3.2.7 The Argument from Unbelief

Fuseli's Nightmare
The argument from unbelief (or nonbelief) is a specific form of the argument from evil developed by Theodore Drange. The type of evil the existence of which is taken to be evidence against the existence of God by this form of the argument from evil is the evil of unbelief.

If God exists and is as Christianity takes him to be, the argument from unbelief suggests, then he wants us all to believe both in his existence and in the gospel. For Christianity holds that God cares deeply for each of us, and that it is of vital importance that we so believe; according to Christianity, our eternal fate depends on whether or not we believe in God and trust in the cross for salvation.

Further, the argument continues, if the Christian God exists then he knows how to bring it about that we all have these beliefs. For Christianity holds that God is omniscient, and so knows for each of us what evidence it would take to convince us of these things.

Finally, advocates of the argument note, if the Christian God exists then he is able to bring it about that we all have these beliefs. For Christianity holds that God is omnipotent; whatever evidence it would take to convince us of these things, Christianity says, God can give us.

According to Christian theism, then, God wants to, knows how to, and is able to cause everyone to believe in his existence and in the gospel. There are people, however, who believe in neither of these things. God’s failure to make himself known, it seems, can only be explained by the hypothesis that he does not exist.

The Argument from Unbelief
(1) If God exists then he is omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent.
(2) If God were omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent then the world would not contain unbelief.
(3) The world contains unbelief.
Therefore:
(4) It is not the case that God exists.

There are several possible responses to the argument from unbelief. That most often given, is the argument that faith is valuable, and that divine hiddenness makes faith possible.


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