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Hiddenness of God

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K3574-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2015
Retrieved June 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

The problem of divine hiddenness is that the hiddenness of God seems to supply a strong reason to think that there is no loving God, since a loving God would reveal himself to all. More specifically, the problem of divine hiddenness is a problem for traditional theists who believe God is all-powerful, all-knowing and perfectly loving and, furthermore, that having a personal relationship with God is the best possible good for human beings. For, if there is such a God, it seems as though he would make sure that everyone who wanted that relationship would be in a position to have it. However, one thing which seems required for a personal relationship with God is that the individual in question believe that God exists in the first place. So it is natural to expect God to make evidence of his existence sufficiently clear to all. Yet there are some who claim not to have sufficient evidence. This divine hiddenness therefore seems to give positive support for nonbelief in the God of traditional theism.

If these people who claim to lack sufficient evidence were suppressing the evidence, then there would be no problem for the theist, but it is hard to argue that every such case of unbelief is a case of suppressed evidence. Yet this is what some theists argue is true, even though it may not seem plausible at first: after all, self-deception is not uncommon. More often, however, theists point out reasons why God has to allow people to persist in unbelief for a time. This may involve reference to various ways in which humans can more effectively develop virtue when they are not sure that there is a God. For example, if people are certain that God is ‘looking over their shoulder’, then their actions might not be properly motivated to count as the best kind of moral actions. Thus, conclude some theists, it is better, all things considered, for God to allow some people to pass through periods of doubt.

Citing this article:
Dougherty, Trent and Ross Parker. Hiddenness of God, 2015, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K3574-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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