Divine hiddenness doesn’t seem to be that significant of a problem to me. Very briefly, the argument states that if God is all loving and reasonable non-belief occurs, then God cannot exist because a perfectly loving God would not let that occur. But God’s not particularly focused on producing a belief of His existence in creatures. Even the demons believe that He exists and yet they still reject Him. Rather, He’s interested in producing a relationship with His creatures. But its not just any relationship that he’s interested in producing. A friendship, for example, can be rather causal and non-intrusive. You can be you and they can be themselves. A friendship is possible even with differing visions and goals.
A Transcendent Relationship
Being in a relationship with God however, means subsuming yourself into the very nature of God to become His child. It’s to do His will and be His representatives. It’s not casual but a total reorientation of who you are. It’ll define what you do, what you say, and what you think in every sense of the word. You will seek to be like God precisely because He is the greatest conceive being, and thereby the greatest conceivable good. To be in a relationship with God is to recognize Him as the “Emperor of Worlds” (it’s a cool term, okay!) and to enter into a world beyond this world. You must give up lordship over your own life and surrender it to Him. Lastly to be in a relationship with Him is to burn with love for Him as you would for your spouse. This relationship is serious, loving, and transforming!
Yet the argument from divine hiddenness acts as if all that is at issue here is “reasonable” nonbelief, as if somehow it’s just a matter of reason. It’s true that in order to begin a relationship with someone you must know that they exist, but it is not alone going to produce a relationship. If anything, knowing that God exists increases your culpability when and if you do reject a relationship with Him. The greater the culpability the greater the punishment. God, in His middle knowledge, knows how each person would respond to Him in various situations and may decide on most occasions to be merciful toÂ someone who would’ve rejected Him by not providing compelling evidence of His existence. So it’s plausible that they have reasonable non belief only because they’d reject Him anyway so God graciously makes them less culpable.
Not Enough Evidence?
Nevertheless, I do think that God has given us sufficient evidence to makes us minimally culpable as Romans 1 and other biblical texts declare. It is not a coincidence that most of the world has believed in some kind of god for as long as we know. If God was truly so hidden, then why do so many people tend to believe in something like Him? Intellectual atheists are for the most part a novelty of the modern age; made possible by the advent of mechanical philosophy, worldly materialism, and the rejection of Aristotle. It seems to be just a properly basic belief, or perhaps a common sense belief, that some kind of god exists. Atheists that think otherwise most likely have their common sense faculties impaired. Arguments for God’s existence can help with doubt but only if the person is willing to go where the evidence leads. Furthermore, it’s not just about knowing that God exists. We alsoÂ have a knowledge of at least the moral law and that’s the problem: it is the moral law that condemns us.
So this leads me to ask, just what is meant by the term reasonable non-belief? What is reasonable? Because I sure don’t see the atheistic explanations of the universe as reasonable whatsoever. For them, either the universe is a brute fact, it come from nothing, or it just has to exist. All three options are plainly desperate attempts at grasping for straws. Perhaps by reasonable all that’s meant is that there aren’t any non-intellectual explanations for an atheist’s lack of belief. But that’s false. What’s at issue is not reasonable assent, but relational assent. There is, in other words, a practical atheism that dominates human nature. No one seeks after God, as the Scriptures say, for it is He that seeks us first. We are not lost for our lack of belief, we are lost because we are sinners. A relationship with God requires everything and it changes everything. Sin makes us unwilling to do that. So the argument from divine hiddenness puts too much emphasis on reasonable assent and assumes a scenario in which an individual is somehow free to reject or accept God without the aid of grace or the influence of sin. There is no such thing.