Wednesday, 30 September 2015


The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy's New Challenge to Belief in GodThe Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy's New Challenge to Belief in God by J L Schellenberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: In many places and times, and for many people, God's existence has been rather less than a clear fact. According to the hiddenness argument, this is actually a reason to suppose that it is not a fact at all.

The hiddenness argument is a new argument for atheism that has come to prominence in philosophy over the past two decades. J. L. Schellenberg first developed the argument in 1993, and this book offers a short and vigorous statement of its central claims and ideas. Logically sharp but so clear that anyone can understand, the book addresses little-discussed issues such as why it took so long for hiddenness reasoning to emerge in philosophy, and how the hiddenness problem is distinct from the
problem of evil. It concludes with the fascinating thought that retiring the last of the personal gods might leave us nearer the beginning of religion than the end.

Though an atheist, Schellenberg writes sensitively and with a nuanced insider's grasp of the religious life. Pertinent aspects of his experience as a believer and as a nonbeliever, and of his own engagement with hiddenness issues, are included. Set in this personal context, and against an authoritative background on relevant logical, conceptual, and historical matters, The Hiddenness Argument's careful but provocative reasoning makes crystal clear just what this new argument is and why
it matters.

MY REVIEW: This is one of the freshest, innovative books from an atheist perspective I have read for a long time. Most atheist apologetics rehash the same tired (but no less important) arguments against theism with little new to say. But THE HIDDENNESS ARGUMENT offers a what seems to be a very compelling new argument agains the existence of God. In addition to the presentation of the argument itself, Schellenberg also discusses the nature of good reasoning and logic, providing this important background to readers who may not already know about it. While the book description above suggests that the argument is crystal clear, it will take some readers considerable effort to follow it. But it is worth it. There has also been a plethora of responses from theists critiquing the argument — which I am yet to follow up. If you are interested in the atheist/theist debate, and don’t mind a challenging, provocative read, then check out THE HIDDENNESS ARGUMENT.

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