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Divine hiddenness as divine mercy


If God exists, why isn't His existence more apparent? In recent analytic philosophy this longstanding question has been developed into an argument for atheism typically referred to as the ‘problem of divine hiddenness’. My goal here is to put forward a new reply. The basic idea is that there is some reason to think that for many of us, our moral conduct would not improve even if God's existence were not subject to doubt. However, immoral conduct in such a state of affairs would be even more immoral, and hence justly subject to greater punishment, than it is in a state of affairs in which God's existence is subject to doubt. As such, God mercifully remains ‘hidden’ in order to limit our moral culpability.

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R. McKim (2001) Religious Ambiguity and Religious Diversity (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

P. Moser (2008) The Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

R. Swinburne (1998) Providence and the Problem of Evil (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

R. Swinburne (2004) The Existence of God. 2nd rev. edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

P. van Inwagen (2006) The Problem of Evil (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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