photo by markusspiske

 

I don’t know much about astronomy, so if I were to look through a telescope out into space, I couldn’t tell you what was a planet, a star, or another galaxy. Thankfully, there are those who can tell the difference, and maybe I’ll get around to learning from them some day. But, I digress. As far as I know, no astronomer has pinpointed the location of God, or Heaven, or seen a giant throne floating across the universe. When it comes to God’s existence, He seems so hidden. Why is it that the only knowledge of Him we have is found in texts that everyone keeps arguing about and that seem to contradict each other?

Thankfully, religious texts are not the only way of obtaining knowledge about the Creator of the universe. We can discover some things about the Creator by examining “clues” He has left for us.[1] These clues are found in the world around us, from the smallest particles to the vastness of the expanding universe, and are commonly referred to as “arguments” or “proofs” in the realms of ontology, cosmology, teleology, and morality. But, let us understand something about these clues: They will not convince everyone. There is not an argument in favor of God that, by itself, will bring every person who hears it to their knees, and I don’t believe there ever will be. And, maybe, God never intended for there to be just one solid argument. Perhaps we are to take the clues we have, build a cumulative case, and see if there can be a rational basis for faith in God.

It all boils down to this: Everyone relies on faith to some degree. No one was around when the universe came to be. Scientists and theologians alike are both working from clues left behind to establish a case of origins. And, as Timothy Keller points out, perhaps if we begin to look at the evidence as clues instead of definitive proofs of God’s existence, we will rely on a cumulative case instead of placing all our eggs in one argument basket. Just as a detective never relies on just one clue to make a case, so we should not rely on just one, or even two, arguments for our reason for belief.

I would also like to address God’s hiddenness. Many use this as a “proof” or argument that God does not exist because He does not make His existence readily known to everyone, especially when talking about evil and suffering in the world. If I am being honest, I cannot say with certainty why God remains seemingly hidden. The Bible certainly addresses the matter, especially in Job, but never gives any definitive answers. We can only speculate, but there are two things we should consider. First, God has not always been hidden. Even without naming one true religious text, we find that many of them have communication from a God or gods, and if we are specifically talking about the God of the Bible, He has been in contact with His creation for thousands of years. Second, it could be the case that God has said and given us everything He could just short of actually showing Himself. An actual revealing could be seen as violating His gift of free will to His creation, leaving people no choice but to acknowledge His existence. Although it sounds cliché, God possibly has reasons for hiding Himself as He seems to, but that says nothing of the clues left behind that can bring someone to a reasonable faith in a Creator.

To close, we must consider the alternative to God’s existence. It could be that God is not real (although this author believes He is). What then? We may be able to go on living as we currently are, but Jean-Paul Sartre brings this alternative to its conclusion, saying,

“It was true, I had always realized it—I hadn’t any “right” to exist at all. I had appeared by chance, I existed like a stone, a plant, a microbe. I could feel nothing to myself but an inconsequential buzzing. I was thinking…that here we are eating and drinking, to preserve our precious existence, and that there’s nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing.”[2]

[1] I use the word “clue” from Timothy Keller’s chapter “The Clues of God” in The Reason for God (New York: Penguin, 2008).

[2] Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea. Quoted in The Reason for God by Timothy Keller (New York: Penguin, 2008), p. 127.

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