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Why God does not reveal himself through miracles

Sunset on the farm
Sunset on the farm
Joel Furches

The Bible is full of miraculous events that overwhelmingly show God’s power. He parts seas, rains bread and sometimes fire from heaven, opens the ground and swallows rebellious people up in the earth, stops the sun in the sky, turns the shadow backward on the sundial, and raises people from the dead.

This being the case, it is clear that the Judeo-Christian God has the power to easily manifest himself to humankind should he so choose. Why, then, does he not do this? If God is real, and God wants people to believe in him, he could easily force this knowledge upon them. In fact, he could design them such that they were unable to deny him. Is the hiddenness of God evidence that he doesn’t exist?

Firstly, it would be logically invalid to say that because one cannot see God smiling down from heaven at all hours of the day – that since God’s existence does not seem to be blatantly on display – that this is proof that God does not exist. This is an argument from silence. Even so, is there any good reason why God wouldn’t simply just show everyone he exists in a way that is undeniable and be done with it?

It is first of all important to note that though scripture is replete with miracles, the argument cannot be made that the absence of obvious miracles in the modern day is evidence against the God of the Bible. The Bible does not make the claim that God will simply pander to anyone who calls upon him to show himself. Quite the opposite.

The argument of the Bible is that God does not place his power on display simply to satisfy the skeptic.

The book of Luke records an instance before Jesus began his ministry in which he was tested by Satan. In this instance, Satan played the skeptic twice. Once he asks Jesus to hurtle himself from the top of the temple, claiming that, if Jesus really was the Son of God, then God would obviously save him from death. Jesus’ response was a curt, “you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Luke 4:12 ESV)

When one of Jesus’ own disciples played the skeptic regarding the resurrection, Jesus appeared before him and offered physical proof. He then told this disciple:

“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”" (John 20:29 ESV)

When Jesus’ contemporary detractors and skeptics challenged him at one point, the discussion ran thusly:

"Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."" (Matthew 12:38-40 ESV)

The indication in these passages seems to be that God does not place himself under any obligation to display his power as proof of his potency or existence.

Why, then, does God perform miracles at all?

The entire trend of miracles in scripture is this: God wishes to communicate something to humans. In order to do so, he performs a miracle to show that what he communicated was, indeed, from God. Prior to the miracle, the miracle is prophesied, such that the prophecy, then the fulfillment of the prophecy, confirms the messenger and hence the message. The closing of the cannon of scripture coincides with the end of widely observed miraculous acts.

It is the message, then, that is the proof of God’s existence, not the miracle. This is quite clearly the claim of scripture:

“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31 ESV)

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17 ESV)

A second time that Satan demanded that Jesus prove himself by performing a miracle in the wilderness, the conversation was this:

“And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:3-4 ESV)

Jesus was the final messenger, prophesied from the beginning, and his resurrection was the confirmation of his message. Now this may seem a fairly convenient doctrine for people who can't conjure up God's miracles at will, but consider this: a miracle is only miraculous if it is uncommon. The miracles that occur daily are simply laws of nature. It seems miraculous that plants can take sunlight and turn it into stored, material energy, a fantastically complicated process that involves cosmic energy and biology somehow working in harmony at the molecular level; a process without which life on earth would be impossible, and a process so common it's almost entirely ignored. No self-respecting atheist would even countenance photosynthesis as evidence for God. If science can explain how it happens, it must not be by design. On the other hand, those miracles of God that are rare enough as to not be study-able, repeatable, or explainable are also entirely doubted. This arranges a scenario wherein God would have to perform one miracle in everybody's lifetime that they could observe and believe. Or he could simply design people so that they couldn't possibly disbelieve in the first place.

The God of the Bible places himself under no obligation to pursue and convince each and every person whether they want it or not. Rather, he makes it quite clear that those willing to honestly investigate his claims in scripture – in the message he has offered to the world – will be given the evidence they desire:

Proverbs 8:17

English Standard Version (ESV)

17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me diligently find me.

Jeremiah 29:13

English Standard Version (ESV)

13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Luke 11:9-10

English Standard Version (ESV)

9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

History is filled with skeptics who, upon fairly examining scripture, were compelled to believe the evidence thereof. This list includes such notables as Alister McGrath, Francis Collins, J. Warner Wallace, Lee Strobel, Nina Karin Monsen, Peter Hitchens, Frank Morison, and C.S. Lewis to name but a few.

Those who read the Bible for the sole purpose of disproving it are sure to find reasons not to believe; however if this claim is true, then it is easy enough to disprove by simply examining the evidence fairly and setting aside personal bias.

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