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Divine Hiddenness: New Essays [Paperback]

Daniel Howard-Snyder , Paul Moser

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Book Description

3 Dec 2001
For many people the existence of God is by no means a sufficiently clear feature of reality. This problem, the fact of divine hiddenness, has been a source of existential concern and has sometimes been taken as a rationale for support of atheism or agnosticism. In this new collection of essays, a distinguished group of philosophers of religion explore the question of divine hiddenness in considerable detail. The issue is approached from several perspectives including Jewish, Christian, atheist and agnostic. There is coverage of the historical treatment of divine hiddenness as found in the work of Maimonides, St. John of the Cross, Jonathan Edwards, Kierkegaard, and various Biblical writers. A substantial introduction clarifies the main problems of and leading solutions to divine hiddenness. Primarily directed at philosophers of religion, theologians, and scholars of religious studies, this collection could also serve as a textbook for upper-level courses in philosophy of religion.

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Review

'… this collection is an accessible as well as insightful source on the philosophical dimensions of divine hiddenness. It is therefore highly recommended to students and specialists alike.' International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

'… required reading for all serious students of apologetics and philosophical theology.' Themelios

Book Description

In this new collection of essays, a distinguished group of philosophers of religion explore the question of divine hiddenness in considerable detail. The issue is approached from several religious perspectives including Jewish, Christian, atheist and agnostic. A substantial introduction clarifies the main problems of and leading solutions to divine hiddenness.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
What indeed? One possibility is that the words 'the problem of the hiddenness of God' are simply another name for the problem of evil: The world is full of terrible things and we observe no response from God when these terrible things happen - the heavens do not rain fire on the Nazis, the raging flood does not turn aside just before it sweeps away the peaceful village, the paralyzed child remains paralyzed. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been Better 1 May 2012
By Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believing for the Right Reasons 4 Jan 2007
By Richard J. Vincent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior" (Isaiah 45:15). Why is God's existence not more obvious? Why do so many fail to believe in God? For this most part, this collection of essays is a response to J. L. Shellenberg's Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason in which he argues that a perfectly loving God would provide sufficient evidence to render reasonable unbelief impossible. In his opinion, God does not offer compelling proof, and thus he concludes that a perfectly loving God does not exist. Numerous authors challenge Shellenberg's thesis and conclusion. Perhaps our experience of the hiddenness of God is one consequence of human sinfulness: "Critics like Schellenberg consistently underestimate human corruption and sinfulness. Given our perversity, and tendency to idolatry, it is likely that even a fuller divine self-disclosure would be corrupted by us, and would thus not help us. What is needed isn't more evidence or a fuller revelation but a new heart to appreciate the evidence and revelation we have" (104). In this case God's hiddenness is actually human blindness. Perhaps divine hiddenness is related to human freedom (overwhelming proof would coerce in a manner incompatible with love), or the nature of faith (God doesn't simply desire belief, but trust, faithfulness, and love). Perhaps God desires that we believe for the right reasons: "God's desire for why people believe in His existence may well be much more important to Him than that they believe in Him in the first place. It may well be that God wants people to believe in His existence for certain reasons and not for others, that He prefers that they do not believe at all if the only option is to believe for the wrong reasons" (12). Perhaps it is because intentional divine limitations, or conversely, because of God's great transcendence and the inherent difficulty of communicating this to finite creatures. Perhaps there is a good reason that we do not and cannot know - that is at least a plausible option. Regardless of one's answer to the question of divine hiddenness, our experience of it continues to challenge us in regard to God, ourselves, the meaning of life in this world, and the nature of faith. This was a great book, pregnant with provocative and challenging ideas.
19 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too one-sided 7 May 2002
By Michael Valle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There is some really good material in this book, but the selections are profoundly one-sided. There is only one atheist article in the entire book. There is also one from an agnostic, but he is as critical of the atheist position as the theists are. Even were I a theist, this one-sidedness would certainly detract from the book's value as an even-handed treatment of a controversial issue. Additionally, I found it odd that nothing from Ted Drange was included in the book, particularly since his work is often criticized by theists in the book (one article is even devoted almost entirely to criticizing Drange). This book is a must have, however, if you are really interested in divine silence, as there are many articles from extremely important thinkers contained in the book.
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