Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (PhD)
Second Committee Member
Philosophy, religion and theology; Divine; Hiddenness; Inculpable nonbelief; Nonbelief; Schellenberg
Divine hiddenness is the idea that God is in some sense hidden or obscure. This dissertation responds to J.L. Schellenberg's argument, based on divine hiddenness and human reason, against the existence of God. Schellenberg argues that if a perfectly loving God exists, we would not expect to find such widespread nonbelief in God's existence. Given the amount of reasonable nonbelief in the world, Schellenberg argues that an agnostic ought to conclude that God does not exist rather than conclude that God is hidden. Schellenberg's argument has three major premises: (1) If there is a God, he is perfectly loving; (2) If a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur; (3) Reasonable nonbelief occurs. I provide a theistic response to the argument from divine hiddenness in an attempt to offer the agnostic a reasonable reply that prevents an atheistic conclusion. In order to defeat the prima facie evidence for Schellenberg's argument, I first question the amount of reasonable nonbelief in an effort to reduce the evidential force of Schellenberg's third premise. This is followed by a consideration of possible defenses to challenge the second premise that if a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur. Free-will defenses are considered, but I conclude that they are not sufficient as a response to the challenge that Schellenberg has developed. Instead, I argue that skeptical theism is a defense which can be successful in preventing an agnostic from being necessarily led, epistemically, to conclude that God does not exist. Finally, I develop a second defense motivated by concepts from Paul K. Moser that I take to be the most promising response to Schellenberg's argument from divine hiddenness. By casting the evidence for God in a new context, I conclude that the challenge that Schellenberg has developed can be overcome by providing a defense which shows that God, motivated by divine love, may in some sense be hidden so as to allow reasonable nonbelief to occur at least for a time.
Sokoloski, Matthew R., "Divine Hiddenness and the Challenge of Inculpable Nonbelief" (2012). Theses and Dissertations. 342.