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Summary

“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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  1. Some Critical Reflections on the Hiddenness Argument.Imran Aijaz & Markus Weidler - 2007 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 61 (1):1 - 23.
    J.L. Schellenberg’s Argument from Divine Hiddenness maintains that if a perfectly loving God exists, then there is no non-resistant non-belief. Given that such nonbelief exists, however, it follows that there is no perfectly loving God. To support the conditional claim, Schellenberg presents conceptual and analogical considerations, which we subject to critical scrutiny. We also evaluate Schellenberg’s claim that the belief that God exists is logically necessary for entering into a relationship with the Divine. Finally, we turn to possible variants of (...)
  2. Does Divine Hiding Undermine Positive Evidential Atheism?Scott F. Aikin - 2016 - Religious Studies 52 (2):205-212.
  3. Divine Hiddenness and Affective Forecasting.Miles Andrews - 2014 - Res Cogitans 5 (1):102-110.
    In this paper I argue that J. L. Schellenberg’s Divine Hiddenness Argument is committed to a problematic implication that is weakened by research in cognitive psychology on affective forecasting. Schellenberg’s notion of a nonresistant nonbeliever logically implies that for any such person, it is true that she would form the proper belief in God if provided with what he calls “probabilifying” evidence for God’s existence. In light of Schellenberg’s commitment to the importance of both affective and propositional belief components for (...)
  4. The Hidden God.R. J. B. - 1965 - Review of Metaphysics 19 (1):152-152.
  5. Mutual Epistemic Dependence and the Demographic Divine Hiddenness Problem.Max Baker-Hytch - 2016 - Religious Studies 52 (3):375-394.
    In his article ‘Divine hiddenness and the demographics of theism’ (Religious Studies, 42 (2006), 177–191) Stephen Maitzen develops a novel version of the atheistic argument from divine hiddenness according to which the lopsided distribution of theistic belief throughout the world’s populations is much more to be expected given naturalism than given theism. I try to meet Maitzen’s challenge by developing a theistic explanation for this lopsidedness. The explanation I offer appeals to various goods that are intimately connected with the human (...)
  6. Review of The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God, by John Schellenberg. [REVIEW]Erik Baldwin - 2016 - Philosophia Christi 18 (1):241-245.
  7. Paul K. Moser the Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). Pp. XI+292. £45.00 (Hbk). Isbn 978 0 521 88903. [REVIEW]John Bishop - 2009 - Religious Studies 45 (4):504-509.
  8. Heschel, Hiddenness, and the God of Israel.Joshua Blanchard - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8 (4):109-124.
    Drawing on the writings of the Jewish thinker, Abraham Joshua Heschel, I defend a partial response to the problem of divine hiddenness. A Jewish approach to divine love includes the thought that God desires meaningful relationship not only with individual persons, but also with communities of persons. In combination with John Schellenberg’s account of divine love, the admission of God’s desire for such relationships makes possible that a person may fail to believe that God exists not because of any individual (...)
  9. The Hiddenness of the Spirit: The Disappearance of God From the English Cultural Framework.Nicholas Boyle - 2004 - New Blackfriars 85 (996):195-211.
  10. Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Paul K. Moser. Divine Hiddenness: New Essays.James Bradley - 2003 - Review of Metaphysics 56 (4):884-885.
  11. Incarnation and the Divine Hiddenness Debate.Hunter Brown - 2013 - Heythrop Journal 54 (2):252-260.
    This paper examines the debate that has arisen in connection with J. L. Schellenberg's work on divine hiddenness. It singles out as especially deserving of attention Paul Moser's proposal that the debate distinguish more clearly between classical theism and Hebraic theisms. This worthwhile proposal, I argue, will be unlikely to exert its full potential influence upon the debate unless certain features of Christian incarnation belief are recognized and addressed in connection with it.
