debate centers on the minutiae of the Torah and Talmud, neither of which interest me. The Norse afterlife is an unending brawl and steak house, ending with death in battle. Only the Buddhist nirvana, the total release of consciousness, appeals to me. But as an atheist I believe that my death includes the end of consciousness without the messiness of rebirth after rebirth, i.e., instant nirvana.

        • Kodie

          There is no problem here. There are ass-kissers and there is everyone else. People who want god’s favor will comply with that god’s wishes, and not see that they’re in hell. I don’t even feel that theists have an honest assessment of the bargain they’ve already taken. They don’t want to be good, they say god compels them to be decent non-murdering humans… there’s a longer list they use to judge everyone else. The god they describe is an abusive parent or partner, and they can willfully ignore evil intent and behavior on that god’s character, and make up crazy excuses. They don’t want to lose their reward after they die. If they don’t say they love god or love Jesus or equate god with love, or say god is the ground of all morality, no matter how much slavery he instructs in the bible, no matter how many tribes he ordered murdered stolen and raped, “god is good” is the mantra they have to keep repeating. It blocks out all the nasty realizations that none of that shit is what we’d call good. If god was even real? You think they’d stop that shit? No, even more people would have a really obvious reason to do whatever we had to do to not get on the wrong end of an actually wrathful abusive god.

          Seriously, your defense of hiddenness tries to come up with scenarios that think it would be any different is super weak. If god was a volcano, you’d know what the volcano was capable of, just not the timing of it, and why would people continue to live, and not just give up trying so hard and whatever. The “god” figure you can come up with would be up front with who it is and what it wants, and what happens if you are in its favor or out of it. Even if god couldn’t punish you at all, volcanoes and murderers still would, right? And so your life is ok, like maybe it is now, but if you kissed god’s ass, you get extras. The only reason god is hidden now is because that’s the only explanation Christians can come up with that he’s not evident! After that comes the reasons why hiddenness is idealer than evidence! Fuck that, it’s so fucking weak and stupid.

        • adam

          ” Spending eternity singing hymns to a megalomaniac would become hell very quickly.”

          IDK, some people seem to relish in it.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c36ae9a5878797e1e5bbc8bdd1d8c3b760f0374d7b908a5ec6415ede331bd1da.jpg

        • Kodie

          Why? He loves us all and no one would go to hell. When he’s hidden, people imagine a bunch of other bullshit and kill each other over it. They do things that don’t matter because they believe the rumor from other superstitious people that it matters. Like they do now!

        • al kimeea

          If you’re going to assume all that, then why not assume sticking around until The Great Celestial Bully calls you “home” is all part of ITs master plan?

          No hiding req’d.

        • Lazarus

          You read my questions while watching tv, right?

        • al kimeea

          nope

        • Pofarmer

          If we knew exactly what God wanted, then we’d know whether or not he wanted us to kill ourselves, too.

        • eric

          Let’s assume heaven as perceived in pulp theology. What would make us stick around?

          Turn the question around – if you know you’re going to heaven, what’s the rush? Enjoy all the things heaven doesn’t have but Earth does, for as long as you can. There’s no pets in Catholic heaven, so go outside and play with your dog instead of killing yourself. There’s no childbirth or child rearing in standard depictions of heaven, so enjoy your time with your kids. You won’t have a physical body, so, um, get maximum enjoyment out of the pleasurable things you do with your body while you have it. In heaven, all your questions are answered. So enjoy figuring out stuff for yourself now, because there’ll be no mysteries you need to ‘figure out’ in heaven. And so on.

        • Lazarus

          That adds a lot to my thoughts on this.
          Would those enjoyments be experienced as equal by most people though? I’m just imagining a world, say tomorrow morning, where all of us know without a doubt that (a) God exists and what he wants from us. If that endgame is an attractive one, then earthly life could prove to be a very poor substitute for a lot of us.

          A question flowing from this, that I struggle with, is why God, in that scenario, would want us to stick around.

        • eric

          f that endgame is an attractive one, then earthly life could prove to be a very poor substitute for a lot of us.

          Well that brings up the theodicy issue, doesn’t it? You seem to be implying that in your scenario, God has set up the system where human suffering is unnecessary but he allows it anyway.

          why God, in that scenario, would want us to stick around.

          Well, he’s God. So presumably if he doesn’t want us to stick around he could just end us all. And if we all go to heaven and it’s so wonderful, that again brings up the theodicy problem.

        • adam

          “I’m just imagining a world, say tomorrow morning, where all of us know
          without a doubt that (a) God exists and what he wants from us.”

          This is already the case for BILLIONS of people on earth.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ab1bc7cb47df140d2e012e4bc5a99edb763d3aed95ae30e236e1b1b79a38e852.jpg

        • What does faith mean here? Why would it be required?

        • Lazarus

          I meant that we need faith to be believers now, before that revealed knowledge of our musings here. Faith as a last step after some of the preliminary arguments have brought us close enough to accept the acceptability of accepting, on faith, the propositions of our chosen belief.

          If God was then a given, no doubt, mathematically proven and on CNN on Sundays, that faith would of course not be necessary.

        • It seems we need to distinguish different senses of faith. C. S. Lewis, for instance, said that God’s existence itself could be established by reason, and called it “Faith 1”. Holding trust in God, he called “Faith 2”. So while God’s existence, although obvious, might still not lead us to trust him.

        • Lazarus

          I wasn’t aware of Lewis’s distinction. For my own thought experiment I am assuming full, clear and understood knowledge of who God is and what he wants. Could such a level of disclosure be good for us? If not, then all that remains is to debate where those boundaries should run.

        • adam

          ” Could such a level of disclosure be good for us?”

          Certainly, if said ‘God’ is an egotistical maniac, knowing what it wants to avoid its WRATH would be a good thing.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38a372d179f379b51cdb5f1c227e4a5bd6dd543347d09566c2aedd943b72e754.jpg

        • Kodie

          So I feel like you think taking the element of faith out of it removes the whole point. If god were real, that would just take the point out of religions. And what are religions? Religions are cliques, and what are cliques? Cliques are groups you belong to because (1) they accept you, and (2) convince you that you would never be caught dead in another clique. If everyone was the same, what would we even be! If everyone had the same god, how would we know anyone was better than anyone else? How would we know who discarded their own senses for strong faith in a fantasy, like that’s a good thing. Taking away your own sense of superiority, your own sense of special chosenness, your own quality of salespawn for your church, taking all that away would – you seem to think – make life pointless. Given in your scenario there is a god, there’s an afterlife, and whatever that afterlife, that eternity, is a definite consequence of whatever you choose to do.

          You don’t choose to love god, you choose to love a clique. Whatever that clique says gives you personal power to feel superior over people who are not in that clique. They don’t have the chosenness, they aren’t getting the correct message or interpretation of god, they just aren’t as faithful, they make excuses all the time. I really don’t understand faith or hiddenness as a virtue. Like, if you knew god existed, and you had to do what he said to do, you wouldn’t do so as joyfully? It would feel like you are cowering to his demands? Like you don’t even have a choice? And that’s bad? That’s just how it is! That’s what theists say to us all the time – that’s just how it is. That when we die, we’ll just have to find out then when it’s too late. No theist I ever heard sounds like they are making a lovely fun choice. They are taking the bargain instead, and pretending it’s their free choice.

        • Lazarus

          I was discussing the topic, you are lecturing, pontificating.
          That does not make for meaningful communication.
          Your mind is so clearly closed to any of this, what would be the point of having this discussion?

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what the point of this discussion is. Is it so you can be validated for having faith?

        • Lazarus

          Read the rest of my discussion here. Do you really think that I am insisting on being right, on validating my position?

        • Kodie

          Yes. You seem to think hiddenness is a necessary feature of an actual god, and the scenarios you run to project consequences of an evident god are ridiculous. When that’s pointed out to you, you switch to a different god. You seem to think it would be disastrous for humanity to know who god is and what he expects from us. Why? I can’t figure out what would be the harm, and you’re terrible at explaining it.

        • Lazarus

          So you missed the fact that I was speculating, asking questions, testing my own understanding, even making concessions. Strange, other atheists here clearly understood that and communicated with me on that understanding.

        • Michael Neville

          While Kodie may be long-winded, she is replying to your statements, rebutting them and giving commentary on them. That you’re uncomfortable with her rebuttals says much more about you than it does about her.

        • Lazarus

          I’m not “uncomfortable ” at all. As you can see from my other discussions here in this thread I am happy to debate my points of view. I also know when that effort is a waste of time.

        • Kodie

          No, I know. You don’t like what I said but you don’t know what to say about it, so you make it personal.

        • Lazarus

          No, “personal” is your thing, it’s the only gear you have.

        • Kodie

          You can’t come up with a response to what I said, so you tell me to shut up and let you discuss whatever it is you want to discuss. I didn’t really say anything different than other people, but you picked me out.

