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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.
Introductions Daniel Howard-Snyder and Adam Green's SEP article (Howard-Snyder & Green 2016) is a good place to start. Howard-Snyder and Green also maintain a dynamic bibliography on the topic, which is linked at the end of the SEP article.
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206 found
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  1. 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 (...)
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  2. God is NOT Hidden.Steven M. Duncan - manuscript
    In this paper I argue that there is no problem of Divine Hiddenness for Christians and offer an alternate explanation for the widespread claim that God's existence is hidden based on the Christian doctrine of Original Sin.
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  3. The Problem of Divine Hiddenness in Advance.Travis Dumsday - forthcoming - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.
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  4. The Problems of Divine Hiddenness and Divine Inscrutability.Dan Linford - forthcoming - In Graham Oppy & Joseph W. Koterski (eds.), Theism and Atheism: Opposing Viewpoints in Philosophy. Cengage.
    This is a forthcoming section for the book "Theism and Atheism: Opposing Arguments in Philosophy", edited by Graham Oppy, Gregory Dawes, Evan Fales, Joseph Koterski, Mashhad Al-Allaf, Robert Fastiggi, and David Shatz. I was asked to write a brief essay on divine hiddenness and divine inscrutability. I argue that theism is trapped between two opposite poles. On one end, we encounter an argument developed by John Schellenberg. God is understood as a being who, in virtue of God's perfect love, would (...)
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  5. Escepticismo y creencia religiosa.Diego E. Machuca - forthcoming - In Carlo Rossi & Robert Garcia (eds.), Cuestiones contemporáneas de filosofía de la religión. Fondo de Cultura Económica.
    Este capítulo ofrece un panorama del escepticismo acerca de las creencias religiosas tal como el mismo es entendido dentro de la tradición de la filosofía analítica. Su estructura es la siguiente. La Sección 2 propone una posible taxonomía del escepticismo religioso. Las tres secciones subsecuentes examinan tres argumentos que pretenden ofrecer razones para sostener o bien (i) que las creencias religiosas son falsas, o bien (ii) que las mismas carecen, per se o al menos por el momento, de justificación epistémica. (...)
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  6. Le Dieu Inconnu de la Religion de la Nature Chez Hegel.Philippe Soual - forthcoming - Les Etudes Philosophiques.
    Dans ses Leçons de Berlin, Hegel comprend l'histoire des religions comme progression de l'automanifestation de Dieu. La religion de la nature — i.e. les religions orientales — constitue la première forme historique de religion. Hegel la distingue de la religion naturelle des Lumières et récuse toute réduction anthropologique de la religion, en affirmant que toute religion est l'œuvre de l'esprit divin pour l'esprit humain, esprit pour l'esprit. La religion de la nature est alors reconnue comme étant une vraie religion, qui (...)
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  7. The Hidden Love of God and the Imaging Defense.Sameer Yadav - forthcoming - In James M. Arcadi, Oliver D. Crisp & Jordan Wessling (eds.), Love, Human and Divine: Contemporary Essays in Systematic and Philosophical Theology. New York, NY, USA:
    J. L. Schellenberg has recently argued that there is a logical incompatibility between God’s being perfectly loving and there being non-resistant nonbelievers in the proposition that God exists. In this paper I highlight the parallel between this claim and the claim made by the logical problem of evil. Following Plantinga’s strategy in undermining the logical problem of evil, I argue that all that is needed to undermine the alleged incompatibility of divine love with non-resistant non-belief is a counterexample showing how (...)
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  8. Kötülük Problemi ve Tanrı: Felsefi Bir İnceleme.Hasan G. Bahçekapili - 2022 - Ankara, Turkey: Nobel Akademik Yayıncılık.
  9. Divine Hiddenness and Other Evidence.Charity Anderson & Jeffrey Sanford Russell - 2021 - In Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.
    Many people do not know or believe there is a God, and many experience a sense of divine absence. Are these (and other) “divine hiddenness” facts evidence against the existence of God? Using Bayesian tools, we investigate *evidential arguments from divine hiddenness*, and respond to two objections to such arguments. The first objection says that the problem of hiddenness is just a special case of the problem of evil, and so if one has responded to the problem of evil then (...)
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  10. Бог и отдельные личности (God and Individual Persons).Pavel Butakov - 2021 - Schole 15 (2):966-977.
    The atheistic Hiddenness Argument contains a controversial premise that a perfectly loving God would love every single person. J. L. Schellenberg, the author of the Argument, claims that this premise is necessarily true. However, many ancient theologians would disagree with the truth of this premise. In this paper, I provide evidence of the variety of alternative theological views from antiquity concerning the proper object of perfect divine love. The list of alternatives includes 1) the whole humanity as a collective subject, (...)
