Hekima ya Mdomo ~ Kwaya ya Mt. Yosefu Mfanyakazi Arusha[Mp3 review & Lyrics]

10 Possible Reasons for a ‘Hidden’ God

If God exists, where is he?

Moreover, if God is all-loving and all-powerful, why hasn’t he shown himself to the world? He’s all-loving: why would he leave any room for doubt? He’s all-powerful: why not reveal himself in the most spectacular of ways that would make unbelief impossible?

I’ll start by admitting that the argument from the hiddenness of God is a reasonable objection—and I’ll also admit that there are days when I wonder in exasperation, “God, where are you?” I think it’s a fair question—but just because a question is fair does not mean it’s unanswerable. Good questions often have good answers, and I think this particular question of God’s hiddenness has some reasonable answers.

This is really an objection regarding an absence of evidence for God. Surely you’ve heard it said that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but this isn’t always true. Absence of evidence can be good evidence of absence if

we should expect more evidence than we find. (Should there be more evidence?) we exhaust all possible ways of investigation for evidence. (Have we done enough looking around?)

we should expect more evidence than we find. (Should there be more evidence?) we exhaust all possible ways of investigation for evidence. (Have we done enough looking around?)

My contention is that (1) God has provided sufficient evidence for reasonable belief, and (2) thorough investigation reveals good evidence for God’s existence. In other words, the obscurity of God’s presence in the world is not sufficient evidence to prove that God does not exist.

Here are ten points to consider.

1. God is not entirely hidden.

He just doesn’t appear today in a way directly accessible to the physical senses, as your friends, spouse, or boss does. But discovery by bodily experience is only one way to learn truths. We can also learn things by logic and reason.

At the end of the day, something is convincing people of God’s existence and has for the last twenty centuries. Growth in education and scientific advancement has not put a damper on the life of the Church. (On the contrary, growth in education and science can historically be attributed largely to the Church.) Christians by and large don’t just put blind trust in the notion that God exists; they are convinced.

This conviction is what drives evangelization, debate, radical life changes at times of conversion, and, pre-eminently, martyrdom. The religious conviction of Christians does not happen coincidentally; reasons drive conversion and belief.

2. God is all-knowing, and we are not.

We can think like God, but not as God. Consider the following argument:

 1. If God exists, then he would do X, Y, and Z. 

 2. But he doesn’t do X, Y, and Z. 

 3. Therefore, God does not exist.

The problem with the major premise (1) is that it assumes we can know exactly what it’s like to be God—and, more specifically, what it’s like to reason as God. But to think with omniscience and act with omnipotence as the eternal Creator is outside our limited human ability. (Imagine an ant trying to understand quantum mechanics.) We cannot fill God’s shoes. Nor can his “brain” fill our heads. As G.K. Chesterton remarks in Orthodoxy, “the poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”

God may have good reasons for his “hiddenness” that we just don’t see. But this doesn’t mean we can’t make logical inferences and get part way to a good explanation. We just can’t arrive at a full explanation apart from God’s direct revelation.

3. God desires man to seek him.

We know this because he said it: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7-8).

This is not a direct promise from God that he will grant everything at our immediate request, like a genie in a bottle. But God promises providence to all who acknowledge him with trust—like a father to his child—that he will give us what we ask for, provided that we ask for what is good for us.

This is not a direct promise from God that he will grant everything at our immediate request, like a genie in a bottle. But God promises providence to all who acknowledge him with trust—like a father to his child—that he will give us what we ask for, provided that we ask for what is good for us.

A twelve-year-old atheist might pray a desperate prayer to God in hope that God will reveal himself but in the end may not “find” God until he is eighty-six and minutes away from physical death. Another twelve-year-old atheist may pray the same prayer and be knocked onto his knees at the moment he says, “Amen.” Why God seems to answer some prayers immediately and not others is a mystery. Likely it is often we and not God who stand in the way of God’s immediate “delivery of the goods.” Or it may be that God desires for us to struggle for a while—perhaps a long while—that we might grow or be improved in some way.

God is not interested in shielding us from all pain and suffering in this life. Christianity is not a get-out-of-suffering-free card. God is interested in granting us eternity, free of all suffering and pain and illuminated by unimaginable joy, in the next life—in life after death in heaven, and life after life after death at our bodily resurrection.

The more we seek God, the more he’s likely to reveal himself. The more he reveals himself, the more we’ll come to know him. Remember Aslan’s words to Lucy in Prince Caspian: “Every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

4. It may be that God desires only those who seek him to see him.

This was Blaise Pascal’s best guess. God has revealed himself in such a way, posits Pascal, that those who seek him sincerely will indeed find him, but those who do not seek him will not:

It was not, then, right that he should appear in a manner manifestly divine, and completely capable of convincing all men; but it was also not right that he should come in so hidden a manner that he could not be known by those who should sincerely seek him.

