Responding to comments regarding my Divine Hiddenness post by “Truth in Fighting”

Recently, I authored two posts regarding the problem of divine hiddenness in which I responded to common defenses theists give for the problem of divine hiddenness [and did not argue that divine hiddenness serves as a defeater for belief in God].

A theist from the blog “Truth in Fighting: A unique look at issues through the eyes of an MMA fighter, featuring theological discourse” (henceforth referred to as “Truth”) engages in a very large amount of personal attacks (at least in this post) responding to my “Divine Hiddenness and Free Will” post. I don’t want to ‘poison the well here,’ but rather note the low level of discourse that takes place in this post before responding to the comments made in between the personal attacks.

I found it rather ironic that Justin Vacula decided to open his argument with a excerpt from Calvin and Hobbes, since his argument contains all of the illogical and emotional reasoning one would expect from a child the age of Calvin.

This argument is already a non starter due to the fact that Justin, like so many other ignorant skeptics and theists, think that the “the all-powerful, all-loving, and all-knowing god” somehow accurately describes the Christian God. It doesn’t.

Not only is his inaccurate description of God a major problem, his argument typically displays the same ol’ double standard of logic and reasoning that skeptics only apply to religion and not to anything else.

He then goes on to post quite a strange analogy in the process of engaging in more personal attacks (I count at least fifteen below):

This is an emotional argument. Since when does love logically entail person X must personally meet with person Y before person Y joins in a cause. Furthermore, it reveals the ignorance of basic Christian theology.

That’s about the gist of it. This ‘why doesn’t God reveal Himself to me’ line of logic not only fails, but it never had any start to begin with. Like most ‘arguments’ skeptics give, their logic applies SOLELY to religion and if one were to apply the same type of logic to anything else, they would rightly be considered an idiot.

His argument isn’t the only thing sorely lacking in this department. He also can’t seem to tell the difference between belief and faith, which I believe stems from his elementary or non existent knowledge of Christianity. This guy has created 7 rebuttals to 7 ‘defenses’ he claims theists bring up in response to his argument. A lot of these defenses I would never use, so I will only go over the ones I myself would use.

Again, this bad reasoning all boils down to complete and utter lack of even the most basic knowledge of Christianity.

Vacula is severely lacking in basic Christian theology.

How he thinks he is qualified to refute a single thing regarding Christianity when he doesn’t even know Hebrews 11:6 is beyond me.

As you can see, Vacula is neither competent in logic or Christian theology. Just another lightweight intellectually shallow skeptic that thinks his arguments are something new under the sun. Laughable.

I would wager that engaging in more than fifteen personal attacks in one post while responding to someone’s comments makes a person look really bad and would lead readers to not to even take the person seriously – and for good reason. Heaping personal attacks onto a person is not an effective or mature way to argue. We can and should disagree while being respectful as 1 Peter 3:15 says.

As I noted, I didn’t argue that divine hiddenness serves as a defeater for belief in the Christian god, but rather responded to the defenses theists give to answer the problem. “Truth in Fighting,” though, assumes this throughout the post – which is obviously problematic. I’d like, though, to address his points regardless of the personal attacks and the misunderstanding/strawman.

his argument is already a non starter due to the fact that Justin, like so many other ignorant skeptics and theists, think that the “the all-powerful, all-loving, and all-knowing god” somehow accurately describes the Christian God. It doesn’t. The problem here how people inaccurately define the ‘all-loving’ part as some sort of fuzzy, feel good, warm emotion. It’s more synonymous with ‘happy’ or ‘wants to make people happy’ than it is with the word love. One look the bible will see that God does things that do not match up with the warm, fuzzy, feel good definition of the word love.

I agree that the Bible doesn’t describe God as all-loving. This is not, though, a problem for me, but rather the theists. The ‘god concept’ typically described to me is all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing – and this is how many academic theists and Christian philosophers believe God to be. Some, like William Lane Craig, for example, profess that God is all-loving even in the face of slaughter. Others, particularly in problem of evil discussions, will try to argue that evil is needed for ‘soul-building’ and that we can know what good is. Some even argue that God has sufficient reasons, of course, for permitting evil and he still remains all-good. If the all-loving attribute were removed from God, the problem of evil wouldn’t even be a problem; all-loving then, it seems means all-loving in the sense that most persons understand it.

Not only is his inaccurate description of God a major problem, his argument typically displays the same ol’ double standard of logic and reasoning that skeptics only apply to religion and not to anything else. When people want to work for walmart, they neither demand nor expect the CEO of walmart to meet with them before they apply. When people enlist in the military, they neither expect nor demand the leaders of the specific branch to personally meet with them before they enlist. If the CEO of walmart or the leader of a military branch doesn’t meet with the average joe before they enlist in the military or send in an application for walmart, why would anyone expect God, who is the creator of the universe, expect such a thing?

