Commentary: Because You Won’t Believe It Anyway
I was intrigued by the title of this article in The New Republic, which was ‘Bad Faith: Do atheists think too much like believers?‘ (it is a review of a John Gray book). When I started reading the article, I immediately came across these first two paragraphs which were worth commenting on (and my comments will be in bold):
Our hominid ancestors first appeared around six million years ago. [Assuming common descent and an evolutionary linkage, an assumption that is not necessarily firm.] They started to use symbols around 150,000 years ago, and the first of the major religions began 5,000 years ago. What are we to make of this? Did humans have souls before then? [Religion and the existence of the soul do not need to coincide. The existence of the former is not necessary for the latter.] If not, how did we acquire them? [And this would be a problem for God how?] If so, why didn’t God reveal Himself throughout 99.9 percent of humanity’s life span? [Loaded with assumptions, such as that God didn’t show Himself then (even if we accept this idea for the sake of argument) as well as the assumption that our physical ancestors (if they actually are our ancestors) were human in the sense that we are today.] What was He thinking? And God’s puzzling silence didn’t end with the advent of religion. [God upholds the world in existence from moment-to-moment. There is nothing silent about Him.] The God of the Old Testament was fairly communicative, and the gods of the Hindu pantheon made frequent appearances, at least for a while. But since Jesus ascended to heaven (or, if you prefer, since the angel Gabriel finished dictating to Muhammad), transmissions have all but ceased. [I suggest the author familiarize himself with books like Craig Keener’s Miracles. Nothing silent about that.]
This would seem to call for some explanation. As the infidel Tom Paine scoffed: “A revelation which is to be received as true ought to be written on the sun.” …many unbelievers have wondered why God can’t write “YES, I EXIST” across the night sky in mile-high flaming letters visible (to each viewer in her own language, of course) everywhere on earth, each night for a week, once a year. [Except the unbeliever would just deny such an event anyway, attributing it to aliens, or hallucinations, etc.] Is that too much to ask of an omnipotent, infinitely loving Being? [For individuals who would not believe anyway, yes, it is too much to ask, for why should God waste His time trying to convince someone He knows won’t believe anyway.]
And that is the point. Empirical evidence, like that demanded above, could always be rejected by a committed skeptic who could ultimately dismiss it as the work of aliens, or a computer simulation, and so on. Furthermore, its not all about you either, meaning that if the evidence is good enough for most of humanity, then maybe the problem is with the unreasonable skeptic, not with God or with the evidence He provides.