  12. R. Douglas Geivett and Brendan Sweetman . Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp.358. £37.50 Hdbk; £15.95 Pbk.Joseph Runzo . Is God Real? Basingstoke and London. The Macmillan Press. Pp. 216. 1993. £40.00.J. G. Herder. Against Pure Reason. Edited, Selected and Translated by Marcia Bunge. Minneapolis. Fortress Press. Pp. 264. 1992.J. L. Schellenberg. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. Ithaca and London. Cornell University Press. Pp. 217. 1993.Ninian Smart. Buddhism and Christianity: Rivals and Allies. The Macmillan Press. Basingstoke and London. Pp. 157. £35.00. 1993. [REVIEW]Peter Byrne - 1993 - Religious Studies 29 (4):569.
  13. R. Douglas Geivett and Brendan Sweetman (Eds). Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 358.£ 37.50 Hdbk;£ 15.95 Pbk. Joseph Runzo (Ed.). Is God Real? Basingstoke and London. The Macmillan Press. Pp. 216. 1993.£ 40.00. JG Herder. Against Pure Reason. Edited, Selected and Translated by Marcia Bunge. Minneapolis. Fortress Press. Pp. 264. 1992. JL Schellenberg. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. Ithaca and London. Cornell University Press. Pp ... [REVIEW]Peter Byrne - 1993 - Religious Studies 29 (4):569-571.
  14. The Elusive God.J. Cervantez - 2010 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 84 (4):820-822.
  15. Judaism, Darwinism, and the Typology of Suffering.Shai Cherry - 2011 - Zygon 46 (2):317-329.
    Abstract. Darwinism has attracted proportionately less attention from Jewish thinkers than from Christian thinkers. One significant reason for the disparity is that the theodicies created by Jews to contend with the catastrophes which punctuated Jewish history are equally suited to address the massive extinctions which characterize natural history. Theologies of divine hiddenness, restraint, and radical immanence, coming together in the sixteenth-century mystical cosmogony of Isaac Luria, have been rehabilitated and reworked by modern Jewish thinkers in the post-Darwin era.
  16. Is God Hidden, Or Does God Simply Not Exist?Ian M. Church - 2017 - In Mark Harris & Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Philosophy, Science and Religion for Everyone. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 62-70.
    In this chapter: I distinguish the existential problem of divine hiddenness from the evidential problem of divine hiddenness. The former being primarily concerned with the apparent hiddenness of a personal God in the lives of believers amidst terrible suffering. The latter being primarily concerned with the apparent hiddenness of God being evidence against God’s existence. In the first section, I highlight the basic contours of the evidential problem of divine hiddenness, and suggested that the argument rests on two important assumptions: (...)
  17. The Hiddenness of God and Some Barmecidal God Surrogates.Robert C. Coburn - 1960 - Journal of Philosophy 57 (22/23):689-712.
  18. The Dark Knight of the Soul: Weaning and the Problem of Divine Withdrawal.Joshua Cockayne - 2018 - Religious Studies 54 (1):73-90.
  19. Hiddenness, Evidence, and Idolatry.E. J. Coffman - 2011 - In Raymond VanArragon & Kelly James Clark (eds.), Evidence and Religious Belief. Oxford University Press.
    In some of the most important recent work in religious epistemology, Paul Moser (2002, 2004, 2008) develops a multifaceted reply to a prominent attack on belief in God—what we’ll call the Hiddenness Argument. This paper raises a number of worries about Moser’s novel treatment of the Hiddenness Argument. After laying out the version of that argument Moser most explicitly engages, we explain the four main elements of Moser’s reply and argue that it stands or falls with two pieces in particular—what (...)
  20. The Jump Theodicies.Martin Cooke - unknown
    Mawson recently argued that since a temporal God can’t know what we’ll freely choose, so he’s not completely omniscient and hence not omnipotent, whence his beneficence is a matter of luck. However, even (transfinite) arithmetic is inde-finitely extensible and only an everlasting, changeable God could learn forever. Furthermore an epistemically perfect being would hardly, I argue, be completely certain that there were no other perfect beings, because such negative empirical be-liefs could hardly be fully justified. So if God could learn, (...)
