Edited by Daniel Howard-Snyder and Paul Moser, `Divine Hiddeness' is a collection of previously unpublished essays examining the issue of divine hiddeness. The essays provide a multi-perspectival (atheist, agnostic, theist) discussion by some of the leading philosophers working in this area today; contributors include, Draper, Schellenberg, van Inwagen, Wolterstorff and Moser. I offer a few thoughts for potential purchasers.
Within the philosophy of religion the argument from divine hiddeness, or argument from non-belief as it is also known, has become an increasingly popular argument against the existence of God. In many ways argument from divine hiddeness is analogous to the argument from evil, in that it contends that the world we live in is different from what we would expect if the God of classic theism existed. In this case it is posited that if God existed he would be more apparent. If God desires a relationship with his creatures why are there so many non-believers? For an omnipotent being it would seem a trivial task to make Himself none. On a deeper salvific level God's hiddeness is even more troubling, that is to say, if as many theists claim, a relationship with God is crucial to our eternal fate either to glory or perdition shouldn't an all-good God have a moral obligation to ensure that his creatures do not fail to believe simply because there wasn't enough evidence. In the words of the great nineteenth century philosopher Frederick Nietzsche, "A god who is all-knowing and all-powerful and who does not even make sure his creatures understand his intentions - could that be a god of goodness?"
As with the argument from evil, the divine hiddeness comes in various forms; a logical form - disbelief is logically inconsistent with God, an evidential form - disbelief makes God unlikely and an existential form - the impact that God's absence has on individuals. Stated as a deductive argument it can be put:
Premise 1. If God exists he would want all rational agents to believe in Him
Premise 2. Given adequate information all rational agents would believe in God
Premise 3. God is capable of providing adequate information
Premise 4. Not all rational agents believe in God
Conclusion. Hence, God does not exist
Turning to the text I offer a few thoughts. First, as I read the essays it struck me that divine hiddeness may not be as rich as some of the other arguments for and against the existence of God. For those who have engaged with the problem of evil; hiddeness can seem a poor cousin - similar arguments, just not as powerful. Second, the essays themselves were of mixed quality. The book's greatest weakness is the lack of a strong statement of the argument. Schellenberg is a leading proponent of divine hiddeness; and a strong essay from him would have been an invaluable jumping off point for the book. Unfortunately his essay was structured as a fictional dialogue - an enticing but, dangerous trap for philosophers; Plato - certainly, Hume - maybe, the rest of us mortals - probably not. The result unfortunately was a meandering, muddled piece that probably should not have made it to publication (I know it sounds harsh - but it is bad). Van inwagen's piece, also partially in dialogue form, while not terrible was not his best work. On the positive side, one of the best contributions was Laura Garcia examination of the volitional aspect of belief. This was my first encounter with her work; very impressive. The contributions by Draper, Wainwright and Moser were also solid.
Overall, this is a not a bad collection of essays once you get past the first two (Schellenberg and Van inwagen). It may be worth a read for folks interested in the argument from divine hiddeness. I would probably borrow or buy used instead of purchasing at full price.