“Divine Hiddenness” in contemporary philosophy of religion may refer to the supposed fact that the existence of God is less than obvious, or to an argument against theism based on this supposed fact. The argument begins with the observation that many people of apparently good will and at least average intelligence have investigated the claims of theism, and yet still do not believe that God exists. Suppose, as many theists do, that the greatest human good is found in a personal relationship with God. Not believing that God exists seems an obvious barrier to such a relationship; but many of those who do not believe in God seem morally and epistemically blameless in their lack of belief. If the God of theism—an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good personal being—did exist, then surely those who genuinely seek God would find God: an omnipotent God would be capable of providing clear self-revelation to those who genuinely seek, and a perfectly good God would want to provide such revelation. That so many of those who do seek or have sought God persist in unbelief is therefore itself evidence that God does not exist. Or so claims the advocate of the “argument from divine hiddenness.” Some philosophers have responded by argued that “the problem of divine hiddenness” is simply a special case of the more general problem of evil, adding nothing new to the case against the existence of God, nor any new challenge to extant responses to the problem of evil. For example, it could be that there is some outweighing good that can only be obtained by God allowing blameless disbelief to continue in a person’s life. Other philosophers have argued that a good God might provide only “purposive evidence”; i.e., evidence that may only be made available to one if it would accomplish God’s purpose in one’s life (e.g., that one would respond to the evidence not just by believing that God exists, but also by loving and obeying God).
|Key works||Seminal work on the atheistic argument from divine hiddenness was done by J. L. Schellenberg (Schellenberg 1993). A volume of essays on the topic was edited by Daniel Howard-Snyder and Paul Moser (Howard-Snyder & Moser 2001). Schellenberg revisited the argument and responses to it in his book The Wisdom to Doubt (Schellenberg 2007). A collection of new essays, Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief (Green & Stump 2016), was published in January 2016.|
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
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