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!”
Theres more proof of Jesus then there is of Plato, yet Atheists have no problem believing in Plato.
He will. We all face Him sooner or later, believe that or not...
God can do whatever He pleases. We do not dictate to Him, He dictates to us (He has even given us His written Word). As Paul wrote:
Romans 9:20-21 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
And as Isaiah said:
Isaiah 45:9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? ...
The evidence of God, the Creator, is plain to everyone. There are people that will the deny the evidence until it is too late (i.e., at the Judgement).
Romans 1:20-22 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,...
The God deniers aren't looking for evidence, they are justifying their denials.
The basis for God's existence is as the Perfect Being, meaning, he has no needs, as opposed to Man where his needs require fulfillment albeit, different sorts of needs, physical as opposed to spiritual, hunger, thirst, etc in order to survive.
So,the premise regarding this thread is that having needs that require fulfillment renders you a mere mortal, where as not having any needs, whether it is food, air, other requirements of sustenance in order to exist, would make you immortal.
God's "Needs" are not physical but it is obvious from everything known about God, His "Needs" to have you have faith in Him, His needs to pray to Him, praise Him ,love Him, worship Him, are needs in which Man must fulfill in order to achieve approval in God's eyes.
Now, in the event Man as individual fails to fulfill that which God has commanded, demanded in response as declared to be God's "Needs", God's response is one of anger, of revenge as stated throughout the Bible. This phenomena of God getting angry, seeking revenge, has giving rise to the concept of Anthropomorphism.
Anthropomorphism, or personification, is attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being. Examples include depicting deities with human form and ascribing human emotions or motives to forces of nature, such as hurricanes or earthquakes.
Wikipedia:Anthropomorphism has ancient roots as a literary device in storytelling, and also in art. Most cultures have traditional fables with anthropomorphised animals, which can stand or talk like humans, as characters.
One of the definitions for 'anger' is one defined as having lost control of your emotions, common sense.Exacting revenge is one result of becoming angry, losing control. Anger, Revenge is a decidedly human weakness.
To describe God's ' anger' in anthropomorphic terms is an oxymoron of the highest order. God being the Perfect Being can not conceivably lose control of his thoughts, his Very Being and to have any just such circumstance belies the existence of God as being the Perfect Being and such would deny the very rationale that is the basis for God.
There are very many examples of just such contradictions in the way God is defined, the way God is known to exist through the mind of Man.
God's apparent lack of appearance or any modicum of proof that He exists explained as His need to test your faith in Him, his requirement as ultimate proof of your belief in Him, is God's ultimate need that which Man can fulfill only by the affirmation of faith in Him. But to deny that what He seeks in Man would render him as an imperfect being, as such would render any belief in God as a non-entity.
RE: Throughout the New Testament God is slaughtering and Smoteing non-believers.
I assume that when you use the word — slaughter, you are referring to mass executions.
Where in the New Testament is it recorded?
Would it not have been an eye opener to Pontius Pilate had Jesus appeared to him after His Resurrection?
RE: Assuming God wanted to reveal Himself to atheists, I wonder what method of revelation would be sufficient to eliminate their doubts? And how often?
See Post #10 above for one instance...
RE: Would it not have been an eye opener to Pontius Pilate had Jesus appeared to him after His Resurrection?
Well why wasn’t he even curious enough to investigate the empty tomb when stories began to spread in Jerusalem and the soldiers he ordered to guard it left their post?
If I recall, didn’t Matthew write that the streets of Jerusalem were fully of freshly-arisen dead saints after the death of Jesus? Wouldn’t that have been eye-opening enough?
“Then what’s with the Heaven & Hell thingy?”
Your mocking tone aside, a Christian’s perspective:
It’s not a “thingy”. It is a “spiritual state”.
Heaven-state of being eternally in the presence of God (Life)
Hell-state of being eternally separated from God (Death)
God is both pro-choice and pro-life at the same time. It’s His will that you choose life and it is His will that it be your choice.
At face value, your question is more of a “why” question..why would God decide to set up the situation where his created beings (humans)would have to make such a choice, a choice that carries with it eternal consequences?
A short answer is because His design called for beings to have free will. Free to believe Him, free to not believe Him, free to be with Him for eternity, free to be eternally separated from Him, free to believe he doesn’t exist,free to believe He exists and is who He says He is,free to call yourself a “free thinker”, free to try to convince others that God is a myth, free to call yourself a believer and to share your beliefs with others.
In summary, it’s all about freedom, but with a twist. With each and every choice we freely make, there is a potential consequence and what we choose to believe is no exception.
You are free to believe it or not.
Book(s), chapter(s) and verse(s), please.
Well, the Flood comes to mind, though it’s technically not a true slaughtering or smote...
Could this not have been a case of a series of private apparitions that were later recounted by the viewers to Matthew when he wrote his Gospel, events of which Pilate was unaware of?
What's wrong with them that they chose to burn forever?
Start with Numbers 31, Deuteronomy 2 and the whole book of Joshua
You said NEW TESTAMENT
Throughout the New Testament God is slaughtering and Smoteing non-believers."
Actually, these are very good points. And, assuming that you meant the OT, you are absolutely correct. The author of the article assumes that God is like a really nice man who is trying His darndest to present a persona valuable, kind enough to mankind to persuade them to like Him. Kind of like the Most Interesting Man in the World (he once parallel parked a train). This is not the case.
