But many nonbelievers, including those who wish that God would exist, struggle with finding any of the arguments for God's existence persuasive and/or find arguments against God's existence persuasive. In that event, theists often implore nonbelievers to seek God out as a Person. Stop treating the debate over the existence of God as an academic exercise. Go to Him and He will reveal Himself. Seek, and ye shall find, as it is written in scripture (Matt 7:7).
But I have sought earnestly, and thoroughly, and I have not found. And it's been years. I've poured over my Bible. I've sought answers in Christian apologetics. I've prayed. I prayed throughout my gradual, agonizing deconversion, where my assurance of immortality and Divine love and protection were lost. I prayed for more faith. I prayed for understanding. I prayed for guidance. I said "I believe--help me with my unbelief!" as the father of the child with the unclean spirit once cried to Jesus. I prayed for forgiveness. But I was met only with silence.
I've even prayed as recently as this week--years after my deconversion. Though not always to just any Christian conception of God--I pray to Whatever or Whoever may be out there, so as not to privilege any one religion. And yet I am met with only more silence.
Not to mention the prayers on my behalf that have certainly come my way.
I continue to read the blogs of the smartest Christian apologists and books by their brightest scholars (right now, I'm reading Jesus and the Eyewitnesses) and yet I continue to remain unconvinced. Whereas books like On the Historicity of Jesus seem to only entrench my skepticism.
In all honesty, I am afraid of dying and fear that I may have a terminal illness as I speak (though unconfirmed). The nihilism that was left in the wake of my deconversion has consumed my life to the point of depression. So I have every cognitive motivation to embrace Christian theism again.
I'm not the only one. Other believers like Justin Schieber have experienced the cognitive abandonment that I've just described. And of course, the argument from Divine Hiddeness captures the spirit of what I'm relating in my life experiences.
This is how can I be near certain that there is no omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God. And why I wonder why I even bother continuing to debate the arguments for and against the existence of God. Because such a God would not have abandoned me. And because such a God would not continually ignore my sincere and genuine desire for His presence in my life. Especially with the threat of Hell looming if I do not repent (or, I guess I should say, re-repent).
So far as I can see, my life is a refutation of Christian belief. There is no more debate for me. The only response I can imagine a Christian making is that God, 'in the end', will come to save me before I die, in some unknown time and in some unknown way. But from my perspective, this is incredibly unlikely (though a remote possibility that I hope is true). Most likely, I will die an unbeliever. I've seen essentially all of the arguments and I've prayed all of the prayers. It is finished.
Another recourse is to deny my lived experiences and claim that I'm really 'in rebellion' against God. But that does not comport well with the extensive evidence from my life I've just discussed. And any pretense to the contrary is theological assumption or simply begging the question. Or maybe I will be blamed for not finding arguments for Gods existence convincing. But believer, I can no more choose what arguments I find convincing than you can. And regardless, that is only the intellectual aspect. I am talking about the relational aspect.
(Which raises the question, why should a relationship rest on finding any particular argument convincing? What other kind of personal relationship is potentially subject to that type of refutation?)
If nothing else, let it be said that I was a seeker of truth. And I will continue to read on and debate these issues. And maybe the believer will end up being correct, and their God will come to save me in the 11th hour. But I suspect my experiences have been the way they have been because the arguments against arguments God's existence are correct. So I'm not holding my breath.