Have you ever heard Christians say that God refuses to make his existence obvious, because he doesn’t want to force you to believe? That he doesn’t want to override your free will?
Suppose you have two caramel apples that appear identical. You ask me which one I want, and since I can’t see any difference between the two, I arbitrarily choose the apple on the right because it’s slightly larger. I bite into it and—surprise!—it’s actually a caramel onion.
I can’t eat this. I look over at you, and see you are eating the other apple, which was really an apple, and it looks delicious. I say, “Hey, did you know this one was an onion?”
“Of course I knew. I made both of them,” you say.
“Well then why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to override your free will. I knew if you truly understood the difference between the two, you wouldn’t have any real choice in the matter.”
Or suppose you have ingested poison by mistake, and you are about to die. You find two pills, and green one and a yellow one. One pill is an antidote which will save your life; the other is a placebo that will not stop the poison.
You gather your friends around you to solicit their advice. One says the green pill is the true antidote; the other says it’s the yellow one. They each give their reasons. Some arguments sound convincing, but some do not. They debate and debate, but you know you have to choose one other the other.
So you ask me, “Do you have anything more to add to this discussion?”
“Actually, I know which pill is the antidote, and I have conclusive proof that I am right,” I say.
“Tell me! What are you waiting for?”
“I can’t just tell you,” I say. “I don’t want to override your free will. I want you to be able to make the right decision on your own, based on faith and these other arguments you’ve heard, without having my overwhelming proof.”
If you lived through this, would you still consider me your friend?
Free will is not overridden by proof. Or rather, free will is irrelevant when we’re talking about matters that can be absolutely proven. Whether we like it or not, no one has the free will to accept or reject reality. We can choose how we react to reality—if God is real, I can choose to obey or to disobey him, for example—but we cannot choose our reality. I can’t make God real by choosing to believe in him, or make him not real by choosing to not believe in him, so that choice is meaningless.