Michael Novak's latest book, No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Unbelievers, is a lucid, erudite, and moving exploration of what can be known about God by reason alone. Thus, its meaning and significance are sure to be lost on most people who read it, because, unfortunately, most people today are neither lucid, erudite, nor reasonable. It is nonetheless a fine book--not intended as a defense of Christianity, but as a dialogue about what cannot not be known, but is seldom contemplated and reflected upon.
While Novak's book is not a book about Christianity or religion per se, it seems to me to be highly relevant to the subject of religious unbelief. There are several forms of such unbelief. There is the sincere person who, though he has no knowledge of revealed Trinitarian religion, he nonetheless tries to pursue truth and goodness as best he can in his own life. Revelation itself seems to indicate that this form of unbelief is not culpable (e.g., Romans 2:14). Then there is the unbelief of the religiously indifferent person. This person has thought of God, is aware of his existence, and knows what that knowledge requires, but he indifferently goes about his life with no reference to God. Then, there is the deliberate rejection of God and his revelation--an opposition to God's very existence. The latter two forms of unbelief are culpable.
Novak's book is an attempt to engage in charitable dialogue those who hold the first form of unbelief noted above--the scores of people who do not identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, and who cannot not know what has been written on their hearts. And, contemplation of, and reflection on, what is deep within, has never been needed more than it is today.