In the comments of last week’s post, Gene Callahan and I argued that some of the “unexpected” features of mathematics–such as the expansion of e, or how often pi pops up in nature–are surely evidence of the existence of an intelligent Creator of the universe and the structure of our minds.
In contrast, various agnostics (such as Daniel Kuehn) offered the (common) view that if a God did exist, He had withdrawn Himself from view. To that, I wrote:
In my view, the God of the Bible exists. He has given us a wealth of evidence in the natural world that He exists, and on top of that, He personally inspired a whole book about His nature. Then He became a human being and performed a bunch of miracles, such that people all over the world still daily attest to His existence and nature.
And [agnostics] are still saying, not merely that [they] reject this evidence, but that God has withdrawn Himself from our scrutiny.
In response to my comment, someone else came along and wrote:
I can’t speak for Daniel, but if there was an all-powerful god that wanted everyone to believe in it, that would be trivially easy to accomplish.
For starters, it could speak to everyone at the same time, saying, “I am god, I exist, and I am in your head”. Then, it could make the sun, the moon, and the stars dance around in the sky, turn day into night and back again repeatedly, faster and faster, while playing techno music.
Then, it could launch everyone into space and take them on a one-minute tour of the solar system, bring them back to earth, plunge them into a volcano, take them to the molten core, teach them Austrian economics, and put them back where they started unharmed.
Contrast the above with “the ‘unexpected’ appearance of pi in different spots” and mathematics applying to the material world.
1. Which strategy would an intelligent being be more likely to pursue: Magical Mystery Tour or Blues Clues?
2. Why would an all-powerful being that wanted humans to believe in it not make its existence more obvious?
3. What kind of god would try to convince people of its existence by inserting pi into places where humans would not expect it to be?
4. Why would this god that wants humans to believe in it limit the evidence for its existence to that which would only be appreciated through the intuition of uniquely perceptive mathematicians (or economists)?
I wanted to take this challenge head-on, because I think I would have laughed out loud at the above, back in my days as an atheist. In other words, I would have thought the guy who wrote the above, had really blown up the ridiculous arguments for the existence of God.
Naturally, I no longer think that. So let me walk through a few points in response:
* God does make the sun, moon, and stars dance around the sky. And He puts on an occasional laser light show that blows Disneyworld out of the water. But agnostics don’t appreciate that, because it’s “nature.”
* If the Christian Bible is true, then God did do all sorts of things besides the clues in nature, mathematics, etc. Specifically, He directly manifested Himself to plenty of people, He inspired a rather famous book to tell His side of things, and He actually came down in human form, told everyone who He was, and gave us instructions on how to live.
* Now what my critic above means, of course, is, “Why doesn’t God directly reveal Himself to me? Why am I supposed to do all this work, when (say) Moses saw a burning bush, or the apostles saw a resurrected Jesus?” Well, for one thing, I note that even if God did do all the stuff above–techno music, tour of the solar system, etc.–then at best there would be a lot of new theists for a few generations. But our great-grandkids would think we all had mass hallucinations, or that aliens had played a trick on us, etc. Eventually our stories of techno music and seeing the molten core of the earth would be dismissed as religious balderdash–modern science would have proven that people can’t survive a plunge into lava, duh.
* Finally, the question boils down to: Why doesn’t God directly appear personally to every single person who ever lives, so that there is absolutely no doubt about His existence? Well I’m not sure, exactly; that ranks up there with, “Why do bad things happen?” But I think maybe part of the answer is contained in my critic’s own joke: Why do we humans use Blue’s Clues when teaching our children? Once you answer that, then maybe it will make more sense that God uses a similar approach with His children.