        • Lazarus

          It’s been lovely, Kodie, really, it has.

        • Kodie

          Maybe there isn’t that much to discuss as you expected, but if you prefer to wander all around it until you might bump into it by yourself, go ahead.

        • Michael Neville

          Kodie made several rebuttals to your arguments and you’ve dismissed them with: “Your mind is so clearly closed to any of this, what would be the point of having this discussion?” That tells me that you’re not comfortable in responding to her. If you can give some other excuse for not responding to her then bring them out. But a sneer directed at a honest statement doesn’t say that you’re willing to continue the conversation.

    • Lazarus, many people in history have thought God to be absolutely proven, and yet they still went on living. Yes, it would change their lives… by making them more religious, probably. Surely to God that would be a good thing? Your question about suicide is silly in regards to the Catholic God, as it’s well known to be a mortal sin under Catholic doctrine. So my answer is that yes, they would still do these things, judging by those who have believed that God is an absolutely proven fact. This does not mean suicides would never happen, but I’d venture to guess it might be less often.

      • Lazarus

        I would suggest that in all or most of even the most fervent believer there is still, at least at times, that sliver of doubt, that 1% “what if”. We see that all across the writings of the saints, even St. Paul talks of “hope”.

        Now, for our purposes here, remove even that vestige of doubt. Make God a brute fact, a simple reality, proven and visible and contactable via Skype.

        Is hiddennes not absolutely necessary?

        • Sure, but that can apply to even “brute facts”. Yet for most, the fact there is maybe a %1 chance the sun doesn’t really exist makes it obvious enough.

          I don’t see why hiddenness would be necessary.

        • Lazarus

          Thank you for those thoughts. I find the topic fascinating. I’ve just finished JL Schellenberg’s book, which is a wonderful read, but still, I don’t believe I’ve answered the question to my own satisfaction. My current view is that, if God exists, he would leave those hints we argue about, but that hiddeness (creating sufficient doubt and choice) would be essential.

        • You’re welcome. It is fascinating to be sure. Why do you think hiddenness is essential? It seems to me that when the existence of God is not sufficiently clear, that also constrains choice. After all, we cannot usually believe in something if it’s unclear it exists.

        • Lazarus

          That’s the problem with my efforts, isn’t it?

          I’m satisfied that my argument FOR hiddennes is sort of stable, but the other side of the coin is more wobbly. Hiddennes must also, nearly by definition, lead millions to justifiably conclude that hiddennes equals non-existence.

          Mysterious ways, anyone?

        • Well, respectfully I disagree. This approach seems very recent. As you mentioned Paul earlier, I’ll note he thought everyone knew God existed, they just refused to worship him. So the main view seems to have been historically he wasn’t “hidden” at all. In any case, this might not be an issue for universalism. Any other approach however seems to cry out for clarity on God’s existence, because as we see from the variety of religious and non-religious perspectives which exist, this is a confused issue. If people are punished for believing wrongly about this, it seems due to more ignorance than malice in most cases. The difference those like Paul elicit is that even knowing something exists doesn’t make you worship. So it doesn’t seem to me that merely knowing God exists would coerce people the way that you seem to fear. We would still have the choice to worship or not after that. Of course one might object punishment for failure to worship is coercion as well, but that’s another issue.

        • Lazarus

          I will plug those thoughts into my journey. Very much a work in progress. Thanks again.

          But now, I’ve got to run to dinner with the family at a restaurant.

        • Sure, you’re welcome. Have a good time with your family. It was nice talking with you.

        • Greg G.

          Where? Are you buying?

        • eric

          First, if it’s essential, then he’s not omnipotent or not omniscient. Because you’re telling us that God does not have the ability or know how to reveal himself to us in a way that doesn’t end the world.

          Second, this sort of argument undermines many many biblical teachings where God does reveal himself. The question is really – why can’t God reveal himself in modern times the same way he is reported to have revealed himself in the OT and NT? Or put another way, what skeptics are asking is to be allowed to be like Thomas. To be like the Jews wandering in the desert, receiving mana. To be like Moses, and get burning bush. To be like Adam and Abraham and receive direct communications. Claiming that such empirical confirmation is metaphysically impossible is to assert that all these biblical stories must be fabrications. Which is probably fine if you’re a deist or UU-type believer, but not if you’re someone trying to look for a solution to the hiddenness problem that leaves standard Christian theology mostly intact.

        • Kodie

          Lazarus seems to be asking if it’s possible that hiddenness is essential and preferable, in that god could reveal himself if he wanted to, but for the idea that if he did, there would be no point to the whole endeavor anymore. I mean, I get where someone would think god would be able to tell who is really faithful to him and everyone else was just kissing his ass to get what they want. Never mind that’s how it is now.

        • eric

          I took him to be making a more of an humanity-would-end type of argument rather than merely an everyone-would-fake-belief type of argument. However your point is well-taken; the “problem” of lots of people pretending to worship a non-hidden God should not be a problem for any God worthy of the name, because He can read their minds.

        • Greg G.

          When I was in college, my three roommates and I adopted a puppy. The dog bonded with me so that when I was home, she was happy and playful, but when I went to class, I was told that she seemed to brood. My hiddenness was worse for my dog than my obvious presence. Why wouldn’t it be like that for humans with a god?

        • Lazarus

          I tried to show the consequences of an absolute brute fact God in other posts here in this thread. I cannot set it any higher than that. Ah, theology.

        • eric

          No, it’s not. If god removes doubt only most people are likely to convert; some will be hold outs just as Satan and a third of heaven’s angels knew beyond doubt but did not choose to follow God.
          But even if there are no hold outs and everyone stops their day jobs and stops having kids and the human race ends in a generation with everyone saved and in heaven, what’s the theological problem? It seems to be what Jesus implied. It’s pretty much the whole theme of Revelations. Christian eschatology accepts that there will be a ‘last generation’ when God reveals himself. The theology is pretty clear that the event you’re arguing God doesn’t want to happen is a part of God’s plan.

      • al kimeea

        IIRC suicide became a sin because the truly faithful were trying to reach heaven ASAP in large enough numbers to be a concern for management

        • Yes, I’ve read that was an impetus for it.

    • Kodie

      I don’t understand why you think anything would be different. If the god we’ve heard about so much actually existed in an evident way, I fail to see how it would be any different than knowing your boss exists (hypothetically assuming your boss has certain methods of motivation similar to this god character). I mean, you do some extra work and you hope your boss would recognize this without you having to actually point it out, and then when you finally do point it out, your boss is not that impressed. Maybe he is very impressed, but he won’t let you know it, because he knows you are motivated by this kind of shitty treatment. A lot of people want the pat on the back, and when they don’t get it when they think they should, they set up more fiery hoops for themselves, never once thinking “how can I make this company turn a bigger profit more efficiently?” but “how can I get my boss to favor me?” And he’s the boss because he doesn’t favor you at all, but because he is thinking, “how can I make this company turn a bigger profit more efficiently?” and he knows it’s manipulating his workers to bust their humps for his favor. They get it sometimes, or else they would stop trying.

      That’s how you have god set up. Why would anything be different? You have a bunch of people who are not really at all concerned with “how can we make society work better” but “how can I get god to favor me?” Seriously, from all the theists I’ve ever encountered, they are just mad I want to upset god’s plans – no matter what that is. Their “job” is to try to convert me and get their merit badges, and validation that whatever they believe is true, as confirmed by this new dummy they found who believe their marketing pitch. When they don’t get what they want, they don’t say “oh well, whatever, it’s ok”, they say “well god will punish you anyway and then you’ll get your evidence, but way too late”.

      Maybe if god was evident, they wouldn’t have a lot of extra proselytizing to do and might actually have to be good people. But then, if it’s that Catholic god you’re assuming, “good” would really just be “obedient”. Here’s the thing we do know – if your boss told you what to do, and the swift and immediate consequence was that you’d get fired, this might expand your personal limits. Getting another job is a pain, and maybe other workplaces are worse. Keeping your job even if you have to do shitty things to people, like if you’re encouraged to steal ideas, or there’s a culture where you laugh at your boss’s racist jokes, and everyone else does it, because they don’t want to get fired, not because they agree or think it’s funny, then you probably will do that too. Same with god. If god tells you to go to a village and gun down every cop you see, well you’ll certainly get killed before long, but he’s got the best place for you in heaven. If you don’t do it, you’ll immediately be sent to hell.

      Yeah, you don’t ask god, you don’t question god. You do what’s good for you, even if it’s bad for everyone else. That’s how it is now, and that’s how it would be if we couldn’t disagree with the claim that there is a god.

    • Many Christians will tell you that they already believe that deeply, though I do sense, as perhaps you’re suggesting, that they don’t really because they’d want to get to heaven ASAP.

