Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, part 4
Former Christian turned atheist DaGoodS (DGS) has compiled a list of eleven questions that he doesn’t think Christians can answer. I’ve decided to take him on, since I’m a sucker for questions that Christians supposedly can’t answer. Hopefully, DGS and I can learn something from each other.
Question #4 is interesting:
Why is it whenever I try your suggestion to “find God” (i.e., go to nature, read the Bible, pray), God never shows up? Worse, why am I arrogant to expect him to, when I followed your instructions where you told me to expect him to?
I have no idea what DGS means by “shows up.” If he expects God to make a personal appearance, that’s not going to happen. Paul is literally the only unbeliever I know of to convert based on an apparition appearing to him; everyone else that God personally appeared to already believed.
So, as most of these questions seem to, it really comes down to a question about wordview. I’ve discussed previously how quantum mechanics, under the many worlds hypothesis, predicts that “supernatural” forces can affect events on this plane of existence (though “natural” and “supernatural” are arbitrary distinctions based on the observer’s point of view and have no meaning as such).
So if God isn’t making a personal appearance, we need to figure out if there’s any evidence of his interaction within the universe. In other words, has he left a visible footprint?
Here’s where the worldview issues come into play. To steal an example I’ve already used, if I pray for financial provisions because I’m low on cash, then a sick relative dies and leaves me the sum I need with a little extra, I would call that an answer to prayer. The atheist scoffs, saying, “That was a remarkable coincidence.”
If I pray that my wife makes it home safely during the recent snow emergency, and she does, I call that an answer to prayer. The atheist scoffs again and says, “She’s just a careful driver who knows how to handle snow.”
Let’s use a real-word example: my wedding. First, a little background. My wife and I were living together but not married (which is a no-no in Christian circles). We were confronted by her dad, who said that, whatever we decide, we must stop lying to everyone about our living situation. And unless we’re married, we shouldn’t live together. He said that God laid that message on his heart to give us, admonished my wife for knowing better, and offered to walk through the Scriptures with me support this position, if I wanted to. I say that was God speaking through my father-in-law. The atheist says, “Nope, no God necessary: your father-in-law just told you how he felt, then tried to impress his morality on you. Tyrant. Live for yourself!”
My wife and I decided to move apart, and get married ASAP to make this right before God. After some deliberation, we set a date that was less than a month away. Despite the short notice:
- We found a minister willing to marry us in that narrow space of time.
- We weren’t members of his church, but the pastor told us we could pay as though we were (members receive a discount on use of church facilities for weddings, funerals, etc.) because he considered us part of the church family.
- My in-laws had only a set amount they could pay, and my mom fronted the considerable remaining balance without a second thought (my mom is tight with money).
- The church was free on that day.
- Our first choice for a hall was free that day.
- My wife found a wedding dress that was pretty close to her dream dress, and it fit off the rack.
- We had family or close friends all willing to cater, take pictures, bake the cake, and DJ the reception for free, in lieu of a wedding gift.
- Most of our invited guests showed up despite the short notice.
- At the end of the wedding, one of the guests remarked that it was so well put-together and executed so beautifully that we must have been planning it for years.
In the interest of full disclosure, we got married on Memorial Day 2005, which isn’t a big day to book churches, reception halls, or travel to see family. We also had a serious snag with bridesmaid dresses–my wife couldn’t find any she liked that fit with the theme colors. With those things in mind, it’s easy for the atheist to say, “Well, since it was a minor holiday that no one really does stuff on, that’s why all that stuff came together so quickly and for such discounts. Coincidences, all of it!”
It’s also easy for the atheist to say, “All of it came together just fine, but if it was truly the will of your God, then he would have seen to it that the bridesmaid dresses came out just fine, too. Guess God’s not so omnipotent after all.”
With regard to the bridesmaid dress dodge (which is what I might call this typical ploy from now on because I like the sound of it), why does the atheist presume to know what God would, or would not, do? What the atheist is really saying is, “If I were God, I would have done it this way.” When God doesn’t do it this way, the atheist concludes there is no God. That’s really weak.
We don’t expect God to do things to make our lives easier. There was a trial in all of that (the bridesmaid dresses), and it’s easy to fall apart under duress and curse God. A lot more went wrong for Job, but he never once cursed God. James tells us to count our trials joy, for our resolve is made stronger through them (Jms 1:2-4). So, was the bridesmaid dress incident really out of character for God? Not really, because God intersperses tests of faith, even when things are going really right. They are designed to make us stronger. All too often, they have the opposite effect and generate another anti-testimony on ex-Christian.net.
Life ain’t always going to be easy. For some reason, many ex-Christians on ex-Christian.net and most atheistic critics of Christianity keep pointing to the fact that life ain’t perfect or easy as “evidence” that God doesn’t exist. But it isn’t evidence, especially when Jesus warns us that bad times are coming, and to expect these tests of faith.
The weakest among us–those without the Spirit abiding in them–will break away, as the apostle John tells us (1 Jn 2:19). That this happens isn’t extraordinary, nor is it evidence against God. The Bible plainly anticipates apostasy, and the warning is right there for all to read. When a prophecy comes true, that’s evidence in favor of God, not against him!
What about the quick wave off, saying that everything that happened in that month was mere coincidence? In the James Bond novel Goldfinger, after meeting up with Bond several times, the antagonist tells Bond, “We have a saying in Chicago, Mr. Bond. The first time is happenstance. The second time is coincidence. The third time is enemy action.” What that means is that the atheist can only yell “Coincidence!” so many times regarding answers to prayer requests. At some point, even the most skeptical has to ask, “Is there a divine hand guiding all of this?”
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s most likely a duck! We may not see God directly, but I submit that the evidence is all around us, waiting for us to realize that a divine hand is guiding life on earth toward an ultimate goal of his design.
I normally hate using personal stories of answered prayers for apologetics (see Mt 7:6 for why; also this article series from J.P. Holding), but it is fitting this time because theory just doesn’t cut it for my goal. God leaves divine footprints all over; it is up to us to follow them and seek him (none do, Rom 3:10-20; nonetheless the call is going out to all men, Jn 12:32). This is evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and to deny his working is to commit the Unforgivable Sin.