Thursday, January 16, 2014

Does God exist?

This topic has perplexed me since I was a young kid and I still don't know the answer. Input from the fellow bloggers will be appreciated.

Does God exist?

If the answer is 'yes' then why God is hiding from his creation.

"The Hiddenness of God"

A related problem is that of divine hiddenness. Many people are perplexed and see as problematic that, if God exists, God does not make his existence sufficiently clear and available. The problem, concisely stated, can be put this way. If God exists as the perfect, loving, omnibenevolent being that theists have generally taken God to be, then God would desire the best for his creatures. The best for God’s creatures, at least in the Christian religion and to some extent in all of the Abrahamic traditions, is to be in relationship with God. However, many people, both non-theists and sometimes theists themselves, claim to have no awareness of God. Why would God remain hidden and elusive, especially when individuals would benefit from being aware of God?

John Schellenberg has argued that the hiddenness of God provides evidence that God does not in fact exist. Using a child-parent analogy, an analogy which is often used in the Abrahamic traditions themselves, Schellenberg notes that good parents are present to their children, especially when they are in need. But God is nowhere to be found, whether one is in need or not. So God, at least as traditionally understood, must not exist.

Schellenberg offers several different forms of the argument. One version can be sketched this way. If God does exist, then reasonable nonbelief would not occur, for surely a perfectly loving God would desire that people believe in God. And if God desires that people so believe, God would work it out so that persons would be in a reasonable position to believe. However, reasonable nonbelief does occur. There are persons who do not believe in God, and they are reasonable in doing so. Even after studying the evidence, examining their motives of belief, praying and seeking God, they still do not believe and see no good reason to believe. But a perfectly loving and good God, it seems, would ensure belief in God by all such persons. God would make himself known to them so that they would believe. Since there is reasonable nonbelief, then, we have solid evidence that God, as a perfectly loving, caring being does, not exist. The argument can be stated concisely this way:

1.If there is a God, he is perfectly loving.

2.If a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur.

3.Reasonable nonbelief occurs.

4.So no perfectly loving God exists (from 2 and 3).

Various replies can be made to this argument. While not a common move by theists, one could deny the first premise. Dystheists maintain that God is less (maybe much less) than omnibenevolent. This view of God is certainly not consistent with traditional theism whereby, as Anselm put it, God is “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.”

Another reply is to deny premise two, and several reasons might be offered in support of its denial. First, it may be that those persons who do not believe are, for one reason or another, not ready to believe that God exists, perhaps because of emotional or psychological or other reasons. So God hides out of love and concern for the person. Second, it could be that God’s revealing himself to some people would produce the wrong kind of belief or knowledge of God or could cause one to believe for the wrong."

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  1. Of course She exists, L.D.

  2. Your post raises some very interesting points, LD. Much of the argument you cite here is based on the traditional notions of God as an anthropomorphic entity, a view that is promoted by The Bible. However, that view is only one of many, and evolved from early Judaisim, which was itself a tribal religion, informed by the culture and mores of the time. Other views of the transcendent are much less definitive.

    I think part of the bad rap that this kind of religious view gets is due to the notion of God as an omnipotent Father; if you accept that view, it becomes indeed difficult to reconcile all of the suffering that takes place in the world. My personal view, based upon both a lot of reflection and reading is that while God is ultimately undefinable, the expression of his (this is not really even an appropriate pronoun to use) presence and love is the unfolding universe. I suspect that an underlying principle of the universe, and hence God, is life, in its many forms, always striving upward towards something we cannot know. I think that it is up to us to be open to that journey, and to accept and contend with the challenges we encounter along the way.

    Perhaps, in some way, all of the experiences of life, if we really go back to God when we die, become part of God's experiences. Perhaps God is as dynamic as life itself, not a fixed and static entity.

    I will end by saying what I don't think God is: a cosmic Santa Claus who grants us our petitions if we ask sincerely enough. That strikes me as a childish notion that is clearly refutable.

    P.S. In my view, one of the best ways to expand your notion of God is to read authors like Marcus Borg, Harvey Cox, and John Spong.

  3. I heard the idea was God should be omnipotent too. Omnibenevolent would entail subjective realization of a kind I do not consider inevitable. But since you are in the sandbox anyway, have a look at

  4. Mound, Lorne and Opit, thank you for your responses. Opit, thank you for the link.

    Lorne, I am inclined to your way of thinking. I really appreciate the time you took to give a well thought out description of your ideas on the subject matter.

    I am personally somewhat interested in mysticism and have read a fair amount on that. Lorne, also thank you for recommending the authors: Marcus Borg, Harvey Cox.

    My quest started when I was a teenager - early teens- and continues to this day. Maybe someday I will feel enlightened and have a better understanding.

  5. I should add that a while ago I read an article about Mother Theresa. At certain time in her life she became very doubtful about the existence of God. She was also disillusioned by Jesus as she felt her prayers were not answered.

    Now she was supposed to be a very religious lady and devout Christian.

  6. Mound, by the way why are you allocating gender to God? I would think that God does not have a human body if there is one.:)