Hiddenness: an obvious problem

I’ve been searching in vain online for a coherent explanation for ‘the hiddenness of God’ — an answer to the question, “If God really wants a personal relationship with everyone, why doesn’t he make himself and his intentions more obvious?”

The least satisfying answer I’ve found is, essentially, that God has made himself ‘obvious enough’ for everyone to believe in him if they want to believe. (This is true in a circular way: If people are willing to believe something based on flimsy evidence, then flimsy evidence is sufficient.)

Another answer, and one that gets a little closer to addressing the actual question, is that God hides himself on purpose because if he made himself too obvious, then believing in him would require no faith. Put another way, God intentionally makes it difficult to believe in him so that when people do believe, it is meaningful. But that begs the question of why that kind of ‘difficult belief’ is necessary in order for God to have a genuine love relationship with people. Why place any obstacle in the way of the relationships you are seeking?

There is no parallel of that requirement in human relationships — sane people do not intentionally make themselves difficult to understand, love or trust, just so it will be meaningful when people understand, love and trust them.

Also, this ‘hidden on purpose’ explanation is inconsistent with the situation described in the first few chapters of Genesis, before ‘the Fall.’ There, God is ‘completely obvious’ to Adam and Eve and appears to have a close personal relationship with them nonetheless. This isn’t trivial. Christian salvation doctrine depends on recognizing the pre-Fall situation as the baseline for the God-human relationship, the kind of relationship we all could be having with God right now if Adam and Eve had not listened to the serpent. We lost perfection “through Adam,” so we need to gain it back “through Christ.”

So for me, the hiddenness of God remains unexplained.


Posted on November 8, 2012, in Arguments for theism, Christian doctrine, Logic. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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