A Divine Hiddenness Argument for Christianity
by Tom Gilson
The Divine Hiddenness Argument Against Christianity
There is an argument against Christianity based on God’s “hiddenness:” that if God existed and wanted people to believe in him, he would make himself known more plainly; he would not be hidden as he is now. J.L. Schellenberg presented the question in Divine Hiddenness and Human Freedom. An atheist blogger who goes by “Ebon Musings” wrote the best web-accessible article I know of on the topic. In paraphrased form, he says,
- There is no visible work of God, in the form of miracles, in the world today.
- Events formerly considered miraculous are now thought to be myth, fable, or misinterpreted acts of nature.
- Believers claim that God can nonetheless be known and perceived through some faith sense. It is most likely the case, however, that this faith sense does not actually exist, due to the unanswerability of questions like, What is it? Where is it? How is it validated or verified, especially in view of contrary reports by different people?
- Even if God exists, if there is no verifiable way of detecting his presence and activity, he may as well not exist.
- God, if he exists, can and should want to reveal himself in some unambiguous way.
In his own words, he writes,
I would certainly begin to believe in God if I were to witness an unambiguous manifestation of the divine, and the vast majority of atheists probably would as well…What further harm could it possibly do for him to appear and attempt to convince them otherwise?
Because God has not done this, Ebon Musings concludes there is probably no God. This is (in compressed form) the divine hiddenness argument against Christianity.
Is God So Hidden?
One glaring weakness in this argument is the billions of people who believe God’s existence is well evidenced. We affirm the “faith sense” of which Ebon Musings spoke, and we deny that it is as hard to define as he says it is. It is the touch of God himself upon his people; and if it is hard to explain to others, it is difficult in about the same way it would be to explain “red” to someone blind from birth. God is evident to us in the beauty and design of nature, in his revelation through Scripture, in the extra-biblical historical support that revelation receives, and in a host of philosophical arguments.
The situation, then, is this: we have one group saying that if God existed he would have made himself more evident than he has, and another group saying he has made himself perfectly evident…
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