The person who asks this type of question is basically saying: “God, if You would just reveal Yourself to me then I would believe in You.”
They want us to believe that their lack of belief in God is the result of God not providing them with enough evidence. Therefore, they can’t be held accountable for their lack of faith, because God didn’t provide them with the evidence to believe.
God has revealed Himself to us. For many of us, we see His fingerprints throughout creation. For other people, all they see are natural processes. They are unable to see beyond the material world, and they miss the evidence of God that is all around them.
It really isn’t an intellectual problem most people have with God, rather the problem they have is a problem of the heart. It other words, the issue isn’t that God hasn’t provided enough evidence, it is that they have chosen not to believe, and no amount of evidence will change that choice.
Consider these two biblical examples of the way people respond to the evidence of God’s existence.
First, there is the nation of Israel. Israel had been slaves in Egypt for a very long time. They witnessed God’s power as it was demonstrated through the ten plagues unleashed on the Egyptian people, the parting of the Red Sea, the miraculous provision of guidance and food in the wilderness, and finally how God revealed Himself at Mount Sinai.
After this Moses went up the mountain. He was for a long time (forty days and forty nights) and the people got antsy. They brought gold to Aaron (Moses brother) to make a golden calf to worship. In their worship they claimed the god this calf represented led them out of Egypt (Exodus 19-32). In spite of all they had seen and experienced, they still turned away from God and to idolatry.
Second are Jesus’ disciples. These men heard Jesus teach, saw his miracles, and visited with him at different times during the forty days after his resurrection. When Jesus was ready to ascend into heaven he took these followers to a mountain in Galilee. Matthew 28:17 says; When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! (NLT) Amazing these people still doubted that Jesus was who he said he was, and that he had actually been resurrected from the dead.
We tend to think if we were in their place and were able to see the risen Lord face to face that we would not doubt, but apparently that would not be the case. No matter what evidence we have, it would still be possible for us to explain it away.
Both groups had evidence that God existed and that God had chosen them. The Israelites, for whatever reason, decided to ignore what they knew to be true, exaggerated their fears and doubts, and turned to worship an idol. The disciples doubted, they didn’t know what to think, but for whatever reason they decided to trust Jesus and God used them to change the world. When our hearts are right, faith can still flourish among the doubts that we have.
This is the reason that it is ultimately a heart issue and not an evidence issue. The Bible demonstrates that we have to decide whether or not we are going to trust God based on the evidence He has given to us.
The Apostle Paul in Romans 1:20 wrote:
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (NLT)
God has revealed Himself to us and the Biblical claim is that this revelation is sufficient to lead everyone to seek Him. This evidence that is found in the world around us is called general revelation, and it provides just enough evidence to allow us to believe that God exists.
I think it should be pointed out that one of the best pieces of evidences for the existence of God are Christian people. This means it is very important for us understand the message we declare by the way we live our lives. Is the message of our lives one of faith?
The reason I am a Christian has little to do with apologetics. Don’t get me wrong, the work of William Lane Craig and other apologists have been very valuable too me, but apologetics has provided reinforcement for my faith and not the foundation of my faith.
The reason I am a Christian is because of the influence of other Christians in my life (primarily, but not limited to, my parents) as well as the experience of God in my life. This experience has come in the form of a change of heart and mind, through provision, and through answered prayers. One of the most recent ways I have experienced God is being appointed as senior pastor at Bethlehem Free Methodist Church. A year ago that seemed like an impossibility, and yet God opened up the doors to make it possible.
Having said all of that I still haven’t answered the question. It is a valid question because we talk about God loving everyone and not wanting anyone to perish, and this is why it is logical to expect that God would make His presence obvious to everyone. In one of his parables Jesus dealt with this very issue:
“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”(Luke 16:27-31; NLT)
God doesn’t reveal Himself to us in what we would consider obvious ways because it would do little good. The Israelites had powerful evidence for God, and still turned their backs on Him. The disciples had the resurrection and Jesus’ miracles, and some of them still doubted.
The very same people who claim the evidence of nature, the Bible, and the Church is insufficient would claim meeting Jesus face to face was not sufficient evidence. The issue is not the quantity or quality of the evidence, but it is an issue of the heart. If you are not willing to surrender your life to God, then you are always going to come up with reasons why the evidence for God is not good enough. This provides you with a justification for not surrendering your life to Him. For a person who doesn’t want God to exist, no amount of evidence will convince that person that He does.