Why Is God So OBSCURE to Us?

As I see it, God is very difficult to communicate with, and he seems (for whatever reasons of his own) to be getting even more so! Consider the following:
-in the beginning, God walked, and talked with mankind (see Genesis, Adam and eve)
-later, he talked direct with certain people, whom we now call “prophets”-see Moses, eg the burning bush, etc.
-for Christians (at least) all direct communication with the almighty ended with the deaths of the last apostles-Paul was probably the last to have had a direct experience of god
My question: why is this? it is now more than 1900 years since we have had direct revelations. meanwhile, the number of people who CLAIM direct communication with God seems to be geometrically increasing! Throwing aside the obvious charlatans (people like Jimmy Swaggart), we seem to be ever-more fragmented with regard to our communications with god!So why is this-are we being prepared for a new phase of the relationship? What’s going on here?

Maybe he’s bored with us now? Maybe we’re getting big enough to to stand on our own two feet? Or maybe it’s because we can’t comprehend God?

As for the larger numbers of people claiming direct communication with God: Most are deluded, but also, there are a lot more people around, too.

I don’t think God has stopped communicating with men. In fact I know dozens of people who think God has communicated with them.

The reasons are obscure:)

I would interested how one is able to pick and choose a human who claims to commune with God. It is problematic considering that God is unknown and Satan is revealed to be fooling people.

if God created the universe then it is a manifestation of God and should give clues to his aspects, like fingerprints at a crime scene. i think the study of physics and asrtonomy should be regarded as forms of worship. so what can you figure out about God from todays info?

all i can be SURE about so far is: GOD CANNOT BE STUPID!

but that blows away a lot of religious nonsense. the stuff in the OP is all from the bible. why that limitation and how do you know it’s correct?

Dal Timgar

There was a great thread around here awhile ago(6 months?) where Libertarian was discussing this point. I will never in a million years be able to explain it the way he did, but here is the short and simple answer he saw:
The only to truly have free will is for God to shut off all direct knowledge of him during our life. If God was always hanging out and doing stuff, freewill wouldn’t exist, since you would KNOW that you would be punished for everything you did wrong.
If I remember, I will try and dig up the old thread when the server is not so slow.

Well, it could be that God doesn’t exist.
It could also be that, contrary to what everyone says, he doesn’t want to reveal His existence, and may never actually have done so in the past, despite what everyone says.

I haven’t read Libertarian’s writings, but based on Freedom’s rendering of it (and I acknowledge that this might not do the original justice) it seems to me that God revealing himself has nothing whatsoever to do with Free Will – you are still free to do as you wish, even if you know a Supreme Being exists. If you believe Exodus, it certainly didn’t stop the Egyptians from acting against His Will. (The Eqgyptians in Exodus qualify as either the most determined and resolute of people, or else the most stupid, considering what they are alleged to have seen.) If you “buy” Libertarian’s argument about Free Will, it seems to me that you would have a problem with the Bible, which speaks of many clear and distinct manifestations of God, which would seem to go against his argument.

For my part, it seems that a Supreme Being that could condemn people to eternal punishment for not believing in Him on such poor and flimsy evidence as stories in a book several millennia old (and resembling stories of manifestations of gods in many other cultures) is severely flawed.

I think that faith is not really opposed to knowledge, but opposed to reason itself. Faith does not use reasons, and since scientific knowledge of supernatural beings who defy the laws of physics is problematic, this is made worse by “faith” attempting to eliminate good reasons for not believing anything (if we don’t know how/what/why God is, how can we know how/what/why he should be?).

We cannot know God in an honest sense because we couldn’t fathom him regardless if he is in fact the creator of the universe, etc. If we cannot fully know God if he was in our presence, then there is not necessity to have faith in the unknowable to be judged as worthy. If God chooses to be unknown it is because he has reasons, and it does not follow that he would demand that we make a life out of praying to our false image of him. In fact, it merely demonstrates bad faith when we support other people for their claimed knowledge of God (especially considering their belief in Satan as deceiver). They want us to have faith in THEM on behalf of God, which is contrary to God’s direct will to be unknown or hidden, (for good reasons, we assume). But, if God has reasons, so can we, yet faith is our dismissal of reasons. So, church leaders are expoiting a bad faith in God opposed to reason, who as supreme being would never have a reason to make any churches, true or false, to fight over his reasons.

