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Discussion of “The Hiddenness Problem” and “The Problem of Evil” Articles

Introduction

The belief in the existence of God continues to be a highly debated subject within the realms of philosophy, philosophy of religion, and popular culture. Proponents of theism and atheism provide numerous arguments and rationales to support their perspective, relying on religious texts and philosophical postulates. Thus, the advocates of non-belief often employ the problem of Devine Hiddenness and the problem of evil to argue against the existence of a Deity. This paper will consider John L. Schellenberg’s point of view on the two problems and their interconnectedness as expressed in The Hiddenness Problem and the Problem of Evil. It will be asserted that the author is justified in the assumptions that the Divine Hiddenness should not be incorporated into the problem of evil.

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Article Summary

The Hiddenness Problem and the Problem of Evil by John L. Schellenberg focuses on the discussion of the Devine Hiddenness and the problem of evil. The author examines how the two notions are interrelated and whether the concept of the hiddenness of God is independent of the issue of evil. Furthermore, Schellenberg considers how these notions are utilized to support atheism and oppose theism. To prove the hypothesis that the problems of hiddenness and evil are not interconnected, seven possible relationships between the concepts are investigated. Specifically, the author explores the possible relations in the formulations and the connection between different types of hiddenness and evil.1 Furthermore, Schellenberg provides three arguments that both concepts focus on pain, suffering, and “things contrary to the moral.”2 The author regards the surmised dependence of Divine Hiddenness on the problem of evil and how the notions are employed in the atheistic discourse.3 Overall, Schellenberg reviews several possible links between hiddenness and evil and concludes that the former is distinct from the latter.

Possible Relations between Divine Hiddenness and the Problem of Evil

Throughout the article, the author examines several potential relations between hiddenness and evil to address the tendency of contemporary philosophy of religion to separate them and treat each individually. The author chooses to discuss the issue of the interrelatedness of the two problems as they are often employed in support of atheism. Therefore, it is crucial to discern how these concepts connect and whether they constitute a threat to theism.4 Specifically, the author focuses on the idea of reducing the Divine hiddenness to the issue of evil and its traditional reliance on “the success of arguments from evil.”5 To investigate the assertions provided by the author in the article and determine whether they are valid, the potential relations between hiddenness and evil should be reviewed in detail.

Relations

The first potential connection regarded by Schellenberg concerns the logical and evidential formulations of the problems. Thus, evil rests on the logical assumption that it is “logically incompatible with the existence of God” and, therefore, as sin and corruption exist in the world, a Deity cannot.6 The author suggests that the formulation of evil does not allow for a partition of hiddenness from the discussed notion. The author offers a sustainable argument that the definition itself does not provide ground for separating the problems. The Divine Hiddenness, as the notion of the absence of God, is incorporated into the interpretation of the concept of evil. If it exists and is assumed that it cannot occur in the world where God is present, then either the evil should not be viewed as such, or the Deity cannot be. Overall, based on the formulation, the two problems are interrelated.

The second potential relation between the problems of hiddenness and evil is the suggestion of the existence of different types of the two. The author proposes that there are different kinds of evil, primarily natural and moral.7 Furthermore, various types of hiddenness can be distinguished based on the different types of non-resistant nonbelievers.8 Although the author concludes the point by stating that differentiating different types of evil and Divine hiddenness can be viewed as a logical connection between the two, he fails to illustrate how it can be established. For example, how can moral or natural evil be linked to the absence of God from the point of view of isolated nontheists or former theists? The mere statement that there are types of nonbelievers and types of vice and natural atrocities provides no justifiable argument of the relation of hiddenness and evil. If the Divine absence is an absolute notion, it should be divulged in more detail how the existence of suffering supports the hiddenness within the different types of non-resistant nonbelievers. The suggested relation based on the types of hiddenness and evil is arbitrary.

