Why There is No Proof of God

Continuing the discussion from Fine Tuning an Inhibition of Omnipotence:

(@MarkD)

This is a transcript of a six and a half minute video, so it should be readable in four minutes or less (the link to the video is at the end, if you would rather watch that):

Why Is There No Visible Proof of God?

I believe this is a valid question that atheists bring up. If God was real and if he loved us, why wouldn’t he make his presence known. The fact that he hides shows either God doesn’t exist or he doesn’t love us enough to make himself known to prevent us from going to hell.

However the more I studied this question from a biblical perspective, the more I realize that there is no visible proof of God is because he loves us. The fact that God doesn’t make himself known empirically shows how much he truly loves us. You should know Jesus already answered this question in the Bible when he gave the parable of the rich man in hell. The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his brothers of the terrible place he was in, yet Abraham denied the rich man’s request and told him, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.” Luke 16:29

Now, at first glance this doesn’t make sense. Why would Abraham deny the rich man’s request. Surely if any of us saw a ghost from beyond the grave who had come back to warn us of the dangers of hell, we would certainly be convinced that God exists and we should submit to him. But what Jesus is saying in this parable is, it is not a matter of ‘knowing’ that God and hell exist – it is a matter of how you feel about God.

Let’s just say that there was visible proof of God. Let’s say he sat on his throne in a palace somewhere in the Middle East and you go and see he exists and worship him there. Every human would believe in and accept that he was God and no one will go to hell, right? Actually, I think the opposite would happen – everybody would go to hell.
Here’s the point: if God was a tangible being on the planet with all his power and glory, you would worship him and be obedient to his laws because you’d be afraid of him and be afraid of being sent to hell for being disobedient. You would only be good because you’d be afraid that God might punish you. Your entire motivation for being good would not because you love God or were thankful for what he did for you on the cross, you would be good because he would be worried about yourself. In other words, you wouldn’t be good for goodness’ sake or for God’s sake, you would be good for your own sake.

And that’s the problem, because that’s the mindset that sends people to hell. When you are only thinking of yourself and only worried about taking care of yourself, you become filled with self-absorption. Fear only makes you only think of yourself, and thinking of yourself is what sends you to hell. See, when Jesus came into this world, he taught that salvation meant the opposite, he taught that his salvation was only for people who didn’t put themselves first. In Matthew 10:39 he said said “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Then, in Matthew 25, he gave the Parable of the Talents, which is a story of servants. Two go out and serve their king with the money king gives them, and the third becomes filled with fear and buries the money the king gives him because he is afraid of what the king might do to him. And because this servant is only thinking of himself, he hides the money for his own safety, thus the king disposes of him, because the servant was self-absorbed, maybe not in the usual way we think of self-absorption, but nonetheless he was still self-absorbed.

See, in the parable of the rich man in hell, what Abraham is saying back to the rich man is “Fear will never work.” Sending Lazarus back to warn his brothers of the dangers of hell will only create fear. Fear doesn’t get you to stop focusing on yourself, it only makes you think of yourself even more.

And if God was a visible being on the planet, you’d be utterly filled fear. You wouldn’t change from thinking of yourself to thinking of a relationship with God, or start loving God and loving your fellow man, you would only be thinking of yourself and how to avoid hell. So your actions would change, but your heart wouldn’t – you would still be self-absorbed, just a different way, but still self-absorbed.

What changes your heart is learning what God did for you on the cross, knowing the most radical act of love that ever happened, which is when God went willingly to the cross to take our place, even though he didn’t deserve it. And where you find that is in reading about Moses and the prophets. When you learn about that and accept it as true, then your heart begins to change. When you see that even though you deserve hell, God took it upon himself. When you know the love of God, that is when your heart begins to change.

Many people have a misconception about the path to heaven – they think it’s just living a good life and following all the rules. So if God was real, he should make his presence known so I’ll know that heaven and hell exist and I can follow all of God’s commandments. But when people do that, the heart doesn’t change – you’re still self- absorbed because your attitude becomes “I’m doing good, I’m working hard, so God has to bless me!” You’re only thinking of yourself – you’re using your moral deeds to force God to bless you.

