Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear… I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone … Where is my faith? Even deep down right in there is nothing but emptiness & darkness. So many unanswered questions live within me, afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God (please forgive me). When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul… I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
– Mother Theresa, Come be my light 
“If God exists, why hasn’t he left us more evidence?” The question about the hiddenness, or silence of God is one of the profound objections to the faith, and most reflective people wrestle with it at some stage in their lives. The dull worry also lurks at the back of my mind. I believe in an invisible being who apparently conceals his presence to sincere people who don’t believe in him. Is my faith in God not just lies and imagination on a cosmic scale? Is the world not just a giant Rorschach test  where some people see a higher being in the complex processes of the universe?  As Nietzsche said, gaze into the abyss, and the abyss also gazes into you.  We see things not as they are, but as we are ourselves. Is this not what happens when religious people look at the world? Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Even when He isn’t there, maybe? And suppose that Someone is there, does that not then make him guilty of the worst kind of child neglect? He is supposed to be the perfect parent. What kind of parent would withhold evidence of his love from his child? Good parents would move the earth to comfort their child if they were sad. Would God not move heaven as well? Good parents don’t lock themselves in a room day after day, expecting their children to infer their love from the orderliness of the living room, or the presence of food in the fridge. 
These questions are rising to a crescendo in our instant-gratification consumer culture, but in the light (or darkness) of divine silence, I think it is the responsibility of every Christian to consider the possibility that God may be a figment of our collective imagination.
Why is this question such a potent objection to faith in God? There are a few points here. They could be addressed in almost any order, however, the way it is usually framed in peoples’ minds, is as follows: 
- The knowledge of God would be the most important kind of knowledge we can ever have.
- If God really were loving, he would reveal himself conclusively to everyone.
- God doesn’t do this.
- Therefore the loving, personal God of the Bible doesn’t exist.
At first blush, this seems like a strong argument. It shares many properties with the problem of evil, insofar as it questions his character as both loving and omnipotent, rather than attacking his existence.  But is it valid? By investigating each premise in turn, we will see that far from disproving Christianity, God’s hiddenness should confirm our faith.
Knowing God, or knowing that he exists, is probably the most important fact anyone could know
Most people do not have to be convinced about this point. The problem of the unevangelised does creep in here, though. What about those who never have the opportunity to hear? This topic deserves attention by itself, but I think for now we can say that God would be at least as just or at least as loving as we would be when judging the proverbial child in India.  Being upset with God for something some people say he might do in light of accidents of time and place, is premature. (I have dealt with it here and here)
If God really were loving, he would reveal himself conclusively to everyone.
First off, we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that important truths should necessarily be obvious or easily known; Nobel prize-winning research is a good example. Neither are important truths necessarily intellectually or existentially undeniable. For almost any important idea, you find intelligent people on both sides of the debate. Pick your favourite topic in politics, sexuality, science, or religion. Two intelligent people, can, with the same information at their disposal, come to opposite conclusions, based purely on their biases. Diversity in textual criticism, even in fields like theology, comes to mind.
Still, we would expect that God would not be bound by the same limitations as inanimate objects or scientific data. Few people are emotionally troubled by the hiddenness of electrons. But God is not that kind of thing. We expect purposively available person-intended evidence from God. And is this person not perfectly loving, that He would want to make such conclusive evidence available to us? And is he not also omnipotent, that he could do so? Could he really have a good reason for not doing so, given that there is so much at stake?
Philosophers like Paul Moser and Daniel Howard Snyder provide a framework from which the divine hiddenness may be properly understood.  Firstly, they argue that man’s greatest problem is not simply a lack of knowledge, but something far deeper:
And what social or political arrangements – however important in their own right – can guide and empower me to be the person I know I ought to be? Can anyone now seriously believe that if people are only permitted or enabled to do what they want, they will then be happy or more disposed to do what is right? 
