Sunday’s Sermon

 J. L. Schellenberg

The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God

 J. L. Schellenberg, The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God, Oxford University Press, 2015, 142pp., $35.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198733089.

Reviewed by Adam Green, Azusa Pacific University

J.L. Schellenberg’s book is an attempt to spell out his well-known argument from divine hiddenness against theism patiently and systematically so that anyone can understand it. One can see it as an atheistic mirror to the kind of book one sometimes sees theistic philosophers write where the author takes the fine-tuning argument or kalaam cosmological argument and tries to find a way to equip the average church goer to understand and profit from it. If one is familiar with the theistic equivalent, then one should realize that it can be hard to balance technical due diligence and the demands of addressing such a broad audience. If that’s the right way to think about the kind of book Schellenberg has written, however, I think it is largely successful. The average person on the street can pick up this book, and a trim 142 pages later, they’ll understand what the hiddenness argument is and why it is for many an important piece of evidence against theism.

Since the exact terms of Schellenberg’s argument (though not the spirit) have changed a bit over the years, let’s begin by quoting the version given in the book.

  1. If a perfectly loving God exists, then there exists a God who is always open to a personal relationship with any finite person.
  2. If there exists a God who is always open to a personal relationship with any finite person, then no finite person is ever nonresistantly in a state of nonbelief in relation to the proposition that God exists.
  3. If a perfectly loving God exists, then no finite person is ever nonresistantly in a state of nonbelief in relation to the proposition that God exists (from 1 and 2).
  4. Some finite persons are or have been nonresistantly in a state of nonbelief in relation to the proposition that God exists.
  5. No perfectly loving God exists (from 3 and 4).
  6. If no perfectly loving God exists, then God does not exist.
  7. God does not exist (from 5 and 6) (Schellenberg 103)

Read the review.

The Creation of God, a parody of Michelangelo'...
The Creation of God, a parody of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”. De-theism, a trans-religious theology, considered the Second School of Court Jester Theology, use modern scientific forms of analysis and argument to help understand, explain, test, critique, defend or promote the natural evolution of religion, and to clarify the post-theistic purpose of world religions aimed at demythologize the universe and assisting homo religiosis to successfully mourn the death of their gods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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