      • Lazarus

        I am trying to say that even the most heart-felt, devout believer is still a believer. Remove that, make that a certainty and the game changes.
        Motives as to why people believe don’t need to come into it.

        My question is a simple one : how would life change if the existence of a specific God, with all his requirements and wishes and the consequences of keeping to them were known. Assuming for the sake of the debate that God exists, is his hiddenness not a requisite, or at least a safeguard.

        • Pofarmer

          I am trying to say that even the most heart-felt, devout believer is still a believer

          People believe enough to blow themselves and other people up. In the not so distant past people have believed enough to burn other people at the stake for questioning that belief.. People believe enough to cut off all contact with family and friends who don’t believe. There is no operative difference between that and complete certainty. So, I think we KNOW the answer to your question, assuming that these people are being honest. The only reason that we even have the opportunity to ask it is the reformation and enlightenment which gave us the space to ask the questions.

        • adam

          ” how would life change if the existence of a specific God, with all his requirements and wishes and the consequences of keeping to them were known. ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

    • eric

      You seem to be implying that those outcomes are things God doesn’t want. I.e. you’re saying he’s choosing to stay hidden so that we bother to work, build families, build a better tomorrow, etc… However I don’t really get those goals from Jesus’ words in the NT. Jesus seems to completely support the notion that belief in God should cause people to stop their day jobs, stop getting married and having kids, stop building a better tomorrow, etc… and instead spend all your moments on Earth preaching and preparing for your own salvation.

      Now it makes perfect sense why a temporal religious organization such as the RCC would promote day jobs etc. They want to grow their economic power and support base. But this observation just supports the notion that the RCC interprets Jesus’ words for their own temporal benefit, it does not support the theological conclusion that God is staying hidden because he wants us to be baby-bearing wage slaves. That’s not in the NT, and it runs pretty much opposite to a lot of Jesus’ words.

      • Lazarus

        You raise some good questions. I will have to think some of them through. As I indicated earlier, my thoughts on this are very provisional.

    • Anthrotheist

      It seems to me that a lot depends on how God revealed itself to humanity. For example:

      If God revealed itself and said only said “It’s me, I’m here, the Bible is correct, so that’s that. Goodbye.” It would’ve been better, in that case, for It just to stay in the shadows. It didn’t reduce or correct any confusions, there are still just as many interpretations, translations, and resultant denominations from the Bible; but now there is no doubt that someone is right, without clarity of who that is.

      If God revealed itself and explained its intentions and desires, and finished with “I really want you to worship me. If you don’t, you will go to Hell for eternity, just like everyone before you who didn’t worship me is currently in Hell.” It would be better in this case for God to reveal itself. Sure, our free will is being trampled by the coercive nature of eternal punishment for exercising that free will. However, since that isn’t changed by God being clear and present about it, I would prefer to know that I don’t have a choice so that I don’t have to make my decision in ignorance.

      If God revealed itself and explained its intentions and desires, and didn’t inflict Hell on those who didn’t worship it, it would be best of all. Free will wouldn’t be violated, and best of all: faith wouldn’t be obsolete. The focus of faith would simply shift from “Is there a perfect loving God?” to “Is God actually perfect and loving, and whatever the case should I worship it or not?” Mystery and faith would remain, and really important questions like Hell would be answered definitively.

      • Lazarus

        Some interesting thoughts, thank you.

    • Susan

      Would God (let’s assume the Catholic God for instance)

      There really is no the Catholic God.

      Would most people bother to work, to create, to build families?

      Why wouldn’t they?

      Would suicides not be the sport of the day?

      Why would they?

      How many of us would think about the long view and building a better tomorrow?

      Why wouldn’t we?

      Would it even matter?

      Why wouldn’t it?

      I don’t pretend to have the answers to any of this.

      Until you’re more specific, I don’t even understand what your questions mean.

      I find the hiddenness debate a fascinating one.

      Respectfully, I find it boring. We could have hiddenness debates about any number of speculated but non-existent things..

      • Prof_M

        “Respectfully, I find it boring.”

        Why do you?

        • Susan

          Why do you?

          As I said in the comment to which you responded:

          We could have hiddenness debates about any number of speculative but non-existent things..

          It’s a fun game for theists because they can ignore calls for evidence and argument and feel like they’re engaging in an intellectual argument when they do so.

          But it’s no more interesting than me explaining the lack of evidence for my Immaterial Snowflake Fairies.

  • wtfwjtd

    Now lemme get this straight. According to Wallace, the best way to a super fantastic relationship with those we love is to completely ignore them? That just sounds…utterly ridiculous. Probably because it is.
    Back when I was a Christian, I (finally) began to notice as I got older, how my “relationship” with Jesus was always a one-sided affair. I finally began to get the sneaking suspicion that the reasons given for God to be hidden were really just excuses for something that our theology had no realistic answer for. Why did I believe? Because my father had believed. And why was he a believer? Because his father was a believer, of course. This didn’t seem to be a very solid basis for belief, and under closer examination the whole thing fell apart.

    You’re right, Bob, this is a very powerful observation that Christianity struggles to refute, and so far it hasn’t done so in any meaningful way. I might argue with you about whether it’s the weakest arrow in the theists’ quiver, but…we’d just be quibbling over details. The fact remains that God is both silent and inert, and neither listens to nor shows love to anyone in any demonstrable way.

    • Greg G.

      Why did I believe? Because my father had believed. And why was he a believer? Because his father was a believer, of course.

      Doesn’t your family go all the way back to Jehovah’s Eye Witness?

      • wtfwjtd

        “Doesn’t your family go all the way back to Jehovah’s Eye Witness?”

        If they did, I wouldn’t know about it anyway, as they would have had to enroll in the Witness Protection Program. That Jehovah can be a rather unpleasant fellow at times, you know. See Exodus 4:18-31.

  • Anat

    Yehuda Amichai on the topic of God’s hiddeness:

    I want a God who is visible and not seeing, so I can guide him
    and tell him what he doesn’t see. And I want
    a visible and seeing God. I want to see
    how he covers his eyes, like a child playing at being blind.

    I want a God, like a window, that if I open
    I will see the heaven and stay at home,
    I want a God like a door that opens only outward,
    But the God is like a door revolving on an axis,
    In and out, spinning on an axis
    With no beginning and no end.

    From ‘Gods Come and Go, Prayers are Here to Stay’

  • Fred Knight

    “This is the most powerful argument against Christianity, in my opinion. If the Christian god existed, he would at least make his existence obvious to all of us. He loves us more than we love ourselves, and he knows the consequences of our not believing in him, so he would make sure that we at least knew that he exists.”
    I will admit you are getting to the heart of the matter rather quickly. You present the human argument (as did Solomon and other Biblical authors) They do have an answer, though. The pure of heart, the humble, as opposed to the mockers and the intentionally wicked…..it’s a base and simplistic argument, and yet it remains true…side with the mockers and infidels or side with the meek and oppressed saintly folk….it’s a classic dichotomy….I for one, don’t buy into the classic dichotomies as absolutes, but if they existed, they’d have a valid point.

    • MNb

      How exactly does that explain that the christian god is hidden? Is it like this?
      God is hidden for the mockers and the intentionally wicked. Denying that there is a god is mocking and intentionally wicked.
      If yes it is a circular argument, that a priori neglects the option that good people who don’t mock still may fail to recognize the christian god. Worse, it’s not a classic dichotomy; it’s a false one.
      If no, then what is the explanation?

      • Fred Knight

        “Denying that there is a god is mocking and intentionally wicked. If yes it is a circular argument”

        Not necessarily a hard circle, but yes. It is their view that man, left to his/her own devices is lacking the essential “grace” necessary” to recognize there is a God – some would go so far as to say human nature is “evil” others would say it is “weakened” – technically possible to find God, but unlikely….this, even in it’s moderated forms is still the circular argument you suggest.

        “that a priori neglects the option that good people who don’t mock still may fail to recognize the christian god.”
        again, there is a range of degrees to their interpretation, classic Catholicism, for instance admits that good people may deny God, never come to accept Him, and yet follow their good conscience to such a degree that for all intents and purposes they actually do accept Him. They are also told not to judge any man, and many (like myself) saw Heaven likely swelled by all the good non-believers, world religious, fellow Protestant Christians, who rightly rejected the false notions of what they wrongly (yet sincerely) believed God to be (since they denied the hypocritical, angry, false God, they never actually rejected the Real God) This kind of reasoning makes sense if you take it a priori and is actually quite gracious towards atheists.

        In my view, that is the best possible spin one can put on the hard question asked in this thread.

        • MNb

          A weak circle is also a circle, so the explanation remains invalid.