"Then what's with the Heaven & Hell thingy?"
But, you are correct...this is not the God described in the Bible. The author's God might make a good conversation piece, but the God described in the Bible actually hates a lot of men He formed for destruction (Rom. 9). They are held captive by agents He formed (IITim 2), they cannot see because He prevents them from seeing (II Thess.2), and they ultimately will be destroyed forever (everywhere).
"What Bible is this author reading? ."
Right. Anyone who believes reality is happening so men will have a "chance" to love Him voluntarily isn't reading the text. God is doing something quite different than this. Reality and the text are far more severe. Apparently, God is rescuing some from themselves with means that only He can control (I Pet. 1). He is adopting some, because He decided to before all this started (Eph. 1). To these people, He has made Himself known by infusing in them a perception not available to the rest of the world (Eph. 2).
Athiests are athiests because they cannot help it. He has crowded them out, intentionally, and will save them for a destruction that will be utter and permanent. And, He is not apologizing. For those whose citizenship has been transferred to the heavenly city, in a kingdom that cannot be shaken, lips which cannot but speak gratitude lift Him up in praise.
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 Old Testament God is slaughtering and Smoteing non-believers.
RE: eeerrrr no 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.
There is a HUGE difference between things like dark Matter, energy, BigFoot, Lochness Monsters and Unicorns and God.
God is the CREATOR, the others (if some exist) are CREATURES.
1) In what manner would you prefer that God reveal Himself to you?
2) God commands that He be worshiped and yes, FEARED ( as in revered). If He revealed Himself to you in the manner you demand in order that you will believe, would you then bow down and worship and fear (in the Biblical sense ) Him?
RE: Throughout the Old Testament God is slaughtering and Smoteing non-believers.
Did he smite non-believers for not believing in Him, or for their wicked deeds?
I guess that depends on your NT perspective, literal vs inspired tales. Taken literally, the holy city filled with the risen dead was quite the event,and surely would have impacted more than just the Jews there, and would have been quite the surprise to the Romans of the time, who would have had to confront the risen dead. After rising, did they return to their graves? Were they lifted up? Did they Romans chop them to bits?
If not literal, I suppose it could have been private apparitions or mass hysteria, but what does that say about the other events that occurred?
Way above my pay grade. The Heavenly Father can appear to whomever He wants, anytime He wants.
In order to see God, one must grow spiritually. You can’t put new wine in an old wineskin. You can’t patch an old garment with new cloth. In short... there is no room for God in a person who is already full of themselves!
Atheists are so full of themselves that they have no room for God!
Exactly - Christ said God is Life. I take that to mean the Animating Principle of the Universe - or that which tells Matter to get up and walk. That Principle is invisible - we know it by seeing it in action, but we quickly forget the totality, the unity of Him/It as we are enmeshed in Life, held to chains of cause and effect - instead we divide Him/It as food, friend, enemy, parent, child and so on. (May explain the Blessed Sacraments being ritualized eating, and why the Fall was depicted as an act of disobedient eating.)
Faith is impossible to use as an argument with an atheist, the stumblingstone is religion itself to many of them, that is, the various sects and the poor in spirit will never get it on the personal level until a trial is placed upon them they would rather not deal with alone. I’m old enough to have seen family atheists wither on into old age, too forlorn to accept any sort of guidance, bent on having it their own way to the end. Eventually they have cast aside the succor anyone else might offer and a sort of cowl of bitterness comes over them. Why share with Life anymore? Life is not compelling to them and they have nothing to give or receive. If they had listened to the still small voice crying “I am He!” then they would certainly have fared better - in my humble opinion. To an atheist I would say, if you sincerely want to know for sure if He exists or not why not act like He does and then live it and see if you are changed for the better. If it does not, what have you lost? You may even have gained a few new friends along the way.
Superb article. It has helped me to affirm my faith in God.
That account by Solzhenitsyn about the Soviet district committee applauding frantically to the point of exhaustion had a lesson about real fear. One committee member finally ceased clapping and sat down, and was instantly joined by all the others with tremendous relief.
That person was arrested by the NKVD and as he was being beaten in a Lubyanka torture cell, the officer hitting him shouted, “Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding Comrade Stalin!!!”
Your post was excellent, Dutchboy88. The only reason I could possibly come up with for God doing what He is doing has to do with the original problem: 1/3 of His angels leaving Him to serve Satan when Satan rebelled. And that is only a very tiny opinion of human perception. One day we will know, though, I believe. God Bless,
For some reason the html characters I used did not format my post correctly (or I slipped up). The “eeerrr no” remark was a quote from qam1, not my words. I do not hold this view. But, his claim that his belief in them would be based upon “truth” rather than “fear” is a good point.
I was simply saying, this is why God does not reveal Himself...according to the Scriptures. “It has been given you to understand. It has not been give to them.”
Do you feel your questions still apply? If so, I will answer them.
Good point. And, even this was part of His managed plan. The poor schmucks of Satan were simply used to display His utter control over everything...even them. This is not a "ying/yang" gimmick, nor a "war with evil" vignette. He is controlling it all; everything is subject to Him and He really is God over all. And He is Holy, Holy, Holy.
"Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?"...1 Cor. 6:3.
Sorry about that!