Back when I was a little kid and a student in religious school, I had a hard time reconciling the history I was learning with the belief that God was in control. I was not only being taught about eons of religious persecution, wars, exiles, and, of course, the Holocaust, but also that God was in charge of all this. To a kid, this did not make a whole lot of sense. To an adult, it still doesn't.

The teacher, however, had an answer. In an updated version, it comes down to the fact that only God reads all the cables, has access to classified information, has seen the satellite photos and has what is now called the Big Picture. Who was I, then, to even ask the question? What did I know?

So I backed off, pretending to accept an non-answer for an answer, and left the matter at that. Now, however, we are repeatedly getting the same sort of answer from the government. For instance, just ask if the Nicaraguans and the Cubans are supplying the rebels in El Salvador and you are told yes. Ask for proof and we are told it exists--only we can't see it.

The same sort of thing happened with that by-now legendary Libyan hit squad. It, too, had to be taken on faith. The administration said there was evidence that it existed, only now it appears it did not. Either that, or it is still stuck in customs at Dulles. TT he issue with El Salvador, as it was T with the Libyan hit squad, is one of scale. In the same way that no one ever questioned that Muammar Qaddafi does not, as they say in the education biz, work and play well with others, so, too, no one questions that Nicaragua, Cuba and by implication the Soviet Union have supplied the Salvadoran guerrillas with arms. The question, though, is how much and whether the scale of support amounts to intervention in El Salvador's domestic affairs. Without the evidence, the public can not answer those questions.

But the message that comes across over and over again is, "Trust us, we know what is best for you. We have information that you don't have, but if you had this information you would see things our way." Maybe. But invariably, intelligence data is never that hard. Usually it is something like a satellite shot coupled with something overheard by someone, and all of it lends itself to several interpetations. And sometimes the information is just plain wrong, which may be the case with the Nicaraguan "military man" Haig said had been captured in El Salvador. It turns out he may be nothing more than a student.

In the hands of the Reagan administration, intelligence data has been elevated to something it cannot be--revealed truth. It is both cited and withheld and since it is withheld it goes without saying that no one can know as much as the government. Therefore, as sure as day follows night, no one can question the government. BB ut the routine that was so effectively B used in religious school is a bit out of place when it comes to making national policy. The American people are not school children and they do not believe in an omniscient government. This is especially true when one of those who is always citing evidence that no one but he can see is Alexander Haig. He may or may not have the evidence, but Haig is the last person who should be able to say, "Trust me."

Haig, in fact, is the personification of the government official who feels that there are times when the public is better off not knowing what is happening. He was a prime architect, after all, of the secret (from us) bombing of Cambodia, he suggested to Richard Nixon the names of officials and reporters to be wiretapped, he stood by Nixon through much of Watergate and was both knowledgable and silent about the secret attempts to overthrow the elected Chilean government of Salvadore Allende.

This is not the record of a man who has earned the trust of the American people--not for candor, anyway. Instead, this is the record of a man who, for what he must consider terrific reasons, withholds information, has secret agendas and secret plans and has repeatedly cited evidence which, like the "sinister forces" responsible for the infamous 18 1/2-minute gap, only he can see.

Well, maybe he's got the evidence and maybe he doesn't, but either way it would be nice to know.

The evidence, please.