Proof of God

By Dr. Christopher Plumberg

An open letter. On why God won't prove His existence in the specific ways we demand, and why this refusal is not reflective of His power.

Dear Doubter,

I really don't know why God won't reveal Himself to you the way you ask Him.

However, here's a better question: why should He? Asking why He won't give you the sign you demand is a little like asking why the President of the United States isn't powerful enough to return the angry email I sent him this morning: the answer probably has less to do with his power to answer me and more to do with the fact that he simply has no intention of doing so.

In other words — and I don't ask this flippantly at all — why should God be constrained to reveal Himself to you in the way that you demand Him to? Would He really be the transcendent God of the universe, who created and sovereignly sustains everything which exists, if He could be so easily manipulated by someone like you or me? If anything, if God were somehow obligated to reveal Himself in whatever way we demanded Him to, in what sense would He still be deserving of the title "God"?

It's true that characters in the Old Testament, like Gideon, asked God for signs — and He delivered. But asking for proof of His existence is radically different from the requests which Gideon made of Him. In the book of Judges in the Old Testament (6:36-40), Gideon uses his request for specific signs as an opportunity to distinguish whether the instructions he was receiving were truly from God, not as an opportunity to prove that God exists in the first place (which he already certainly believed). Gideon, like you, already had plenty of evidence of God's existence; his request for signs was motivated simply by a desire to be sure that he was truly obeying the voice of the Lord.

Let me state the point slightly differently: if I were to give you evidence — as I would be happy to do — that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after being crucified, that God is the reason for the universe's existence and the Creator and Designer of all life on earth, that God alone is the source and foundation of the kind of meaningful morality that most educated people consider to be an obvious aspect of our world — if I were to give you that evidence, and demonstrate for you beyond a reasonable doubt that God's existence really did provide the best, simplest, most natural explanation of all of these independent lines of reasoning — would you then believe? Would you respond to this evidence by embracing Christ by faith? Or would you continue to insist that God must reveal Himself to you in whatever way you demand?

You see, God already has revealed Himself to you. In Romans 1:20, we read that "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they [i.e., those who do not believe in God] are without excuse" (NASB). God has already demonstrated His existence to you, just not in the way that you have demanded Him to. His apparent refusal to cater to your demands is not an indication of His powerlessness to do so, but rather reveals that you already have the evidence that you need to make an informed decision.

Honestly, I'm not even asking you to have "faith," in the sense of suspending disbelief: I'm asking you to acknowledge the evidence God has already placed before you, embedded in the very fabric of creation, and exhibited throughout human history. As someone who works in academia, I find that one of the most common misconceptions about Christianity is that somehow one must reject "reason" and embrace "faith" in order to be saved. I have no idea how someone informed on the actual evidence for Christianity could ever make this mistake, and I can only assume that most people just don't know about this evidence or have somehow been convinced that it doesn't exist. The evidence, for instance, for the resurrection of Christ from the dead is truly overwhelming, if not totally compelling, as far as I can tell. I'm not pretending that Christianity doesn't have its share of difficult questions to answer, of course, but I will happily contend that the doubts to which one is entitled generally extend well beyond the regime of what is reasonable, given the breadth and extent of the available evidence from many different, independent lines of reasoning.

Moreover, no other religion can claim the kind of historical, evidential support that Christianity can, and so it's really not fair or accurate to characterize various religions merely by the similarity of their moral instructions. In terms of the available evidence, Christianity is in a class all its own, and easily outweighs competing truth claims from rival religions. So don't let the "faith/reason" dichotomy that's sometimes tossed around in academic circles confuse you: the weight of reason alone heavily favors Christian teaching, even if it does not render its truth inescapable.

Let me close by returning to the questions I asked a bit ago. If I showed you this evidence, what would your response be? Would you confess your unbelief, turn from your sins, and follow Christ? Or would you continue to insist that only the kind of evidence you deemed acceptable would be sufficient to persuade you? If the former, then you are indeed asking an honest question, and I think you will find no great difficulty in evaluating the evidence and recognizing the strength with which it points toward the truth of Christianity. If the latter, then you are not asking an honest question at all, but are only disingenuously rejecting the evidence you do have in favor of the evidence you want to have.

Let me encourage you to embrace the former attitude. Ask the Lord to give you an open mind which is able to see and evaluate clearly the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, the creation of the world and the foundation of the moral order in God's own character. Acknowledge that you need Him to even begin to look at the evidence objectively. Ask Him to help you in that, and then commit to following the direction that the preponderance of the evidence takes you. Rest assured, this is a request I believe He will most certainly and gladly respond to. You may not end up with every question answered (I certainly don't!), but I think you will find that there is more than enough evidence available to satisfy your desire for the truth.

Image Credit: Province of British Columbia; "Boxes in Warehouse"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | God-Father

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Published 4-18-16