          “the best possible spin”
          I didn’t write “good people” but “good people who don’t mock” (you are dishonest if did you deliberately left this out). Plus the circularity that best possible spin as presented by you it is still vastly insufficient. That means hiddenness rather argues for atheism than for theism, ie the probability of the first is larger than the probability of the latter. This is reinforced how you include “the Real God” in your best possible spin, as this is a well known and popular logical fallacy (the Real God is also hidden for those good people don’t mock).
          “There is no god” is neither circular nor a No Real X fallacy and hence the superior explanation.
          Even in your last sentence you confirm that.
          The question is hard for you, exactly because you need to formulate an answer that doesn’t reject the Real God.
          For atheists the question is very, very simple. It contains just four words. No long explanations needed. Just those for words. There is no god.

        • epeeist

          I have told him the reasons for me being an atheist. I have asked him the reasons for him being an atheist, unless it is hiding somewhere in the Disqus oubliette I don’t seem to have had a response.

        • Fred Knight

          Ultimately, my personal reasons for non-faith, agnostic-atheism pretty much agree with the arguments presented in this thread – that’s why I say it asks the very hard questions – the same ones I had to ask myself – in the end, I failed to find convincing evidence for the supernatural. Christianity, devoid of an actual Divine Being, is for me, simply a good moral code, based upon the very best of human morality (if one spits out the bones, as good religionists do) Healthy Christianity also embraces the very best of secular cultural values and science and every good and healthy thing. Therefore, I defend it upon those grounds – they end out affirming the very best based upon the premise of an All Wise and Loving God – they believe it is supernatural, I don’t, but I affirm all the values that good religion upholds.

        • epeeist

          Christianity, devoid of an actual Divine Being, is for me, simply a good moral code, based upon the very best of human morality (if one spits out the bones, as good religionists do)

          So essentially what you are saying is that you have to cherry pick from the Christian moral code in order to get a good moral code.

          Tell me, what other systems of ethics have you looked at, if any?

        • Fred Knight

          “So essentially what you are saying is that you have to cherry pick from the Christian moral code in order to get a good moral code.”
          Absolutely.

          But that is true of every other system as well, some better than Christianity in some ways, some worse – welcome to the human race.

          “Tell me, what other systems of ethics have you looked at, if any?”
          if any – you just have to get in the passive aggressive digs, don’t you?

          all good people cherry pick and spit out the bones, we’d go insane with the cognitive dissonance if we didn’t, or become dishonest apologists defending the indefensible

        • Greg G.

          There is nothing wrong with cherry-picking good morals and ideas. Religion has done that but then it adds things like stoning for picking up sticks on the wrong day of the week. If you need religion to tell you that killing people is not good, then by all means, be religious. Please find a religion that tells you that rape is wrong and worse than lust.

        • Fred Knight

          “Religion has done that but then it adds things like stoning for picking up sticks on the wrong day of the week.”
          Greg, this is super low hanging fruit – while appealing to an outsider atheist pov, this argument it is super weak….atheists love to super-impose and project their ideals, but again, you fail to interpret their actual context. You have obviously never been a true believer.

        • Greg G.

          I was a true believer but I saw the hypocrisy and left. I have seen forty years of hypocrisy ever since.

          Knock off all the low-hanging fruit of religion and you end up an atheist with better ethics, such as “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

        • Kodie

          You’ve obviously never met a true believer. When you’re hanging around here, don’t you read the kinds of things our Christian visitors actually believe????????? I mean, you’re in total ignorance!

        • Susan

          some better than Christianity in some ways, some worse.

          How do you tell?

          And now, your repeated claim that “christianity” picks the best of the best has deflated to this. Which is all it ever was.

          if any- you just have to get in the passive agressive digs

          Sproing!!! I notice you haven’t answered either the main question, nor epeeist’s secondary question

          “What other systems of ethics have you looked at, if any?”

        • Fred Knight

          “How do you tell?”
          by simple observation and powers of deduction.

          “And now, your repeated claim that “christianity” picks the best”
          rather “good” Christianity picks the best…I don’t assume it’s all good…only the “best” form of it does….and this is true for good atheism as well….it gravitates to the better arguments…..judge each one equally, according to it’s own merits.

        • Kodie

          Here, let me give you BACK your PEDAL.

        • Susan

          by simple observations and powers of deduction.

          Then, walk us through the process you used.

          rather “good” Christianity picks the best

          What is “good” Christianity and how do you know? Provide your deductive reasoning from simple observation.

          I don’t assume it’s all good

          Of course, not. Only the “good” christianity. But you’ve been here for hellish weeks now and have never explained what that is or how it’s “good”.

          and this is true for good atheism as well

          Jesus Christ, Fred. Christianity is the position that an unevidenced entity exists that created reality from metaphysical nothingness and that it manifested itself in the backwaters of history for a few decades and will lead a small percentage of humans and no non-humans to everlasting life.

          Atheism is a lack of believing in that claim as it isn’t supported in any way.

          it gravitates to the better arguments

          What are the better arguments, Fred?

          judge each one equally, according to it’s own merits

          Check.

          You still haven’t answered epeeist’s questions nor my request (when you avoided his question) to answer them.

          You have been asked repeatedly since you got here to answer something.

          But as far as I can tell, you attack a strawman, dodge reasonable requests that you deal with the subject and squeeze in as many variations of “atheist assholes” as you can when people try to engage you.

          I’m going to predict that you’ll do the same if you respond to this comment. You’re all-fer-allfer

          At which point, I’ll just yell “BINGO! Fred’s a wanker!”

          If you don’t do the same, I’ll yell.

          “Yay! I was wrong this time!”

        • Then the Christian moral code is as manmade as all the rest?

          all good people cherry pick and spit out the bones

          Except when it comes from an omniscient god. That stuff you pretty much just take verbatim.

        • Fred Knight

          “Then the Christian moral code is as manmade as all the rest?”

          or perhaps man-affirmed as all the rest….I don’t think it’s divine….if that’s your question….but do I think it’s superior? yes, probably so.

          “Except when it comes from an omniscient god. That stuff you pretty much just take verbatim.”
          who takes verbatim? are you implying I do?

          And let’s say a relatively superior moral code is taken verbatim? what is the outcome? largely positive or at least partially positive. would admitting this be beyond the pale?

        • Greg G.

          but do I think it’s superior? yes, probably so.

          When asked, “Would you kill your favorite child if God told you to do it?” most Christians will say, “No, I wouldn’t,” but then they will realize that is the wrong biblical answer because of Abraham and Isaac.

          A prominent YouTube apologist faced that question and abandoned Christianity and became an atheist. He realized that it would be wrong to kill his child but the Christian hypothetical response is that it would be wrong to not do it. But he realized that he could never be sure it was God commanding it so how could he be sure anything he believed was from God was actually from God?

          I had asked two Christian friends that question a few weeks before that YT incident. The one who had no kids was like, “Absolutely with no questions asked,” while the other initially said no, but when reminded about Abraham and Isaac, said God would never make the command and refused to think any deeper on it.

          The Judeo-Christian morality comes from the Greco-Roman morality, which allowed blood sports and public torture, but still reined in Judean death penalty applications that seemed barbarous even to them.

          A better morality is to maximize thriving and minimize suffering. That allows for flexibility not given in rigid religious morality.

        • Greg G.

          PS: By what basis do you judge that Christianity is superior and that it has “bones”? Why not just use the morality that leads you to be able to judge it?

        • Fred Knight

          “most Christians will say, “No, I wouldn’t,” but then they will realize
          that is the wrong biblical answer because of Abraham and Isaac.”
          but this is part of the very cherry picking fallacy that you seek to address…when we appeal to the Book, a lot of crazy cases can be made (for or against) ….as I told Bob, I think this is a weak argument….(and please give me some props when I endorse the better arguments for atheism! 🙂 )

        • Greg G.

          Expert A and Expert B disagree about something (a medical procedure, for example) based on their measurements. Non-expert X and Non-expert Y disagree with one another based on their religious feelings with X agreeing with A and Y agreeing with B. A or B might be able to show that the other made an error in a measurement so the wrong one is able to agree with the other. X and Y cannot change their positions because they reached their conclusions by an inappropriate method, even if one happens to be right.

          But when Expert C comes up with a better procedure, neither X nor Y can adopt it because their inappropriate method of belief will not allow it.

          We should use rationality where we can instead of religion belief.

          You should become a Unitarian-Universalist. As I understand it, they have the services but none of the pressures to conform beliefs to a standard.

        • Fred Knight

          “A better morality is to maximize thriving and minimize suffering. That
          allows for flexibility not given in rigid religious morality.”
          I’m certainly more comfortable with your definition, but I’m not sure that you have somehow nullified their definition….I’m agreeing with you and yet we are fighting….and I’m not sure we are even fighting with them at this point….welcome to internet madness

        • Greg G.

          PPS: By what basis do you judge that Christianity is superior and that it has “bones”? Why not just use the morality that leads you to be able to judge it?