This analogy fails; persons have good reason to believe that CEOs and military leaders exist. the belief that these persons exist is overwhelmingly reasonable while the belief in God, as theists would even admit, is not on par with belief that Wal-Mart has a CEO. The person applying to be a Wal-Mart worker or a solider additionally has no good reason to meet the CEO or military leaders before enlisting. I would wager, though, that persons should want to have good reasons to believe God exists before ‘enlisting’ in the Christian faith. I would get a job or enlist in the military not because I have sufficient warrant to believe that CEOs or military leaders exist, but rather because I want to make money, serve the country, etc.

That’s about the gist of it. This ‘why doesn’t God reveal Himself to me’ line of logic not only fails, but it never had any start to begin with. Like most ‘arguments’ skeptics give, their logic applies SOLELY to religion and if one were to apply the same type of logic to anything else, they would rightly be considered an idiot.

The thrust of the “Why doesn’t God reveal himself to me” reasoning is that God ought to be morally compelled — and for good reasons — to reveal himself. A god who wants persons to believe he exists and knows that many people are killing each other because of religious differences should feel morally compelled to do so.

An all-powerful and all-knowing being, I would wager, should have a tremendous amount of moral responsibility – and much more so than humans do. If I were all-knowing and all-powerful and, at the same time, I wanted persons to believe I existed and knew that persons were killing each other because of me and I could prevent much of this by revealing myself, I would feel obliged to do so. Persons would be horrified to see me sitting at my computer, for example, doing nothing about this situation. If I should be compelled to reveal myself in this hypothetical scenario, why shouldn’t God? After all, he should have much more moral responsibility.

Of course, it’s not the case that everyone would believe I existed if I revealed myself if I were all-powerful and all-knowing, but revealing myself would not compel people to believe and it would prevent a great deal of suffering.

Again, I’m not making this argument, but rather am posing a hypothetical. Perhaps, though, in the future, I might craft a divine hiddenness argument. If I were to do so, though, I’d spend a great deal of time supporting the premises of the argument mainly arguing why we should expect God to reveal himself if he existed. As many know, though, absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence, so the atheist ought to be careful when crafting a divine hiddenness argument.

He also can’t seem to tell the difference between belief and faith, which I believe stems from his elementary or non existent knowledge of Christianity.

The terms ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ are very ‘open’ terms that can have many different definitions. I would, though, generally define ‘belief’ as ‘assenting to the truth value of a proposition’ and ‘faith’ as ‘belief in a proposition that is not backed by reason, argument, and evidence.’ Depending on the context, I may define these terms differently and many others may disagree with my definitions. Regardless, those are the definitions I would generally give. My “elementary” or “non existent knowledge” of Christianity has nothing to do with this.

Just to note: this idea of “lack of knowledge about Christianity” is quite peculiar because all sorts of Christians disagree about certain matters…and then claim that atheists lack knowledge. How am I suppose to have knowledge of “True Christianity” (TM) when so many people are claiming different things and beliefs vary from person to person? I can only respond to what I am given and generally respond to what most theists believe or otherwise specifically address an argument.

The Bible, even, defines faith quite differently throughout. Is faith “belief in things not seen?” Is faith “hope and trust in God?” Many will interpret faith differently and there doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason to believe a given interpretation is accurate while others are inaccurate. This is one of the reasons I hardly care about the Bible and don’t think that it’s worth my time in arguments. I’ll mention some verses and ideas that Christians hold that seem to lead to a contradiction (particularly, perhaps, the idea that we need suffering for there to be good although there is supposedly no suffering in Heaven), but that’s not my preferred route.

First off, God revealing Himself unequivocally is not the same thing as revealing Himself through nature or a prayer. That failure of logic is enough to destroy his ‘rebuttal of defense (1), since an unequivocal revelation of God is not the same thing as revealing Himself through design and prayer, but it would be wrong not to continue on.

I use the term unequivocally throughout the post to generally mean ” relatively undoubtable.” A charitable reading of my post should lead the reader to this conclusion when they especially take care to think about my ideas regarding God “compelling” persons to believe if he revealed himself.

I’m not sure what ‘God revealing himself through nature’ means because many theists assert that God has revealed himself through nature, but yet this is obviously not enough to convince almost everyone (and the arguments from design and fine-tuning quite profoundly fail). Let us suppose, though, that God simply animated every tree to teleport into the air and all of the clouds assembled to say “The Christian god exists.” Would this not be a unequivocal revelation? Of course, we still have the problems of distinguishing the source of the miracle (if that is what you would call this), but that’s besides the point. I don’t understand what “Truth” is getting at there.