  21. Divine Hiddenness and Belief de Re.Benjamin S. Cordry - 2009 - Religious Studies 45 (1):1-19.
    In this paper I argue that Poston and Dougherty's attempt to undermine the problem of divine hiddenness by using the notion of belief de re is problematic at best. They hold that individuals who appear to be unbelievers (because they are de dicto unbelievers) may actually be de re believers. I construct a set of conditions on ascribing belief de re to show that it is prima facie implausible to claim that seemingly inculpable and apparent unbelievers are really de re (...)
  22. Divine Hiddenness and Belief de Re: BENJAMIN S. CORDRY.Benjamin S. Cordry - 2009 - Religious Studies 45 (1):1-19.
    In this paper I argue that Poston and Dougherty's attempt to undermine the problem of divine hiddenness by using the notion of belief de re is problematic at best. They hold that individuals who appear to be unbelievers may actually be de re believers. I construct a set of conditions on ascribing belief de re to show that it is prima facie implausible to claim that seemingly inculpable and apparent unbelievers are really de re believers. Thus, while it is indeed (...)
  23. Two Solutions to the Problem of Divine Hiddenness.Andrew Cullison - 2010 - American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (2):119 - 134.
    J. L. Schellenberg's argument from hiddenness against the existence of God is simple. The primary argument is as follows.The Main Argument from Hiddenness If God exists, then no one would be epistemically rational for not believing in God. Some people are epistemically rational for not believing in God. Therefore, God does not exist.However, much of the issue concerning this argument surrounds the support for premise. As many have noted, Schellenberg's first premise does not demand an undeniable, incontrovertible proof for God's (...)
  24. Another Look at Divine Hiddenness.Terence Cuneo - 2013 - Religious Studies 49 (2):151-164.
    In his fine book The Wisdom to Doubt, J. L. Schellenberg builds a case for religious scepticism by advancing a version of the Hiddenness Argument. This argument rests on the claim that God could not love, in an admirable way, those who seek God while also remaining hidden from them. In this article, I distinguish two arguments for this claim. Neither argument succeeds, I contend, as each rests on an unsatisfactory understanding of the nature of admirable love, whether human or (...)
  25. Christ and the Hiddenness of God.Don Cupitt - 1971 - Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
  26. Divine Hiddenness in the Christian Tradition.Edgar Danielyan - manuscript
    A critique of J. L. Schellenberg's argument from Divine Hiddenness: Schellenberg's conclusion that since apparently there are 'capable inculpable non-believers in God' the cognitive problem of divine hiddenness is actually an argument for the non-existence of God. Schellenberg's conclusion seems at least partly based on his misunderstanding or disregard of significant aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition and certain assumptions, especially regarding nature of religious belief as well as primacy and instrumentality of reason. I suggest that given the kind of God (...)
  27. A Reply To Paul K. Moser’s “Divine Hiding”.Stephen T. Davis - 2001 - Philosophia Christi 3 (1):109-112.
  28. Toward A Robust Natural Theology: A Reply to Paul K. Moser’s “Divine Hiding”.Garrett Deweese - 2001 - Philosophia Christi 3 (1):113-118.
  29. “Scorsese’s Silence: Film as Practical Theodicy”.Ian Deweese-Boyd - 2017 - Journal of Religion and Film 21 (2).
    Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Shusako Endo’s novel Silence takes up the anguished experience of God’s silence in the face of human su-ering. .e main character, the Jesuit priest Sabastião Rodrigues, /nds his faith gu0ed by the appalling silence of God. Yujin Nagasawa calls the particularly intense combination of the problems of divine hiddenness and evil the problem of divine absence. Drawing on the thought of Jesuit founder, Ignatius of Loyola, this essay will explores the way Scorsese’s Silence might enable viewers (...)
  30. “Lyric Theodicy: Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Problem of Hiddenness”.Ian Deweese-Boyd - 2015 - In Adam Green & Eleonore Stump (eds.), Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 260-277.
    The nineteenth century English Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins struggled throughout his life with desolation over what he saw as a spiritually, intellectually and artistically unproductive life. During these periods, he experienced God’s absence in a particularly intense way. As he wrote in one sonnet, “my lament / Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent / To dearest him that lives alas! away.” What Hopkins faced was the existential problem of suffering and hiddenness, a problem widely recognized by analytic (...)
