How do you answer the argument that God intentionally hides himself?

It is often argued by theists that it is a virtue to find God in the face of contrary evidence, that one must use faith to believe. What is the argument against the claim that God intentionally makes the Earth seem older or that he hid dinosaur bones to confuse us and only let those who use the “virtue” of faith understand him? As if life was just a big test to weed out those of us who are tied down by the physical realm?

Posted: September 20th 2007

SmartLX www

Introduce someone who thinks there is scientific evidence for God to someone who thinks God hides the evidence for a specific reason, and watch what happens. One may abandon one position for the other, or they may argue, or they may agree that God hides some evidence and shows the rest.

The point is that neither one knows. These are just two defenses against the question, “Why is there no positive evidence for God?” They each find a plausible answer and present it as the real one, whether, “But there IS evidence, it’s just not accepted by unbelievers,” or, “God hid it.”

These responses are specifically crafted to escape a question rather than answer it, and they look mighty silly when multiple responses by the same religion to the same question are displayed together. I find the same thing with responses to the Problem of Evil and other such basic questions.

Posted: November 13th 2007

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George Locke

The argument against the claim that God intentionally confuses us is that there is no evidence to suppport the claim. It doesn’t matter that the claim accounts for the difficulty of its own proof. It is not sufficient to show that if God exists then S/He would definitely behave in the manner suggested. It must also be shown that God exists so that the hypothetical behavior becomes actual behavior.

Not to be too flippant, but this is along the lines of a self-supporting delusion, which explains to the deluded person why s/he is the only one who 'knows the truth’. Add the fact that the 'delusion’ in this case makes the deluded one somehow 'better’ for believing, in fact allying you with a real and powerful confederacy of the chosen, and you’ve got a reasonably solid deconstruction of how claims like this gain popularity.

If you tell me that the illuminati run the government but they hide themselves so that only people who figure out how to find them can join, well, that explains why i’ve never noticed it, but only if it’s true in the first place.

As to the claims of virtue, I don’t see much value in 'finding God’. The proximate value is in how it influences your behavior. In my experience, faith can have positive or negative effects on the way a person relates to his/her environment, s/he can either love her/his neighbor or comdemn/incarcerate/bomb the non-believers (both views seem to be supported by the Bible).

Aside from faith’s impact on behavior, I say it has some inherent negative qualities. Since God cannot be demonstrated from observations of the natural world, faith can come only from within the mind. However, faith posits God’s real existence, not just His/Her presence within the mind (the latter I do not dispute, I find God in my own mind!). Thus, faith involves an inability to distinguish between ideas and reality — this I say has negative value.

Posted: October 16th 2007

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flagellant www

For a start, you could use Descarte’s argument about reality and existence. You’ve probably heard about ‘Ego cogito ergo sum’ – I think therefore I am. This conclusion comes at the end of a long argument, part of which is based on the deduction that God does not deceive us. In other words, there is at least one argument among God-hopers that tells the faithful, in effect, that if there is so much overwhelming and consistent evidence in favour of something, then it is true. Using this reasoning, evolution, for example (see this link ), is true and the Earth really is billions of years old: God would not mislead you about this.

It’s not an argument I would use but, since it assumes a respectable theological position, it ought to convince God-hopers. Mind you, I simply trust the vast amount of multi-disciplinary evidence rather than anything in a two thousand year-old book that cherry-picked from earlier history and was then copied and altered many times over the ages. I am always amazed, too, that the religiosi, supported by no evidence, can claim virtual certainty, while science only offers its immense structure of interlocking knowledge and explanation as contingent. Look at the website quoted for just some of the evidence and some of the arguments for evolution. Follow the many links on that site and see how much evidence there is! Contrary evidence, from creationist sources is no more than ignorant froth.

Posted: September 23rd 2007

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Akusai www

This “argument” is akin to an argument that places god “outside of nature” or “outside of time” in that it attempts to render him untestable.

But when god is defined as untestable (in either fashion), then it is, by the very definition of “god,” impossible to ever have a reason to believe in him.

