Would God ensure everyone is a theist, even persons who would immediately reject him?
“No, after all…
It could hinder potential future relationship with God
Ensuring that belief would arise in an individual who would reject God despite being a theist could hinder potential future relationship with God. This is relevant because God presumably would see no value in hindering future relationship, and plausibly would see value in refraining from hindering it.1
- Travis Dumsday: “a child might be so formed (by environment or inheritance or both) as to be likely to respond badly to God’s initial overture, which initial bad response might have seriously negative long-term consequences for his/her ability to form such a relationship.” [“Divine Hiddenness and the One Sheep.” International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion (Forthcoming)]
- Michael Murray (Philosophy professor at Franklin & Marshall) & David Taylor (Philosophy professor at Minnesota): “Propositional knowledge is a necessary condition for filial knowledge, but alone it can prove detrimental to one’s relationship with the divine. Simply knowing “that God exists” in the way that we know any other true proposition about the world objectifies and trivializes God and his purposes. Not only is this an evil in itself, but those with mere propositional knowledge might respond to God with an indifferent, hateful, impersonal, or presumptuous attitude.” [Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion 2nd ed., eds. Meister & Copan (Routledge, 2013), 373.] For example, by solidifying their choice to reject God:
- Daniel Howard-Snyder (Philosophy professor at Western Michigan): “‘what benefit would there be for me if God brought it about that I believed that He existed when I am such that, face-to-face, it is at least very likely that I would reject Him? Indeed, if He brought it about that I believed, I would probably only confirm myself in my defective disposition by actually rejecting Him…. In that case, God’s failure to supply reasonable grounds for me to believe that He exists would be an act of mercy, a gracious response to one in such an unfortunate state.” [“The Argument from Divine Hiddenness.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26.3 (1996): 441.]
Or by shortstopping self-examination & spiritual healing:
- Robert T. Lehe (Philosophy professor at North Central College): “God's allowing people to struggle in their nonbelief for an extended time may be a better strategy for drawing them ultimately to conversion than providing evidence to make his existence more apparent from the start. Struggling with doubt may trigger a self-examination that will bring to light moral and spiritual deficiencies that hinder faith. The failure of a purely intellectual quest for belief that God exists may lead to an awareness that one may need to seek spiritual healing and purification before one can be receptive to God's self-disclosure.” [“A Response to the Argument from the Reasonableness of Nonbelief.” Faith and Philosophy 21.2 (2004): 163.] Especially if done via divine fireworks:
- Paul Moser (Philosophy professor at Loyola Chicago): “In addition, if God were to be promiscuous or exhibitionist with the self-manifestation that yields evidence of divine reality, many people would become (more) self-harming, not being ready to receive it in a redemptive manner. If they lack the needed “sympathetic appreciation” toward God, they easily would become more oppositional and dismissive. Russell is just blowing smoke when he pretends that all he needs is more evidence -- as if that alone would stop him from living as if he's the center of the universe. (Read Sidney Hook's chapter on his friend Russell in Life out of Step.)”
God has no motivation
God has no motivation to bring someone to belief in His existence if God knows that individual would just resist relationship.
- Travis Dumsday: “…it is worth recalling something that all parties to the debate grant, namely that God’s aim is supposed to be that of enabling us to have a positive relationship with Him. His aim is not merely to convince us of His reality, but to allow for such a relationship.” [“Divine Hiddenness and Creaturely Resentment” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 72 (2012): 43]