PAPERS

Abstract: This paper presents and examines the argument from divine hiddenness as an evidential argument.  It argues that a key thought that motivates the argument, namely, that it’s surprising that God’s existence is not more obvious, does not alone secure the conclusion that divine hiddenness is evidence against God. The evidential problem of divine hiddenness is illustrated using Bayesian models.

Abstract: 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 hiddenness has no additional bite. The second objection says that, while hiddenness may be evidence against generic theism, it is not evidence against more specific conceptions of God, and thus hiddenness poses no epistemic challenge to a theist who holds one of these more specific conceptions. Our investigation leaves open just how strong the evidence from hiddenness really is, but we aim to clear away some important reasons for thinking hiddenness is of no evidential significance at all.

*Winner of the Marc Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion

  • Nicholas Colgrove. "Betrayed, Angry, and Alone: The Emotional Impact of Divine Hiddenness." Contact colgron@wfu.edu for a draft.

 

Abstract: Like problems of evil (for theism), the problems of divine hiddenness come in at least three different forms (logical, evidential, and existential) and impact individuals in at least two ways (on doxastic and non-doxastic levels). Regarding this latter point, some facts about our evidential situation with respect to God’s existence impact agents’ beliefs and emotions, respectively. Discussions of hiddenness tend to focus on the logical problem and its impact on agents’ belief (i.e., its doxastic impact). In such discussions, some facts about our evidential situation are said to be logically incompatible with God’s existence, and thus, these facts seem to undermine theists’ belief that God exists. In this paper, I explore the other forms of the problem, focusing heavily on the existential problem that hiddenness generates, as well as the impact that it has on agents’ emotions (i.e., its non-doxastic impact). In addition to providing a taxonomy for the problems of divine hiddenness, I argue that—like with the problems of evil—where the problems of hiddenness impact an individual in both ways (doxastic and non-doxastic) mitigating only one type of impact will often fail to reconcile the affected individual with God (or theistic belief). Solutions that mitigate the doxastic impact, in other words, may be powerless against the non-doxastic impact (and vice versa). A complete response to the problem of hiddenness, therefore, requires that we (A) examine the various forms of the problem, (B) understand the different ways in which individuals are affected by these problems, and (C) develop ways of mitigating each type of impact.

Abstract: Many people who believe in God also believe that God acts in the world, and attribute responsibility to God for particular events. These God-attributions reflect a framework where God participates in the world as an ordinary (albeit more powerful) agent. But even if God acts in the world like an ordinary agent, we certainly don’t perceive divine activity in the way we perceive the actions of other agents. This poses a puzzle: how might we identify divine activity empirically? Do some god-attributions have a stronger empirical justification than others? I argue that methods used in idiographic sciences like geology may offer valuable insight to answering this question. I offer a case-study from paleoclimatology—the reconstruction of a temperature record through the analysis of stable isotopes—and illustrate how it relates to the question of special divine action by analogy. Finally, I suggest at least one way we might apply an idiographic methodology in evaluating evidence of revelatory divine action.
 

Abstract: I argue that if we consider the problem of divine hiddenness as an evidential problem instead of a logical one, we should understand hiddenness as providing us with specifically higher order evidence. After clarifying the distinction between first and higher order evidence, I provide two reasons why we should consider hiddenness as higher order evidence: common assumptions about the effect hiddenness has on theistic belief, and the role of disagreement in the phenomenon of hiddenness. I then show that recognizing the problem of divine hiddenness as higher order evidence greatly complexifies our assessment of the problem's impact on the rationality of theistic belief.

 

Abstract: ‘Soul-building’ solutions to the problem of divine hiddenness maintain that God refrains from making his existence obvious to us because if he made his existence obvious, we would be coerced to behave well morally. For, if God made his existence obvious to us, we would fear his punishments to such an extent that evildoing would not strike us as a “live” option. Proponents of soul-building solutions contend, however, that if we were coerced to do good, we could not freely do good, and thus, we would be robbed of the opportunity to build our characters morally. In this essay I present two different ways of understanding this argument and I offer a critical discussion of each. Then I offer major objections to the argument on either interpretation.