Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why doesn’t God make his existence more obvious to people?

Have you ever heard someone say that if God existed, he would give us more evidence? This is called the “hiddenness of God” argument. It’s also known as the argument from “rational non-belief”.

Basically the argument is something like this:

  1. God is all powerful
  2. God is all loving
  3. God wants all people to know about him
  4. Some people don’t know about him
  5. Therefore, there is no God.

In this argument, the atheist is saying that he’s looked for God real hard and that if God were there, he should have found him by now. After all, God can do anything he wants that’s logically possible, and he wants us to know that he exists. To defeat the argument we need to find a possible explanation of why God would want to remain hidden when our eternal destination depends on our knowledge of his existence.

What reason could God have for remaining hidden?

Dr. Michael Murray, a brilliant professor of philosophy at Franklin & Marshall College, has found a reason for God to remain hidden.

His paper on divine hiddenness is here:
Coercion and the Hiddenness of God“, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 30, 1993.

He argues that if God reveals himself too much to people, he takes away our freedom to make morally-significant decisions, including responding to his self-revelation to us. Murray argues that God stays somewhat hidden, so that he gives people space to either 1) respond to God, or 2) avoid God so we can keep our autonomy from him. God places a higher value on people having the free will to respond to him, and if he shows too much of himself he takes away their free choice to respond to him, because once he is too overt about his existence, people will just feel obligated to belief in him in order to avoid being punished.

But believing in God just to avoid punishment is NOT what God wants for us. If it is too obvious to us that God exists and that he really will judge us, then people will respond to him and behave morally out of self-preservation. But God wants us to respond to him out of interest in him, just like we might try to get to know someone we admire. God has to dial down the immediacy of the threat of judgment, and the probability that the threat is actual. That leaves it up to us to respond to God’s veiled revelation of himself to us, in nature and in Scripture.

(Note: I think that we don’t seek God on our own, and that he must take the initiative to reach out to us and draw us to him. But I do think that we are free to resist his revelation, at which point God stops himself short of coercing our will. We are therefore responsible for our own fate).

The atheist’s argument is a logical/deductive argument. It aims to show that there is a contradiction between God’s will for us and his hiding from us. In order to derive a contradiction, God MUST NOT have any possible reason to remain hidden. If he has a reason for remaining hidden that is consistent with his goodness, then the argument will not go through.

When Murray offers a possible reason for God to remain hidden in order to allow people to freely respond to him, then the argument is defeated. God wants people to respond to him freely so that there is a genuine love relationship – not coercion by overt threat of damnation. To rescue the argument, the atheist has to be able to prove that God could provide more evidence of his existence without interfering with the free choice of his creatures to reject him.

More of Michael Murray’s work

Murray has defended the argument in works published by prestigious academic presses such as Cambridge University Press, (ISBN: 0521006104, 2001) and Routledge (ISBN: 0415380383, 2007). The book chapter from the Cambridge book is here. The book chapter from the Routledge book is here.

Michael Murray’s papers are really fun to read, because he uses hilarious examples. I should mention that I disagree with his view that God’s work of introducing biological information in living creatures has to be front-loaded.

Here’s more terrific stuff from Dr. Murray:

Is there any evidence of God’s existence?

Yes, just watch this lecture by Dr. William Lane Craig. It contains 5 reasons why God exists and 3 reasons why it matters.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why doesn’t God give us more evidence of his existence?

Have you ever heard someone say that if God existed, he would give us more evidence? This is called the “hiddenness of God” argument. It’s also known as the argument from “rational non-belief”.

Basically the argument is something like this:

  1. God is all powerful
  2. God is all loving
  3. God wants all people to know about him
  4. Some people don’t know about him
  5. Therefore, there is no God.

You may hear have heard this argument before, when talking to atheists, or in debates, like in William Lane Craig’s debate with Theodore Drange, (audio, video).

Basically, the atheist is saying that he’s looked for God real hard and that if God were there, he should have found him by now. After all, God can do anything he wants that’s logically possible, and he wants us to know that he exists. To defeat the argument we need to find a possible explanation of why God would want to remain hidden when our eternal destination depends on our knowledge of his existence.

What reason could God have for remaining hidden?

Dr. Michael Murray, a brilliant professor of philosophy at Franklin & Marshall College, has found a reason for God to remain hidden.