Logic dictates that we have no right to make any assertory claims about the divine realm at all if we can’t perceive it or even fathom it. This is ultimately about honesty and integrity. To have faith in a mystery is a contradiction in terms. If god was testing us, we wouldn’t know the answers, and therefore he would be obviously testing us to see if we can live without him, or perhaps who would fall for his faith-based imitations. Furthermore, if this is not the case, then it doesn’t matter, because either he forgot, or doesn’t care or doesn’t exist. It does not logically follow from his unknowable absence that God is playing an illogical game with us, nor does it follow he would contact anybody in secret about his will and attempt to promote confusion about it. So, faith is not merely illogical, but anti-logical, since it denies and discourages the use of mental faculties and makes us the opposite of God at all times, when there is no reason to conclude he is opposed to us.

To complicate matters, faith implies that we desperately want something to be true (because we fear it is not). This could also mean that the faithful merely want their personal image of God to be true, denying the possibility of an unexpected God or unwanted reality. The fact that most people seem to have faith enough in their own interpretations that they should dare think they know what God should be and have the nerve to suggest what they expect from him in return makes this faith an obviously insane projection of their infantile will. This, in turn, leads to other over-confident projections of will.

John 14:

So, perhaps today there are less people keeping Jesus’s commandments.

Faith is merely trust in God. If God is true to his promises, why is that unreasonable?

We are spiritual beings. Just because we can’t build a machine capable of detecting God (except by making babies) doesn’t mean we can’t know God.

Why would he want people who don’t have faith in him to know him? (I’m picturing the Pope having Ozzy Osbourne as a roommate.)

If you don’t know him, it is because you don’t keep Jesus’s teachings. That is your own fault.

It isn’t God’s will to be hidden. It is God’s will for you to love him, and then he will reveal himself to you. There are false teachers of course and it does require some discernment to figure out who is who. That is, ultimately, the only tricky part.

If he wished people to know the truth, and turn from their evil ways, wouldn’t he have one true church, however non-heirarchical, to disseminate that truth?

Well, that is like saying logic dictates we have no right to make any assertory claims about what a strawberry tastes like if we can’t taste a strawberry. But, anyone can obey Jesus’s teachings.

Do you trust anyone?

I could be wrong about God existing, I’ll admit, but I’ve found no one willing to try keeping Jesus’s teachings (who is not now keeping them) for a time to see if their results match my own. :shrug:

If we saw God and knew for sure about him, believing wouldn’t be hard. That is why we have to have faith. It is hard, but that is the whole point.

The Orthodox Jewish point of view regarding this question:

First of all, you seem to be erring in your assessment of Genesis. Yes, G-d talked to the earliest humans…Adam and Eve, Cain…but that was pretty much a matter of necessity. There was no one for them to learn from other than G-d himself. After Cain, the next record of G-d - to - man communication is with Noah, more than one thousand years later. And Noah was said to have been outstanding in his generation, and don’t forget, his prophecy was in a pretty exceptional circumstance as well…G-d intended to destroy the world’s population and wanted Noah to be the exception. So prophecy was always limited to particularly exceptional individuals, or exceptional circumstances, or both.

And that, I think, is the nub of the answer to why there does not seem to be any genuine prophecy these days: it takes an exceptionally righteous individual to receive prophecy. To achieve a state in which one’s soul is in contact with the divine, one’s soul must be very unattached to the physical. Not that Judaism believes in asceticism (far from it), but that it takes a rare individual who has the necessary, proper perspective of the relationship between his physical existence and his spiritual existence to be capable of having his soul receive contact from G-d.

There were a few folks before Moses who managed to achieve some degree of this…Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. Moses was the human being who achieved this to the greatest degree, and he was able to teach, inspire and elevate those around him to some measure of this. As the generational distance increased, the number of people with ability to achieve such heights decreased.

