• flight747
    11
    The following is a counterargument to a passage from Dr. Scott F. Aiken's dissertation titled "Does divine hiding undermine positive Evidential Atheism". Dr. Aikens states the following:

    "To say it plainly, such a god seems a moral monster, precisely the kind of entity the positive atheists were objecting to. Notice that severe coaches, teachers, and parents at least communicate with those under their tutelage – demanding more is often transformative, for sure, but what the demands are and how to achieve them must be clear...imagine such severe circumstances given to you
    without you even knowing that there is a severe judge, and so the judge has
    great expectations but neither communicates those expectations, purposes, or
    even her existence."

    I have attempted to outline his argument like this:
    1. If God demands obedience from humans, then he should reveal Himself to humans.
    2. God demands obedience from humans.
    3. Therefore, God should reveal Himself to humans. (1,2 MP)
    4. God does not, in fact, reveal Himself to humans.
    5. If God does not, in fact, reveal Himself to humans, then this should frustrate human beings.
    6. So, human beings should be frustrated by God not revealing Himself. (4,5 MT)

    Although I do see some valid points, I do still believe that there are mistakes in Dr. Aiken's arguement that because God does not reveal himself, it should frustrate humankind. My first argument is against premise number four, in which I do believe that God does indeed reveal himself through the letters of the Holy Bible. Throughout the Old and the New Testament, God's divine hand is seen working in people's lives. Although these Biblical characters lived in another era, the principles and moral lessons seen in the Bible, which are motivated by God, still uphold today, such as helping one's neighbor and not robbing. So, even though God is not visible today, his stories show humanity his desires. Moreover, think of a scenario where parents have had to leave their children behind (for example, they've been taken as war prisoners etc.), but have left the children letters expressing their love for them. In those letters, the children learn their parent's desires and how they wish the children live their life now that they're not present. In the same way with God, God is not visible but has left his desires on paper. This should not frustrate human beings but rather increase their trust in him.

    Thanks for reading! Please comment and provide good rebuttals to my arguments! Thank you!
  • Bitter Crank
    6.7k
    How could an infinitely knowing, present everywhere at all times, unlimited in power being reveal the Divine Existence to primates who have been sort of sapiens for a few hundred thousand years? For that matter, how can we cousins of pan troglodytes even conceive of an infinite being?

    According to doctrine, God became man. God didn't become superman; God began his human career in a manger, in flesh now appearing. By departing heaven, becoming human in the person of Jesus, dying, and persisting as a spirit (spiritus Sanctus) God ceased to be immortal, invisible, hairy thunderer...

    Now, I am sort of an atheist, lapsed believer, apostate, something. I doubt very much that human beings have ever been, would be now, or ever will be happy seeing raw godhood on display. I doubt very much if any gods care very much whether humans (primates, remember) find the absence of a handy divine avatar / icon frustrating. "Tough bounce, apes!" is their likely response.
  • andrewk
    1.6k
    What do you think about the points in the argument you quoted where God demands obedience? It seems to me that believing that is very problematic because there are different sacred scriptures - Bible, Quran, Vedas, Book of Mormon etc - which demand obedience to different rules, or in some cases (Vedas) do not demand obedience at all.

    I find it easy to believe that all of those might be love letters from God to Her creations, but not that they be sets of rules to which She expects us to adhere. Love letters can vary in tone, metaphor and mode of expression, but rules can't.

    PS: on re-reading your OP, I was delighted to notice that which escaped me at the first reading. That is that Dr Aikens, like me, believes that God is female.
  • flight747
    11
    Hi andrewk,

    I am glad you liked the post! On your question about my views on there not only being the Holy Bible but also other love letters from God, such as the Quaran, Vedas, Book of Mormon, I do have to agree that God has left many love letters out there. I believe that they all have an underlying truth of teaching its followers to pay homage and respect to a higher being. Further I also believe that they all have some truth. Thus, to define God, at the moment, I see Him or Her as the greatest conceivable being. That would be the definition of God here.

    Hi Bitter Crank,

    To answer your question about why an almighty, all-knowing, all good God would reveal himself to limited beings as us (I hope I am accurately presenting your view and if not please correct me), I would have to say because he created us and the Earth around us. Moreover, the distinction with the God from the Holy Bible from other gods throughout history, such as Greek gods, Egyptian gods, is that the Christian God wants to have a relationship with humanity. In the Bible this is seen with Abraham's covenant. More specifically, the covenant that God made with Abraham was called a suzerain-vassal covenant. This type of covenant entailed that a being of higher power would provide for the being of lower power. So the type of covenant God made with humanity directly illustrates the scenario that you're wondering of why an almighty individual would want to be with a lesser being, and moreover, demonstrates that he or she enacted this covenant in order to provide and be active in humanity's lives. Now, you must be wondering, well how can God, if we don't see him, be active? Well just think of a scenario where even though you don't see someone, they are still aiding you in some way. A parent helping their college student by sending them money, immigrants that send money to their families abroad, etc. Hope that answered some questions or doubts.
  • Hanover
    4k
    4. God does not, in fact, reveal Himself to humans.flight747