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  11. Divine Openness for Physical Relationship.Pavel Butakov - 2021 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 69 (3):141-161.
    The success of the atheistic hiddenness argument depends on the “consciousness constraint” it imposes on the divine-human loving relationship: namely, that this relationship requires human conscious awareness of being in the relationship with God. I challenge the truth of this proposition by introducing the concept of a physical relationship with God that is not subject to this constraint. I argue, first, that a physical relationship with God is metaphysically possible; second, that its plausibility is supported by natural theology; and third, (...)
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  12. “You Would Not Seek Me If You Had Not Found Me”—Another Pascalian Response to the Problem of Divine Hiddenness.Jean-Baptiste Guillon - 2021 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 69 (3):163-214.
    One version of the Problem of Divine Hiddenness is about people who are looking for God and are distressed about not finding him. Having in mind such distressed God-seekers, Blaise Pascal imagined Jesus telling them the following: “Take comfort; you would not seek me if you had not found me.” This is what I call the Pascalian Conditional of Hiddenness. In the first part of this paper, I argue that the PCH leads to a new interpretation of Pascal’s own response (...)
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  13. Divine Hiddenness or de Jure Objections to Theism: You Cannot Have Both.Perry Hendricks - 2021 - Analysis 81 (1):27-32.
    De facto objections to theism purport to show that theism is false, whereas de jure objections to theism claim that, whether or not theism is true, belief in God is irrational. Divine hiddenness – the fact that there are people who non-resistantly lack belief in God – is sometimes used as an argument against theism. In this article I will show that accepting the argument from divine hiddenness carries a high cost: it eliminates all de jure objections to theism. So (...)
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  14. How to Debunk Animism.Perry Hendricks - 2021 - Philosophia 50 (2):543-550.
    Tiddy Smith argues that common consent amongst geographically and historically isolated communities provides strong evidence for animism―the view that there are nature spirits. In this article, I argue that the problem of animistic hiddenness―the lack of widespread belief in nature spirits―is at least as strong evidence against animism that common consent is evidence for it, meaning that the evidence for animism that Smith provides is neutralized.
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  15. How to make the problem of divine hiddenness worse.Aaron Rizzieri - 2021 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 90 (1):3-17.
    I present three versions of the argument from divine hiddenness that are grounded in moral considerations regarding how a just deity would act and auxiliary commitments that theists often have. First, I argue that the problem of hiddenness is made worse if one also holds that many will suffer in the afterlife due to not achieving a proper orientation towards God and the demands of morality in this life. Second, I argue that if any version of the moral argument for (...)
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  16. The Hiddenness Argument.J. L. Schellenberg - 2021 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 69 (3):63-66.
  17. The Sovereignty of the World: Towards a Political Theology of Modernity (After Blumenberg).Kirill Chepurin & Joseph Albernaz - 2020 - In Agata Bielik-Robson & Daniel Whistler (eds.), Interrogating Modernity: Debates with Hans Blumenberg. London: pp. 83-107.
    Reading with and against Blumenberg’s The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, and following his own account of the epochal shift from the Middle Ages to modernity, this chapter takes up the genealogy and the political theology of Blumenbergian modernity so as to reanimate its relevance for contemporary theory. Beginning with the shared opposition to Gnosticism found in both Christianity and modernity, we trace the emergence of modernity as creating a “counterworld” of possibility in the face of the alienation engendered by (...)
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  18. Monotheism and the Rise of Science.J. L. Schellenberg - 2020 - Cambridge University Press.
    This Element traces the effects of science's rise on the cultural status of monotheism. Starting in the past, it shows how monotheism contributed to science's rise, and how, returning the favour, science provided aid and support, until fairly recently, for the continuing success of monotheism in the west. Turning to the present, the Element explores reasons for supposing that explanatorily, and even on an existential level, science is taking over monotheism's traditional roles in western culture. These reasons are found to (...)
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  19. J. L. Schellenberg: The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God: Oxford University Press, 2017, 160 Pp, $35.95 , $20.95. [REVIEW]Charity Anderson - 2019 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 86 (1):85-89.
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  20. A Grotesque in the Garden, by Hud Hudson. [REVIEW]Matthew A. Benton - 2019 - Faith and Philosophy 36 (2):271-275.
  21. Undermining the Axiological Solution to Divine Hiddenness.Perry Hendricks & Kirk Lougheed - 2019 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 86 (1):3-15.
    Lougheed argues that a possible solution to the problem of divine hiddenness is that God hides in order to increase the axiological value of the world. In a world where God exists, the goods associated with theism necessarily obtain. But Lougheed also claims that in such a world it’s possible to experience the goods of atheism, even if they don’t actually obtain. This is what makes a world with a hidden God more valuable than a world where God is unhidden, (...)