Also, there is the matter of circumstance. G-d prefers to run the world through natural law as much as possible, and only when he feels there is a need that cannot be met without a breach of this does he perform miracles or give prophecy. The creation of the nation of Israel, the giving of the Torah and the conquest and settlement of the land of Israel were such circumstances. As the Israelite nation became established and settled down, the need for such exceptions to natural law decreased, and the requirement of righteousness in order to receive such an exception increased proportionally, until the point where there has not been, since the early days of the second Holy Temple (approx. 350 BCE), the combination of person and circumstance that would lead G-d to perform a breach of natural law, which would include prophecy.

However, I have a question. I assume, from your post, that the age of phophets is long past. What is your position on the “messiah”? Would he be a prophet?
A few years back, I was crossing the GW bridge-on the Jersey side, there was a billboard displaying a verly elderly Chasidic rabbi- who was touted (by his follwers) as the fabled 'Messiah". How will we recognize the messiah-would he (of necessity) be a prophet?

You wrote:

“If you don’t know him [God], it is because you don’t keep Jesus’s teachings. That is your own fault.”

I reply:

Jesus has nothing to do with God, and this illustrates my point that a hidden God has opened the door to charlatans claiming to be the door to God. Your comment also shows the basis for all religious misunderstandings and wars. It contains a false relation (Jesus to God), a false cause (that I don’t know God for lack of Jesus), and a false accusation (It is never my fault if God is hiding behind a man named Jesus), with blame and responsibility attached or implied. A real whopper, Jmull.


Not necessarily. According to Maimonides, whose text on the subject is pretty much considered the starting point for all subsequent discussions of the issue, says that the Messiah will be a king, descended from David (through Solomon). He will be someone who is observant of and extremely knowledgeable of the Torah’s laws and will educate the Jewish people in them. He will “fight the wars of G-d.” He will gather in the Israelites from foreign lands to Israel, rebuild the Holy Temple and re-instate the sacrificial service there. None of these things necessarily requires prophecy.

In fact, Maimonides states explicitly that there is no requirement that this individual do anything supernatural (presumably including prophecy) in order to qualify as Messiah.

Yeah…this is a bit of a sore point between the Lubavichers and other Orthodox Jews. That Rabbi is no longer alive, though.

As said earlier, he will not necessarily be a prophet. First of all, anyone meeting the above definition would be recognizable as the Messiah. In addition, it is believed that Elijah the prophet, who never died, will reveal himself publicly to declare the Messiah’s coming imminent immediately prior to that event. And, on that subject…

Let’s just say it’s “not current.” Another aspect of the Messianic era will be that “the Earth will be filled with knowledge of G-d.” Add this to the expected return of Elijah, and it’s certainly possible that there will be another age of prophets in the future (according to Orthodox Jewish belief about the Messianic era).

Chaim Mattis Keller

Your comment is the main issue in a nutshell. If we saw God, we wouldn’t need faith, but it doesn’t follow in reverse order (We can’t see god, therefore we need faith). That is my whole point: That the necessity of faith does not logically follow from assuming a hidden creator. It doesn’t even remotely follow. There are other assumptions that lead us to this faith business, and it has alot to do with people claiming to know God (faith in THEM). It’s a bait and switch situation.

I can accept the possibility of God in argument, fine, but faith is completely beside the point, especially if it contains rewards or punishments and involves warnings of deceptions. This makes it necessary without being logically necessary. Therefore, it does not logically follow, but leads.

What does it mean to logically follow? A pun for example: A duckling follows a duck (for reasons). A cat or dog sometimes follows a duck (for reasons). A duck follows a bag of popcorn (for reasons). Everything else is not generally known to follow a duck or vice versa just because cats, dogs, and ducklings happen to follow ducks. I cannot simply say that a horse follows a duck because it is also an animal, or just because I saw it once by coincidence, or because I NEED it to be the case to survive the next life.

Saying we need faith for no reason other than a fear or desire to get or avoid something is begging the question. Begging the question means that we have a conclusion contained in our premise, as in, “God exists because it says so in the Bible, and the Bible is the word of God (therefore God exists).”

Here is another fine example of circular reasoning:

“Only those with faith can be saved.”

“We need to be saved because we will surely die or rot in hell otherwise.”

“We need faith that we will surely die or rot in hell in order to want to be saved.”

