"Doesn't The Fact That I Don't See Miracles Prove That God Does Not Exist?"

February 13, 2019

 

Hey Ben,

 

I am a skeptic and I have a question about God's existence. Regarding my views on God, I describe myself as an "Agnostic-Atheist." In other words, I don’t know whether there is a Creator of all that there is, but I have concluded that the God of Abraham is not real. So why have I concluded that the God of Abraham is a “false God”? I have concluded this because of the biblical teachings as relayed by Christians. You have probably heard the claim that “God can do anything.” Of course, if God is omnipotent, then that’s true; God CAN do anything. And if God the Creator is the perfect being, then it IS omnipotent.


Christians have told me that the Bible states God wants to have a relationship with me; that God wants me to know him. Yet, I do not know him. This is not because I am unwilling. I’m perfectly fine with the notion that a Creator exists. Yet, God has not presented himself to me. So what would it take for me to know God exists? I don’t know. But God knows. And an omnipotent God has the power to make himself known to me, if he chooses. Since he hasn’t, it can mean only one thing: God does not want me to know him. Therefore, God is unknowable. Now if the Bible claims that God wants me to know him, yet God has chosen to make himself unknowable, then it is reasonable to conclude that the Bible is wrong and that the God of Abraham is a false God. I would like to hear your thoughts on this challenge. 

 

-Bill

Hey Bill!

 

Thank you for writing. Sorry it has taken so long for me to respond.  I hope that my answer manages to speak into your questions accurately. Feel free to let me know if I have missed something. 

 

First, it’s important for me to mention that I am a really committed rationalist in addition to being a really committed Christian. I see axiomatic proofs as the soundest way to evince anything contra the arguments of skepticism. For that reason, I would probably have a hard time holding the view you have articulated up front. So let me say why I have trouble with the label "atheist-agnostic." 

 

Let the proposition “God exists” be symbolized by p. In that case, “God does not exist,” would be symbolized by ~p. Finally, “I do not know whether God exists” would be denoted “whether p.” Follow me?

 

Now it would therefore be uncomfortable for me to claim assent to both “~p” and “whether p” at the same time, since to claim “~p” is to assent to precisely the sort of knowledge claim denied by “whether p.” To me, that seems to make the position self-contradictory. I would probably wonder: “If I’m comfortable with this sort of cognitive dissonance at the level of God’s existence, what else might be wrong with my beliefs?” In all sincerity, I don’t see how I could resist asking that sort of question. Curiosity would eventually win and I would yield to one proposition or the other (atheism or agnosticism).

 

But that is perhaps not what is most important to you in your post. Rather, what is most important seems to be your self-stated cause for your “atheism” regarding the God of Abraham; namely—the argument you offer that the God of the Bible is false. The argument seems to follow as such:

[1]. If the all powerful God of the Bible exists, he would perform miracles to convince me.
[2]. I see no miracles. 
[3]. Therefore, God does not exist.

Now, I would be willing to admit that the argument seems plausible on face. It is however, a bit misleading for two reasons; number one, it commits the logical fallacy of denying the antecedent and number two, the Bible never claims that God performs miracles on demand in order to convince people that he exists. In fact, there are actually examples of Jesus refusing to do so. (Luke 11:29-32) Hence, the argument would only succeed against a straw-(Bible)-god.

Now, we might try to rescue the argument by modifying it to support agnosticism, such that only the conjunction of the above argument is altered. In that case, premise 3 would read: “Therefore, we do not know if the God of the Bible exists.” But in that case, the argument once again fails because it (1) commits the above fallacy of seeing the antecedent and the consequent in the first premise as biconditional and (2) Because the biblical case against the initial formulation of the argument would apply just as neatly here as it does previously—namely; the Bible never claims that God performs miracles on demand so that we can know he exists.

Finally, we could completely redraft the entire argument to prove that God does not want us to know that he exists and so be saved like so: 

[1]. If God wanted ME to be saved, he would perform miracles to convince me.
[2]. I see no miracles. 
[3]. Therefore, if God exists, he does not want ME to be saved.

To avoid being redundant, the argument fails for the same two reasons. So, with that established, let me say that I personally have seen numerous miraculous answers to prayer in my Christian experience. They don't happen every day. They don't seem to be constant or regular. Yet they do seem to occur at times at a level of frequency that most people would probably find surprising. In fact, here is one example from my own experience: Does God Still Perform Miracles Today?

So, in closing, Bill let me know if this is at all helpful for you. I would love to stay in touch. Let me know if you have any other questions...

 

Warmly,

Ben Fischer <><

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