The only way to change the heart is through a radical transformation of love. And we see that love when we read about Jesus in what he did on the cross. If God was a powerful king on the planet, you wouldn’t see the love he gave for you there – all you would see is this mighty king, and you would never know love he has for you and what he really wanted for you. You would just be filled with fear and self-absorption. Many people have the misconception that God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden because he didn’t want to be with them anymore, which is not true – Jesus had Adam and Eve leave the garden because he saw they had become self-absorbed. They were only thinking of themselves, and in such a state, if they were to stay with God, they would only try to please and form a relationship with him to see what they can get out of it. Their entire attitude would be, “I want to please you God, not because I love you, but because I love myself and want to be blessed.”

Because of their new sinful attitude, God had no choice but to make them leave his presence, not because he didn’t want to be with him, but because he knew what the relationship would be with them, and he could not look upon such a relationship. Instead, we needed to see the action of how much he truly loved us before we could begin escape our self-absorption. Now, in the relationship we have with him, he gives us everything, and in return he asks to give him everything back, not because he is selfish because he was utterly selfless. He came to our world in weakness and willingly died for you, because he loves you more than you can imagine. He doesn’t want to be in a relationship where you fear him for your own life’s sake. He loves and he wants you to love him back. So knowing the true nature of your heart, and the mindset you would have if he was here visibly, he instead reveals himself in ways that won’t assure your damnation.

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In the same vein:

Proof would negate love:

If God bowled us over with evidence, it would negate love.

Imagine if God reveals Himself to the point that everyone “has to” believe in Him (if it would be possible). The problem with such a scenario is that there would be no love relationship with Him, it would be forced relationship.

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard imagined a king who loved a humble maiden. He had all the power to force her to come to his palace, marry him and be crowned the queen. But that would not mean that she loved him. It would probably mean the opposite.

The king could easily overwhelm a cringing maiden. But that is not what he wanted. He wanted her love.

In a similar way, God wants our love. He has certainly displayed His power through creation and given plenty of evidence for belief, (see my points below). But most of all He wants us to love Him.

He wants us to say with the Apostle John “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 KJV)

God reveals Himself to us, He just doesn’t do a very good job of it. That’s what many seem to think. In fact, I’ve sometimes thought that myself. I’ve wondered things like: Why doesn’t God make it more clear that He exists and His plan for humanity? Why be mysterious? Why not make things obvious? Why make people take a step of faith to believe?

http://www.markalanwilliams.net/2017/01/23/7-amazing-ways-god-reveals-himself-to-us/

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For the record I have no beef with divine hidden-ness and that plays no role in my nonbelief. Neither do I fault you for holding the belief I do not since I hold unsupportable beliefs of my own - just not the one you hold.

Actually, mine is/are nicely supported by the reality of my Father in heaven acting into my life in time and space, in timing and placing. (They are a long way from being unsupportable.)

It may have been Einstein who said, “Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous.” Rightly put it is, “Coincidence is one of God’s ways of saying, ‘Here I AM!’” “Co-instants” and “co-instance(s)” are my substitute terms denoting “not a chance!”

I have been keeping a Co-instants Log for over three decades, with retrospective entries for two decades before that (I’m in my early geezerhood), and it has a small multitude of entries. Some are fun, funny, startling, poignant or life-path changing, and there are a lot of them! Not all are easy but all are good.

A fairly recent one (actually several) of some import:

From an mail to Matt, my pastor, 7/15/17 (a Saturday):

News

Just news, not good or bad particularly, but I am going to lose a kidney. My urologist called me after 5 yesterday and said that I had a mass on my right kidney.

