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An epistemically distant God? a critique of John Hick's response to the problem of divine hiddenness

Trakakis, Nick 2007, An epistemically distant God? a critique of John Hick's response to the problem of divine hiddenness, The Heythrop journal, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 214-226, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2265.2007.00313.x.

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Title An epistemically distant God? a critique of John Hick's response to the problem of divine hiddenness
Author(s) Trakakis, Nick
Journal name The Heythrop journal
Volume number 48
Issue number 2
Start page 214
End page 226
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Place of publication Oxford, England
Publication date 2007-02-19
ISSN 0018-1196
1468-2265
Summary God is thought of as hidden in at least two ways. Firstly, God's reasons for permitting evil, particularly instances of horrendous evil, are often thought to be inscrutable or beyond our ken. Secondly, and perhaps more problematically, God's very existence and love or concern for us is often thought to be hidden from us (or, at least, from many of us on many occasions). But if we assume, as seems most plausible, that God's reasons for permitting evil will (in many, if not most, instances) be impossible for us to comprehend, would we not expect a loving God to at least make his existence or love sufficiently clear to us so that we would know that there is some good, albeit inscrutable, reason why we (or others) are permitted to suffer? In this paper I examine John Hick's influential response to this question, a response predicated on the notion of 'epistemic distance': God must remain epistemically distant and hence hidden from us so as to preserve our free will. Commentators of Hick's work, however, disagree as to whether the kind of free will that is thought to be made possible by epistemic distance is the freedom to believe that God exists, or the freedom to choose between good and evil, or the freedom to enter into a personal relationship with God. I argue that it is only the last of these three varieties of free will that Hick has in mind. But this kind of freedom, I go on to argue, does not necessitate an epistemically distant God, and so the problem of divine hiddenness remains unsolved.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-2265.2007.00313.x
Field of Research 160699 Political Science not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2006, Springer Science and Business Media
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30022118

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of International and Political Studies
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