In this article, I will put forward one way of answering the question: how much evidence should expect for God, as Christians understand him to be? Essentially this is one answer, among others, to the critique that:
If God exists, then we should have unquestionable evidence for his existence.
He should have the power to make unquestionable evidence for his existence.
I do not have unquestionable evidence for God. Therefore, I have reason to believe that God does not exist.
I think this piece of abductive reasoning is good, but it does not take into account any of the reasons for which God probably does not want to give us unquestionable evidence for his existence. I will argue that limiting evidence to a sufficient, rather than an unquestionable, level is conducive of freedom.
The above critique notes God should have the power to create unquestionable evidence. However, wanting us to know of his existence does not appear to be God's only objective. God's more complex desires for how he wants us to live appear to require freedom which conflicts with unquestionable evidence.
God appears to allow us to choose to trust in him or not.
Christians believe God is in control of the whole universe, yet he allows evil to exist for a time. Exactly why God chooses to do this is difficult to work out in full. These are a few reasons however.
One of God's objectives is to build a relationship with us and he does this in the context of freedom. This desire for this is most clearly shown by the personal way that God gives us a way out of evil. God himself comes to pay the price of evil by dying, but as he is doing this, he reveals who he is to us.
I am not entirely certain why he chooses to give us freedom in this. However, one possibility is that if we followed God without having room to question we would not grow to be like him in our character. Having to make the choices in each moment to do right or wrong and even to consider why the action is right or wrong support this process of development toward full personality.
I think that the lack of unquestionable evidence is related to this. Without the ability to doubt God we would not be able to reject God in our minds. By continuation, evil might not be possible under such conditions and so too this freedom to choose.
Interestingly, in Genesis chapter 3, verse 1, the Serpent's (Devil's) first words are about doubting God: 'Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden?"' implying, perhaps, that this is a precondition for their actions against God's commands.
To choose to follow God rationally also requires evidence. Because God seeks to be in relation with us, we must have access to sufficient knowledge to know him or the Christian notion of who God is would be inconsistent.
We do have this evidence. The Bible is the best source for this evidence as its parts were written with the purpose of showing God's relationship with us (I will differ considering the historical reliability, rational consistency and authorship of the Bible to other works).
Jesus coming to earth is the clearest revelation of God and enables us to know him and have relationship with God.
Additionally, without this evidence we would not be able to live life the way God intends. 2 Peter chapter 1 states 'His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him...' This knowledge in the Bible is the knowledge that leads to the truly good life.
In conclusion, evidence for God is not unquestionable, but it is recorded in the Bible. This knowledge is sufficient to know God. By only giving us this kind of evidence we can have freedom to choose to follow God or not.
Alex Gillespie is an undergraduate student from Wollongong now based in Sydney.
Alex Gillespie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/alex-gillespie.html