Spectator evidence – that is, the kind of evidence that would provide information without personal conviction (a sign) – is therefore not the kind that would interest a perfectly loving God. Our problem is not intellectual, but has to do with our wills. One would expect God’s mode of self-revelation to reflect his perfectly loving purposes. That is, to lead us non-coercively to align our purposes with his perfectly loving purposes, by freely yielding the direction of our wills to him. This does not mean that we become automatons, but that sharing the interests of a perfectly loving, all-wise Person is the best way for his creatures to live. Spectator evidence is inadequate for most people. It would inform us intellectually, but leave our wills unchanged, whereas purposively available, authoritative person-intended evidence would challenge us on an existential level with respect to who we are and how we live. Seeking God on his own terms would motivate and enable us to change. The evidence, therefore, is not made available merely to change our ideas or beliefs (even about God), but to shape our motivations and attitudes, through free or volitional transformation, to those of the character of God. This happens (somewhat haphazardly) in an ever-deepening, loving divine-human fellowship – a partnership of unequals  –where one another’s purposes are lovingly shared.
As mentioned before, we can suppose that God would want to enact this character transformation in us without compromising our freedom. It is ironic, then, that I myself, am the only thing that God would allow to come between me and him.
This is a fine theory, but what about those people who seek God but do not find him? It is clear from the Bible that God reveals himself to those who seek him ‘with heart and soul’,  ‘in love’,  etc.  Daniel Howard-Snyder maintains that God may have good reasons for leaving some people in temporary inculpable non-belief. For example, some people may be inculpably ill-disposed toward God, possibly because of being exposed to televangelists, for example. If God were to reveal himself to them, they would react negatively toward him, or they may think that they need psychiatric assistance. Others may be inculpably well-disposed toward God. Perhaps they are in love with a Christian, or they grew up in a Christian home. Like me. I always knew enough about God to like the idea, but I didn’t take the initiative to seek him with heart and soul, and thus he appeared, and mostly still appears, hidden. Then there are others, also like me, who are voluntarily well-disposed toward God, but are motivated by fear, the hunger for power, or just plain intellectual curiosity. They are looking for God, but not willing to bow the knee  if they were to find him. Oh, what a distance there is between knowing God and loving him!  He goes on to list various other reasons,  and admits that God, in love, have reasons who are not aware of. In fact, he admits that there are so many possible reasons that the amount of religious belief in the world becomes excessive.
God’s silence might be deeply good – it may preserve integrity of own free choices, or perhaps it is good for our souls. Longing after God could be beneficial to us, or maybe God is mostly silent to teach us that he is not to be manipulated. We are dealing with a multi-purpose God, remember. But there is another possibility. Maybe God’s silence isn’t for our benefit. God is a person par excellence, not a cosmic utility maximising machine. So maybe divine silence is not for us – maybe it is independent of, though not contrary to, our own good. Perhaps he is the silent type, and usually more interested in communion than communication. Communion is different to communication. You can sit silently next to someone, communing with them without communicating with them. Notice that you do not even need to sense their presence in order to experience their presence. You know that they are there, and that is enough. We often try to turn God into an experience. Experience is necessary sometimes, but if it becomes the yardstick of your faith you have made it an idol.
You can imagine going on a journey with someone who is vastly more intelligent, wise and virtuous than yourself. You could learn much more about her from her leading you in her silence than in her words. Insisting on talk in such a case would be immature. 
God’s silence or silent communion should not be confused with his inactivity, though. The Bible is the story of God in search of man, not the other way around. Thus Christians can assert that although God may leave some people in inculpulpable non-belief temporarily, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t working with them.
A river steamer on the Thames is brought to her moorings amid the wildest shoutings and vilest imprecations between the captain and the handful of men that form his crew. A ten-thousand ton liner is berthed at Liverpool docks without the slightest shouting or confusion. Men make more noise in one hour’s work in the harvest field than God’s rain and sunshine and heat and cold have made in producing the crops that they harvest. A man makes more noise in clearing the snow off his front path than the sun makes in melting a million tons of it. God is so wonderfully silent because he is so wonderfully active. 
We find this phenomenon not only in nature, but also in scripture. Sceptics are fond observe that the word ‘God’ never occurs in the book Esther. How can we have a holy book in which the name of God isn’t mentioned once? However, literary critics, sceptic or not, agree that the writer, has had to employ considerable skill to avoid naming God in Esther. And yet God is unmistakably present in the delicate Jewish irony of coincidence propelling the story forward. Esther is among other things the story of Thomas Aquinas’s Deus Absconditus,  well described by James Russell Lowell:
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne.