    I think many religions and religious people believe God does reveal himself, so this premise can't be accepted as a given except to an atheist.
  • flight747
    11


    Hi Hanover,

    I definitely agree with you that there are many religions and people that believe God does indeed reveal himself to humanity. However, many atheists argue that belief in God is delusional. For example, what makes the difference between believing in God and believing in Santa Clause? Everyone knows that Santa Clause is not real, we can't see him, it is impossible for him to go around the world to every child's house in one night, but why then do humans think God is real, (that he is all-knowing, all-mighty, and everywhere) if we have never seen him? I think that is where Atheists find it hard believe in a God if they have never seen Him or Her with their own eyes. How would you then make the distinction? Why is God not like Santa Clause? IS there any proof of God, as in is there a way to know there is a God, in addition to stories passed down from person to person?
  • BrianW
    333


    First, I should say that while I have beliefs (a chosen path of inference) in terms of what the larger picture of life may be, in the traditional sense I do not believe in God and, therefore, have no strong objection to being identified as an atheist. My aim is to give an alternate view and hope to stir some mental cogs into action.

    As to the OP,

    I don't think God is hidden because all the teachings in the Bible by the prophets (men of God) imply that if we gave life the right consideration then His (God's) presence would be quite obvious. My point is, God is not hidden, He is ignored.
    For example, the Israelites on their sojourn from Egypt. Having witnessed the many miraculous events attributed to God, they kept ignoring His commands and requests at every turn. The same sequence of events seems to repeat itself over and over => God comes into people's lives; He gives commands or tries to establish a particular kind of discipline based on worship of His greatness; then humans eventually realise they should really get back to their own business, and they ignore everything about God.

    As to God's influence, I find that majority of the people think of Him (God) primarily as a meddler who seems to show up when people have no choice but to initiate a certain course of action and He then begins to pretend to dictate those actions. The reason I say this is because of instances like Moses' where, even before God appeared to him, he had outwardly manifested his dissension against his distaste of slavery by 'accidentally' killing an Egyptian in a scuffle. So, it's not too far-fetched to think that eventually he (Moses) would have engineered a revolution against the Egyptians. Remember Moses was highly educated by the standards of those times. Also, the same may be said of most of the other circumstances in the Bible which don't appear to be too symbolic not to be actual events.

    However, outside of the 'God argument', I will concede that the influence on those human societies where those impulses and intelligences (enacted by those people referred to as prophets and leaders) played a part, have revolutionised humanity in many positive ways and have played a massive part in opening people's minds to the considerations of the 'bigger picture'.
  • reasonablewave
    6
    flight747,

    Like you, I agree that there is an issue with premise four of your outline of Dr. Aikens' argument that human beings should be frustrated by God not revealing himself. However, I differ slightly in the way in which I see the issue with that premise.

    While I do believe that God does reveal Godself throughout the Bible, as you said, I'd argue that the Bible is not the only way in which God has chosen to reveal Godself throughout time. Even in absence of the Bible, I believe that God has been and continues to be visible to all of God's people. Romans 20:1 states the following: "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." It seems one can gather from this verse that God, making Godself know through "what has been made," is visible throughout Creation (meaning both people made in the image of God and in nature). Thus, I find issue with premise four not only because of the existence of the Bible, but also because of the revealed nature of God through Creation.

    Bitter Crank,

    You asked:
    "How could an infinitely knowing, present everywhere at all times, unlimited in power being reveal the Divine Existence to primates who have been sort of sapiens for a few hundred thousand years?"

    After pondering your question, I find issue with premise one and the resulting conclusion found in the third point of Dr. Aikens' argument as presented by flight747. I would like to direct your attention to Exodus 33:18-20:

    Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

    From this Scripture it is clear that there is certainly a limit to the fullness of the glory of God that humans can handle to encounter. I admit, I have not read Dr. Aikens' dissertation, so it may be that he more clearly explains what he means by God revealing Godself to humans. However, if he is implying that God should fully reveal Godself to humans in the sense that Moses requested in the above passage, it seems unwise and unnecessary for God to reveal Godself in such a way.

    Instead, I suggest a revision of the first three points of the argument as follows:

    1. If God demands obedience from humans, then God should reveal God's law to humans.
    2. God demands obedience from humans.
    3. Therefore, God should reveal God's law to humans.

    From here, one could certainly formulate different arguments based on one's beliefs regarding how God reveals Godself and God's law to all or some of humanity. Based on my previous statement about how God reveals Godself to all, one could argue that the observation of the qualities of God are enough to extrapolate God's law for us. However, I also see how one could continue the argument of frustration based on the fact that not everyone throughout the world or throughout time has had access to God's law as depicted in the Bible.

    I welcome your thoughts regarding the continuation of this counterargument.
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