Page images

ence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things.” Robert Browning sees God in humanity, as Wordsworth sees God in nature. In his Hohenstiel-Schwangau he writes: “This is the glory, that in all conceived Or felt or known, I recognize a Mind – Not mine, but like mine--for the double joy Making all things for me, and me for Him.” John Ruskin held that the foundation of beauty in the world is the presence of God in it. In his youth he tells us that he had “a continual perception of sanctity in the whole of nature, from the slightest thing to the vastest- an instinctive awe mixed with delight, an indefinable thrill such as we sometimes imagine to indicate the presence of a disembodied spirit." But it was not a disembodied, but an embodied, Spirit that he saw. Nitzsch, Christian Doctrine, 37 — "Unless education and culture were preceded by an innate consciousness of God as an operative predisposition, there would be nothing for education and culture to work upon." On Wordsworth's recognition of a divine personality in nature, see Knight, Studies, 282-317, 405-426; Hutton, Essays, 2: 113.

C. That he who denies God's existence must tacitly assume that existence in his very argument, by employing logical processes whose validity rests upon the fact of God's existence. The full proof of this belongs under the next head.

"I am an atheist, God knows" – was the absurd beginning of an argument to disprove the divine existence. Cutler, Beginnings of Ethics, 22 --"Even the Nihilists, whose first principle is that God and duty are great bugbears to be abolished, assume that God and duty exist, and they are impelled by a sense of duty to abolish them." Mrs. Browning, The Cry of the Human: “.There is no God,' the foolish saith; But none, There is no sorrow'; And nature oft the cry of faith In bitter need will borrow: Eyes which the preacher could not school By wayside graves are raised; And lips say, 'God be pitiful,' Who ne'er said, 'God be praised.'" Dr. W. W. Keen, when called to treat an Irishman's aphasia, said: “Well, Dennis, how are you?" "Oh, doctor, I cannot spake!” * But, Dennis, you are speaking." "Oh, doctor, it's many a word I cannot spake!" "Well, Dennis, now I will try you. See if you cannot say, “Horse.'" “Oh, doctor dear, 'horse' is the very word I cannot spake!” On this whole section, see A. M. Fairbairn, Origin and Development of Idea of God, in Studies in Philos, of Relig. and History: Martineau, Religion and Materialism, 45; Bishop Temple, Bampton Lectures, 1884:37-65.

3. That the knowledge of God's cxistence answers the third criterion of logical independence and priority, may be shown as follows:

A. It is presupposed in all other knowledge as its logical condition and foundation. The validity of the simplest mental acts, such as sense-perception, self-consciousness, and memory, depends upon the assumption that a God exists who has so constituted our minds that they give us knowledge of things as they are.

Pfleiderer, Philos. of Religion, 1 : 88 — "The ground of science and of cognition generally is to be found neither in the subject nor in the object per se, but only in the divine thinking that combines the two, which, as the common ground of the forms of thinking in all finite minds, and of the forms of being in all things, makes possible the correspondence or agreement between the former and the latter, or in a word makes know). edge of truth possible." 91 — "Religious belief is presupposed in all scientific knowledge as the basis of its possibility." This is the thought of Psalm 36:10 — “In thy light shall wa see light." A. J. Balfour, Foundations of Belief, 303 - "The uniformity of nature cannot be proved from experience, for it is what makes proof from experience possible.

Assume it, and we shall find that facts conform to it. ... 303 - The uniformity of nature can be established only by the aid of that principle itself, and is necessarily involved in all attempts to prove it. There must be a God, to justify our confidence in innate ideas."

[ocr errors]

Bowne, Theory of Thought and Knowledge, 276 — "Reflection shows that the community of individual intelligences is possible only through an all-embracing Intelligence, the source and creator of finite minds." Science rests upon the postulate of a world-order. Huxley: “ The object of science is the discovery of the rational order which pervades the universe." This rational order presupposes a rational Author. Dubois, in New Englander, Nov. 1890: 468 — “We assume uniformity and continuity, or we can have no science. An intelligent Creative Will is a genuine scientific hypothesis (postulate?], suggested by analogy and confirmed by experience, not contradicting the fundamental law of uniformity but accounting for it.” Ritchie, Darwin and Hegel, 18 — "That nature is a system, is the assumption underlying the earliest mythologies: to fill up this conception in the aim of the latest science.” Royce, Relig. Aspect of Philosophy, 433 — "There is such a thing as error; but error is inconceivable unless there be such a thing as truth; and truth is inconceivable unless there be a seat of truth, an intinite all-including Thought or Mind; therefore such a Mind exists."

