Skip to comments.Should God Appear to Atheists?
Posted on 09/04/2013 8:05:22 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Some atheists say that if God exists, He should show Himself to everyone so they can believe in Him and not go to Hell. Should a good God do this?
I've heard atheists say that the best thing God could do would be to reveal Himself openly so that everyone could believe in Him, do what He wants, and not go to Hell. Since God does not do this, we know that either He does not exist or He is not good.
When this comes up with your atheist friends, try exploring the question of what would happen if God were to unequivocally prove His existence to an atheist. What would come of this? Would God's sudden appearance change the atheist's heart such that he would desire to devote himself to God?
Atheists aren't idiots. An open display of powerful glory by the God of the universe would likely drive former atheists to serve Him out of fear, but what would this accomplish from God's perspective? God doesn't desire eternal slaves—i.e., those who work to fulfill His requirements out of a desire to escape punishment or to gain something they want. As God reminds the Israelites throughout the Old Testament, it's not the acts of worship He's after, but the hearts of children who adore their Father and want to be with Him.
I submit to you this illustration from The Gulag Archipelago, a book about the communist, totalitarian Soviet Union in the first half of the 20th century. This is the kind of scenario God has no interest in creating:
At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). The small hall echoed with "stormy applause, rising to an ovation." For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes.... But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly.... However, who would dare be the first to stop? The secretary of the District Party Committee could have done it.... But he was a newcomer. He had taken the place of a man who'd been arrested. He was afraid!....
The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood....
Stalin had made himself known to his people in all his power, and this was the result—forced worship given to avoid punishment. Yes, the standing ovation occurred, but it was not done out of love—it was not truthful. And for the atheist who sees God as a Stalinesque dictator, the result would be the same. This kind of "worship" does not please God; in fact, the hypocrisy of it angers Him.
A person who faults God for not openly showing His power in order to ensure that atheists will have the chance to do what they need to do to avoid Hell has missed the very purpose of God's revelation of Himself. We exist to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever," not to grudgingly follow His orders. How would cowing the atheist into submission by His presence further this goal for the atheist? The atheist has misdiagnosed his situation: uncertainty about God's existence is not his main problem, so certainty would not solve his problem. God is available with evidence enough to give confidence and trust to those whose hearts have been changed to desire Him. But if one hates the idea of the biblical God even in theory, one would be unlikely to love Him if He suddenly appeared in person.
The major difference between atheists and Christians is not that Christians believe God exists, but that they love Him for who He is and delight in pleasing Him, worshiping Him, and being with Him. This is why it's a good idea to ask the atheist who blames God's lack of appearance for his unbelief, "If I were to prove without a doubt that God exists, would you then love Him?” This question gets to the heart of the real issue for the atheist.
God requires faith. Demanding proof pretty much precludes any possibility of faith.
The whole idea of “should God” is offensive to me. Who are we to tell God what he should or should not do?
Its generally a bad idea to test the Creator.
God reveals Himself daily, it you can’t see Him that is your issue not His.
God did appear. They crucified him.
Even when the Israelites had God in their presence, they still grumbled and complained and their faith was waning. I don’t think it would do much good.
God went through this already and knows the outcome.
But good article, nonetheless.
I currently don't believe in Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, Unicorns, etc.
If they revealed themselves, I would then believe them, not out of fear but because they would then be true.
God doesn't desire eternal slavesi.e., those who work to fulfill His requirements out of a desire to escape punishment or to gain something they want.
Then what's with the Heaven & Hell thingy?
As God reminds the Israelites throughout the Old Testament, it's not the acts of worship He's after, but the hearts of children who adore their Father and want to be with Him.
What Bible is this author reading? Throughout the New Testament God is slaughtering and Smoteing non-believers.
He does every day. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
God is revealed in creation through His word. Just read Ezekiel 38-39 and compare it to the headlines. It is supernatural.
Its a complex question which is why I said generally.
16 You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.
“When this comes up with your atheist friends”...
I don’t have any of those. Atheism precludes friendship.
"Do I really need to say it?"
Yes, I’ve often thought it takes a lot more faith to believe a mere man is the highest power than to believe in great and loving God.
It is not a “should God,” but will He? Yes.
I know of at least three stories in which the person was either a non-believer or of a different religion and Jesus Himself appeared to all in visions/dreams and they converted. One was Hindu, one was Jewish and one was Muslim. Atheists? Not exactly, but it could happen to anyone.
Assuming God wanted to “reveal Himself” to atheists, I wonder what method of “revelation” would be sufficient to eliminate their doubts? And how often?
I’d think that sending a son down to earth who who taught, performed miracles, was killed and was raised from the dead, appearing in person to many, would be enough. How often should God do this, according to persons who don’t believe in Him?
What kind of stupid question is this?
The older I get the more I understand why old people don’t say much. I can only guess what the Creator who is possibly several billion years would even want to say to us other than, “behave yourselves!”