Volume 90, Issue 3, Summer 2016
The Problem of Divine Hiddenness
Is the Devil in the Details?
The problem of divine hiddenness is, along with the problem of evil, one of the two principal arguments for atheism in the current literature. Very roughly: If God really existed, then He would make His reality rationally indubitable to everyone (or at least everyone willing to engage Him in relationship). Since that hasn’t happened, God does not exist. Among the many replies made to this argument, a basic distinction might be drawn between (1) those made from within generic theism (theism prescinding from any specific religion), and (2) those made from within a definite faith tradition and employing the distinctive doctrinal resources of that tradition. That same division is apparent in the literature on the problem of evil, and among faith-specific work on that problem, one idea occasionally entertained (especially in the context of natural evil) is that the reality of evil spiritual beings may play a role in a defence or theodicy. Heretofore no one has imported that idea into the debate over hiddenness. In this paper I try out several versions of this strategy, eventually arguing that for those branches of Christianity with a doctrinal commitment to the reality of fallen angels, novel responses to the hiddenness problem are thereby made available. It is clearly a response unlikely to persuade atheists, but for Christians willing to consider the problem from within a distinctively Christian perspective it may carry some force. It may likewise be of use to those less concerned about countering atheism and more concerned with simply answering the longstanding theological question of why God might properly permit rational doubt in His reality.