God revealing himself through prayer wouldn’t be revealing himself to everyone because, of course, not everyone is praying to God. How can we even claim, anyway, that God reveals himself through prayer/ justify this conclusion? The original concern of this post that the atheist or theist might raise is ‘Why doesn’t God unequivocally reveal himself to everyone,’ not revelation through prayer. Again, I’m not sure what “Truth” is getting at. Moving on…

His second error is asserting that Defense 1 fails because Christians continue to sin. Again, this bad reasoning all boils down to complete and utter lack of even the most basic knowledge of Christianity. First off, Christians continue to sin and will continue to sin, because we are imperfect and we live in an imperfect world.

The thrust of my objection to Defense (1) is this: Christians maintain that free will can not be maintained if god reveals himself. If there is no free will, some think, because God revealed himself, no one would be able/would want to sin because they knew God existed. At the same time, though, many Christians maintain that they ‘know’ God exists (when he obviously didn’t utterly reveal himself to everyone although these Christians think God has done so and that his existence is obvious) and they continue to sin. Since Christians who maintain that free will would be lost if persons ‘knew’ God [through him revealing himself] continue to sin, Defense (1) can’t possibly work.

“Truth” stating that persons continue to sin because humans are imperfect, digs a great hole and is an admission that humans would not lose free will if God revealed himself! If God revealed himself, would humans somehow become perfect and would the world be perfect? I don’t see any compelling reason to believe this.

God revealing Himself to man unequivocally will kill us since it clearly says in the bible “None who see my face sha’ll live.” (exodus 33:20.) and that “God dwells in a light unapproachable that no man has seen or can’t see.” (I Tim. 6:16)

This is an example of circular reasoning of the form; it is true because the Bible says so because the Bible says it is true. Let’s assume, though, that “Truth” can provide an argument as to why persons should believe this statement regardless of it being in the Bible to be charitable. The verses “Truth” links are concerned with seeing God’s face. God is not limited when revealing himself is concerned; showing his face is not the only way he can do so. The 1 Timothy verse admits of a problem with God’s omnipotence; if God is all-powerful, he would be able to reveal himself so that persons can see him.

While we’re on the topic of the Bible, several verses actually seem to admit that persons can see God including Genesis 12:7, Genesis 17:1, Genesis 18:1, Genesis 26:2, Genesis 26:24, Genesis 32:30, Genesis 35:9, Genesis 48:3, Exodus 3:16, Exodus 4:5, Exodus 6:3, Exodus 24:9-11, Exodus 33:11, Exodus 33:23, Numbers 14:14, Deut. 5:4, Deut. 34:10, Judges 13:22, 1 Kings 22:19, Job 42:5, Psalm 63:2, Isaiah 6:1, Isaiah 6:5, Ezekiel 1:27, Ezekiel 20:35, Amos 7:7, Amos 9:1, Habakkuk 3:3-5, and Matthew 18:9.

We see, once again, that the Bible appears to be utterly useless in these discussions. We see apparent contradictions with the above verses in Exodus 33:20, John 1:18, John 6:46, Colossians 1:15, 1 Timothy 1:17, 1 Timothy 6:16, and 1 John 4:12. We can go back and forth all day arguing about which verses and accurate and which are not and this seems to get us nowhere. Moving on…

Also, he wonders why without faith belief in God is worthless. Again, a very common scripture in James 2:19 answers his question.

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.

To answer his question, yes they are doing it wrong. The demons obviously believe in the existence of God. Satan, obviously believes in the existence of God and yes, they are doing it wrong.

Dare I say it…but my concern is not with demons, but rather humans. Demons obviously play by different rules and are quite unlike humans. I don’t, though, find any compelling reason to believe in demons or Satan, so perhaps my previous comment was a silly one.

Perhaps, to be charitable, “Truth’s” point is to argue that belief alone is not sufficient, but rather something else is needed. What, then, is this something else? “Truth” says that it is impossible to please God without faith. The problem, though, while we are on the topic of the Bible (and this is more testament to why I think arguing about the Bible is often useless), is that the Bible, in Matthew 12:37 says that you can be justified by words.

2 Corinthians 5:10 says that persons are judged according to works. Additionally, faith without works is dead (James 2:17). 2 Corin. 11:15 says that minister’s salvation is dependent on works and it is “no great thing” that they are righteous [in faith]. Ezekiel 18:27 says that turning away from wickedness and doing what is lawful and right will save persons…and there’s so much more.

Who says shifting responsibility doesn’t solve the problem? that is just a baseless assertion with absolutely no evidence to support it. Here’s an example of how shifting responsibility solves a problem. Problem, my iphone broke because of a hardware issue. If I shift the responsibility from my dog, who has absolutely nothing to do with my phone being broken, to the apple company, who sold me a busted phone, the problem is solved because I get a new phone.

Shifting responsibility here doesn’t solve the problem because the ‘ball is in God’s court.’ The issue at hand is “Why doesn’t God reveal himself,” not “Why should it be up to God, humans should find God.” Shifting responsibility might solve problems in other cases, for sure, but it’s not going to here.