B. The more complex processes of the mind, such as induction and deduction, can be relied on only by presupposing a thinking Deity who has made the various parts of the universe and the various aspects of truth to correspond to each other and to the investigating faculties of man.

We argue from one apple to the others on the tree. Newton argued from the fall of an apple to gravitation in the moon and throughout the solar system. Rowland argued from the chemistry of our world to that of Sirius. In all such argument there is assumed a unifying thought and a thinking Deity. This is Tyndall's “scientific use of the imagination.” “Nourished,” he says, “by knowledge partially won, and bounded by coöperant reason, imagination is the mightiest instrument of the physical discoverer.” What Tyndall calls “imagination", is really insight into the thoughts of God, the great Thinker. It prepares the way for logical reasoning,-it is not the product of mere reasoning. For this reason Goethe called imagination “die Vorschule des Denkens," or "thought's preparatory school."

Peabody, Christianity the Religion of Nature, 23 — "Induction is syllogism, with the immutable attributes of God for a constant term." Porter, Hum. Intellect, 492"Induction rests upon the assumption, as it demands for its ground, that a personal or thinking Deity exists”; 638 – "It has no meaning or validity unless we assume that the universe is constituted in such a way as to presuppose an absolute and unconditioned originator of its forces and laws"; 662-“We analyze the several processes of knowledge into their underlying assumptions, and we find that the assumption which underlies them all is that of a self-existent Intelligence who not only can be known by man, but must be known by man in order that man may know anything besides"; see also pages 486, 508, 509, 518, 519, 585, 616. Harris, Philos. Basis of Theism, 81 – "The processes of reflective thought imply that the universe is grounded in, and is the manifestation of, reason"; 560 – “The existence of a personal God is a necessary datum of scientific knowledge." So also, Fisher, Essays on Supernat. Origin of Christianity, 564, and in Journ. Christ. Philos., Jan. 1883 : 1:29, 150.

[ocr errors][merged small]

C. Our primitive belief in final cause, or, in other words, our conviction that all things have their ends, that design pervades the universe, involves a belief in God's existence. In assuming that there is a universe, that the universe is a rational whole, a system of thought-relations, we assume the existence of an absolute Thinker, of whose thought the universe is an expression.

Pfleiderer, Philos. of Religion, 1:81 -- "The real can only be thinkable if it is realized thought, a thought previously thought, which our thinking has only to think again, Therefore the real, in order to be thinkable for us, must be the realized thought of the creative thinking of an eternal divine Reason which is presented to our cognitive thinking." Royce, World and Individual, 2: 41 —- “Universal teleology constitutes the essence of all facts." A. H. Bradford, The Age of Faith, 142–“Suffering and sorrow are universal. Either God could prevent them and would not, and therefore he is neither beneficent non loving; or else he cannot prevent them and therefore something is greater than God, and therefore there is no God? But here is the use of reason in

the individual reasoning. Reasoning in the individual necessitates the absolute or universal reason. If there is the absolute reason, then the universe and history are ordered and administered in harmony with reason; then suffering and sorrow can be neither meaningless nor final, since that would be the contradiction of reason. That cannot be possible in the universal and absolute which contradicts reason in man.”

D. Our primitive belief in moral obligation, or, in other words, our conviction that right has universal authority, involves the belief in God's existence. In assuming that the universe is a moral whole, we assume the existence of an absolute Will, of whose righteousness the universe is an expression.

Pfleiderer, Philos. of Religion, 1 : 88 – “The ground of moral obligation is found neither in the subject nor in society, but only in the universal or divine Will that combines both. . . . 103— The idea of God is the unity of the true and the good, or of the two highest ideas which our reason thinks as theoretical reason, but demands as practical reason. ... In the idea of God we find the only synthesis of the world that is -- the world of science, and of the world that ought to be – the world of religion." Seth, Ethical Principles, 125 -- " This is not a mathematical demonstration. Philosophy never is an exact science. Rather is it offered as the only sufficient foundation of the moral life. ... The life of goodness ... is a life based on the conviction that its source and its issues are in the Eternal and the Infinite." As finite truth and goodness are comprehensible only in the light of some absolute principle which furnishes for them an ideal standard, so finite beauty is inexplicable except as there exists a perfect standard with which it may be compared. The beautiful is more than the agreeable or the useful. Proportion, order, harmony, unity in diversity - all these are characteristics of beauty. But they all imply an intellectual and spiritual Being, from whom they proceed and by whom they can be measured. Both physical and moral beauty, in finite things and beings, are symbols and manifestations of Him who is the author and lover of beauty, and who is himself the infinite and absolute Beauty. The beautiful in nature and in art shows that the idea of God's existence is logically independent and prior. See Cousin, The True, the Beautiful, and the Good, 140-133 ; Kant, Metaphysic of Ethics, who holds that belief in God is the necessary presupposition of the belief in duty.

