Religions evolve in accord with a sort of cultural natural selection.
If a religion is obviously false, not being able to back up its claims with demonstrable evidence even though that evidence supposedly is there for all to see, then it won't take long for people to reject the religion and it dies out.
So many religions rely on a claim that only after a believer dies are they able to know the truth of the faith that they followed while alive. That's an easy way out of the "where's the evidence?" problem.
But what's a religion to do when the divine being at the core of the faith is a human who looks just like everybody else, yet is believed to be God in Human Form possessing all of the powers of the Almighty? How does the religion reconcile the human's outward averageness with their supposed inward godliness?
Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) is an India-based religion led by a guru who is considered to be just that: God in Human Form. I was an active member of RSSB for 35 years, so I'm familiar with the techniques this religion uses to deflect pointed questions about the guru's divinity.
Here's some examples that I've taken from a book published by Radha Soami Satsang Beas, "Philosophy of the Masters (Abridged)" by Sawan Singh -- the RSSB guru from 1903-1948 who often is called the Great Master. So what he says has a lot of RSSB credibility.
My comments on the excerpts from the book (pp. 221-233) are in italics.
To know a Master or to understand His real significance or reality is, in fact very difficult. To do this, discerning eyes like His own are necessary. Only a Godman can know a Godman. How can a person, who is confined in the case of the body, realize the Lord's glory? Unless we are as great as he is, we cannot understand Him.
OK. But the guru has, or is, a body just like everyone else. So how is someone able to know that the RSSB guru is God inside while being human outside? There's no way to know, it appears, unless someone becomes God in Human Form just as the guru is supposed to be. Nice way of making sure that no ordinary mortal challenges the divinity of the guru.
Unless the Lord or the True Being is Himself kind to a person, that person will not recognize the Guru as Guru. Unless the perfect Master, who is Truth incarnate, reveals himself, one cannot recognize him. Even if the Master should live next door, an undeveloped person would not know him. Very often, the members of a perfect Master's own family fail to recognize his stature.
Here too, we see that the RSSB teachings claim that no one can tell that the guru is perfect, Truth incarnate, unless the guru chooses to reveal himself. If that doesn't happen, the guru appears like an ordinary person, even to members of his own family. Again, this serves to deflect doubts about the guru's godliness, since if you have doubts, it's because the guru hasn't been kind to you.
A perfect Master can, with a single glance, find out one's inner condition. He then instructs us according to our condition. When anyone visits him he can see the visitor's inner condition as if that person were encased in transparent glass, but he keeps it a secret.
Ah, so the RSSB guru supposedly is all-knowing as regards a visitor's inner condition, yet doesn't reveal what he knows. Kind of like a magician who says, "I could show you this amazing trick, but I'm not going to, so you'll have to believe that I'm doing it even though there's no sign I'm doing it."
The perfect Master in an incarnation of the Lord. Just as the Lord communicates His teachings to the Saints without the agency of speech, similarly, the Saints impart their message to their disciples by means of internal experiences, and without the use of speech.
So the RSSB guru appears like an ordinary person to everyone who he chooses not to reveal his godly nature to, and the guru also teaches his disciples internally without the use of speech. Pretty crafty. Easy to understand why so many look upon the guru as a normal human being.
With perfect Masters it often happens that seekers after Truth have no need to put questions during discourses. They get answers to their questions without asking them.
Wow, it gets even better. Not only are the answers given by the guru communicated without speech, so are the questions. This means that when the guru is just sitting with disciples, wordlessly doing nothing. that's when everything is going on. If you're gullible enough to believe that.
Despite the fact that he is all-powerful, he does not boast that he can do anything out of the ordinary. He always says that it is the Lord who does something, or that it is being done by his Sat Guru. Truly, a fruit-laden branch bends humbly.
Thus it doesn't go any good to ask the guru if he is God in Human Form, because he won't admit that he is anything but ordinary. Yet as we've seen, if the guru appears ordinary, RSSB teaches that this is because the guru hasn't deigned to be kind to the person who sees him that way.
He does not perform miracles like a juggler to please his audience. Although he is all-powerful, he keeps his powers hidden. But he does sometimes use them if he is so disposed. His disciples are always benefitted by his grace.
Hmmmm. The RSSB guru doesn't perform miracles to please an audience, so that's why no one sees him doing miraculous things. However, sometimes the guru does do miracles to please himself. So the RSSB teachings have it both ways: if you don't observe any miracles, that's what the guru wants; if you do observe a purported miracle, that's also what the guru wants.
Whenever Saints and holy men appear, they sometimes create an atmosphere which is not liked by the worldly-minded people. They do so, so that the slaves of the world and worshippers of mammon, who often gather round them like flies, may leave them, and the real seekers may not suffer. They intentionally provide some cause for criticism so that only the deserving will come to them.
This is probably my favorite RSSB ploy to prop up faith in the guru's Godman stature, no matter what the guru does. If the guru appears to act badly, as the current RSSB guru (Gurinder Singh Dhillon) has done, this is because he wants to make sure only the deserving will come to him and stick by him. And of course, if the guru acts in a good way, this shows his divinity. So whether the guru is bad or good, this shows he is a perfect Master.
Reminds me a lot of how Donald Trump's devotees view their political master. He can do no wrong, because even when he seems to do wrong, there's a good reason for his actions.