Argument from nonbelief

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The argument from nonbelief (or the argument from divine hiddenness) is a philosophical argument against the existence of God, specifically, the God of theism. The premise of the argument is that if God existed (and wanted humanity to know it), he would have brought about a situation in which everyone reasonable believed in him; however there are unbelievers and reasonable unbelievers, and therefore this weighs against God's existence. This argument is similar to the classic argument from evil in that it affirms inconsistency between the world that exists and the world that should exist if God had certain desires combined with the power to see them through. In fact, since ignorance of God would seem to be a natural evil, many would categorize the problem of divine hiddenness as an instance of the problem of evil.

The argument was the subject of J.L. Schellenberg's 1993 book Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason and has been addressed by other philosophers, including Theodore Drange.


Introduction to the problem of divine hiddenness

The theme of divine hiddenness, silence or darkness has a long history in Judeo-Christian theology.[1] The roots of Judeo-Christian contemplation of the ways in which God chooses to remain hidden reach back into the biblical depiction of God, for example the lament of the Psalms, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?....I cry by day, but you do not answer...."[2] and Isaiah's declaration, "Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior."[3]

One of the first philosophers to contemplate the problem of hiddenness was Anselm of Canterbury, who in his Proslogion complains:

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