To repeat these four points in another form--the intuition of an Absolute Reason is (a) the necessary presupposition of all other knowledge, so that we cannot know anything else to exist except by assuming first of all that God exists; (b) the necessary basis of all logical thought, so that we cannot put confidence in any one of our reasoning processes except by taking for granted that a thinking Deity has constructed our minds with reference to the universe and to truth; (c) the necessary implication of our primitive belief in design, so that we can assume all things to exist for a purpose, only by making the prior assumption that a purposing God exists - can regard the universe as a thought, only by postulating the existence of an absolute Thinker; and (d) the necessary foundation of our conviction of moral obligation, so that we can believe in the universal authority of right, only hy assuming that there exists a God of righteousness who reveals his will both in the individual conscience and in the moral universe at large. We cannot prove that God is; but we can show that, in order to the existence of any knowledge, thought, reason, conscience, in man, man must assume that God is.

As Jacobi said of the beautiful: "Es kann gewiesen aber nicht bewiesen werden"it can be shown, but not proved. Bowne, Metaphysics, 472 — "Our objective knowledge of the finite must rest upon ethical trust in the infinite"; 480— " Theism is the absolute postulate of all knowledge, science and philosophy"; "God is the most certain fact of objective knowledge.” Ladd, Bib. Sac., Oct. 1877 : 611-616 -“ Cogito, ergo Deus est. We are obliged to postulate a not-ourselves which makes for rationality, as well as for righteousness." W. T. Harris: “Even natural science is impossible, where philosophy has not yet taught that reason male the world, and that nature is a revelation of the rational.” Whately, Logic, 270: Wew Englander, Oct. 1871, art. on Grounds of Confidence in Inductive Reasoning, Bib. Sac., 7: 415-425; Dorner, Glaubenslehre, 1:197; Trendelenburg, Logische Untersuchungen, ch. “Zweck"; Ulrici Gott und die Natur, 540–6:26 ; Lachelier, Du Fondement de l'Induction, 78. Per contra, see Janet, Final Causes, 174, note, and 457–464, who holds final cause to be, not an intuition, but the result of applying the principle of causality to cases which mechanical laws alone will not explain.

Pascal: "Nature confounds the Pyrrhonist, and Reason confounds the Dogmatist. We have an incapacity of demonstration, which the former cannot overcome; we have a conception of truth which the latter cannot disturb." “There is no Unbelief! Whoever says, “To-morrow,' The Unknown,'' * The Future,' trusts that Power alone, Nor dares disown.” Jones, Robert Browning, 314 — " We cannot indeed prove God as the conclusion of a syllogism, for he is the primary hypothesis of all proof.” Robert Browning, Hohenstiel-Schwangau: “I know that he is there, as I am here, By the same proof, which scems no proof at all, It so exceeds familiar forms of proof"; Paracelsus, 27—To know Rather consists in opening out a way Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape Than in effecting entrance for a light Supposed to be without.” Tennyson, Holy Grail: “Let visions of the night or day Come as they will, and many a time they come. ... In moments when he feels he cannot die, And knows himself no vision to himself, Nor the high God a vision, nor that One Who rose again "; The Ancient Sage, 548 — "Thou canst not prove the Nameless, O my son! Nor canst thou prove the world thou movest in. Thou canst not prove that thou art body alone, Nor canst thou prove that thou art spirit alone, Nor canst thou prove that thou art both in one. Thou canst not prove that thou art immortal, no, Nor yet that thou art mortal. Nay, my son, thou canst not prove that I, who speak with thee, Am not th yself in converse with thyself. For nothing worthy proving can be proven, Nor yet disproven: Wherefore be thou wise, Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt, And cling to Faith beyond the forms of Faith."