I had blood late [Saturday night] last week, and, in God’s providence, when I called Monday a.m., the doctor had had an appointment cancelation for that afternoon. My Co-instants Log entry:

7/10/27 [Monday] Having developed a significant bleed, I had just tried to call the urology clinic. The line was busy [What?! No voice and answering system menu?!] so I picked up the nearby Joy & Strength* for today and read, "MOST GLADLY, THEREFORE, WILL I RATHER GLORY [BOAST! :slightly_smiling_face:] IN MY INFIRMITIES, THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST MAY REST UPON ME. 2 Corinthians xii.9 Wow. [The words jumped off the pages at me. “LORD, I HAVE AN INFIRMITY!!”, I immediately said.]

Then I called back and… the doctor had had an appointment cancellation this afternoon at 3:15. [Talk about co-instants! Otherwise it would have been three weeks or more!] My reply when she told me: “Perfect.”

So he scoped me Monday in the office and didn’t find the source of the bleed, and I had a CT on Tuesday. The former didn’t reveal anything about kidneys, but the latter is pretty definitive for kidney cancer. That is something particular to this affliction – a biopsy is not really needed, I guess. I don’t know anything about size/stage or grade yet, but I expect to be asking next week.

The very first thing I read [after clicking on the first online search result] when looking for info online was, “Your doctor has just told you that you have kidney cancer. Your mind whirls with emotion. Your spouse begins to cry.” Jeanne and I have both failed. :slightly_smiling_face: [My mind wasn’t whirling with emotion and Jeanne did not begin to cry – we trust our Father. What he does is good – good for me, even if it is hard, and good for his name and honor, which is my desire more than my comfort.]

Our times are in his hands [Psalm 31:15], and that’s a good thing.

Bro’ Dale

*Joy & Strength is a classic daily devotional that my mom, my sister and I used to read regularly. I don’t read it regularly so much any more, but it was within arm’s reach after the busy signal on the phone.


8/1/17. Right radical nephrectomy – only 22 days from phone call to surgery, sooner than I otherwise might have been able to get even a first appointment!


Of course, I have reflected on that verse and its meaning, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

One of the things that power means is the ability not to be afraid. Ever. In ALL circumstances, including sickness and death. “You can’t kill a Christian, all that you can do is change his address.” :slightly_smiling_face: The most frequent mandate in the Bible is “Don’t be afraid” or one of its several variations – “Be anxious for nothing”, “Fret not”, and others. So it is the power to obey that mandate, and the power to obey it gladly. It means to be glad and cheerful no matter what the circumstances, even cancer. Father is in control and whatever he does is good for both of us. The doctor and his office and nursing staff and the hospital have never had a more cheerful nephrectomy patient. :slightly_smiling_face:

Studying a little further, I discovered that the “rest” is to rest as in a dwelling. So that means that the power is the strength of God over me as a strong shelter.

As I quipped on Facebook, “My only complaint about my recent surgery to remove a kidney was that, while he was in there moving furniture around to gain access, he failed to leave me with six-pack abs. THAT was a total failure! :slightly_smiling_face:


A kind of funny and a co-instance footnote to the kidney account, showing that I was being taken care of in another way, too:

My recovery at home was so free of pain that I did not take ANY of the prescribed analgesic, Norco 10mg, an opioid. I was distinctly uncomfortable more than once, but never in severe pain at all, so that extra-strength Tylenol was all that I ever took. (I did look up the street value of the Norco, though, both here and in Omaha. :grin:)

But three months later, the week of Thanksgiving, I caught a relatively bad cold. I have had worse coughs, in that they were deeper and harder coughs, but I had never before had a cough like the one with this cold – I just could not stop coughing. I was coughing continuously and cough drops were not helping at all. I knew I needed a heavy duty cough suppressant if I going to get any sleep, and we did not have any codeine cough syrup. It was Wednesday night before Thanksgiving about 10:30, and there would have been easy way to get any.

I knew I had the Norco, so I looked on online for what the codeine content of a prescription cough syrup was, and it was the same as the Norco, 10mg! So I was able to sleep, and was thankful!

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Hello Dale,

May I first say that the first bit of proof that God is is the fact that we are here and have worth? Much of why we are here is explained in the first book of documentation called the Bible. Aren’t we all aware of the danger of good things being so familiar to us that it may end up totally unnoticed?

