Grim to the endJuly 14, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
Let’s have one last look at the comment from Challenger Grim in which he attempts to defend C. S. Lewis’s argument that free will limits God to showing up only in “the faintest and most mitigated degree.”
Well first of all, what you mention, could still be the “faintest and most mitigated degree.” Think about it as… “capacity for rejection.” In ancient times, beliefs in gods were quite prevalent (maybe even justified, but that’s another discussion). Thus, even with God’s appearance, ancient people would still be able to reject Him for someone/something else (and the Bible is filled with the Israelites doing so). Imagine now that even a fraction of what happened then were to happen today. Would not the world become 100% religious overnight? You have to think in context. That in the past, more of God could be seen, than can be today.
There are two problems with this answer. First of all, by making this argument, Grim is inadvertently admitting that “knowing God exists” and “submitting to God” are two entirely separate things. Thus, the free will argument fails to show that God is in any way obligated to deny us the information we need in order to reliably verify His existence. Even if we knew He were real, we’d still be free to choose how we respond to Him.
The second problem is that Grim is failing to consider the larger context. Let’s agree that the world today is a great deal less credulous about the existence of gods and the reality of magic and/or miracles. The question is, why is the world more skeptical? Is it not precisely because of God’s consistent and universal failure to show up in real life? Grim has the cause and effect precisely backwards: skepticism is not the cause of God’s absence, God’s absence is the cause of the world’s skepticism. And if God were to show up again, it would only restore the situation that allegedly existed in Bible times. People would once again believe in gods, and would freely choose whether to submit to them or resist them.
Also you have to remember that the Bible itself states that everything was in preparation for Christ (Christian view/edition anyway). Thus, everything in the OT was a set up for the NT. Now that Christ has come and changed the game, there’s no need for God to play it the same.
Unfortunately, if we assume that Jesus was indeed God the Son, his arrival on earth only blows the free will argument away completely. There is no way that showing up in person, healing the sick, raising the dead, and even bringing yourself back from the grave, counts as showing up “only in the faintest and most mitigated degree.” And even if it did, by Lewis’s argument, Jesus ought to be here healing the sick and raising the dead, since this sort of showing up, being “faint” and “mitigated,” would not violate our free will. Argue it how you like, there’s no way to make the free will argument consistent with itself, the Bible and the real world.
Nor does it help to argue that God changed the rules in the New Testament. Even if He did, this would not change the fact that the free will argument is a sham, nor would it change the fact that God does not show up in real life, and that His absence denies men the opportunity to put their faith in Him. Whether you get rid of you sins by slitting a sheep’s throat or by putting your faith in a “Lamb of God,” if God does not show up for you, your faith is in the words of men (and possibly in your own feelings and superstitions).
Besides, it makes no sense to claim that God went through all the elaborate Old Testament preparations just to get the world ready for Christ, only to abandon the whole project and disappear once Jesus blipped on and off of the radar screen of history. If God put that much work into preparing for the New Covenant, you would expect Him to be willing and able to carry out the project once it had launched. Departing the scene, and leaving believers easy prey for gullibility and the wiles of unscrupulous men, just isn’t a part of good project management. It’s like working for centuries to build a rocket to take a man to the moon, and then launching it without anybody on board to steer it. You’re just begging for failure. Is that really the way a wise and omniscient God would run things?
Mark Twain was right: it is easier to tell the truth. As soon as you start trying to sell a lie, your story turns out to be inconsistent with reality in some way, and each attempt to explain away the inconsistency only introduces new and greater problems. We all know this; it’s where Carlo Collodi got the idea of Pinocchio’s nose that gets longer and longer the more he lies. Try all you like to defend the Gospel, but the fact of the matter is “as plain as the nose on your face.”