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  22. Book Review: The Hiddenness of God by Michael C. Rea. [REVIEW]Veronika Weidner - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (4):223-227.
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  23. The Dark Knight of the Soul: Weaning and the Problem of Divine Withdrawal.Joshua Cockayne - 2018 - Religious Studies 54 (1):73-90.
    If God loves us and so desires union with us, why is it that so many, who once felt close to God and who have subsequently done nothing to precipitate separation from him, now experience only his absence? A metaphor which has been used repeatedly to answer this question is that separation from God is a kind of spiritual weaning process in which God uses the experience of his absence in order to bring about maturation and greater union with him. (...)
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  24. Idolatry, Indifference, and the Scientific Study of Religion: Two New Humean Arguments.Daniel Linford - 2018 - Religious Studies:1-21.
    We utilize contemporary cognitive and social science of religion to defend a controversial thesis: the human cognitive apparatus gratuitously inclines humans to religious activity oriented around entities other than the God of classical theism. Using this thesis, we update and defend two arguments drawn from David Hume: (i) the argument from idolatry, which argues that the God of classical theism does not exist, and (ii) the argument from indifference, which argues that if the God of classical theism exists, God is (...)
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  25. Religious Disagreement and Divine Hiddenness.Jon Matheson - 2018 - Philosophia Christi 20 (1):215-225.
    In this paper, I develop and respond to a novel objection to Conciliatory Views of disagreement. Having first explained Conciliationism and the problem of divine hiddenness, I develop an objection that Conciliationism exacerbates the problem of divine hiddenness. According to this objection, Conciliationism increases God’s hiddenness in both its scope and severity, and is thus incompatible with God’s existence (or at least make God’s existence quite improbable). I respond to this objection by showing that the problem of divine hiddenness is (...)
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  26. Is the Problem of Divine Hiddenness a Problem for the Reformed Epistemologist?Tyler Taber & Tyler Dalton McNabb - 2018 - Heythrop Journal 59 (5):783-793.
    The problem of divine hiddenness, currently a much-discussed topic in analytic philosophy of religion, can be summarized in the question, ‘Why is God not more obvious or apparent?’ Sometimes the problem is used to undermine theistic belief. Here we seek to add a unique contribution to the growing debate on this theme from the perspective of Reformed epistemology, particularly Alvin Plantinga's construal; moreover, we do so in a way that is theologically relevant. We conclude, with assistance from Scripture and from (...)
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  27. 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: (...)
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  28. “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 (...)
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  29. Divine Hiddenness and Alienation.Travis Dumsday - 2017 - Heythrop Journal 58 (4).
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  30. Hiddenness, Holiness, and Impurity.Brent G. Kyle - 2017 - Religious Studies 53 (2):239-259.
    John Schellenberg has advanced the hiddenness argument against God’s existence, based on the idea that an all-loving God would seek personal relationships. This article develops a reply to Schellenberg’s argument by examining the notion of moral impurity, as understood by Paul the Apostle. Paul conceptualized moral impurity as a causal state that transfers from person to person, like a contagious disease. He also believed that moral impurity precludes divine–human relationship. The goal of this article is to develop these ideas into (...)
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  31. Divine Hiddenness and Spiritual Autism.Michael T. McFall - 2017 - Heythrop Journal 58 (5).
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  32. Who You Could Have Known: Divine Hiddenness, Epistemic Counterfactuals, and the Recalcitrant Nature of Natural Theology.Brandon L. Rickabaugh & Derek L. McAllister - 2017 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 82 (3):337-348.
    We argue there is a deep conflict in Paul Moser’s work on divine hiddenness. Moser’s treatment of DH adopts a thesis we call SEEK: DH often results from failing to seek God on His terms. One way in which people err, according to Moser, is by trusting arguments of traditional natural theology to lead to filial knowledge of God. We argue that Moser’s SEEK thesis commits him to the counterfactual ACCESS: had the atheist sought after God in harmony with how (...)
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  33. Divine Hiddenness, Greater Goods, and Accommodation.Luke Teeninga - 2017 - Sophia 56 (4):589-603.
    J.L. Schellenberg argues that one reason to think that God does not exist is that there are people who fail to believe in Him through no fault of their own. If God were all loving, then He would ensure that these people had evidence to believe in Him so that they could enter into a personal relationship with Him. God would not remain ‘hidden’. But in the world, we actually do find people who fail to believe that God exists, and (...)
