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CANCELED – MCSI Lecture: Progressive Social Values and the Divine Hiddenness Debate

April 21, 2020 @ 4:15 pm - 5:30 pm

MCSI Lecture Series, Spring 2020

This event has been canceled.

John Schellenberg
Professor of Philosophy, Mount Saint Vincent University

“Progressive Social Values and the Divine Hiddenness Debate”

In contemporary philosophy “divine hiddenness” is primarily associated with an argument for the nonexistence of a personal God. This argument – the hiddenness argument – suggests that a common way of being undecided about the God issue itself decides the issue. Since God would be supremely loving and thus open to personal relationship with beings like us, and because such relationship presupposes belief in God, many more of us would believe in God,if there were a God. This talk will seek to elucidate the hiddenness argument more fully. But its main aim is to explore how the interest the argument has provoked can be linked to changes in our social and moral life. The openness to relationship emphasized by the argument is something that in another time might have been shrugged off as optional, especially for males and fathers. And of course in earlier times it would have been easier to think of God as both Male and Father. But it isn’tbeing shrugged off now.Has recent cultural evolution, perhaps in various ways, had a role to play in producing an intellectual climate hospitable to hiddenness reasoning? What can we learn from this about making progress in the God debate?

John SchellenbergPhilosopher J. L. Schellenberg teaches at Mount Saint Vincent University and is Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University. His first book, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason (Cornell 1993),introduced the hiddenness argument, initating a long-running debate in philosophy that continues today. In 2015 Oxford University Press published a book by Dr. Schellenberg about this debate called The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God. In 2019, Bloomsbury published his book on the evolutionary context in which to view the hiddenness issue and related issues: Progressive Atheism: How Moral Evolution Changes the God Debate.

Schellenberg’s work of the last 20 years is largely devoted to fundamental investigations in philosophy of religion. One result is a trilogy: Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion (Cornell 2005),The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism (Cornell 2007), and The Will to Imagine: A Justification of Skeptical Religion (Cornell 2009). His recent work from Oxford, Evolutionary Religion (2013) places the ideas of the trilogy into an evolutionary framework. Further implications of Schellenberg’s approach are set out in his 2019 book from Cambridge University Press: Religion After Science: The Cultural Consequences of Religious Immaturity.

About the Series

For centuries, philosophers and theologians debated the question of why God, who is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, is hidden, absent or silent in the face of human suffering. In our lecture series, we are inviting prominent scholars from a range of disciplines and from different parts of the world to address and help us understand an array of topics pertaining to the problem of Divine Hiddenness.


April 21, 2020
4:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Benson Auditorium
1050 N. Mills Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711 United States