And if I have no reason to believe, why should I? By creating this “deceiver god” scenario, theists have not only rendered their god at least somewhat evil, they have painted themselves into a corner argument-wise. Now all they have left to them is argumentum ad baculum and other appeals to consequences, themselves among the worst arguments out there. They have essentially removed their god from all rational discourse.

But more than that, they have created an impotent, useless deity. If he never shows his presence, if it is impossible to ever know he is there, then what difference does it make if he is there or not? Let’s compare god to a mythical chemical that I just made up called “flimflamium.” Your friend tells you “Dude, did you know that tap water is full of flimflamium?”

Well, no, you say. What is this flimflamium of which you speak.

“It’s this chemical that they put in tap water.”

Your interest piqued, you ask how he knows flimflamium is in the water.

“Well, some other guy told me.”

You maintain reasonable skepticism and ask how that guy knew.

“He read it in a book somewhere.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. Did the book have actual, physical evidence of the presence of flimflamium?

“No, see, they put other chemicals that hide the flimflamium, and the flimflamium hides them, so no matter how hard you test it, it’s just like normal tap water.”

Well, then, will its presence have adverse effects on you upon ingestion?

“No, it’s not like that.”

So why should I even believe it is there?

“Just trust me, dude. It’s there.”

Practically (and empirically) speaking, there is no difference between water with covert flimflamium that can never be identified and has no noticeable effects on the human body and water with no flimflamium at all.

Likewise, a world with a deceiver god who cannot, by definition, be shown to exist is really no different from a world with no god at all.

See Carl Sagan’s Dragon in the Garage:

Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder.

St. Anselm, with his ontological argument, tried to define god into existence. This argument, much to the ire of those making it, effectively defines god into, if not nonexistence, complete irrelevance.

Posted: September 22nd 2007

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brian thomson www

May I compare your god to a sniper? If he (or she) is going to actually do anything, he will have to expose himself. Even the best sniper leaves evidence: the gunshot, gunpowder, or even just the hole in the victim. The investigators might not be able to identify the sniper, but it would be clear there was a sniper there. By analogy, we don’t currently see any holes in anything that can’t have a natural explanation.

Is there a sniper out there, watching over you, waiting for you to slip up, so he can send you to Hell? You don’t actually know where he’s looking, or what he’s looking for; other people have theories, which they’ve written down in a book, but you don’t actually know, do you?

Until this theoretical sniper squeezes the trigger and takes the shot, he may as well not be there. Yet some people act as if he is, burden themselves with body armour, and run around in fear of a shot that may never come, from a sniper who is, in all probability, not there at all.

Posted: September 22nd 2007

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Robert Maynard

  • Apologists for biblical literalism can go so far to reconcile the findings of science with the creation story in Genesis that they inadvertently begin describing a deity who has been willfully deceitful in engineering the world his subjects inhabit.

The conspiratorial laundry list of engineered deception necessary to make a young universe and earth seem old far transcends the jokes about buried dinosaur bones.

  • These arguments are non-disprovable, in that no evidence or data could possibly falsify them, as all evidence and data can be comfortably incorporated into the framework of such an orchestrated scenario. Did you ever hear about the Church of Last Tuesday? They believe that the Earth was created last Tuesday, with everything, including human technology, culture and lineages, engineered to falsely appear to have a rich history in an extremely old universe.

What evidence could one present to disprove an argument like this? Such scenarios are easy to invent and impossible to disprove. Non-disprovable claims are all equally valid, and equally worthless.

  • The notion that God might influence the appearance of the physical world in order to deceive is a weakly mounted defense, particularly for biblical literalism, as it contradicts the words of St. Paul in Romans 1:20, who proclaims that the existence of God is self-evident in the details of Creation. If this claim were true, and not merely a reflection of scientific ignorance, the details of the universe as revealed by science today would consistently reveal the handiwork of a supernatural intelligence. This has not been the case.

Posted: September 22nd 2007

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