But that scaffold sways the future,
and behind the dim unknown
standeth God within the shadows;
keeping watch, keeping watch above His own. 
In the next section we will explore what kind of purposively available evidence we can expect, but with this argument, the logical compatibility of God’s hiddenness with his perfect love is shown. Even so, regardless of revelatory reasons, God may have still more reasons for not showing himself as clearly as he no doubt could.
Most people’s conception of God is no greater than their conception of the archangel Michael.  But God is not only greater than we think – he is greater than we can think. God, as the creator, and awesome, immeasurable, all-satisfying, perfect ground of being, is to our beings as light is to our eyes. In the same way that a spotlight would blind you temporarily if you were to look directly into it, and the sun would destroy your vision completely with its brightness, so this Being would evaporate your being if viewed directly. He will literally blow your mind.  Simone Weil says that God could only create by hiding himself. Otherwise there would be nothing but himself.  According to Weil, the creation is a veil of a loving God, created to shield his creatures from himself. But, paradoxically and brilliantly, this distance is also our means of access to God. She writes:
Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link. 
According to the Christian worldview, we lead a dual existence – we have a material body and brain, but also a spiritual/non-physical soul or mind. This material world separates me to some degree from God, but simultaneously it is a way for me to gain access to him by using my brain to pray,  my body to worship, my senses to perceive his creation, etc.
Yet on this point the sceptic may observe that if God had to hide himself from us for our own good, he might have overdone it. The idea of God’s existence is improbable, given the state of the world. Herewith, then, the third point:
God doesn’t show himself.
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication … you won’t find any rhyme or reason, …nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
– Richard Dawkins 
To Dawkins, the world looks exactly like the world without God, where we recognise patterns because we have evolved to recognise patterns. The idea of God is just a by-product of this sensitivity. It is a speck on a camera lens that is enlarged to look like a real object – like an artefact on an x-ray image. To the Christian, the world looks exactly like the kind of world we would expect if the Christian narrative were true, and our brains are designed to recognise God in the patterns around us.
The argument that believers are biased cuts both ways. Everyone is biased, and to dismiss an idea like ‘God is at work in this world’ simply by explaining its origins, or genesis is to commit the genetic fallacy. If you think about it, how an idea originated doesn’t really affect its truth value. Someone could believe that the earth is roundish because where he comes from, rocks are roundish, and the earth is rocky. Does the incorrect genesis of the idea make the earth flat? Not at all. Both Christians and atheists come to the evidence with certain presuppositions, but the evidence should be evaluated on its own merit.
Also, many people may be self-deceived about the evidence for God. Paul the apostle holds this view.  It may range from Huxley  or Nagel’s  conscious denial to merely being too busy to pay attention, the same way you weren’t conscious about your pinkie or your breathing, up to now. We all deceive ourselves every day when we do things which we know are wrong and won’t make us happy, or when we yield to desires that are contrary to our wills, and do the things we don’t really want to do,  trading long-term joy for temporary satisfaction. Is it really so difficult to believe that we can repress our knowledge of God? The thought of an extremely powerful influential person taking a special interest in your life is not comforting, especially if he has very definite and not-so-easily-implemented ideas about how you ought to live. The idea that atheists are self-deceived may be offensive, but then again, non-believers imply exactly the same things about religious people, even if only by holding opposite beliefs.  There is no neutral position. Self-deception regarding evidence for God is a real possibility, and should therefore be taken seriously, both by believers and non-believers.
The first question one should ask if you allege that God has not given us enough evidence, is what kind of evidence would satisfy you? Is there anything God could do that you could not later ascribe to some psychological phenomenon or coincidence? Is there anything God could do that Christians claim he has not already done? Jesus, for one, doesn’t think so,  and most honest nonbelievers agree. Moreover, this is the wrong question to ask, as will be demonstrated later. 
