I recently was confronted with an objection to the existence of God that I hadn’t really heard of before. It’s taken me some time to put my thoughts together in a way that I feel like asses the objection well, but I think I’ve come up with a reasonable solution.
To the best of my ability this was basically the argument: God, if he exists would want to find the most efficient way in which to reveal himself to us. Unfortunately, the evidence seems to point that God is not being efficient in revealing himself. This can be seen by two factors. First, some people go throughout their entire lives and never hear the name of Jesus. Second, there is suffering and hardship in this world which has not been alleviated by Christianity. Because, God has therefore not been efficient in revealing himself to mankind then he must not exist.
So what is the solution?
The problem with this argument is in its foundation. It assumes that efficiency should be sought at the loss of anything else, but if this isn’t true then the whole argument breaks apart.
So, should efficiency be sought above all else? I don’t think so. And if I could be so bold efficiency wasn’t what your wife wanted when you got married. The most efficient way to get married is to simply walk to the courthouse once you both agree that you want to get married. That’s efficient. But marriage isn’t about efficiency it’s about relationship. In the same way God desires relationship with us and so efficiency is not what he focuses on with us. In fact, if hell is really separation from God, as I and many other theologians agree, then God’s being efficient in revealing himself to us may not even build the necessary relationship with us to keep us from hell. In the end a quick reveal would not then be efficient, but insufficient.
Now, the argument says that some never hear the name Jesus and thus far I have only shown that God is not inefficient by not revealing himself as quickly as possible. It is here we must look to scripture, which tells us that ‘God reveals himself to everyone so that none is with excuse’ Romans 1:19-20. This verse is clearly saying that everyone knows enough about God to be sufficient for salvation, otherwise they would have an excuse.
Do some never know it is by Christ they are saved? I think so. Does a person need to know what a car is called or know everything of how it works in order to trust it to get them to another place? I don’t think so. I think it is the same with Christ. It is still by Christ we are saved, whether we may understand how our salvation works or whether we know it is Christ who saves us to be saved.
As for suffering, I think it is important we point out that it is more often in the hard times people turn to God rather than the good times. As C. S. Lewis says ‘pain is God’s megaphone’. In otherwords it is through pain that we often realize this world is temporary and we turn to God. Perhaps you may wish to argue that God wouldn’t want us to suffer, but it is in suffering that we realize how great the things are that God has to offer. You don’t realize what you have till you don’t have it anymore. We won’t realize how great God is till we have experienced not having Him.
Part of this argument I believe also assumes that being healthy and wealthy makes us happy. But this frankly isn’t true. Looking at current events we see that Aaron Hernandez a top NFL player who had it all in the way the world would view it was convicted of murder and then killed himself in his cell after the sentence was given. He had everything the world had to offer, but he wasn’t happy. On the other side of that I’ve traveled across the world and met people in dire circumstances who are happier than many people who have ‘made it’ in the world. So therefore, God would is not being inefficient by not making us always wealthy and healthy.
In the end, is God’s plan efficient? Perhaps not. But maybe that shouldn’t be the point to begin with, perhaps the way He has done things now is the most effective in building relationship and that seems a greater good.