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Scepticism about the argument from divine hiddenness


Some philosophers have argued that the paucity of evidence for theism – along with basic assumptions about God's nature – is ipso facto evidence for atheism. The resulting argument has come to be known as the argument from divine hiddenness. Theists have challenged both the major and minor premises of the argument by offering defences. However, all of the major, contemporary defences are failures. What unites these failures is instructive: each is implausible given other commitments shared by everyone in the debate or by theists in particular. Only challenges which are plausible given both common sense and other theistic commitments will undermine the argument from divine hiddenness. Given that such defences universally fail, the best hope for a successful challenge to the argument comes from more general sceptical responses. This sort of response is briefly sketched and defended against four independent objections.

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Theodore M. Drange (1998) ‘Nonbelief vs. lack of evidence: two atheistic arguments’, Philo, 1, 105114.

Douglas V. Henry (2008) ‘Reasonable doubts about reasonable nonbelief’, Faith and Philosophy, 25, 276289.

Daniel Howard-Snyder (1996) ‘The argument from divine hiddenness’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 26, 433453.

James A. Keller (1995) ‘The hiddenness of God and the problem of evil’, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 37, 1324.

Robert T. Lehe (2004) ‘A response to the argument from the reasonableness of non-belief’, Faith and Philosophy, 21, 159174.

Justin McBrayer (2006) ‘On “A Molinist-style response to Schellenberg” by Michael Thune’, Southwest Philosophy Review, 22, 7176.

Justin McBrayer (2010) ‘Skeptical theism’, Philosophy Compass, 5, 611623.

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

Alvin Plantinga (2000) Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Gideon Rosen (2008) ‘Kleinbart the oblivious and other tales of ignorance and responsibility’, Journal of Philosophy, 105, 591610.

J. L. Schellenberg (1996) ‘Response to Howard-Snyder’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 26, 455462.

Richard Swinburne (2004) The Existence of God (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Mark R. Talbot (1989) ‘Is it natural to believe in God?’, Faith and Philosophy, 6, 155171.

Michael Thune (2006) ‘A Molinist-style response to Schellenberg’, Southwest Philosophy Review, 22, 3341.

Peter Van Inwagen (2006) ‘The Hiddenness of God’, in The Problem of Evil (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 135151.

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