Three relations suggested by the author concern the things that are viewed as morally contrary to God. Schellenberg notes that the idea of Divines hiddenness does not necessarily stem from believing that He would not allow evil to exist.9 The author argues that both problems do not “focus on things bad” by suggesting that the hiddenness should not be considered as dependent on the notion of evil if it is viewed as evil itself.10 Furthermore, the author disregards the notion that both Divine hiddenness and the problem of evil introduce the notion that is contrary to the moral character of God.

The author’s argument that God offers supererogatory goodness and is not morally obliged to provide unconditional happiness and pleasure is well-developed. It supports the notion that the problem of evil does not give birth to the issue of hiddenness as certain experiences that can be considered horrendous or unfair are not necessarily evil. The problem suggests that anything that contradicts the morally of a Deity is evil. Thus, any event or incident can be utilized as an argument for atheism. However, the morality of God should not be compared to that of finite beings. The idea of types of evil can be employed to show that not all that is deemed foul is morally so. In addition, the notion that the hiddenness of God is “bad” can be discouraged using various types of non-resistant nonbelievers. For example, isolated nontheists would not argue that persistence of evil translates into the nonexistence of God as the presence of any Deity in the first place opposes their core beliefs. Overall, Schellenberg offers a well-thought-through argument why he beliefs the suggested relations between hiddenness and evil are not substantiated.

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One of the discussed possible relations between the two problems is that evil creates hiddenness. Schellenberg asserts that Divine Hiddenness is supported by more factors than the issue of evil and, therefore, cannot be answered by the same considerations.11 It can be asserted that the author provides a well-developed analysis of the suggested relationship. Thus, other arguments can be used to reason that there is no Deity present. For example, the argument from non-belief, or that a God cannot exist in a world where He is not recognized, can support the proponents of atheism without diverting to the conversation about His morality. Moreover, the author’s suggestion to avoid similar consideration provides opportunities to broaden the discourse as any insistence of the contrary hinders the debate between theists and atheists.

The last proposed relations between the problems of hiddenness and evil involve their implementations as atheistic arguments. Schellenberg contends that the absence of God should not be compared to the issue of evil and judged solely along the dimension of the “degree of badness.”12 The author is justified in criticizing the approach as it deliberately limits the scope of the discussion. If Divine Hiddenness is assumed to be inherently wrong, the proponents of theism disregard the opinion of the supporters of atheism completely before the debate can commence. Furthermore, previous arguments demonstrate that hiddenness can be supported by more factors than the presence of evil. Therefore, it should be concluded that the issue of evil does not beget the problem of hiddenness but has a partial connection to it.

Conclusion

In summary, in The Hiddenness Problem and the Problem of Evil, John L. Schellenberg reviews the suggested interrelation of the problems of evil and Divine Hiddenness. The author proposes that there is a partial connection between the two notions. However, through a careful examination of the potential relations, Schellenberg determines that the problem of hiddenness is far broader than that of evil and conceivably has more severe consequences for theism.

Reference

Schellenberg, J. L. “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil.” Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers 27, no. 1 (2010), 45-60. Web.

Footnotes

  1. J. L. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers 27, no. 1 (2010): 46.
  2. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 46.
  3. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 46.
  4. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 45.
  5. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 45.
  6. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 46.
  7. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 47.
  8. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 48.
  9. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 50.
  10. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 50-54.
  11. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 56.
  12. Schellenberg, “The hiddenness problem and the problem of evil,” 57.

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StudyCorgi. "Discussion of “The Hiddenness Problem” and “The Problem of Evil” Articles." January 23, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/discussion-of-the-hiddenness-problem-and-the-problem-of-evil-articles/.

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StudyCorgi. 2023. "Discussion of “The Hiddenness Problem” and “The Problem of Evil” Articles." January 23, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/discussion-of-the-hiddenness-problem-and-the-problem-of-evil-articles/.

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StudyCorgi. (2023) 'Discussion of “The Hiddenness Problem” and “The Problem of Evil” Articles'. 23 January.

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