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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not quite so powerful as some would hope, but very good, March 28, 2002
This review is from: Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason (Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion) (Hardcover)
the best thing about this book, in my view, is that it is so extremely fair. from page to page, you can actually feel the author thinking, 'i wish there WAS a god, but...'. you won't find him falling towards atheistic fundamentalism (ie, bertrand russell's WHY I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN), and his treatment of the issue is far better than theodore drange's NONBELIEF AND EVIL. i heartily recommend this book, both to atheists, theists, and the undecided.
that said, i don't think the book puts forth a very strong argument for the non-existence of God. the author himself anticipated this, and tells us that he expects his argument to have primary impact on the undecided and those who already have a strong inclination to doubt the existence of God. yet there are a few things that schellenberg really ought to have examined. first, that for most folks divine hiddeness is not a problem, that is, most people believe in God and think there is good reason to believe in God. and this seems to be a problem. for there either is a God, or there isn't; schellenberg argues that if divine hiddeness constitutes an obstacle to belief in God, then that fact constitutes in itself good reason to deny the existence of God. yet most folks don't have that problem, hence, if we look at the world at large and apply schellenberg's argument to it, we, if anything, end up with a good argument for theism of some sort or another.
next, the idea of God's (possible) holiness, and the implications therefrom, deserved more attention. so too did the (possibility) that man is in a fallen condition of some sort. furthermore, the natural theology evident in certain portions of Scripture (Romans 1:19-20; Wis Sol; Acts 17:27-28) takes quite a bit of the 'sting' out of the dreaded consequence of the hiddeness of God. by that i mean, God need not be revealed in his totality, but to some extent, he has been revealed and can be understood via analogy from that which he has made, and we will be accountable to the extent to which we understand; since divine hiddeness is not in a dichotomous relationship with apprehension of the divine, it is a problem of degree, and therefore not a problem at all. most people rejoice in their existence and think the world beautiful, whether theist, atheist, agnostic, buddhist, or whatever. the implications of that fact certainly carry import into this issue, and unfortunately they are completely ignored.
et cetera. there are other issues, but these are the ones that stuck out for me. not to take anything away from schellenberg's auspicious and pioneering venture into this terrain, if divine hiddeness is to constitute a problem for theism, then it needs a considerable amount of development. along with this book, i recommend DIVINE HIDDENESS by daniel howard snyder et al, AN ESSAY IN AID OF A GRAMMAR OF ASSENT by john henry cardinal newman and THE INWARD MORNING by henry bugbee (this one simply to shake things up and reconnect the analytic logic chopping mind with sunlight and reality).
returning to the book at hand, i recommend it and consider it a necessary volume on any philosphy of religion reader's bookshelf.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 6, 2013 8:21:21 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 7, 2013 6:59:01 PM PDT
Thanks for the review, though I have a number of objections.

First, you say that the author didn't intend for his work to be a very persuasive argument to Christian believers of the non-existence of God; however, the reviewer above you claims that the author believed his argument to be so strong that it convinced him to leave the Christian faith, and that he has issued a challenge to theologians to defeat his argument so that he can Believe once again. These statements are contradictory; and, to my knowledge of the argument as referenced by other works, it is indeed supposed to be a very formidable and important atheistic argument. So I am skeptical of your claim.

Second, you seem to have missed the point of the argument, which is why your arguments to why the authors work is "...not a problem" for believers are unconvincing. The book is meant to be a defeater of theism, which argues the thesis that the Christian faith is rational and that the existence of God can be inferred from the evidence. If the theistic project fails, and the existing evidence does not support Gods existence, then Christians cannot claim to hold rational beliefs or even to reliably know what it is that they are preaching about.

Your counter arguments were likely not mentioned in the reviewed book because they seem to be irrelevant. E.g. your argument that 'most folks don't seem to have a problem with believing in God' is fallacious and lame. For starters, most people DO NOT believe in the Christian God; your argument commits the fallacy of ambiguity according to your undefined use of the word 'God'. Furthermore, people are not perfectly rational persons. The fact that most people may hold beliefs contradictory to the authors book (or of modern science, etc.) does not prove that the peoples beliefs are sound and the authors are irrational (or that scientists are imbeciles, e.g.). I'm not at all trying to be rude (or mean), but this point is so weak that I think the author would be excused from failing to acknowledge it.

I realize that this review is quite old by now; perhaps your views have matured. If not, but you are still intrigued by the subject matter, then I recommend you check out philosopher Herman Philipse's book "God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason". It is excellent, and his reference to the reviewed book is what led me here.

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