        • Fred Knight

          I happen to be outside of Christianity, and I certainly don’t give it some kind of free pass, but even in it’s infancy (Old Testament stories) it nails down human nature to a very fine degree – so, now as an atheist I’m supposed to be prejudiced against it? I don’t proclaim it is innately superior, but I recognize when it get’s it right to sometimes an alarming degree.

        • Greg G.

          You don’t have to be prejudiced against anything. You should judge things for their truth value, benefits, and problems.

          Humans had to survive in an uncivilized world for a few million years. Many behaviors are ingrained for survival because they produce reactions quickly even if the beliefs causing the reaction is not true. Religions are very good at exploiting these tendencies, fears, and doubts.

          Christianity’s roots are the Old Testament and Greco-Roman ideas. The Old Testament draws on Babylonian ideas which come from Akkadian ideas, which could go back to the pyramid building Egyptians. The end of the pyramid building era was further back in time to the first century Christians than the first century Christians are to us. The roots of the ancient Egyptians go back even further.

          A religion doesn’t last if it doesn’t address human nature but it doesn’t have to be right. The priests don’t have to know what they are doing as some of them will come up with something that works and spreads and some won’t.

          We don’t need a religion for the good things it exploits and we don’t want a religion for the bad things it brings to the table. We can have the good without the bad.

        • Fred Knight

          “You don’t have to be prejudiced against anything. You should judge things for their truth value, benefits, and problems.”
          again, what is “truth”? Is it strictly who gets the literal facts right based upon modern scientific method? (a modern definition) And how do we hold the ancient writers to this ultra-literal definition? (assuming it actually does trump all other forms of truth.)

          “A religion doesn’t last if it doesn’t address human nature but it doesn’t have to be right.”
          Very true, but these are not just popular (trendy) casual notions we are talking about. The Bible in particular is like the honed, classic, best of the best of ancient wisdom preserved over time and culture….just as we preserve Shakespeare, Plato, Homer, Bach and Beethoven. It’s valuable and useful, even if it does not speak definitely or perfectly for all times and issues.

          “We don’t need a religion for the good things”
          and yet this is the very medium that evolution has chosen to preserve some of the most basic and profound aspects…got us to where we are today….evolution is neither good nor bad, but it is certainly self-selecting over time and what apparently tends to work best over time. It’s not a series of random accidents.

          So, now, what are we to make of religion? Why does it persist? Why does it continue? What useful purpose does it serve?

          “We can have the good without the bad.”
          that’s a nice theory – but it’s untested. In fact, it has been tested and found wanting. The reality is, religion (with it’s irrational beliefs) seems to be the method that most humans over time respond to and resonate with.

          To keep appealing to some form of theoretical atheist idealism that fails to admit this point, seems to me to be a losing proposition.

        • Greg G.

          again, what is “truth”? Is it strictly who gets the literal facts right based upon modern scientific method? (a modern definition) And how do we hold the ancient writers to this ultra-literal definition? (assuming it actually does trump all other forms of truth.)

          We cannot know absolute truth but we can determine what does not cohere with the reality presented to us and what most likely does cohere. You’ll drive yourself nuts if you jump back and forth over the meaning of truth.

          The Bible in particular is like the honed, classic, best of the best of ancient wisdom preserved over time and culture.

          It’s just part of our culture. Other cultures do just fine without it. We could, too. It is a problem because some people take it more seriously than other parts of culture, that is, too seriously.

          So, now, what are we to make of religion? Why does it persist? Why does it continue? What useful purpose does it serve?

          Religion soothes people who have a fear of death, that is installed by the religion.

          that’s a nice theory – but it’s untested. In fact, it has been tested and found wanting.

          Bullshit. I’ve gone forty years without murdering anyone, raping anyone, punching anyone, robbing anyone… I don’t think I have gotten away with very many lies, either. I have helped a lot of people while I was at it.

          theoretical atheist idealism

          There is no such thing. There could be some “theoretical idealism” or “theoretical secular idealism” but atheism is just an opinion on the topic of the existence of gods.

        • Kodie

          How is it alarming for humans to make human observations that resonate with humans?

        • Fred Knight

          it makes human observations often with pinpoint accuracy and consistency as to basic human nature and pitfalls – almost as if they are on to something – in my view, it stops short of divine inspiration, but nevertheless it is inspired….but I don’t think you could ever admit to this or give any due credit – at least from what I’ve seen of your posts. And no, I’m not bashing atheism here, but I’m saying the type of atheist argumentation I’m addressing has many gaps and holes in it that it seems unwilling to admit to.

        • Greg G.

          Pinpoint accuracy? It’s more like cold reading. Something can be rather vague and the reader will fill in the details to make it seem accurate.

        • Kodie

          I don’t understand what’s so special about the bible. You are giving it way too much credit, while written by people, we recognize that people can have insight that resonates with other people. Why does the radio know when you just broke up with someone? I mean, pinpoint accuracy.

        • Fred Knight

          The Bible is special, I’m sorry, but it is. It’s one major fault is that it didn’t clean up all the bullshit parts….(actually, there was some editing over time, but it did leave in many bad and controversial parts.)

          nowadays atheists go through and pick out all the very bad parts and try to make much hay out of them….The Bible is still a remarkable book if taken as an accurate history of the Jewish people, sometime written in mythical and hyperbolic terms……in other words, as a natural book. The problem comes in with the Supernatural Divine Claims that Christians impose on it – that is where we have problems. now it becomes “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence”

          As a valuable historic piece of literature that reflects history from a jewish perspective, it’s invaluable. And if one reads Proverbs, Psalms and even the stories in Genesis, it is sublime reading on human nature…..inspired.

          Now add in Bible Alone Fundamentalism into the picture…..now we have a new and different critter altogether! That is batshit dangerous and crazy talk,

        • Greg G.

          but it did leave in many bad and controversial parts.

          Ezekiel 23 has some soft porno literature.

          In Genesis, Abraham married his sister, then they went to two different kingdoms and let it be known that she was his sister. When the king took a shine to her and wanted her for his own, God sent curses on him so bad that when the king found out she was actually Abram’s wife he paid them a fortune to leave. Abraham did it a second time with another king when Sarah would have been elderly and it worked again. Isaac did the same thing with one of the kings Abraham had scammed (same name and one of his generals had the same name, too) and it would have been at least 40 years later.

          After Lot was captured, Abram came to his rescue and took the kings’ riches. Then he met Melchizedek and gave him 10%. Hebrews 7 makes a big deal of that as it justified Abraham’s descendant, Levi, as the beginning of the priesthood, because, get this, “because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.” (Hebrews 7:10 NIV)

        • Fred Knight

          “Ezekiel 23 has some soft porno literature.”
          all the better to make my point – it was never meant to be a fundamentalist hand book nor a scientific text book nor even a literal history – taken for what it is, a look into the ancient mindset of the jewish people, it’s remarkable and we are lucky to have it so well preserved. – from an agnostic point of view.

        • Greg G.

          I think it was written by well-educated Jewish priests to take advantage of the illiterate farmers by making them fear and feel guilt so they would sacrifice plants and animals for the priests to eat and feed their families. Most of the history in it is fake. Abraham through Moses and Joshua is fiction.

          Even 1 Corinthians 9 shows Paul arguing that he should be getting paid for his work as if somebody suggested that the Corinthians cut him off.

          It’s valuable as a historical document but it’s not the Holy Grail.

        • Fred Knight

          “I think it was written by well-educated Jewish priests to take advantage
          of the illiterate farmers by making them fear and feel guilt”

          this is extremely cynical on your part. and perhaps why we have not been connecting….you fail to capture the true nature of “religion” by defining it by it’s very worst possible aspects. (why do you do this? I can only conclude that you have never been truly religious and are judging from the outside. I’ve tried to help you understand by sharing a bit of my testimony.) I actually hate many aspects of religion as well, but we seem to not be coming from the same place.

          “It’s valuable as a historical document but it’s not the Holy Grail.”
          I agree with you on that!

        • MNb

          Brilliant answer, Freddy.

          “I don’t understand what’s so special about X.”
          “Sorry, it is.”

          And then proceed with an argument that applies to about every letter of the alfabet. For instance

          “The Book of Mormon is still a remarkable book if taken as an accurate history of the Latter Day Saint movement, sometimes written in mythical and hyperbolic terms.”
          Etc. etc.
          The Bible is as special as all holy texts, which means it’s not special at all.

        • Fred Knight

          “The Book of Mormon is…”
          back again to the argument that all religions are equal and equally flawed.

        • After lecturing me about your position, now I’m confused again. You’re saying that the Bible is the shining light of religious literature?

          Give me an example of how it’s better than its competitors.

        • Fred Knight

          How have I been lecturing you, Bob? Please read my responses to you in their entirety. (this response was to another poster, not you.)

        • Joe

          back again to the argument that all religions are equal and equally flawed.