  31. A Transcending Presence. Four Pre-Modern Christian Positions on the Hiddenness of God: Augustine; Pseudo-Dionysius; Aquinas; Luther.Kevin Vannice Dodd - 1995 - Dissertation, Vanderbilt University
    The purpose of this dissertation is to chart the ways in which four seminal, pre-modern figures in the church's history-- Aurelius Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Thomas Aquinas, and Martin Luther--understood the mystery and incomprehensibility of God. ;Two have consistently analogical programs which assume their termination to be in a beatific vision of the utter intelligibility of God: Augustine and Thomas. Augustine has what appears to be a fourfold distinction: God eludes us due to our sinfulness as we are confronted by (...)
  32. The Arguments From Confusion and Biblical Defects (2006).Theodore Drange - manuscript
    Many have said that God is hidden. This alleged hiddenness is particularly troublesome for evangelical Christianity, much more so than generally recognized, for it would render certain facts about the world and about the Bible very hard to explain on the hypothesis that the God of evangelical Christianity exists. Those facts would be best explained by appeal to the alternate hypothesis that that deity does not exist. Three evidential, epistemic, atheological arguments emerge from this consideration. One of them is the (...)
  33. McHugh's Expectations Dashed.Theodore M. Drange - 2002 - Philo 5 (2):242-248.
    In “A Refutation of Drange’s Arguments from Evil and Nonbelief” (Philo, vol. 5, no. 1), Christopher McHugh posed his so-calledExpectations Defense against versions of the Argument from Evil and Argument from Nonbelief that appear in my book Nonbelief & Evil. I here raise objections to his defense.
  34. Nonbelief Vs. Lack of Evidence.Theodore M. Drange - 1998 - Philo 1 (1):105-114.
    After a presentation of the problem of God's hiddenness, there is discussion of two arguments for God's nonexistence related to that problem. One is the Lack-of-evidence Argument (LEA), according to which there would have been good objective evidence of God's existence if he were to exist. The other is the Argument from Nonbelief (ANB), according to which there would not be as many nonbelievers as there actually are if God were to exist. Reasons are given for assessing ANB as a (...)
  35. Nonbelief Vs. Lack of Evidence: Two Atheologlcal Arguments.Theodore M. Drange - 1998 - Philo 1 (1):105-114.
    Here are two atheological arguments, called the “Lack-of-evidence Argument” and “the Argument from Nonbelief” . LEA: Probably, if God were to exist then there would be good objective evidence for that. But there is no good objective evidence for God’s existence. Therefore, probably God does not exist. ANB: Probably, if God were to exist then there would not be many nonbelievers in the world. But there are many nonbelievers in the world. Therefore, probably God does not exist. Reasons are given (...)
  36. God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence.Paul Draper - 2008 - Internet Infidels (Online Publisher).
    This book consists of four nonpartisan debates about the existence of God. Each debate examines distinct related areas of evidence for and against naturalism and theism. The topics of the first debate are the mind and the will, and the debaters are a naturalist, Andrew Melnyk, and two theists, Steward Goetz and Charles Taliaferro. Next, Paul Draper defends an evolutionary argument from evil against theism, while Alvin Plantinga argues that evolutionary naturalism is self-defeating. In the final two debates, Quentin Smith (...)
  37. Seeking but Not Believing: Confessions of a Practicing Agnostic.Paul Draper - 2002 - In Daniel Howard-Snyder & Paul K. Moser (eds.), Divine Hiddenness: New Essays. Cambridge University Press. pp. 197--214.
  38. The Problem of Divine Hiddenness in Advance.Travis Dumsday - forthcoming - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.
  39. Divine Hiddenness and Alienation.Travis Dumsday - 2017 - Heythrop Journal 58 (4).
  40. The Problem of Divine Hiddenness.Travis Dumsday - 2016 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 90 (3):395-413.
