Gifford lectures 2017

Though the Darkness Hide Thee: Seeking the Face of the Invisible God

Professor Michael Rea, Director of the Center for Philosophy of Religion, University of Notre Dame, USA.

March 27 to April 7 2017.

Lecture 1: Hidden God

Lecture 2: God and the Attributes

Lecture 3: The Love of God

Lecture 4: Divine Presence in a Material World

Lecture 5: A God to Contend With

Lecture 6: A Scandal of Particularity.

Professor Rea plans to take a theologically informed approach to the topic of “divine hiddenness,” the idea that God’s existence is far less evident—and vivid, unambiguous experience of God’s presence is much less frequent—than one might expect from a perfectly loving deity. Philosophers often treat divine hiddenness as evidence that God doesn’t exist, but according to Professor Rea that line of thinking is based on drawing parallels between divine love and human love. In his lectures, he will contend that it is not reasonable to believe that perfect, divine love would resemble human perceptions of ideal parental or romantic love.

“The church has, for most of its history, held that God is transcendent, and many divine attributes are very different from their human counterparts,” he said. “We have good reason to think that perfect love would be very different. Thinking about that gives you the resources to at least block the inference to the non-existence of God.” Additionally, Rea will chart how divine behavior can plausibly be viewed as inherently loving. He contends that divine presence is more widely accessible than many people think it is, and that the way God communicates with his followers in the Bible is not that far removed from the way modern Christians describe religious experiences or divine inspiration.

Rea’s lectures, which will be made available online and are being adapted from a book to be published at a later date