Thursday, May 02, 2013
The argument from divine hiddenness: A noseeum argument at best?
1. Suppose that God exists—that is, suppose that
there is a perfectly powerful, perfectly wise
being who loves us like a perfect parent.
2. God is mostly hidden from people: Our evidence is inconclusive; religious experience of the interesting and unambiguous sort is rare.
3. There is no good reason for God to remain hidden.
4. If God is mostly hidden and there is no good reason for God to remain hidden, then one of
the following is true:
a. God exists but, like a negligent father, does not love us enough to make himself known.
b. God exists but, like an inept lover, lacks the wisdom to appreciate the importance or proper way of revealing himself to us.
c. God exists but is too weak to reveal himself in the ways that he should in order to secure his relational goals.
5. Premises (1)–(4) are inconsistent.
6. Therefore: God does not exist.
Can Steven Wykstra's critique of noseeum arguments, which he develops in response to the problem of evil, be applied here?
In the Midwest we have "noseeums" — tiny flies which, while having a painful bite, are so small you "no see 'um." We also have Rowe's inductive argument for atheism. Rowe holds that the theistic God would allow suffering only if doing so serves some outweighing good. But is there some such good for every instance of suffering? Rowe thinks not. There is much suffering, he says, for which we see no such goods; and this, he argues, inductively justifies believing that for some sufferings there are no such goods. Since it gives such bite to what we cannot see, I call this a "noseeum argument" from evil. ("Rowe's Noseeum Arguments from Evil", in The Evidential Argument from Evil, p. 126.)
In other words, if we can't see why God would not make himself more obvious, is that sufficient grounds for rejecting his existence? Should we expect to know the answer to this, if theism is true?