Imagine Jim wants Julie to agree to marry him, but since Jim does not want to violate Julie’s free will, he never appears to her face-to-face. Jim claims that, if he were to appear to her directly so that his identity were absolutely certain, this certainty about his identity would prevent Julie from voluntarily agreeing to marry him. Would you not think Jim was quite confused about free will?
This is parallel to the argument a good majority Christians offer in response to the question: Why can not the Christian God simply step out of the shadows and personally introduce himself to those he claims to love? It is claimed that, if we were to have absolute certainty in the existence of this God, that would somehow destroy our free will. Does this make sense? Did not Satan allegedly reject God in full knowledge of his existence? Is there any relationship between having high certainty of someone’s existence, and not being able to reject them as a husband, friend, savior or Lord?
There are so many good reasons for an actual God to simply introduce himself. For the many same reasons that we encourage our guy friends to make themselves fully known to the girl they intend to marry before proposing, we expect any actual God to make himself fully known before asking us to accept any plan he might have for our lives. This is surely not too much to ask of a rational God of the universe, is it?
The following are good reasons your guy friend might make a face-to-face introduction prior to proposing:
- The woman can directly and more fully assess the character of your friend before making a decision.
- Your friend can be confident she accepts him for whom he truly is rather than out of fear of losing out or other negative consequences.
- With the many other alleged suiters hiding in the shadows (Allah or Brahma, for example), your friend could unequivocally demonstrate himself to be the only clearly evidenced suitor.
Arguably, the degree of evidence for the hidden Christian God we see in our shared reality does not exceed to any significant degree the evidence for every other hidden God. And we are told by Christian leaders that this hiddenness of God is necessary to allow us to have free will. Does this make any sense? Would you agree to marry someone for whom you were less than certainty they existed? Would Julie’s agreeing to marry Jim in spite of his hiddenness be a noble act? Or an act of irrationality?
(See also #02.)
There have been other attempts to explain the hiddenness of the Christian God.
- It has been argued that the Christian God desires our love, and there can be no genuine love without some degree of faith (belief exceeding the relevant evidence). Is this coherent? Imagine Jim hiding his existence from Julie, claiming that her acceptance of his proposal would demonstrate a degree of belief exceeding the evidence, and that this would be an indication of a greater love than if Julie had full certainty of Jim’s existence. Does this make sense?
- Another attempt to explain away the hiddenness of the Christian God is the assurance that, if we only seek God, we will find God. If you seek a gold treasure, you will be unlikely to find it. However, if you seek a God that can not be distinguished in any meaningful way from any other sought-after God, or from an imagined God, you are very likely to find such a God. This is evidence by the millions of individuals who believe in the most popular proposed Gods around the world. (See #50.)
DIALOGUE: (Man answers his doorbell.)
MAN: Can I help you?
JESUS: Yes, I’m Jesus, and I’d like to be your savior and have a personal relationship with you. Do you mind if I come in?
MAN: Do you mean Jesus of Nazareth, God incarnate?
JESUS: That’s right.
MAN: How do I know it’s actually you?
JESUS: Well, I know you decided not five minutes ago to confess to Julie Anderson that you’ve had a crush on her ever since you two had that private conversation about your aspirations. I also know the Asian woman driving the blue car on the street behind me is putting on her sunglasses. I know your left ear itches and that the Yankees will win their game 11 to 3 tomorrow. Note that molecular compound that just came to your mind. That is the cure for cancer. Oh, and remember that finger you lost in the table saw accident when you were young? Check your hand.
(The man’s hand again has five healthy fingers.)
MAN: Whoa! That’s impressive! But I really wish you hadn’t done that.
JESUS: Done what?
MAN: Made yourself so clear to me.
JESUS: But why?
MAN: Well, now I don’t have any free will to reject you as my savior.
JESUS: But of course you do! Knowing who I am has nothing to do with being able to reject me as your savior!
MAN: No, your existence is now far too clear. I no longer have any free will to reject you as my savior and friend.
JESUS: I don’t follow. Are you saying that mere knowledge of my existence forces you to accept me as your savior and friend?
MAN: That’s right.
JESUS: Who told you this?
MAN: My pastor made it very clear. There would be no free will if you went around ringing doorbells, making your existence indisputable.
JESUS: Well, I learn something every day. What should I do then?
MAN: Perhaps if you hid in the bushes, and just whispered barely audibly about your existence, that would work, at least for those who expect to hear you. But, for heaven’s sake, don’t give others the clear evidence that you’ve given me. How would they ever be able to “live by faith, and not by sight” with such clarity in their faces?
JESUS: Point taken. Sorry to have ruined your chance at redemption.
MAN: Forget about it. Hell is metaphorical anyway, right?
JESUS: Yeah…about that…