His paper on divine hiddenness is here:
Coercion and the Hiddenness of God“, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 30, 1993.

He argues that if God reveals himself too much to people, he takes away our freedom to make morally-significant decisions, including responding to his self-revelation to us. Murray argues that God stays somewhat hidden, so that he gives people space to either 1) respond to God, or 2) avoid God so we can keep our autonomy from him. God places a higher value on people having the free will to respond to him, and if he shows too much of himself he takes away their free choice to respond to him, because once he is too overt about his existence, people will just feel obligated to belief in him in order to avoid being punished.

But believing in God just to avoid punishment is NOT what God wants for us. If it is too obvious to us that God exists and that he really will judge us, then people will respond to him and behave morally out of self-preservation. But God wants us to respond to him out of interest in him, just like we might try to get to know someone we admire. God has to dial down the immediacy of the threat of judgment, and the probability that the threat is actual. That leaves it up to us to respond to God’s veiled revelation of himself to us, in nature and in Scripture.

(Note: I think that we don’t seek God on our own, and that he must take the initiative to reach out to us and draw us to him. But I do think that we are free to resist his revelation, at which point God stops himself short of coercing our will. We are therefore responsible for our own fate).

The atheist’s argument is a logical/deductive argument. It aims to show that there is a contradiction between God’s will for us and his hiding from us. In order to derive a contradiction, God MUST NOT have any possible reason to remain hidden. If he has a reason for remaining hidden that is consistent with his goodness, then the argument will not go through.

When Murray offers a possible reason for God to remain hidden in order to allow people to freely respond to him, then the argument is defeated. God wants people to respond to him freely so that there is a genuine love relationship – not coercion by overt threat of damnation. To rescue the argument, the atheist has to be able to prove that God could provide more evidence of his existence without interfering with the free choice of his creatures to reject him.

More of Michael Murray’s work

Murray has defended the argument in works published by prestigious academic presses such as Cambridge University Press, (ISBN: 0521006104, 2001) and Routledge (ISBN: 0415380383, 2007). The book chapter from the Cambridge book is here. The book chapter from the Routledge book is here.

Michael Murray’s papers are really fun to read, because he uses hilarious examples. I should mention that I disagree with his view that God’s work of introducing biological information in living creatures has to be front-loaded.

Here’s more terrific stuff from Dr. Murray:

Is there any evidence of God’s existence?

Yes, just watch this lecture by Dr. William Lane Craig. It contains 5 reasons why God exists and 3 reasons why it matters.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is the best argument against intelligent design?

Here is an article on Evolution News which summarizes how opponents of intelligent design behave when confronted with intelligent design.

Here’s the executive summary:

The outline of the story is now, sadly, a familiar one. Professor wants to discuss intelligent design (ID). Intolerant atheists throw a fit. College quickly capitulates to the demands of the atheists. Professor is censored.

The scenario played out again this past semester in Amarillo, Texas. I’ll give the identities of the parties involved in just a moment, but for now, let’s note some twists unique to the situation. According to internal communications, campus administrators feared that disgruntled atheists would stage a “disruption” if the ID class went forward. The atheist leader got so “intense” in arguing for Darwinian evolution over intelligent design that college staff called the police on him, apparently potentially concerned over their own safety. And get this: the intolerant atheists call themselves the “Freethought Oasis.” You can’t make this stuff up.

And the punchline:

 All told, in various e-mails [Freethought Oasis leader] Farren and his group were described as:

  • “VERY intense”
  • “obsessive”
  • “fanatical”
  • “aggressive,” “verbally aggressive,” and showing “aggressiveness”
  • “I don’t know where the free thought comes in though, seems more like the lack of”
  • looking for a “fight”
  • showing a “desire to kill the class”
  • “representing a group of people, was disturbed by the class and indicated his intent to enroll students who might potentially create a disruptive environment in the classroom. — a ‘protest’ if you will”
  • “disruptives”

That’s a pretty telling list of words that came from multiple people in the [Amarillo College] administration.

The article documents all the things that anti-intelligent design people do. They celebrate successful bullying, and they don’t want to engage different ideas with reasons and evidence. Even if you are not a scientist, it’s very easy to get an idea of whether intelligent design is true or not by watching how opponents of intelligent design conduct themselves. How far do you think atheists would go to silence people who disagreed with them? In an atheistic universe, there is no design for how humans ought to behave. There are no human rights that need to be respected. Anything is permitted in an accidental universe.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Air Force sergeant who disagreed with homosexuality faces court martial

Todd Starnes of Fox News reports.

