Monday, October 28, 2013

The Absence of God

We’ve often noted two books dealing with God’s absence from human life:

The Hidden Face of God by Richard Elliott Friedman [Originally titled The Disappearance of God, HarperSanFrancisco, 1995] and The Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth by Gerald L. Schroeder [The Free Press, NY, 2001].

Friedman takes a philosophical/theological approach while Schroeder takes a neurological position, both trying to show that God is ‘absent” from our lives but still exists.

Schroeder will appeal to those who like discussions of consciousness and Quantum Mechanics.

Friedman will appeal to those with a philosophical, Nietzscheian bent.

But do we really need Friedman or Schroeder to tell us that God is hidden or absent from human existence? God’s absence seems to be rather obvious, doesn’t it?

When the Hebrews called out to their God during the many assaults upon their communities, where was their God?

And when Jews were being slaughtered during WWII and subject to The Holocaust, did they not call upon their God to save them, but got no answer, no mercy?

And Christians who called for their God/Jesus to save them during the Roman onslaughts and decimation of Christian communities, men, women, and children alike, discovered that God/Jesus was nowhere to be found.

And God’s chosen messengers, Joan of Arc, Saint Lawrence, and Giordano Bruno, among other saints, also became aware that God/Jesus was not going to come to their rescue when they were being mutilated or burnt at the stake.

Today, when a Christian, Muslim, or Jewish person find themselves in a dire situation facing death, do they not beg God to provide surcease?

Do the Hindu Gods come to the aid of those, when in trouble, who worship that motley crew of deities?

God was manifest, it seems, for periods of time in antiquity, but often elusive and incorrigible even then.

That some (most?) persons think God is merciful and at hand when needed or at death shows the palpable ignorance of humankind.

One doesn’t need Mr. Friedman or Mr. Schroeder to enlighten us about the absence of God. It’s obvious from history and the human condition.


1 comment:

חנוך בן קשת said...


Hello Mr. Reynolds. I'm originally from the US, and I have lived in Israel for more than 20 years. The so-called absence of God might be due more to a failure to perceive than to actual lack of presence. Obviously terrible things happen in the world, even to people who are convinced that God lives. Yet the three expressions of monotheism say there is a day of reckoning where humans will be judged. If so, then a warning was sounded for humanity to behave properly toward their fellows. The fact that some disobey does not imply God's negligence. If Jesus Christ really is the human embodiment of the divine, then he too tasted the unjust suffering this fallen world dishes out. "Father forgive them, they know not what they do" results from his confidence in continuance beyond death, even to resurrection / everlasting fellowship with God. Not everyone will be forgiven, and that is a terrifying thought beyond the suffering now present in this world.

As a former naturalist, I can say that it is not impossible to repent and to seek God and to have direct communication with him - including his working of several miracles in my life.

Best wishes.