Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why Can't We See God?

Atheists aren’t very open minded but they do ask some interesting questions. One atheist asked, “where is your God?” and then he said, “Show me your God without using science or a book that is clearly written by idiots.” Clearly, he doesn’t want me to actually show him God, but hidden behind his vitriol is the question, “Why can’t we see God?” Why do we need the Bible to tell us that God exists? Why do we need science to show us that there are things that simply can’t be done without an intelligent being creating the Universe? For that matter, can science show us that?

I suppose we all have some form of image of God. For some it is that of some big guy on a big thrown with a long white beard. I suppose I saw a picture like that one time. In Sunday School when I was a kid the images of God were a drawing that showed a big bright spot. Interestingly, when the Children of Israel left Egypt the image of God that they created was that of a calf. And just in case you doubted that’s what they thought God looked like, they created idols with that form more than once. But God commanded against forming such images. Any image that we form of God is incomplete. The big guy in the sky image turns in just another filthy old man to atheists. And God as a cow? I don’t get that one at all.

If God were to show himself to us, where would we look? Some talk about flaming crosses in the sky or having all the words of Jesus written in our DNA. But how would we know what these things mean? We have a flaming ball of fire that crosses our sky daily. We see a rainbow after a storm and God even told us that the rainbow is there because of his covenant to not destroy the world by flood again. Instead of seeing God in those things, people see the natural phenomenon by which they appear. Why can’t it be easier? Why can’t we just look up into heaven and see God sitting there looking down at us?

In the Bible there are times when God showed himself, albeit in a hidden form, in various ways. Moses saw him in a burning bush. He went before the Children of Israel as a cloud. His Spirit descended like a dove at Jesus’ baptism. On the day of Pentecost he appeared as fire. Paul experienced him as a bright light. But just by looking at those things you wouldn’t know that was God. Why can’t he just show us that he is here?

The Bible tells us that God is a Spirit. We tend to pass over that because we don’t know what a spirit is. Around Halloween we talk about spirits but we usually visualize them as having arms and legs and even wearing the clothes they were wearing when they died. If that’s what a spirit is then you would think we could go to church and find some ghostly figure wondering around the building that we could point to and say that is God. But I think we can get a better understanding of what a spirit is by looking at apologetics. One of the arguments for the existence of God is that the Universe has a beginning and everything that has a beginning has a cause. Because things can’t cause themselves, the cause can’t be the stuff of the Universe. So the cause must be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and extremely powerful.

Can you see something that is spaceless and immaterial? If it is immaterial then there is nothing for light to bound off of. If it is spaceless then it doesn’t take up any room. Think of how much room the smallest object takes up. Something that is spaceless takes up even less room than that. Abstract objects fall into that category. You can’t see the number one. You can see the symbols we use to represent it, but you can’t see the number one itself. You can’t see a point or a line because they have width of zero. At best we can see something that God uses to represent himself or we can see his glory, but we can’t see God the way we see each other because God isn’t a physical being.

Jesus, who is God, has a physical body and with it he has physical limitations. Because he has a physical body he can be seen, but he can’t be seen by everyone. This is why it makes sense that the Holy Spirit is the one who is here with us now, because the Holy Spirit can be with all of us at one time.

Getting back to the question, “where is your God?” To answer that we need only answer the question, “Where is the Holy Spirit?” The Holy Spirit was sent to be a comforter to those who have been saved. We should find him living within the hearts of church members. Though we can’t see him because he is a spirit, we should the impact that he has on the lives of Christians. And we do.

But that won’t satisfy an atheist. When they look for God and I fear that when many of us look for God we are looking for a physical sort of god. Sure, God could provide some physical manifestation for us to look at, but then our concept of God would be limited by what we say. We might well begin to think that God’s nature was that of a cow. So, I suspect the reason we can’t see God is because he wants to reveal so much more about himself than what we can grasp from seeing, hearing, or touching.