As a friend of mine recently put it: “*What* problem of divine hiddenness? Almost everybody believes in God!”
Well, it does seem true that most people believe in the supernatural. If you sum the Abrahamic faiths, it’s probably true that most people alive today believe in YHWH. The diachronic picture probably isn’t much different, but it’s hard to say when you should start the clock and our theological past is clouded by various issues. So it seems if there’s a God, he’s not *too* hidden. Also, more and more studies seem to show how instinctively religious we are as a species. (For a good study, see this book by my colleague C. Stephen Evans (http://amzn.to/9jCIA8).
One way to go is this:
DHE The existence of a single individual S–who’s intellectually and morally fit–such that there is some time t at which S doesn’t believe in God is incompatible with (or is overwhelming evidence against) the existence of God.
This seems to be the tree Schellenberg is barking up, and Ted and I have responded to that here. http://bit.ly/aCJ89Y
And I don’t think a more moderate approach is going to do much better.
DHM The existence of a moderate sized group M–who are intellectually and morally fit–such that there is some moderately sized set of times T during which the M’s don’t believe in God is incompatible with (or is overwhelming evidence against) the existence of God.
Probably something like PvI’s “No Minimum” thesis applies here, though I will grant this.
DHS That most people at most times don’t (timeless verb) believe in God is evidence that there is no God.
But of course DHS is useless at this time. I now anticipate some silly persons advocating an argument based on something like this.
DHD The existence of steadily declining belief in God is incompatible with the existence of God.
It may well be some very weak evidence, but I doubt there’s been a significant trend. From what I can tell belief in God is well up since Darwin’s day. (This judgment is in part based on Internet and partly based on Darwin’s autobiography.)
Maybe most philosophers have in mind a more highfalutin argument (there’s some passages in Schellenberg suggesting this).
DHA The non-existence of persuasive arguments for the the existence of God is incompatible with (or good evidence against) the existence of God.
I’ve argued against this in a prior post. http://bit.ly/bW9x1R
But here’s a problem that gets a bit of a hook in me and doesn’t assume nearly as much as most versions discussed.
The Relationship Argument
1. When you’re in a meaningful relationship with someone, you don’t have any doubts about their existence.
2. You have doubts about God’s existence.
3. So you’re not in a meaningful relationship with God.
This argument doesn’t argue against the existence of God but rather the existence of a relationship with Him. I trust this is troubling enough for Christians. The paper by Ted and I mentioned above argues against 1, but I think I have a better example than I had there–though I still fully endorse that example.
First, there’s no question you can be in an *important* relationship with entities the existence of which you doubt. If I’m lying in the hospital after an accident and due to swelling of the brain think I’m in the Matrix and that the respirator is a computer simulation, then I’m in a very important relationship with an entity I’m completely convinced does not exist.
But this can be extended as personally as we wish. Just imagine some really meaningful doctor-patient and nurse-patient relationships developing. All the while the person could think they’re cyborgs or figments or dreams or what have you. They could still derive a great deal of meaning from their interactions. I think I derive more meaning from my relationship with Frodo and Sam than from many human beings.
If the world is as magical and enchanted as Chesterton and I think, then all day long every day the atheist is in a meaningful relationship with God. They just have a bit of swelling of the brain, that’s all.
Now certainly there are *some* benefits of a more explicit relationship, but we wouldn’t want to go back to such a crude version of Schellenberg as this.
DHC The existence of an individual S–caveat–who is such that there is some good G flowing from an explicit relationship with God (let’s call it a “de dicto” relationship) and some time t such that S lacks G at t is incompatible with (powerful evidence against) the existence of God.
I don’t recall how much Ted and I stressed this in the paper, but some great goods can only be developed via the right kind of process. And it’s plausible that the process required for the best kind of good flowing from a relationship from God is to have to work for it a bit. Like Pascal said, “More knowledge might help the mind but hurt the heart.”