There is a kind of evidence which could quite literally be right in front of you, which you cannot perceive because you haven’t attuned yourself to it. The Magic Eye autostereograms  are good examples. You can only see the picture by a volitional refocusing of your vision. You are thus conforming to the demands of that evidence. Similarly, you can only know the truth of an offer of friendship and freely reacting to the offer by partaking in the friendship, or by reacting to the invitation to a party not only by accepting, but be actually going. It is crucial to note that action precedes such knowledge. Willingness by itself is insufficient. I don’t know and then do – I do, and then I know.  Similarly, the greatest proportion of the knowledge of God is filial knowledge, which is only available within a relationship, belonging to the category ‘knowledge as attunement’. Just as some knowledge is perceived intellectually or by your senses, volitional filial knowledge of God pertains to our wills. What is being proposed is not a sort of Fideism (blind faith), but the trans-intellectual or super-rational nature of relational knowledge. Reason is necessary, but not sufficient. Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it. Reason is merely feeble if it does not go so far as to realize that.  Reason can tell you that the wedding is at noon, but it cannot tell you whether or not you should say vows to the girl in white.  In almost every relationship, you reach a point where you cannot reason it out any further. In accordance with the purposes of divine revelation, namely character transformation, it is reasonable to expect God to lead, or even seduce  people into an ever deepening relationship with himself.
Therefore there is no shortage of evidence from within belief in God, and it is also not unreasonable to suppose that believers have a certain amount of knowledge to their disposal which is otherwise unavailable. It may also be that due to God’s omnipresence, we don’t know what the world would look like without God. If you want to know what water is, don’t ask the fish. 
We could still ask, though, how someone should learn about the existence of God initially, if he is hidden or silent. Where is the invitation, and where are the clues?
Firstly we must notice that we are once again dealing with the proverbial child in India. Merely asking the question excludes yourself from the category of those who have never heard, and you are responsible for what you do or do not do about it. For the proverbial Indian children there is still hope, though, because of God’s general revelation to all people in nature and conscience. These are the questions about where everything comes from,  and what it means to be a good person.  To these can be added other clues, such as beauty of a woman, a sunset or a piece of music, or another two dozen or so other arguments.  These are intimations of transcendence. One could then say that this world we observe around us is not the answer to the question of whether God exists or not, but the question that is being asked.
There is enough evidence to infer God’s existence, but little enough so as not to force anyone. The universe is the ringing telephone.  As Pascal notes:
What can be seen on earth indicates neither the total absence, nor the manifest presence of divinity, but the presence of a hidden God. Everything bears this stamp…Man must not see nothing at all, nor must he see enough to think he possesses God, but he must see enough to know that he has lost him. For, to know that one has lost something one must see and not see: such is precisely the state of nature. 
Because this question is not only directed at the theist but also at the Christian, it would be fitting to offer the Christian answer to the problem. We have to admit that it can be confusing at first. In the same breath we hear that God is a god who hides, and that he didn’t say seek me in vain [chaos].  So Christians believe simultaneously that God shows himself to those that diligently seek him,  and that he also hides at times. 
We also read of many theophanies in the Bible. Times when God showed up in spectacular ways. Why could Jesus not reveal himself to us as he did to Paul on the road to Damascus?  Remember that we said that most people would dismiss such an event as a hallucination. But could God not appear to us all this way, so that we at least have the opportunity to reject it later? It seems to me that there are two possibilities here: either you believe that the appearance to Paul was real, or not. If you believe it wasn’t real, your case collapses as God doesn’t really appear to people that way. If you believe that it really happened, then Jesus’ appearance to Paul is an appearance to the whole church through the ages, and has he also appeared to you, albeit not in a first-hand manner.
Furthermore, Jesus is central to the answers of most difficult questions. In the problem of suffering, the question about truth, pluralism, and the veracity of the Christian story, we find the answer in Jesus. This is no exception. God reveals himself in general to all of mankind through nature and conscience, but he has also revealed himself in special fashion through the person and work of Jesus. If creation carries the fingerprints of God, then it was Jesus’ fingers.  Jesus is the exact representation of his likeness (Greek: charakter), the image of God (Greek: eikon),  who come to live among us, full of grace and truth.  He said that whoever saw him, saw the Father.  These claims are just as controversial today as they were in first century Palestine. Which is why they crucified him for blasphemy. Jesus is the one person in history that we have not been able to explain away, despite the rivers of ink that have flowed regarding him. This is why sceptics are still writing books about the historical Jesus and those strange happenings in Jerusalem over Easter two thousand years ago. So we must ask ourselves, how would we expect God to act if he were ever to come to earth? You cannot reject the notion of God based on his hiddenness until you are willing to wager the eternal joy of those whom you love on how certain you are that Jesus was nothing more than a great man. This is the leap of doubt.  How uncertain are you willing to be?