          Until one of them meets the burden of proof regarding the god-concept at the center of the religion they are all equally flawed.

        • Fred Knight

          hey joe, good to see you again 🙂 but no, they are not equally flawed, the “god concept” is only one single premise, the nature and quality of the gods being bought into are quite varied and this does matter.

        • Joe

          It’s the single key premise.

        • Fred Knight

          I appreciate that’s your view.

        • Joe

          And the view of billions of theists.

          Not yours though, which is seemingly the most important thing.

        • Fred Knight

          I do value my view, as it was hard won and hard to come to, and at a considerable personal cost….I am a reluctant atheist….I own it, but at the same time I don’t relish in it as some sort of triumph.

        • Kodie

          You got this close to figuring out atheism. The nature and quality of fictional characters doesn’t matter.

        • MNb

          Not at all.
          They are all flawed, but not in equal ways and they are certainly not all equal.
          For one thing several religions don’t have any holy tekst.

          Again a brilliant answer, Freddy. This time it shows how eager you are to accuse other atheists of having an unbalanced perspective. May I suppose that that is a remnant of your former belief, that preaches humility but resulting from the “Chosen Ones” and the “God is Truth” concept in vanity quite often? Perhaps you should do something about it.

        • Kodie

          You’re making a huge error here – we’re not confusing the bible itself with the people who believe what it says is true. You are confusing atheists with theists.

        • Fred Knight

          so you agree with me that it is an invaluable piece of historical literature? The only reason I can see to not admit this is because true believers have over-claimed waaay too much and some are leery to give it credit for fear of giving them aid.

        • Kodie

          Partly, it has had a lot of influence on humanity by sheer popularity. I was supposed to read the bible in my college Humanities I class, in addition to The Aeneid, and shit it’s been a while, I can’t remember the other texts for that class, I just know I didn’t read any of this stuff and still got a B.

          On the other hand, it has way too much influence on humanity because they literally believe it and refer to it to support their beliefs in nonsense and hate, like a bully – I got words and thoughts and they think they can beat that with “god says”. When atheists critique what the bible says, there is a believer there. God is a nasty character and the bible is a big book of violent bullshit. If you want to point to a piece of that book and tell me being gay is a sin against god, or women have to submit to their husband, I will say what the fuck are you talking about, and you point to that book and I say who cares about that stupid book.

          Do you get it yet, asshole? I never see you or your friend james warren in blog posts where there are actually Christians who literally believe what the bible says. It is like you want to pretend they don’t exist, and they are more like you in your figurative beliefs, your admiration of a subset of rules, etc., this mythical “healthy” Christianity you’re talking about all the time. Please shut the fuck up until you know what we’re all talking about.

        • The same uncanny wisdom applies to the Tao Te Ching or to lots of other ancient books.

          How can it be inspired if it’s not divinely inspired? What else is there?

        • Fred Knight

          “The same uncanny wisdom applies to the Tao Te Ching or to lots of other ancient books.”

          For sure, and we moderns would be wise to affirm each in their various contexts. Ancient wisdom is in it’s own context….wise moderns adapt it, affirm it or re-invent the wheel in our own contexts….for me, I hold it all loosely, but don’t see the point in re-inventing the wheel every time, all the time.

          Classic, healthy religion has done this over time….some have embarrassingly co-opted universal wisdom as their very own for selfish and divine purposes….but in the end embraced healthy universal wisdom.

          “How can it be inspired if it’s not divinely inspired? What else is there?”
          uh, humanly inspired?

          You seem to affirm a dichotomy enforced by fundamentalism….I would argue that it is a ruse and we should reject their claims without rejecting the gems held within.

        • MNb

          “we moderns would be wise to affirm each in their various contexts”
          Yes – their specific historical and geographical contexts, ie not now and here. Hey, guess what? The latter is exactly what Patheos non-religious is about.

        • Fred Knight

          as long as you are not throwing the baby out with the bathwater then I have no serious issues whatsoever. perhaps just throwing in a bone every now and then would let others know you actually have a more balanced perspective than it first appears.

        • You get anxious when people say that the Bible is all crap, and you want to help us understand that it’s only mostly crap?

          Your concern is like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Christianity is the bull in society’s china shop. Wouldn’t helping rein that in be the way to go?

        • Fred Knight

          “You get anxious when people say that the Bible is all crap, and you want to help us understand that it’s only mostly crap?”

          First of all, it’s about being accurate. How is over exaggerating your point ever helped anyone? Why the need to say it’s all crap? Your question begs the question. It appears I’m going to great lengths to hear your perspective (that it’s crap) and yet for me to apply any kind of moderation is seen as incongruous?

          “Your concern is like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Christianity is the bull in society’s china shop. Wouldn’t helping rein that in be the way to go?”
          Are you asking my opinion? Given the inability of the atheists here to answer my questions about the fragility and limitations of said atheism – the only answer I get is one simple point only is required, then I would have to ask who really is on the Titanic. I’d be happy to abandon classic Christianity for something better…..but I damned sure ain’t gonna abandon it for something half-baked and lacking in the very basic building blocks of society.

          Atheism does a great job of de-constructing, but a pretty poor job of offering healthy real world alternatives.

        • I don’t say that the Bible is all crap.

          It’s like we’re critiquing Karl Marx or Adolph Hitler. I’m sure each made some insightful points, but that’s not my focus. If someone wants to emphasize that their work wasn’t all crap, they could probably convince me, but that’s not really where my focus is.

          I’d be happy to abandon classic Christianity for something better…..but I damned sure ain’t gonna abandon it for something half-baked and lacking in the very basic building blocks of society.

          Abandon Christianity? But you’re not a Christian. Why fret about abandoning something that you haven’t embraced?

          As I understand your position, you have simply found some nuggets of wisdom in the Christians’ ancient book. OK, that’s fine.

        • Fred Knight

          “I don’t say that the Bible is all crap.It’s like we’re critiquing Karl Marx or Adolph Hitler. I’m sure each made some insightful points, but that’s not my focus. If someone wants to emphasize that their work wasn’t all crap, they could probably convince me,”
          Karl Marx, Adolph Hitler, the Bible….yeah, we are talking the same reality…..this is lunatic fringe….

        • Atheism does a great job of de-constructing, but a pretty poor job of offering healthy real world alternatives.

          Yes, atheism is narrowly focused. About as far as you can ride the atheism horse is to note how eager Christians are to fuck up society. As for what to do about it (what to replace Christianity with), that would be in the domain of Humanism or something similar.

        • Fred Knight

          “Yes, atheism is narrowly focused.”
          oh yes it is. desperately and frighteningly so.

          “About as far as you can ride the atheism horse is to note how eager Christians are to fuck up society.”
          Which Christians?

          There you go being an enigma again. You are a bright fellow. Comments like that are beneath you and confuse me..

          “As for what to do about it (what to replace Christianity with), that would
          be in the domain of Humanism or something similar.”
          or something equally vague….

        • “Yes, atheism is narrowly focused.”
          oh yes it is. desperately and frighteningly so.

          Desperately? How so?

          It’s narrowly focused like chemistry is narrowly focused. Chemistry has no moral lessons . . . but it’s not supposed to. Ditto atheism—it’s merely the answer to one question.

          What’s your problem here? Are you just confused about what atheism is? Were you molested as a child by a priest in an atheist church or something?

          “About as far as you can ride the
          atheism horse is to note how eager Christians are to fuck up society.”
          Which Christians?

          Uh . . . the ones trying to fuck up society. Do I really have to run through the televangelists fleecing people, the Christians trying to get prayer or Creationism in public schools, prayer in city council meetings, and so on?

          There you go being an enigma again. You are a bright fellow. Comments like that are beneath you and confuse me..

          You’re confused about what I’m saying but you know that whatever it is is beneath me?

          Perhaps my list helped remind you of what Christians want to do to church/state separation in the US?

          “As
          for what to do about it (what to replace Christianity with), that would
          be in the domain of Humanism or something similar.”
          or something equally vague….

          Something wrong with Humanism? Tell us.

          It sounds like you’re just a whiner, but perhaps you can clarify your concerns and make sense of your position.

        • Fred Knight

          “It’s narrowly focused like chemistry is narrowly focused. Chemistry has no moral lessons . . . but it’s not supposed to. Ditto atheism—it’s
          merely the answer to one question.”
          wow, that is the most positive possible spin ever…how is this a positive in your mind? That it fails to address 99% of life, but it gets the 1% right? It’s desperate in that it’s clinging to a technicality.

          “What’s your problem here? Are you just confused about what atheism is? Were you molested as a child by a priest in an atheist church or something?”
          Not in any sense, only that it lacks depth, it lacks almost any relevancy to life itself at all. If fails to capture (or even address) what makes us essentially human. At best, it’s simply a starting point from which we struggle to make basic meaning out of life….is that one of it’s subtle attractions?

