Why Isn’t God More Obvious? (With An Alternative Perspective From Andrew Blanton…Coming Soon)
By David Metcalfe
Not Enough Evidence!
It’s a fair question: why doesn’t God make Himself obvious to everyone? If God loves all people and desires a relationship with them, why would He allow so many people to believe that He doesn’t even exist?
My favorite author of all time, Malcolm Gladwell, was asked why he doesn’t believe in God during the Q and A after a lecture he gave at Penn State, and he answered, “Not enough evidence!”.
My other favourite author, Bertrand Russell, was once asked what he would do, as an atheist, if he died and met God. He famously said that he would tell God, “Not enough evidence!”.
Both of these guys, and many other atheists, are very intelligent people. They study the world and apply their logic the best they can in order to get as close to truth as possible. So, why doesn’t God make himself known to them? Why doesn’t he give them the evidence they are looking for?
Where Is The Evidence?
In Psalm 19, David writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.”
In Romans 1, Paul writes, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
The existence of the physical universe is one of the main ways people come to think there must have been a creator. As Ronald Reagan once said,
“Sometimes when I’m faced with an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve, and when we have finished eating that magnificent dinner, to ask him if he believes there’s a cook.”
The order, complexity, teleology, and beauty of the entire universe are on display to testify of an intelligent, powerful, purpose driven creator behind it. You still have the option to believe it all happened randomly; you aren’t forced to accept God’s existence. But is it really more believable that everything in the universe just happened randomly? A cosmic accident? Or is it more believable to think that a God must have created it?
What we believe in the Mormon church is that God has revealed Himself, not only through creation, but also in scripture. Anyone can gain a testimony of scripture. It is simply a matter of reading it, thinking about it, and praying to know if it is true. But beyond that, we understand that scripture can be held up to intellectual scrutiny in any capacity; historical, logical, philosophical, scientific, etc.
The Bible and the Book of Mormon exist for a variety of purposes: to help people understand who God is, to help people live moral lives, to give people an understanding of the history of God’s relationship to people, etc. But there is nothing more fundamental than the historical reality and spiritual transformation that comes through gaining a knowledge of Jesus Christ. Jesus is declared in scripture to have lived a sinless life, and to have died on the cross and risen again. The massive amount of historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ fills volumes of massive books, and there is still so much we are learning about it!
Beyond that, we understand that scripture reveals certain truths of the human condition that you cannot find elsewhere, and that, when applied to your life, reveal the validity of scripture to you. It is not only by studying scripture and the history around it, but by living it that we find its truth made manifest in our lives.
3) Personal Revelation
Throughout scripture, we see a common theme of God revealing Himself directly to people. For Moses, it was a burning bush on Mount Horeb. For Paul, it was a bright light on the road to Damascus. For Joseph Smith, it was the angel Moroni in the Sacred Grove. These are instances where God really made Himself known to people.
Every person of faith has some kind of personal revelation that gives them a testimony of God and who He is. For some people, it’s a dream; for others, a vision; for others, a feeling of peace and joy, etc. God finds ways to reveal Himself to so many people.
Do You Accept The Evidence?
I don’t think there’s a question of whether there’s enough evidence, but more so whether the evidence is accepted or not by the individual. Many times in the gospels, Jesus is asked to give a sign to prove that he really is the Son of God. But he knows they are not asking honestly, because he has already shown them so many signs. In Matthew 12, Matthew 16, Mark 8, etc., Jesus refuses to give them a sign, saying that he will only give them the sign of Jonah (referring to his death and resurrection on the cross).
But who accepts the signs that Jesus gives? After he had fed the five thousand and healed the blind man (and many other miracles), Jesus asks the crowd who they think he is. Many of them say they do not know, so he directs the question to Peter. Peter responds, “You are the Messiah”, and Jesus answers, “Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! No human revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven revealed it to you.”
In Matthew 5:8, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God”.
I mentioned at the beginning that Malcolm Gladwell said there was not enough evidence for him to believe in God. That was over ten years ago. Since then, Gladwell has taken a lot of time to think about faith, and has since come to believe in God and become a Christian. It was both intellectual and emotional. Intellectually- while he was writing his book “David and Goliath” and he met with many religious scholars in his research and found their thoughts engaging and interesting. Emotionally- he met a Christian couple who had suffered the loss of their daughter, and he was inspired and amazed by how their belief in God helped them through that time.
But Bertrand Russell, and many other intelligent and good hearted non-believers, never did come to accept the gospel in their lifetime. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” What is the “god of this age”? I would say, anything that causes one to deny the clear evidences in front of them: ego, excessive criticism, sinful desires, etc.
In the Mormon church, we understand that when we die, we go to the spirit world, where the gospel of Jesus Christ is given clearly and freely to everyone, and everyone has an equal opportunity to accept it and be in heaven with God. In this life, we get small but powerful glimpses into who God is: through creation, scripture, and personal revelation. Various people have different understandings of those truths, and will be judged accordingly to the amount of knowledge they have. Some people get more obvious evidence than others, and people who honestly seek truth and do not find it in this life will not be punished for it.
So why isn’t God more obvious? Because He’s as obvious as you allow Him to be. So pursue truth as best as you can, and you may find God in this life or the next; but no matter what, someday He will become very obvious to you, and you’ll have to decide whether you want to accept Him.