Therefore the loving God of the Bible doesn’t exist
Some people leave the church because of doubt, hoping to find certainty outside its doors. In vain. Many of us are doomed to doubt, as CS Lewis observes:
Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all these doubts in the soul. 
A certain amount of doubt in new ideas is healthy in quest for truth. It keeps us honest in the same way antibodies keep us healthy.  In fact, I have found that doubt about God is usually the result of a sensitivity to an erroneous idea about some aspect of God. I am not surprised at all that some people doubt the existence of God. I don’t believe in the God they don’t believe in either.
So the question “is there enough evidence to know that God exists?” is the wrong one to ask.  You can never be uncertain enough. The question will always linger. What you should rather ask yourself, is whether you are willing to be known and thereby transformed, by God. Are you willing to seek God in places and in ways that will fundamentally transform who you are? The question still scares me, like standing on the edge of an abyss. You know what it would mean if you found if you found him, or rather if you allow yourself to be found by him. That you are and never were alone, and that you owe him your allegiance. That he is intensely interested in you, and that his love will change your life. This is the question which we are all being asked every day. Are you willing to seek God in places and in ways that will fundamentally transform who you are? For many people. the telephone has been ringing for a while now.
 Inkblot test.
 Seeing patterns where there aren’t any is called Pareidolia. This happens when we see faces in rock formations or clouds, for example.
 Matt. 5:8
 For a more sophisticated argument, see Schellenberg, John L. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006.
 Cf. Gen. 3:1-6. This is also the tactic used by the serpent in the garden.
 There is good reason to think that the unevangalised are not necessarily lost, although some might be. Cf. Ezek. 18:30-33, 1 Tim. 2:4.
 For a more complete discussion, see Moser, Paul K. The Elusive God. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008, Moser, Paul K., and Daniel Howard-Snyder. Divine Hiddenness: New Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998., and Yancey, Philip. Reaching for the Invisible God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.
 To borrow a phrase from Philip Yancey: Yancey, Philip. Reaching for the Invisible God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.
 Deut. 4:29, Jer. 29:13,
 Prov. 8:17
 Cf. Hos. 6:3, Matt. 7:7, Acts 17:27, Heb. 11:6
 Eg. Hos. 5:5-6, Amos 8:12
 This whole point is paraphrased from Michael Rea. Rea, Michael. Podcast: Divine Hiddenness, Divine Silence. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School: Carl F. Henry Centre for Theological Understanding, 14 March 2012.
 The ‘hidden God’ of Isa. 45:15
 Norman Geisler
 Exod. 33:20
 Weil, Simone. Gravity and Grace. London and New York: Routledge, 2002. The idea is called metaxy, and originated with Plato.
 Rom. 1:18-32
 Science does not have the right to give to me my reason for being. But I am going to take science’s view because I want this world not to have meaning. A meaningless world frees me to pursue my own erotic and political desires. Huxley, Aldous. Ends and Means. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1937.
 I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. Nagel, Thomas. The Last Word. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
 Rom. 7:19-21
 Asked by a journalist what he would say to God if he found himself in at heaven’s gates, Russell replied: “Sir, why did you not give me better evidence?” Rosten, Leo. “Bertrand Russell and God: A Memoir.” The Saturday Review, 23 February 1974: 25-26.
 Luke 16:19-31
 Cf. John 7:17, 8:31-32.
 Jeff Cook
 Chinese proverb
 Ps. 19:1-4, Rom 1:20
 Rom. 2:14-15
 Isa. 45:15,19, from which Thomas Aquinas derived the doctrine of the Deus Absconditus.
 Deut. 4:29, Heb. 11:6, Pro. 8:17, Jer. 29:13, Mark 4:22, Matt. 7:7, Acts 17:27
 Jes. 8:17; Ps. 10:1, 22:1-2, 30:7, 44:23-24, 88:1-3; Prov. 25:2, Ezek. 39:29; Rom. 11:33
 Acts 9:3
 John 1:3
 Heb. 1:3
 Col. 1:15
 John 14:8-9