          “Uh . . . the ones trying to fuck up society. Do I really have to run through the televangelists fleecing people, ”
          so the dummies, pretenders and false religionists – that is your argument?

          “You’re confused about what I’m saying but you know that whatever it is is beneath me?”
          I’m assuming the best, bro….are you challenging me in this?

          There is a tone deafness that is off the charts….as if many folks out there have no clue what true religion is at all. That’s fine if that is you…..it seems that is the case.

          “Perhaps my list helped remind you of what Christians want to do to church/state separation in the US?”
          wasn’t it you who reminded me that the head of one of the leading organizations promoting this was a reverend? (as was I as a devoted Believer)

          Again, I feel we are covering ground that should already be well understood and assumed by each of us.

          “Something wrong with Humanism? Tell us.”
          nothing, technically as I suppose I am one, only that it is largely unsettled and not agreed upon, much like atheism + – which sought to incorporate the very best humanistic values into atheism, and yet was rebuffed sharply.

          “It sounds like you’re just a whiner, but perhaps you can clarify your concerns and make sense of your position.”
          again, I think your plate is too full and you don’t even remember who you are talking with as we’ve been over all this before. I appreciate you are frustrated, but you are simply not being convincing at this point.

        • Kodie

          So, religion answers the question of god in the other way, YES, there is a god, and by the way, he requests you behave like this, because otherwise you are in serious trouble, and you do this and lists of that, and many other behaves this way, but can be interpreted because the reader wants to behave that way instead and justifies it with the same god and the same book.

          Seriously, this is for babies. You don’t know how to behave because someone didn’t threaten you with hell? You’re pathetic, Fred. Every Christian is designing their own particular moral code and not following instructions at all. They know how to do this because they know how to behave how they feel like, and join up at a church that teaches the bible and their beliefs can be aligned. Christianity offers nothing more than pretending the rules and guides to live by come from a deity, and that without that deity, it’s a free-for-all. You’re repeating this lie!

        • wow, that is the most positive possible spin ever…how is this a positive in you mind? That it fails to address 99% of life, but it gets the 1% right? It’s desperate in that it’s clinging to a technicality.

          When I tell you that a proton is composed of 3 quarks, is that desperate? Or a technicality? It’s just the truth. If you had high hopes that “I don’t have a god belief” was going to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem or help find the perfect cocktail, you’re confused.

          You’re just now realizing that atheism addresses nothing but the answer to one question? It’s hard to believe you made it to adulthood.

          Atheists have lots of enthusiasm for helping society by protecting the wall separating church and state. And (informed by other ideas) they are typically eager to fight for civil rights.

          it lacks depth, it lacks almost any relevancy to life itself at all. If tails to capture (or even address) what makes us essentially human.

          And you’re just coming to grips with this now? Amazing.

          Atheism says nothing about morality. Christianity, by contrast, has much to say about morality, and much of that sucks. I don’t think Christianity comes out looking particularly good after this revelation.

          so the dummies, pretenders and false religionists – that is your argument?

          Like I said: the Christians I’m bothered with are the ones trying to fuck up society. Do you really have no clue that this is happening?

          If Christianity was like knitting, I’d have a different hobby. But it’s not. It’s the entrée many busybodies have to impose their personal views onto the rest of society. So here I am, standing in the breech, doing what little I can.

          There is a tone deafness that is off the charts….as if many folks out there have no clue what true religion is at all.

          Hold on . . . I’m the clueless one? You’re just now realizing what “atheism” is, and I’m tone deaf? I don’t know what true religion is?

          Again, I feel we are covering ground that should already be well understood and assumed by each of us.

          Uh, yeah. Look in the mirror.

          My confusion is that your claims/beliefs are hard to pigeonhole, and (as you correctly noted) I forget some of your backstory in the clutter of these many conversations. You, however, don’t have much of an excuse if you’re shocked at what atheism is.

        • Kodie

          It’s not really atheism’s job or atheism’s fault here. Christianity pretends to be the ultimate of everything, not only the truth about the universe and why we are here, but they pose as if it’s the only way to be a good person, that atheists are baby-eating drug fornicating darwinian cold-blooded survivalists bound for hell certainly.

          And if you manage to get out of the brainwashing cult that you were born in, or drifted off to, if you manage to stop believing in fairy tales one day, what will become of you? Atheism doesn’t offer an “alternative” morality guide book because we don’t pretend to serve that fucking purpose. Grow up. You are a human being, living on a planet, in societies with other people, it’s not rocket science. Don’t be such a dick, don’t lie, don’t steal, use your empathy. That’s pretty much it. It is not my fault or any other atheist’s fault that Christianity co-opts humanity for itself and shelters people from the world, and pretends to be everything you need, outside of which, there is nothing to grab hold of. That’s the crippling effect of religion, and one thing I am against it about. They are the ones who told you shitty things about atheism, they are the ones who caused you to be so dependent, and shitty, and expect more from atheism because Christianity pretends to be the exclusive brand of how to be a human, how to be alive and fulfilled. Fuck that shit. You are a brainwashed cultist, because that’s what you believe.

          You don’t listen, you don’t learn, you are here to be a dick, so what morals did you get from Christianity?

        • MNb

          In the first place I do just throw in a bone every now and then; so do others. That you don’t notice only shows your prejudice.
          In the second place I hardly care if my perspective appears less balanced to you than it actually is. That’s not my problem.

        • Kodie

          I dunno, Fred – multiple people have been explaining and explaining it to you for well over a month, and you’re like, now, “more balanced than it first appears”. Fuck you, you liar.

        • “Healthy religion”? How can it be healthy if it’s all a lie?

          “How can it be inspired if it’s not divinely inspired? What else is there?”
          uh, humanly inspired?

          What does “inspired” mean here?

        • Kodie

          I don’t think of you as believing “healthy” things, but of judging whatever you like as if that is universally considered “healthy”. Going by your list of things you consider healthy, you are entangled in religious beliefs as though you believe an actual god, so much so that you confuse what atheism is, because you believe exactly the same “healthy” dishonesty that religions instill in its believers to keep them at church and clinging to superstition.

        • give us some examples of this alarming soul-piercing accuracy in the Bible.

        • Fred Knight

          I’d be happy to do so, give me some time….but since I’m coming at this from a naturalistic point of view, devoid of supernatural claims, which parts, if any do you have major problems with if it is simply a human book?

        • You seem to squirm away from any categorization. Here, you’re Mr. Naturalist. No supernatural anything for you. But somehow the Bible is special, with particularly on-target wisdom–so is that because the Judeans thousands of years ago had such sharp insights into the human condition that even now we’ve seen no equal?

          Yes, as far as I can tell, the Bible is just a human book. It’s thousands of years old and looks it. Its insights have been immortalized in some King James English quotations that are familiar to many of us, but that says nothing about how rare these insights were compared to other cultures. That you must pick the few gems out of the dung makes clear that you are the judge. If the Bible has a particular phrasing where you say, “I wish I’d said it that way,” sure, I can imagine that. But the same is true for other books–Shakespeare, Chaucer, Cervantes, etc. plus all the ancient non-Christian religious books.

          I guess I’m asking you to describe the pedestal you’ve put the Bible on and explain why it’s there.

        • Fred Knight

          “You seem to squirm away from any categorization. Here, you’re Mr. Naturalist. No supernatural anything for you.”

          I’m not squirming at all, only reminding you of our previous conversations (perhaps your plate is so full that you are getting me confused with other posters?)

          “No supernatural anything for you. But somehow the Bible is special, with particularly on-target wisdom”
          It has a lot of it, as it was the “classic” sayings of the ancients preserved and passed down (and tweaked for their purposes) – I mentioned Shakespeare, Bach, Beethoven as examples – how do you get from me that I think it’s supernatural? I purposely used very human analogies…classical wisdom, yes, better examples of human writings from those times and cultures, I’m making an ordinary claim, not an extraordinary claim of supernatural, only that they often nailed human nature remarkably well for their time in many ways.

        • Kodie

          only that they often nailed human nature remarkably well for their time in many ways.

          You keep failing to be specific.

        • Kodie

          Dammit Fred, you can’t seem to follow the red bouncing ball.

          If it is “simply a human book,” the problematic parts of the bible are the people who believe it literally and follow its instructions to the detriment of society, the detriment of government, the detriment of education, the detriment of science, the detriment of civil rights, etcetera. IT’S THE PEOPLE, YOU FUCK!

        • Fred Knight

          hey dumbass, stop being abusive, I’m trying hard to play nice here – besides that, you only show your own ignorance by assuming I’m so dull as to not get your silly simplistic points. re-phrase and re-group if you actually want a response from me.

        • Kodie

          You’re not trying anything. You are acting like you’re the victim.