He has willed to make himself . . . appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from him with all their heart. He so regulates the knowledge of himself that he has given signs of himself, visible to those who seek him, and not to those who seek him not (Pensées 430).

5. There are sufficient reasons to believe in God despite his “hiddenness.”

There are good reasons to believe in God, and these reasons drive our hope. God is hidden now, but not forever, provided we persevere in faith and love to the end (see Matt. 10:22, 15:4-7; Rom. 11:22).

St. Paul writes, “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). Vatican I confirmed that we can know through reason alone that God exists. The point is this: we cannot see God directly in nature—but we can see his footprints, as it were.

St. Thomas Aquinas developed this idea and demonstrated the truth of Paul’s claim, particularly in his Summa Theologiae and Summa Contra Gentiles, building upon the intellectual foundation of pagan philosophers like Aristotle and Plato.

If the universe had a beginning (as many scientists, both atheist and believer, are willing to grant), there are good explanations for it. The kalam cosmological argument and Leibniz’s argument from contingency give airtight philosophical explanations (using science to support their premises) for how the universe must have a cause that is eternal, spiritual, all-powerful, and intentional.


Artist: Kwaya ya Mt. Yosefu Mfanyakazi Arusha

Song: Hekima ya Mdomo

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Furthermore, logical incoherencies of an actual infinity of past events make an eternal universe improbable. But even if the world is eternal, according to Aquinas’s arguments, the world still needs an explanation outside itself—an explanation that points to a being who looks very much like God.

Thus, the origin of the universe (and the vastly improbable life-permitting universe in which we find ourselves) give us good reasons to believe in an all-powerful Creator, and the argument from objective morality suggest that God is, in fact, all-good and the standard of all goodness.

God has given us good reasons to believe in an intelligent Creator, and indeed, these reasons have convinced most through the ages. We might thus ask the atheist: on what basis should we expect more evidence from him?

6. God may not want to “scare” us into belief.

Perhaps God has given us just enough evidence of himself to keep us interested in him, that we might continually seek him. A direct revelation of God that cannot be denied might simply scare people into obedience. But God wants obedience from his children out of love, not out of fear. Seeing God is not having faith in him.

Remember the words of St. James: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (2:19).

7. God’s hiddenness allows us to help one another to believe.

Philosopher Richard Swinburne proposed this explanation. God has revealed himself enough so that many people have come to believe—the Church has not tired. But many people are tired because they do not have hope.

God’s hiddenness gives believers an opportunity to have compassion and to grow in virtue, particularly toward unbelievers. It provides an opportunity to evangelize; to grow in patience, gentleness, and reverence; and to grow in faith ourselves by responding to tough skeptical objections. If God’s existence was obvious to the whole world, apologetics and evangelization would look very different from how they do.

8. The testimony of miracles is that God does reveal himself in a more accessible way through temporary events.

There are many miracles described in the Bible. But miracles—events in nature that require a supernatural explanation—are not a thing of the past.

David Hume believed that miracles were not part of human experience, but scholar Craig Keener begs to differ. Keener assembled a massive two-volume work demonstrating that, in fact, millions of people even today claim to have experienced a miracle through belief in God (perhaps through prayer or some other religious means).

Of course, testimony itself doesn’t prove the validity of the claim, but based on the numbers, it very well could be that at least one of these is a true miracle. Indeed, there are many accounts of atheist investigators—medical specialists, for example—who are hired to investigate and become believers as a result of their findings.

It takes only one miracle to show God’s existence. And as long as miracles remain possible, God’s existence remains possible. I think there are good reasons to believe that God has revealed himself, time and time again through the ages, by miraculous intervention.

9. An apparently supreme and undeniable manifestation of God’s existence may not guarantee “God did it.”

A “sign in the sky,” for example, could be aliens playing a prank on us. Sounds silly, but how would you know for certain it wasn’t?

A much more convincing manifestation of divine existence would be God actually dwelling among us in the flesh, but would even this guarantee faith in those who encounter him?

10. God has revealed himself to us directly.

He did so in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was born of a virgin, possessed inexplicable wisdom (even as a child) that shocked the “educated,” turned water into wine, multiplied loaves and fishes, prophesied and fulfilled prophecies, calmed storms, performed exorcisms, raised the dead to life, triggered radical conversions, performed countless physical healings, loved as only God could love, died a terrible death on the cross after being scourged half to death—and, finally, rose from the dead in a glorified body that could pass through walls yet still eat broiled fish.

Jesus claimed to be the one God of the Israel—the one God of the universe—and gave the people he encountered every reason to believe it. Yet people still disbelieved firmly—even firmly enough to execute him.

Maybe God knows that a more obvious, even blatant, presence in the world right now wouldn’t be the “aha!” moment many skeptics believe it would be. Maybe God’s hiddenness is an act of mercy.

Down in adoration falling, Lo! the sacred Host we hail,

Lo! oe’r ancient forms departing Newer rites of grace prevail;

Faith for all defects supplying, Where the feeble senses fail.

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