    The problem of divine hiddenness is, along with the problem of evil, one of the two principal arguments for atheism in the current literature. Very roughly: If God really existed, then He would make His reality rationally indubitable to everyone. Since that hasn’t happened, God does not exist. Among the many replies made to this argument, a basic distinction might be drawn between those made from within generic theism, and those made from within a definite faith tradition and employing the (...)
  41. Why the Problem of Evil Undermines the Problem of Divine Hiddenness.Travis Dumsday - 2016 - Religious Studies 52 (4):525-544.
  42. Anti-Theism and the Problem of Divine Hiddenness.Travis Dumsday - 2016 - Sophia 55 (2):179-195.
    While most discussions in natural theology focus on the existence and nature of God, recently the axiological implications of theism have been taken up by such authors as Kahane, Kraay and Dragos, Davis, McLean, Penner and Lougheed, and Penner. Rather than asking whether God exists, they ask whether God’s existence would be a good thing or a bad thing. That general question breaks down into more precise sub-questions, with a wide variety of possible positions resulting. Here, I argue that one (...)
  43. Divine Hiddenness and the One Sheep.Travis Dumsday - 2016 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 79 (1):69-86.
    Next to the problem of evil, the problem of divine hiddenness has become the most prominent argument for atheism in the current literature. The basic idea is that if God really existed, He would make sure that anyone able and willing to engage in relationship with Him would have a rationally indubitable belief in Him at all times. But as a matter of fact we see that the world includes nonresistant nonbelievers. Therefore God doesn’t exist. Here I propose a reply (...)
  44. Divine Hiddenness and Alienation.Travis Dumsday - 2016 - Heythrop Journal 57 (6).
  45. How Divine Hiddenness Sheds Light on the Problem of Evil.Travis Dumsday - 2015 - International Philosophical Quarterly 55 (3):315-323.
    The problems of evil and of divine hiddenness are the two most prominent arguments for atheism in the contemporary literature on the philosophy of religion. But relatively little has been written on the possible relations between these two problems, and especially on whether a solution to one could shed light on a solution to the other. I explore this question here by arguing that a resolution to the hiddenness problem could help address the problem of evil, specifically by supplying a (...)
  46. Divine Hiddenness and Special Revelation.Travis Dumsday - 2015 - Religious Studies 51 (2):241-259.
  47. Divine Hiddenness and the Opiate of the People.Travis Dumsday - 2014 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 76 (2):193-207.
    The problem of divine hiddenness has become one of the most prominent arguments for atheism in the current philosophy of religion literature. Schellenberg (Divine hiddenness and human reason 1993), one of the problem’s prominent advocates, holds that the only way to prevent completely the occurrence of nonresistant nonbelief would be for God to have granted all of us a constant awareness of Him (or at least a constant availability of such awareness) from the moment we achieved the age of reason. (...)
  48. Divine Hiddenness as Deserved.Travis Dumsday - 2014 - Faith and Philosophy 31 (3):286-302.
    The problem of divine hiddenness has become one of the most prominent arguments for atheism in contemporary philosophy of religion. The basic idea: we have good reason to think that God, if He existed, would make Himself known to us such that His existence could not be rationally doubted . And since He hasn’t done so, we can be confident that He does not actually exist. One line of response that has received relatively little attention is the argument that God (...)
  49. Divine Hiddenness and Divine Humility.Travis Dumsday - 2014 - Sophia 53 (1):51-65.
    If God exists, and if our ultimate well-being depends on having a positive relationship with Him (which requires as a first step that we believe He exists), why doesn't He make sure that we all believe in Him? Why doesn't He make His existence obvious? This traditional theological question is today much-used as an argument for atheism. In this paper I argue that the answer may have something to do with God's character, specifically God's humility.
  50. A Thomistic Response to the Problem of Divine Hiddenness.Travis Dumsday - 2013 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 87 (3):365-377.
    The problem of divine hiddenness has in the recent literature joined the problem of evil as one of the principal positive arguments for atheism. My chief goal here is to mine Aquinas’s metaphysics and natural theology for a distinctively Thomistic response, making particular use of a neglected text in which he considers a similar issue. Towards the end of the paper I also consider some resources provided by Aquinas’s interpretation of revealed theology.
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