        • MNb

          “it nails down human nature to a very fine degree”
          Bullshit. Especially the famous Sermon on the Mount misses the nail badly at times, from the moment Jesus starts bragging from Matth. 5:20 on.

          Worse, if we assume that the characters of gods reflect what people think of themselves (at least in the time the stories were written down) the Ancient Greeks nailed down human nature a lot better than the Hebrews. That chaotic mix of character traits like generosity, allogance, nobility and jealousy of the first made me understand human nature way better when I was a nine, ten year old than that genocidal maniac of the OT (for which genocidal nature there is a simple, elegant, plausible and totally natural explanation …..).

        • Fred Knight

          thanks for your rambling incoherent romp through comparative religions, MNb. Lots of cherry picking going on in your argument, btw – I suppose you can justify it in your mind because it’s in defense of a counter point.

        • MNb

          Ah yes – poisoning the well instead of actually writing anything substantial. So much for you having a balanced perspective.

          “Lots of cherry picking going on in your argument.”
          Actually it’s not an argument but a set of observations, but soit.
          Of course it’s cherry picking. You made a claim:

          “it nails down human nature to a very fine degree”
          The only thing I need to do to contradict it is giving a couple of counterexamples. Which I did.
          I never denied that there is good stuff. I never claimed for instance the Sermon on the Mount misses the nail badly all times; with at I made clear that that ain’t so.

          How eager you want to accuse others from having an unbalanced perspecitve, while having one yourself.
          I told you why I think Ancient Greek mythology nails human nature better than the Bible.
          You don’t even try to defend your position.
          Pathetic.

        • Help me see what’s special about it. Any morality that’s unique in the Bible? Anything that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own?

        • Fred Knight

          Bob, you are an enigma to me, when I look at your post on 7 Tips for Arguing With a Chance of Changing Someone’s Mind http://bit.ly/2fZ9ydx – absolutely brilliant, btw. 🙂

          The Bible does have some horrendous spots in it…but also some very sublime and deep wisdom on human nature….you keep appealing to the Book – but what I would re-direct your focus is on the systematic theology of the various groups…the Book is simply a collection of various books that weave a tale of the good, bad, and ugly….but Interpretation is the key….some groups are better than others…..hyper focus on the bad things in the Book, is to me, a weak tactic.

        • Greg G.

          Interpretation is the key.

          Yes, they should interpret it to come up with something that they could come with through the ethic of reciprocity alone.

        • What are you saying? That the Bible has good observations about human nature that can be useful today? Sure, I’ll agree with that. The same would be true of other ancient books of wisdom.

          But for some reason the Bible is more than a curiosity to you. And that fact is the curiosity to me.

        • Fred Knight

          “What are you saying? That the Bible has good observations about human
          nature that can be useful today? Sure, I’ll agree with that. The same
          would be true of other ancient books of wisdom.”
          that was my only point, if you agree with it, then we can move on.

          “But for some reason the Bible is more than a curiosity to you. And that fact is the curiosity to me.”
          No, it is pretty much just a mild curiosity to me – with no special revelation, etc…I was reacting to your seemingly very negative “cherry picking” to prove how bad it is….it’s remarkably good, if taken in it’s time and context and if one allows some slack for hyperbolic, symbolic jewish embellishments (they did have an agenda, after all.)

          This gets back to my asking you why Jewish folks of today are so cool and hold to a non-literal interpretation – many see it as a totally human book and question if there is a literal God at all. That’s where I’m coming from as well.

        • Kodie

          You don’t seem to have a clue – Bob doesn’t critique what it says in the bible itself, apropos of nothing or no one. You are missing the point here.

        • epeeist

          if any – you just have to get in the passive aggressive digs, don’t you?

          Well I am sorry you see it like that, it wasn’t meant to be passive-aggressive. I am perfectly happy to rephrase it.

          Tell me, what other systems of ethics have you looked at?

        • Fred Knight

          “Well I am sorry you see it like that, it wasn’t meant to be passive-aggressive”
          see? this is part of the disingenuous behavior I’m talking about. To be clear, I’m speaking about a basic core of morality, ie are you a good person or not? I don’t give a rip about how you get there. systems of ethics be damned…real world results is what I’m addressing. ie, there is a possible scenario where dumbass Christians get it right, but brilliant genius atheists are pieces of shit, get my point?

        • epeeist

          see?

          No, in that you completely avoided the simple question I put to you.

          there is a possible scenario where dumbass Christians get it right, but brilliant genius atheists are pieces of shit, get my point?

          And equally well it could be the other way around.

          It could also be that the Christian gets it right solely because the major part of “Christian ethics” is actually drawn one of from those “systems of ethics” that you are damning. You are aware that Christian virtues are simply a reworking of material from Plato, Aristotle and the neo-Platonists.

        • Greg G.

          simply a good moral code, based upon the very best of human morality (if one spits out the bones, as good religionists do)

          A good ethical system doesn’t have bones.

        • Fred Knight

          I beg to differ. Or are you claiming some sort of infallibility?

        • Greg G.

          A good ethical system removes the bones. Religion keeps them in and you have to spit them out over and over.

          I don’t claim infallibility. I am happy to be educated when I am wrong.

        • Christianity, devoid of an actual Divine Being, is for me, simply a good moral code

          What’s the good moral code?

          As Greg G suggested, you shouldn’t have to select the good bits and reject the rest. When you do so, you are the source of that moral code, not the Bible.

        • Fred Knight

          “When you do so, you are the source of that moral code, not the Bible.”

          Bob, bob, bob, (to use a biblical cliche out of context): “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me?” Jn 14:9 KJV

          Of course we are the source (I’m a humanist) – that’s why, for me, the goodness of a person is what counts, not their ideological framework – this is every bit as true for the good atheist, the good pagan, the good Christian, the good polytheist….good people (pure of heart, etc.) simply navigate through life with a sense of innocence (the Bible calls it being “without guile”), charity, good will, optimism, literally gravitating to the most innocent, better part of our human nature, and perhaps even working heroically to shed the bad aspects. – This is “true religion” and this is also “true skepticism” – in other words, we are measured by the depth of our personal character rather than our supposed “clans” or party lines.

          The gentle and good humanist gets this every bit as much as the good Christian or good Buddhist – and yet, our ideologies do matter – because they can produce blind spots in us if held too tightly.

        • Kodie

          The complaints you’ve made up to this point about atheists do not make any fucking sense except that you have created a goddamned straw man. Religion has a power over people to make terrible decisions and terrible actions despite what good values they may think they have otherwise, religion has a power over people to deceive themselves into thinking their terribleness is goodness. What the fuck is your fucking problem! You just don’t fucking “get” atheism, you think it’s void of humanism. It’s free of superstition, not humanism. Humans exist. We have only each other to rely on. What the fuck is your self-deception that makes you think atheism is antithetical to humanism? Why are you here being such an asshole to us? Is that your religious duty or your humanist obligation to protest atheists?

        • Fred Knight

          at this point you are chasing me across multiple threads and trying to impose something out of context. I’d be happy to debate each subject upon it’s own grounds.

          Stay on topic and stop trying to be a troll.

        • Kodie

          You’re paranoid. I made a relevant response to a public post on a public blog on the internet, sorry you’re too much of a dolt to get it.

        • Fred Knight

          “Even in your last sentence you confirm that.”

          That’s why I called it a spin. I’m not a believer. I’m giving their best argument, not mine. (it used to be mine as a believer, as I explained.)

          “The question is hard for you, exactly because you need to formulate an answer that doesn’t reject the Real God.”
          nope, not hard for me, but if there were a Real God, He would be the ultimate Good that they rightly conclude based upon their original premise.

          “For atheists the question is very, very simple.”
          oh, everybody gets atheism is simple – in spades. I agree with skeptics on this intellectual point, but by no means do I think atheism is a superior worldview, nor does it make one a better wiser person nor is it necessarily better for society.

        • MNb

          “by no means do I think …..”
          More power to you. Nobody here does.

        • Fred Knight

          but they act as though it does, otherwise there’d be shred of humility from time to time. (hint: those who do simply admit this, I’m cool with, even if they take a harder stand than I do)

          (it remains to be seen which sort you will be – often I find some to be very reasonable in one post and then am rudely blasted in their very next .)

        • MNb

          “but they act as though it does”
          Ever considered the option that that rather reflects your prejudice?

          “often I find some to be very reasonable in one post and then am rudely blasted in their very next”
          If you expect otherwise from atheists you are the one who wants them to have a superior worldview – and are disappointed when they don’t behave accordingly.

        • Fred Knight

          “If you expect otherwise from atheists you are the one who wants them to
          have a superior worldview – and are disappointed when they don’t behave
          accordingly.”
          you are admitting that they don’t have anything significant in this regard….if i expect better, I’m sure to be disappointed…duly noted.

        • MNb

          “you are admitting ….”
          You badly need to improve your comprehensive reading skills.