Earl

I have no argument with that. Did you overlook my reference to The Book?

Maybe I do take mild exception to that. What you are referring to is actually good evidence, but it is not proof in empirical terms like some unbelievers demand.

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Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,

God is a god of faith. That makes him unprovable. If God is visible than their is no faith.

If God was sat in the sky like the moon He would have two choices

  1. enslave all to His will at point of death (eternal damnation etc)
    2} Do nothing, and be seen (actual) as being benign, and therefore ignored.

As long as God is a god of faith people can choose to ignore Him or follow Him. In theory we should not be looking for a reward or a punishment, We follow God because we believe that is the right thing to do, and that His ways are correct.

Otherwise we are left with the idea that you have nothing to lose if Hell does not exist and everything to lose if it does. So that belief is self centred and nothing to do with God at all.

Heaven and Hell are not good criteria for believing in God. Religion is about aligning ourselves with God rather than some sort of fear of retribution or the converse hope of eternal happiness, neither of which can be proven until it is too late.

Forgiveness is not about retribution but peace of mind and loss of guilt. We can forget and move on instead of dwelling on an action with consequences, good, or bad, to us and / or others. With the caviat, of course, that we are both sorry, and determined to do better! (otherwise it becomes an excuse not to care at all and to live without morality or consequence.)

Richard

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In actuality, he is my adoptive Father and I am no longer a rebel on the streets or in prison, and I am glad to be looking for the reward of his smile rather than to have it withheld. If I still were a rebel, then all I should expect is punishment.

Jesus’ motivation was not selfish, but it was ‘enlightened self-interest’:

For the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…

That joy is us(!), if you nave been adopted into his family.

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New Testament verses containing "reward”…

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There are those who cannot think past punishment and reward. That neither validates, nor invalidates the existence of them. But true faith has nothing to do with them (IMHO)
“We are humble servants who have just done our duty”

Richard

Why doesn’t that disregard the familial aspect? It is more than just a metaphor.

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Recognizing that you are a child of God is not failing to think past punishment and reward. Those who cannot or do not are failing.

Why is being a member of a family either a reward or a punishment? Or anything to do with either? It might be termed an honour, or it might just be an acknowledgement that you are in alignment with (part of the family of) God.
Unless you are thinking in terms of nepotism? Except that God does not show favouritism in this life. My father was a Methodist Minister who was struck down with strokes and a failing body for over 20 years. Where is the reward in that? Was he less of a family member?
The problem is that, if we start looking in terms of reward, or punishment, or advantage etc we can loose faith if God does not come up to our expectations or life does not reflect what we think our beliefs justify. I guess Heaven and Hell would not qualify here as by the time we have found out the reality it will be too late. But the “hope” of Heaven can be a great comfort to those who have lost loved ones.

Richard

Perhaps this is a place for Pascal’s wager? (Wiki definition)

Pascal’s wager is an argument in philosophy presented by the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist, Blaise Pascal (1623–1662).[1] It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not.

Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas he stands to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell)

It is the epitome of the self centred faith. (or pseudo-faith).

Richard

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Good points. Roger Olson asked in one of his blogs if we as evangelical Christians would live life any differently if universalism I were true. (The answer is “no” by the way). But I like to pose the question as, would you still be a Christian if there were no heaven? I would like to believe I would still live life as a Christian if there were no promise of eternal blessing, but who knows. The Old Testament Jews had no well developed theology of heaven, but many followed God with no eternal promise but Sheol.

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Did I say necessarily in this life? Have you read C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce?

You don’t see any value in being part of Father’s family, and having a friend and co-heir in Jesus.

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Thoughts from the atheist while reading this. No debate, just questions.

How does this fit with the Holy of Holies?

Exodus 25: 8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

There was also the Exodus itself. For example, there was a pillar of fire or smoke that guided the people through the desert.

Wasn’t Jesus “God on Earth”, God in physical form? Thomas was allowed to touch the wounds on Jesus’ hands and side after the Resurrection. How does this fit into the ideas in the opening post?

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