Believers seem awfully sure God is Love. How do they know that? They cite a lot of Bible verses. They say God is like the father in the story of the prodigal son, for example, who runs out to embrace his wayward and foolish son.
But can they build a case for “God is Love” without using a single Bible verse? All they have to go on is “general revelation,” that is, the universe, nature—the place that’s full of diseases and injustices, the place where, thanks to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, everything continually trends toward entropy and, of consequence, we all grow more unsightly with each passing year.
Does general revelation paint a picture of a God who thinks of us as His treasured possession?
If you’re honest, you have to say it’s a mixed bag. There are beautiful sunrises—but sunshine is carcinogenic. Yes, there are plenty of delicious fruits to pick from the limb and push into your pie hole. And, yes, sex, is fun. But, then again, there are all those tsunamis.
That is, the case made by general revelation that God is Unconcerned With You is at least as strong as the case for God is Love.
In fact, I would say, the case that God is Unconcerned is far stronger. Just look at your day to day life. Look at reality. Don’t cite a single Bible verse. Reality’s full of all sorts of godawful things. Good people die unjustly in terrible pain. Believers are no happier or successful than non-believers. God is uninvolved in any day-to-day sense that really matters. He certainly doesn’t talk to us. In fact, that’s the very reason we have to have scriptures. Think about it. If God actually spoke to us, why would we need the Bible? (See “Does God speak through scripture?”)
And it’s only when believers pull out scripture that they can really build a case for God is Love.
We never would have deduced that the God of the universe cherishes us if scripture didn’t tell us so. The universe we live in is a rough and tumble place. God doesn’t interact with us. Only people interact with us. God does nothing—as least as far as we can tell from looking around us—and love is action, isn’t it? Only people can talk to us, hold us, cry with us, loan us money on easy terms—only people love us.
“Ah ha,” the believer says. “I got you! God did act—on Calvary!” Remember, though, we’re building a case for God is Love apart from special revelation. The only reason we know about Calvary is special revelation—scripture. And let’s be honest—scripture isn’t God saying he loves us. Scripture is humans saying God loves us—wishful thinking. For example, all Paul’s letters are written in the first person. Paul didn’t think he was speaking as God. It was the church that put Paul’s words into God’s mouth after it became painfully clear God wasn’t going to make His opinion known.
You say God love us—and I say, so what? It doesn’t mean a damn thing because that love is never put into action. God doesn’t run out to meet us when we return from sowing our wild oats and spending our inheritance. Our flesh-and-blood father does that, if we’re lucky.
I’m not saying God doesn’t love us. I don’t know what God thinks of us. Nobody does. I can only go on the data I have—which is the universe.
As far as we can tell, God is unconcerned. He’s “hands off.”
Could it be that, maybe, He’s not even a person?