In a shocking manner of trying to get your attention, no, the title isn’t literal nor a reflection of my personal opinion. It is however, an important point of consideration that I wish to explain.
Long story short, I was in a conversation with a friend of mine that I’ve known since my early years in middle school. As a Facebook status, I had asked that “if you are not a Christian, or perhaps even not a theist, why do you hold such a position?” A few moments had gone by and a response finally came up by that friend. Through an exchange that lasted for maybe, 15 or so comments, a large number of subjects came up in those 15 comments: religious pluralism, eschatology, states of being, the Bible, and many others. However, though I have my personal opinions on “social media evangelism”, I decided in the middle of the conversation to interrupt the current subject by offering to continue the conversation in a more personable environment (over coffee).
One interesting statement that she had made throughout our exchange, was a short but easily remembered cliché: “Do you really believe that an omni-present and omniscient God needs the praise of the people to whom He revealed in the middle of nowhere? Through a book that’s 2,000 years old?” This question in its objectable form raises something of delicate consideration for the Christian: Are we coherent in believing that God revealed Himself in the way that He did as told by Scripture?
In this post I hope to offer my sort of “not-response” to the objection by offering the interlocutor a substitutionary (but hopefully helpful) thought experiment, or question.
A Simple Question
My simple cognitive question to my interlocutor would be to ask, “What would constitute as sufficient grounds for believing that God has revealed himself to all communities, peoples, languages, nations, and so on, so that all people on planet earth would believe in him? What would God need to do in order for everyone everywhere to believe in him?” The interlocutor might respond with some possible scenario that he/she sees fit for God revealing himself to all peoples so that all might believe in him. This scenario could appeal to some miracle (God curing all types of diseases, getting rid of evil instantaneously, etc.) or matter of direct revelation where God opens the clouds and in a loud voice says, “I am God, and I exist. Now, believe in Me.” Would this scenario work?
Now, in some other possible world Q, where God’s existence is mirrored by this world (the actual world), it is conceivable that this scenario might actually work given the state of affairs of the spiritual condition of the other contingent beings in respect to God or some other considerable factor in this possible world. However, working with matters strictly here in the actual world, and considering matters of our spiritual condition and even God’s hiddenness, does this scenario of direct revelation obtain that which it suggests?
Surely, it is logically possible, but with our assumptions of spiritual conditions aside (as Christians understand the issue), I personally do no think that even this scenario will effectively convince all people universally that God in fact exists. My reason for suggesting that conclusion is due to the different subjective experiences and interpretations of miraculous or divine occurrences. Not to say that since all miraculous happenings are always under subjective scrutiny that therefore there are no miraculous happenings, but rather that different interpretations of these happenings will not result in a universally consistent, or wholistic experience of that happening, therefore leading all peoples (irrespective of geological, linguistic, or social circumstances) to say that “God exists.”
Concluding and Clearing Remarks
To conclude our thoughts on this discussion, I think it would be important to say that I am not excluding any and all forms of revelation, or some medium of understanding God’s existence (via reason, logic, etc.) at all. I do believe that God’s existence can be known, but that it would be strange to say that God should reveal himself via direct revelation by virtue of curing all instances of cancer, opening the clouds, perfecting the current economic situation we all face, or some other circumstance that we would consider an “undoubtable miracle.”
Therefore, I would leave open two possibilities for my interlocutor to see fit for our discussion of coming to know God’s existence: (1) Special revelation via epistemic evaluation from our faculties of reason (which is best assessed by holy writ) and (2) Human reason as such, to simply know by reason and logical processes or steps (such as an argument) that God exists. If the interlocutor concedes to (1) and (2), then the form or transfer of that revelation from the infinite to the finite is irrelevant to the whether or not God actually revealed himself to us.