Sunday, April 16, 2017

Divine hiddenness and evil

I'd like to briefly consider the relationship between two popular atheist arguments.

1. The first is the hoary argument from evil. This is typically presented as an inconsistent tetrad:

i) God is omnipotent

ii) God is omniscient

iii) God is benevolent

iv) Evil exists

The atheist them labors to show that in combination, these four propositions are mutually inconsistent. 

2. The other concerns the divine hiddenness argument. In particular, the claim that there exists a class of nonresistant unbelievers. These are people who don't believe in God through no fault of their own. If God did exist, there'd be no nonresistant unbelievers because God would provide sufficient evidence to convince them. 

Problem is, (2) is in conflict with (1). According to the logic of (1), God would be unworthy of reverence even if he did exist because such a God would not be good. An omnipotent, omniscient God who allows evil is not benevolent. Hence, people would be justified in withholding reverence for such a Deity. (I'm not endorsing that claim. I'm just stating the viewpoint of the atheist.) 

Now, an atheist might say there's an actual class of nonresistant unbelievers insofar as the problem of evil has yet to sink in where they are concerned. 

If, however, they were to absorb the implications of the argument from evil, they'd be resistant unbelievers, even assuming that God exists and provided them with unmistakable evidence for his existence. So these two arguments stand in conflict. 

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