25 Barriers to Belief in God, Part 2

Atheist Bob Seidensticker was once asked by a Christian apologetics blogger what evidence he would require to convince him that God exists. He flipped the question around and asked himself what his best reasons were for being an atheist—believing that there is no God. The result was 25 pro-atheistic reasons. Of these reasons he writes:

“These are the obstacles that prevent me from seeing this as God World. These are obstacles that the apologist must remove.”

I addressed two of the obstacles in part 1. Yet, I have little doubt that were these 25 obstacles removed, belief in God would not soon follow.[1] Perhaps others will benefit. As in the previous post, I will not give quotations in the interest of saving space. Go read the original posts at the links above if you are confused.

Barrier #25: Because God is hidden

The claim can be stated formally:

(1) If God exists, he would make his existence clear.
(2) God has not made his existence clear.
(3) Therefore, God does not exist

Both premises must be true for the conclusion to follow. Seidensticker assumes that both are true, implicitly placing the burden of proof on the theist. He tacitly acknowledges #1 by casually dismissing (‘nonsense’; ‘weak’) the “free will” argument. He explicitly asserts #2 in the barrier itself. He presents no reason or evidence that the premises are (or must be) true. Seidensticker has shown that he has already made up his mind.[2] Regardless, let’s examine each claim on its own.

Would God necessarily make his existence clear if he existed?

The “free will argument” is often used to explain why God might not want to make his existence unambiguously clear. To illustrate why God cannot make his existence perfectly clear without violating one’s free will, consider Seidensticker himself. Despite all the evidence for God, atheists like Seidensticker insist that there is no evidence for God. Not poor or inadequate evidence. Not a low quantity of evidence. No evidence at all.[3] It would take an extreme God-of-the-gaps miracle to be considered evidence for God.

If you are so dead set against believing something that you’ll deny the reality of the evidence, the only thing remaining is coercion—forced belief. God would necessarily have to make his existence clear (if he wanted to) only if humans did not have free will, because in the absence of free will only coercion remains. But if humans have free will, then nothing can convince the hardened skeptic that God exists. It is, quite literally, an impossibility.[4] Therefore, we deduce that Seidensticker cannot believe in free will. As Richard Dawkins said, we are all just dancing to the music of our DNA, that free will and choice are delusions.

God could possibly exist without free will, but we know from math, science, logic, and philosophy that free will probably cannot exist without God. Therefore, the only way to conclude that God doesn’t exist is to assert the non-existence of free will. The problem is that you have to assume that God does not exist to know for sure (probably) that free will does not exist. This is circular reasoning.

The notion that humans do not have free will—that choices are illusions of inevitable natural forces—is not something that most people agree with. But more importantly, it is not science, it is belief. Humanity’s intuition that we have free will is what leads us to reject the argument that God cannot exist because he is hidden. The ultimate irony is that, if God exists, Seidensticker is relying on his free will to choose to reject God and he fully consents to his choice.

Regardless, the free will argument isn’t even essential. What if God didn’t want to—or couldn’t—make his existence clear? Maybe God is capricious, maybe he likes being mysterious, maybe he broke down or went on vacation, or maybe he’s so powerful that his existence can’t be fully apprehended by mortals. There are even sects of Christianity which deny free will. There is not space to go in to all the reasons why God might be legitimately hidden. Yet Seidensticker dismisses them all, with barely a consideration.[5]

God would not logically have to make his existence unambiguously clear if he really existed. The barrier is not convincing.

Has God made his existence clear?

Above we assumed for sake of argument that God has not made his existence clear, but this is not a foregone conclusion. What constitutes clearly making his existence known? As discussed above, the decision has already been made that no evidence exists. Therefore, there is no reason to present the evidence for God’s existence, since it’s presentation serves no purpose. The only thing I can attempt to do is to show how foolish it is to deny the evidence.

Throughout all of history belief in the supernatural has been a near universal constant. By contrast, atheism is an aberrant mathematical outlier. Theism, deism, and agnosticism far outnumbers atheism. The universal consensus throughout all time has pointed to the reality of the spiritual and supernatural and this consensus has not changed. Even some atheists believe in the supernatural! Why should we exclusively use modern science—which relies heavily on consensus—while ignoring the consensus of humanity throughout the ages? God has rarely had any reason to make his existence more known because the default belief has been that the supernatural exists.

The fields of psychology and genetics tell us that devout religious observance, especially that of Christianity, leads to positive outcomes in nearly every area of psychological and physical health. Devout Christians are generally less depressed, live longer, healthier, and happier lives, and are more generous. Atheists, in full contradiction with the science, actually deny this.

We have an abundance of scientific evidence including the universe’s beginning, the fine-tuning of the universe, the digitally encoded data in DNA, and the existence of consciousness. All of these, when reasoning by inference to the best explanation, point to the existence of God.

We have excellent historical evidence to support the basics of Christianity.[6] This evidence includes multiple, independent attestation. This attestation includes eyewitness testimony, attestation from enemies of Christianity, embarrassing claims, and insufficient time for the development of myths. Furthermore, an examination of the historical textual record shows the excellent reliability of the biblical writings.

Whether or not you think the evidence constitutes sufficient proof is a matter of personal, subjective opinion. Unquestionably, many throughout history have found the evidence compelling. But either way, denying that there exists evidence for God is foolish.

Therefore, God does not exist?

Since the two premises of the argument are not established, we must conclude that the argument is unsound. The alleged hiddenness of God does not establish that God does not exist. It is not even a barrier to belief.

[1] He writes “In short, show me that I don’t live in the world that I live in.” This contradiction is like demanding a square circle. To be fair, he is perfectly clear that no matter how many obstacles are removed, more goalposts will be erected (“Though we have reached the promised 25 reasons, there are many more to come! I will revisit this topic periodically.”).

[2] This highlights a common difference between the agnostic and the atheist. The former—like a scientist—is willing to continually examine and evaluate the evidence without assuming a particular conclusion. The latter is not.

[3] Not the non-material origin or the fine-tuning of the universe. Not the encoded digital information in DNA. Not the universal spiritual understanding found in humanity across time. Not historical evidence. Not millions of miraculous claims. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

[4] Free will necessarily entails that you can choose to deny reality and reason and no one can do anything about it. It is for this reason that Seidensticker’s 25 barriers to belief are not barriers at all.

[5] It’s easy to “win” an argument when you declare your premises to be true, demand that your opponent prove you wrong (or else you win by default!), and that you are the judge who decides if your opponent proved you wrong. It’s also nice when you don’t have to consider any opposing arguments unless you want to.

[6] The following historical facts are well-supported: The death of Jesus by crucifixion, the empty tomb, post-resurrection appearances, and the origin of Christianity,

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