Excerpt:

A 19-year Air Force veteran who was relieved of his duties because he disagreed with his openly gay commander over gay marriage is now facing a formal investigation after he told me his story.

Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk found himself at odds with his Lackland Air Force Base commander after he objected to her plans to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. During the conversation, his commander ordered him to share his personal views on homosexuality.

“I was relieved of my position because I don’t agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” he told me. “We’ve been told that if you publicly say that homosexuality is wrong, you are in violation of Air Force policy.”

In one of her first meetings with Monk, the commander expressed concern about the chaplain who would deliver the benediction at her promotion ceremony.

“She said she wanted a chaplain but objected to one particular chaplain that she called a bigot because he preached that homosexuality is a sin,” Monk said.

After he was relieved of his duties, the Liberty Institute filed a religious discrimination complaint on his behalf.

Last week, Monk was supposed to meet with an Air Force investigator tasked with gathering facts about the complaint. But when he arrived, Monk was immediately read his Miranda Rights and accused of providing false statements in a conversation Monk had with me.

“I immediately got the sense that this was retaliation against me for coming forward with my religious discrimination complaint,” he said.

The accusations against Monk are a court-martial offense in the Air Force – and it’s quite possible that the 19-year veteran with a spotless record could be booted out of the military because of his Christian beliefs.

That’s why I found it so strange when I heard that people who called themselves Christians voted for Obama in 2008 or 2012. Anyone with a brain in their head who claimed to be Christian knew that they were voting for abortion, gay marriage and reduced religious liberty. That’s what we have now – there is no denying it. Democrats are not the party of religious liberty. They are against it. They view religious expression as something they have to destroy – by any means necessary. It should make us think about what we are doing by celebrating and affirming sin.

There is a reason why sin is called sin. Part of it is that the people who do it tend to be the kind of people who are willing to use force to get others to affirm them in what they are doing. Part of it is that it causes harm to others, often to unborn or born children – depriving them of what they need and treating them like commodities. That’s why Christians should be diligent about what behaviors they affirm and who they vote for. Christianity is not a religion that has celebrating and condoning of immorality at its core.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should college students be allowed to opt out of graphic sex education?

Life News reports.

Excerpt:

When 18-year-old twins Bella and Angelica Ayala found out that the sexual harassment session in their freshman orientation program included a graphic sex-ed presentation, they decided to opt out. The pro-life Catholic students respectfully voiced their desire to not partake in the program prior to its start.

Bella told the pro-life group Survivors, “My sister actually contacted the orientation program beforehand to request that we be exempt from attending this part of orientation, but was given an ambiguous answer.”

A week after Angelica called the orientation program, a mass e-mail was sent out from the New Student & Transition Programs citing UCLA’s policy codes and federal/state laws saying the presentation was mandated. Regardless, the Ayalas later received permission from their counselors to leave the program. The option to not partake in the sex-ed part of the program was not given to any other students.

Angelica was told she wouldn’t have to be present during the sex ed portion, but after she walked out, she was later reprimanded and told she’d have to make up the session. If she refused to make up the session, she was informed that the university would put a hold on her academic records.

Before the session, the twins distributed literature to their peers that discussed STDs and risks of having sex prior to marriage. A counselor seeing the students reading the literature said, “This is not the message we want to communicate.” The counselor told Angelica she knew she was responsible for passing out the literature and it wasn’t allowed because the talk was a private event and she’d need permission from the dean’s office to hand out information. A counselor took the pamphlets from the students by demanding they pass back the materials.

Jewish radio show host Dennis Prager often calls universities and colleges “left-wing seminaries”, and stories like this help us to see why. More examples can be found in Prager’s story on Florida Atlantic University and Prager’s story on the University of Southern California.

If you are going to college, I really recommend that you try to focus on STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). You do not want left-wing radicals taking your money and using the power of grading to indoctrinate you in false views. University is not the place for you to critically examine the views of leftists. There is no critical thinking in a left-wing seminary. It’s better to get your degree in computer science, get a job, and then work on the big questions on your own without having to face coercion and narrow-mindedness.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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