Why doesn’t God make himself known?

Peter Enns (aka The Village Atheist), a member of HAAM’s partner group, the Eastman Humanist Community, was asked the following question on Quora:

If God created the Earth and wanted humans to know that he created it, why did he not write an indestructible Bible instead of having humans write it for him? 

This was his response:

This is a very valid and good question. Thank you for asking it. 

I read one answer claiming that if God had written the book himself it would make us like robots, and we wouldn’t have free will. That is a cop out. We often hear that God is a loving father. Well I had a loving father; he was there for me physically, and that didn’t take my free will away. I could love him or refuse to love him; I could obey him or refuse to obey him (which I admit I often did), but I always loved him, and he loved me. Now what if he had been absent from my life, and only left me a book about himself, but not written by himself? A book that told me his rules that I should obey, and also that he loved me, but it had a catch – if I didn’t believe that the book came from him, and that he loved me, he would someday come and burn me alive. Of course, the book also stated that if I believed in the book and believed that he loved me, he would give me a mansion. Do you think I would believe the book actually came from my Dad, and therefore follow it? I might have as a little boy, but as soon as I became old enough to reason and think for myself, I think I would doubt that the book came from my Dad, and I doubt that I would take it seriously. Would you? 

Your question is exactly what people need to ask. It is a well thought-out question; we should ask those type of questions. They lead to critical thinking; they lead to searching for answers; they lead to advancement in human thinking; they lead to truth about what the cosmos is and how it works. 

Every writ or script ever written about God, god or gods has been written by humans, so humans like you and I have written scriptures about countless gods. Many of those gods have gone on to be considered part of ancient mythological writings, which we don’t take seriously anymore, and the reason is that people have asked questions like yours. But some scriptures and gods survived (or evolved from) ancient religions, and more were created by humans as time went on. Thanks to questions like yours, we will (and are) finding out that the ancient gods aren’t much different from modern gods and religions. The gods themselves are silent; the only noise we hear comes from the spokespeople. Every God, god or gods have one thing in common – they can’t survive without spokespeople. So the verdict is out and the options are very few. Your question supports the case and is one of the questions we need to ask in court. Will God, god or gods enter the witness stand and answer your question? I doubt it; only the spokespeople will answer, but they are all bringing different writings to present as evidence, and those writings all contradict each other.  

So what are the options that the court must agree on, since the missing person or persons has not been found to testify? 

  1. God, or god, or gods, if they exist, are incapable of revealing themselves, and humans are incapable of discovering them. 
  2. God, or god, or gods, if they exist, do not want to be revealed and are making sure that humans will not discover them. 
  3. God (or god, or gods) don’t exist.

There are no other options. Only God, or god, or gods, if they exist, are able to once and for all end this thousands-of-years-old debate. But so far, all we hear are the spokespeople, who all believe that their god(s) is the real deal. Also, as you can see, every option produces zero gods for us to encounter. So really, as far as we are concerned, every option is the same. 

Peter has given us permission to publish this article and use his name because, as he explains in a paraphrase of Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the TRUTH, because it is the power of KNOWLEDGE that brings peace to everyone who believes; not AN IMAGINARY GOD OR GODS.

My revised version of that verse. Emphasis mine.

(Compare Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. NIV)

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