And is "free will" a good answer to this question?
A few weeks ago, in this very publication, I posed the question, "Why did God create atheists?" If God reveals himself to religious believers, in visions or revelations or other spiritual experiences... why doesn't he do it with everyone? Why are those revelations so contradictory -- not to mention so suspiciously consistent with whatever the people having them already believe or want to believe? And why doesn't everyone have them? If God is real, I asked -- if religious believers are perceiving a real entity with a real effect on the world -- why isn't it just obvious?
When I wrote this piece, I addressed (and dismantled) two of the most common responses to this question: "God has revealed himself to you, you've just closed your heart to him," and, "God doesn't care if you're an atheist --- as long as you're a good person, he doesn't care if you believe in him."
But I neglected to address one of the most common religious answers to this question:
"God can't reveal himself to us clearly," this argument goes, "because he wants us to have free will. We have to be free to believe in him or not. If he revealed his presence to us, we'd be forced to believe in him -- and our free will is a precious gift. It's what makes us God's unique creation."
It's a really, really bad argument.
I'm going to dismantle it today.
Thus begins my new piece on AlterNet, Why Does God Reveal Himself to Some People and Not to Others? To find out how I dismantle the "God has to hide so we can have free will" argument, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!