Getting to know a God you do not believe in: panentheism, externalism, and divine hiddenness

Harvey Cawdron

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J. L. Schellenberg's hiddenness argument is one of the key contemporary justifications for atheism and has prompted numerous responses from those defending the plausibility of belief in God. I will outline a recent counterargument from Michael C. Rea, who claims that relationships with God are far more widely available than Schellenberg assumes. However, I will suggest that it invites a response from proponents of the hiddenness argument because it leaves some nonbelievers unaccounted for. I will rectify this by suggesting that a model of panentheism in which God is embodied in the cosmos allows all, including all nonbelievers, to have a relationship with God. I will then claim that semantic externalism and externalism about beliefs can enable nonbelievers to get to know this God. I will then challenge the hiddenness argument by suggesting that these relationships can accommodate the key motivations behind Schellenberg's insistence on personal relationships without requiring subjects to recognize that they are in a relationship with God.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-373
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Early online date5 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Divine embodiment
  • Divine hiddenness
  • Panentheism
  • Personal relationships


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