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  34. Is Faith in God Reasonable? Debates in Philosophy, Science and Rhetoric. [REVIEW]Scott D. G. Ventureyra - 2017 - Science Et Esprit 69 (3):447-451.
  35. Does Divine Hiding Undermine Positive Evidential Atheism?Scott F. Aikin - 2016 - Religious Studies 52 (2):205-212.
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  36. 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 (...)
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  37. 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.
  38. 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 (...)
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  39. 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 (...)
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  40. Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief: New Perspectives.Adam Green & Eleonore Stump (eds.) - 2016 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This collection of new essays written by an international team of scholars is a groundbreaking examination of the problem of divine hiddenness, one of the most dynamic areas in current philosophy of religion. Together, the essays constitute a wide-ranging dialogue on the problem. They balance atheistic and theistic standpoints, and they bring to bear not only on the standard philosophical perspectives but also on insights from Jewish, Muslim, and Eastern Orthodox traditions. The apophatic and the mystical are well-represented too. As (...)
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  41. "Esau I Hated: Levinas on the Ethics of God's Absence.Kevin Houser - 2016 - Listening: Journal of Communication Ethics, Religion, and Culture 2 (50).
    Emmanuel Levinas objects to traditional theodicy. But his objection to theodicy is so untraditional that God’s existence is incidental to it. The primary problem with theodicy, he argues, is not evidential but ethical. The primary problem with theodicy is not that its claims are false, but that its claims are offensive. In laying out Levinas's unusual view, I first sketch out the specifically ethical nature of theodicy’s offense: failing to acknowledge suffering. Next I discuss Levinas unusual account of this suffering, (...)
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  42. Divine Openness and Creaturely Non-Resistant Non-Belief.Daniel Howard-Snyder - 2016 - In Adam Green & Eleonore Stump (eds.), Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief: New Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    We might be tempted to think that, necessarily, if God unsurpassably loves such created persons as there may be, then for any capable created person S and time t, God is at t open to being in a positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship with S at t, where one is open to relationship with another only if one never does anything (by commission or omission) that would have the result that the other was prevented from being able, just by (...)
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  43. Hiddenness of God.Daniel Howard-Snyder & Adam Green - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    “Divine hiddenness”, as the phrase suggests, refers, most fundamentally, to the hiddenness of God, i.e., the alleged fact that God is hidden, absent, silent. In religious literature, there is a long history of expressions of annoyance, anxiety, and despair over divine hiddenness, so understood. For example, ancient Hebrew texts lament God’s failure to show up in experience or to show proper regard for God’s people or some particular person, and two Christian Gospels portray Jesus, in his cry of dereliction on (...)
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  44. Wagering Against Divine Hiddenness.Elizabeth Jackson - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8 (4):85-108.
    J.L. Schellenberg argues that divine hiddenness provides an argument for the conclusion that God does not exist, for if God existed he would not allow non-resistant non-belief to occur, but non-resistant non-belief does occur, so God does not exist. In this paper, I argue that the stakes involved in theistic considerations put pressure on Schellenberg’s premise that non-resistant non-belief occurs. First, I specify conditions for someone’s being a resistant non-believer. Then, I argue that many people fulfill these conditions because, given (...)
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  45. Natural Nonbelief as a Necessary Means to a Life of Choiceworthy Meaning.Vandergriff Kevin - 2016 - Open Theology 2:34-52.
    Many have thought that certain types and distributions of apparent nonresistant nonbelief in the world are among the best reasons to think naturalism is more probable than theism. Jason Marsh has argued that one specific type of nonresistant nonbelief, called natural nonbelief in early humans, supports naturalism over theism. However, I will argue that it is epistemically possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting natural nonbelief in early humans. First, according to Axiarchism, God’s goal for physical reality (...)
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  46. Divine Hiddenness and Spiritual Autism.Michael T. McFall - 2016 - Heythrop Journal 57 (6).
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  47. Desiring the Hidden God: Knowledge Without Belief.Julian Perlmutter - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8 (4):51--64.
    For many people, the phenomenon of divine hiddenness is so total that it is far from clear to them that God exists at all. Reasonably enough, they therefore do not believe that God exists. Yet it is possible, whilst lacking belief in God’s reality, nonetheless to see it as a possibility that is both realistic and attractive; and in this situation, one will likely want to be open to the considerable benefits that would be available if God were real. In (...)
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  48. Evolutionary Religion. [REVIEW]Joshua C. Thurow - 2016 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 6 (4).
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  49. The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God, by J. L. Schellenberg. [REVIEW]Chris Tucker - 2016 - Faith and Philosophy 33 (4):500-506.
    I provide a book review of Schellenberg's book, The Hiddenness Argument.
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  50. “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 (...)
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