Justin Vacula recently posited yet another, unique
One big reason put forward by philosophers for God not manifesting Himself (assuming for a moment that He exists) is that God unmistakeably and clearly showing Himself to all would then diminish the overall amount of free choice we have when deciding what we would like to do. That is to say, that such a powerful manifestation would amount to coercion on God's behalf and God would rather that we behave and make our choices absent any sort of psychological pressure on people that such an appearance would entail.
One thing Mr. Vacula cannot deny is that people behave differently when they perceive they are being watched. That's not just me saying that as a general obeservation but, a cursory search would indicate, it's also what Newcastle University, UCLA and sciencemag.org are saying. I doubt that Mr. Vacula can deny that.
While involved in an online discussion recently, a certain clueless skeptic (MS) offered up the following 'questions' on this subject that I will attempt to answer....
1)Does not the bible 'record' such instances of God as visible, audible, etc? eg. Moses, the early Israelites? Were the Israelites coerced into accepting the covenant? Perhaps, and under yo...ur view, definitely.
The Isrealites were freed from captivity by the Egyptians and God made a covenant with them. God did lay down ground rules (laws). However, this is not like the topic of Justin's entry in that Justin is wondering why "-- since it is the case that theists profess God wants everyone to believe he exists – God simply doesn't unequivocally reveal himself so that persons can 'enter into a relationship' with God, no longer doubt, stop fighting one another because of religious differences, and go to Heaven."
However in looking at your question, it seems to me that the only alternatives would be that God's laws are revealed by someone other than God or that they are not revealed at all. That's a case you would have to make to convince me that either is preferable and the reasons you would think that is so.
As to when God actually WAS audible to the Israelites, exactly how did that work out?
2) Does not the threat of eternal hellfire amount to a coercion of worst order?
I find it only fair that we are forewarned of the consequences of our actions. It is explicitly stated that there are consequences for not obeying God's laws. A truly evil god would never reveal that there were consequences for certain actions until we stand in judgement and by then, it's too late. I doubt that you would argue that not knowing would be the better option here. There are two points I would like to bring up at this moment.
1) The temporal eminence of the threat. I think we could both agree that if we were to be held up at gunpoint by a robber and our wallets demanded of us, we would perceive such a threat as quite eminent and thus we would be coerced do something against our will like give our money to a stranger. However, if the robber said something to the effect like, "I have a blowdart in my hand and if you are shot with it, there is no antidote and you will die in 50 years", then we would assess things differently than if the threat were much more immediate as in the first example in which a firearm is used.
But, let's say that I concede that the threat of Hell alone, in and of itself, would still take away any free will in this matter, we would still have to examine another factor concerning the threat.
2) The epistemic eminence of the threat. What I mean by that is people do things everyday that can get them killed, but yet they do them anyway. For this reason, we see advertising campaigns urging people to "Buckle Up!" their seatbelts when getting in to automobiles and to quit smoking. It's not that people who smoke or don't use their seatbelts don't believe that they can die because these things, it's that somehow, if these things are shouted out from the radio/movie screen/computer screen/tv screen loud enough and especially, often enough, they can send a powerful enough message that can potentially alter behavior.
I would assert that if God were to "unequivocally reveal himself", make Himself known and constantly repeat the eminence of a threat, then THAT would be 'coercion of worst order'. Either you are Justin are free to tell me why this would not be the case.
3) Am I coerced into being in a relationship with other persons just because they are visible, audible, and present to my senses?
No. I assume that you are in relationships with people (assuming that you are), because you want to be.
This is ludicrous. If God expects a relationship, it is only natural that he would disclose his existence in an unmistakable way
I think you are either ignorant of, or forgetting the fact that such a revelation as described by Justin is not the only way we receive revelation from God. If either of you are willing to accept that personal revelation is a possible option, it would go a long way towards actually having a meaningful discussion here.
4)What's wrong with some general sense of 'psychological pressure' -- i.e. the pressure brought about by being compelled to acknowledge the existence of something
I think you were quoting me here. What I actually asked Justin was 'So you would argue that if a huge, gigantic, and beautiful sky-god was absolutely visible, audible and communication with people here on earth, that it would in no way cause "psychological pressure" to "do some act against his or her will "[?] which is a textbook definition of the word 'coercion'.
Rather than actually answering this question directly, Justin (I'm sure you were just going to mention MS) simply changed the subject, a point we will examine in our next blog post.