Brian Bunnyhurt commented to jmullaney:

Whoosh! What a spectacular assertion! Your privilege to assert it, of course: everything is free game here.

But consider: suppose 513 supernovae became visible tonight in a pattern that spelled out “Repent!” in Times New Roman across the sky. I have very little doubt that Czarcasm would respond to the obvious comments tomorrow: “Spectacular light display. And an amazing coincidence. But of course it doesn’t prove anything.”

And the funny thing is, he’d be right. Even such a phenomenon would not prove the existence of God. Nothing can. People down through history have tried to come up with ontological proofs from creation to creator, from logical axioms to their source, and so on.

It doesn’t work that way. Whatever he may or may not be, he is not demonstrable through deductive or inductive logic, because a skeptical argument can always defeat the most ingenious of “proofs.”

What Christians say, at rock bottom, is that when we see Jesus, we see God. If somebody started an OP based on that goofball song, “What would it be like if God became one of us? What sort of person would he be?” Our answer would be, and is, “Jesus. Because that is precisely what he did.” In Jesus we see what God wants humanity to be – not necessarily a wandering prophet/teacher who explains things in parables, but someone compassionate, with a strict moral standard expressed in what you individually need to hold yourself to, not a corporate standard by which to judge each other – which he prohibits, someone willing to take to task legalists who snag from the laws Moses supposedly was given on the mountain strictures to enforce on others while finding loopholes for themselves, someone willing to give all that he had for the sake of others. Someone willing to love to the extreme.

And we are called to do exactly the same thing, as he gives us strength to follow his example and as circumstances call for it.

You need not believe any of this. But you should accept it as the truth about what we believe. And if anyone, be he First President Hinckley, John Paul II, Jerry Falwell, or the Archbishop of Canterbury, tells you different, he is perverting the root message of who and what Jesus was and calls us to be, in favor of his own personal agenda. And you should spit in his face.

You are entitled to your opinion, but I don’t understand the basis of your opinion.

I agree with you that can be a problem. Jesus wasn’t completely obtuse regarding how to tell a false prophet from a true one.

:eek: All of them?

You might as well say Gaudere doesn’t exist. I can tell you if you go to the Straight Dope message boards, you will see that Gaudere exists.

You reply, while refusing to go to the SDMB, that is is a false relation (the Straight Dope to Gaudere), a false cause (you don’t know Gaudere exists for lack of going to the SDMB), and a false accusation (it isn’t your fault if Gaudere is hiding herself away on the SDMB), etc.

And that would be your opinion, and you’d be entitled to it. That hardly makes my claim that Gaudere exists a whopper.

cmkeller – you know, Jesus said (most explicitly in the Gospel of Thomas, but in the canon as well) that the temple would never be rebuilt. So far, so good, but your messiah ever did show up to rebuild it most of Christianity would regard him as the anti-Christ. Boy – that is a mess waiting to happen!

Regarding my post to Jmull, you wrote:

“Whoosh! What a spectacular assertion! Your privilege to assert it, of course: everything is free game here.”

For the record, I am counter-asserting. Jmull made the assertion that Jesus was the door to God, an idea also self-asserted by Jesus. So, Jmull is also claiming that this self-assertion from Jesus is valid, hence my point that faith in God is really a faith in the person who dares self-assert themselves as the door to God. Therein lies all the problems, confusion, and misunderstandings.


You are adamant that you pretend to know that a human named Jesus represents God. This is your opinion. There is no logic, reason, or proof that Jesus has anything to do with God, this is merely your hope from investment. I have nothing hard against it, of course, its just that you and Polycarp have assumed that I am the one making assertions and offering opinions. Is this not arrogant? Or at least provincial, perhaps?

May I suggest that you have gone past rationality here into your own definitions and reasons (and false analogies: Gaudere does not claim to be the door to God, and you can’t even prove Gaudere isn’t the door to God either!). Note: You can’t logically or objectively argue about an unprovable or speculative topic by first asserting that it is obvious. Likewise, you can’t logically assert that if it isn’t obvious, then it is merely my opinion that it isn’t. Lastly, both you and Polycarp suspiciously claim I am entitled to my counter-assertion. Are you sure about that? I mean, is it really okay?