Enduring Divine Absence
The Challenge of Modern Atheism
Written by Joseph Minich
Publication Date: June 12th, 2018
About this book
Today, millions of people in the modern West identify as atheists.
And even for believers, the intellectual and spiritual temptations to deny the existence of God seem greater than ever. Too often we respond to this pressure by seeking more and more rational proofs of God’s existence, but what if a lack of reason to believe is not our main problem? In this volume, Joseph Minich argues that our real challenge is existential and imaginative—a felt absence of God that is more visceral in our modern world than for most generations past, and the sense that if God cannot be sensed, He cannot be there. Why are we so haunted and disoriented today by this sense of God’s absence? And how can we learn to sustain and strengthen our faith in the face of it? In these pages, Minich charts a way back to a renewal of our hearts and imaginations that can enable us to embrace the challenge of finding and being found by the hidden God.
Paperback | 112 PAGES | 5×8 | PubliSHed June 12, 2018 | ISBN: 978-0999552780
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From the Book
“THIS ESSAY ATTEMPS TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF THE TEMPTATIONS OF ATHEISM.
This is to be distinguished from several other ways of approaching the question of atheism as a theist generally or as a Christian specifically. My intent here is not, as such, to argue for the existence of God or to refute atheism. More importantly, my main inquiry is not just a question about or an analysis of atheists. I am most immediately interested in why those who are not atheists can still nevertheless understand why it is that atheism might be plausible to someone. Let us clarify this. There are plenty of persons who are persuaded for all sorts of rational reasons that God exists or that atheism is not just wrong, but deeply and philosophically incoherent. I count myself among their number.
And yet these same persons might confess to you that the atheist vision of an apathetic universe, of a cosmos which reduces to impersonal forces, (etc.) nevertheless retains some psychological pull and continues to resurface as an intellectual item which “must be dealt with” throughout their lives.
If you do not recognize yourself in this sort of experience, then this essay will possibly be less interesting for you—something like a museum exhibit of interesting (or at least pitiable) people. For the rest of us poor souls, I’d like to move even more narrowly within the larger question of atheistic plausibility, and do so initially by telling a story—a tempting vice which I promise not to overly indulge. . .”
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Modernity and Divine Absence
The Silencing of God
Seeking, Finding, and Being Found
About the Author
Dr. Joseph Minich (Ph.D, The University of Texas at Dallas) is a Residential Teaching Fellow at The Davenant Institute in Landrum, South Carolina. He is the author of Enduring Divine Absence and Bulwarks of Unbelief, the editor of several works with The Davenant Press, as well as the founding editor of Ad Fontes. He is also a host of The Pilgrim Faith Podcast.
“Most people today become atheists less because of persuasive arguments than because of the social realities of our secular age. There are plenty of good apologetics books out there. But few target the ‘gut’—that is, the pre-understandings and social practices that make belief in God more difficult today than in previous generations. This is a must-read.”
– Dr. Michael Horton
Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“The problem of God’s hiddenness is not new. The Psalmist questioned, “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?” Isaiah exclaimed in wonder, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself!” And yet, in the modern period—our secular age—a pervasive sense of God’s absence presses in on the Late Modern self with peculiar force. Even believers of deep faith, with a grasp on the rational reasons for belief in God, still feel the force of his absence. they too can be caught in the imaginative appeal of living bravely in a world without God. In this elegant little work, Joseph Minich explores a bit of the history and a uniquely perceptive account of the existential reality of how and why that is the case. More importantly, for all who would learn to faithfully endure nevertheless, he wisely points us to the God Who Is and who is for us in the Cross. I highly recommend this work.”
– Derek Rishwamy
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Contributor to “Our Secular Age”
“Joseph Minich’s Enduring Divine Absence is a marvelous essay that deals with the underappreciated temptation or psychological pull of atheism, the feeling that atheism is still somehow plausible even for believers who are aware of atheism’s intellectual problems. Minich thoughtfully analyzes this temptation, beginning with accurately and sympathetically explaining what it actually feels like (and I would know). He then gives insightful suggestions on some of its main causes, and ends by helpfully offering practical advice for those who feel it (who are more numerous than most of us realize). Again, Minich clearly understands those who are tempted in this way, gently assuring them that it is an entirely understandable feeling, but without going so far as to make doubt a positive, Promethean virtue that’s necessary for “the journey of faith.” I recommend this book to those who have nagging doubts about God’s existence or have been surprised by the sting of an objection to Christianity. I greatly benefited from it.”
– Mitch Stokes
Senior Fellow of Philosophy, New Saint Andrews College
MORE FROM DAVENANT PRESS
The Davenant Institute endeavors to restore wisdom for the contemporary church. We seek to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build friendships and facilitate collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness. Below are some of the works we’ve published towards that end.