Our proof that the idea of God's existence is a rational intuition will not be complete, until we show that attempts to account in other ways for the origin of the idea are insufficient, and require as their presupposition the very intuition which they would supplant or reduce to a secondary place. We claim that it cannot be derived from any other source than an original cognitive power of the mind.

1. Not from external revelation,--whether communicated (a) through the Scriptures, or ()) through tradition ; for, unless man had from another source a previous knowledge of the existence of a God from whom such a revelation might come, the revelation itself could have no authority for him.

(a) See Gillespie, Necessary Existence of God, 10: Ebrard, Dogmatik, 1:117; H. B. Smith, Faith and Philosophy, 18 — "A revelation takes for granted that he to whom it is made has some knowledge of God, though it may enlargo and purify that knowledge." We cannot prove God from the authority of the Scriptures, and then also prove the Scriptures from the authority of God. The very idea of Scripture as a revelation presupposes belief in a God who can make it. Newman Smyth, in New Englander, 1878: 355 – We cannot derive from a sun-dial our knowledge of the existence of a sun. The sun-ilial presupposes the sun, and cannot be understood without previous knowledge of the sun. Wuttke, Christian Ethics, 2 : 103 — "The voice of the divine ego does not first come to the consciousness of the individual ego from with. out; rather does every external revelation presuppose already this inner one; there must echo out from within man something kindred to the outer revelation, in order to its being recognized and accepted as divine."

Fairbairn, Studies in Philos. of Relig. and Hist., 21, 22 — “If man is dependent on an outer revelation for his idea of God, then he must have what Schelling happily termed

'an original atheism of consciousness.' Religion cannot, in that case, be rooted in the nature of man, - it must be implanted from without.” Schurman, Belief in God, 78 “A primitive revelation of God could only mean that God had endowed man with the capacity of apprehending bis divine original. This capacity, like every other, is innate, and like every other, it realizes itself only in the presence of appropriate conditions." Clarke, Christian Theology, 112—“Revelation cannot demonstrate God's existence, for it must assume it; but it will manifest his existence and character to men, and will serve them as the chief source of certainty concerning him, for it will teach them what they could not know by other means.”

(b) Nor does our idea of God come primarily from tradition, for "tradition can perpetuate only what has already been originated" (Patton). If the knowledge thus handed down is the knowledge of a primitive revelation, then the argument just stated applies--that very revelation presupposed in those who first received it, and presupposes in those to whom it is handed down, some knowledge of a Being from whom such a revelation might come. If the knowledge thus handed down is simply knowledge of the results of the reasonings of the race, then the knowledge of God comes originally from reasoning - an explanation which we consider further on. On the traditive theory of religion, see Flint, Theism, 23, 338; Cocker, Christianity and Greek Philosophy, 86–96; Fairbairn, Studies in Philos. of Relig. and Hist., 14, 15; Bowen, Metaph. and Ethics, 453, and in Bib. Sac., Oct. 1876; Pfleiderer, Religionsphilos., 312-322.

Similar answers must be returned to many common explanations of man's belief in God: “Primus in orbe deos fecit timor"; Imagination made religion; Priests invented religion; Religion is a matter of imitation and fashion. But we ask again : What caused the fear? Who made the imagination? What made priests possible? What made imitation and fashion natural? To say that man worships, merely because he sees other men worshiping, is as absurd as to say that a horse eats hay because he sees other borses eating it. There must be a hunger in the soul to be satisfied, or external things would never attract man to worship. Priests could never impose upon men so continuously, unless there was in human nature a universal belief in a God who might commission priests as his representatives. Imagination itself requires some basis of reality, and a larger basis as civilization advances. The fact that belief in God's existence gets a wider hold upon the race with each added century, shows that, instead of fear having caused belief in God, the truth is that belief in God has caused fear; indeed, “the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 111 : 10).

2. Not from experience, - whether this mean (a) the sense-perception and reflection of the individual (Locke), (1) the accumulated results of the sensations and associations of past generations of the race (Herbert Spencer), or (c) the actual contact of our sensitive nature with God, the supersensible reality, throngh the religions feeling (Newman Smyth).

The first form of this theory is inconsistent with the fact that the idea of God is not the idea of a sensible or material object, nor a combination of such ideas. Since the spiritual and infinite are direct opposites of the material and finite, no experience of the latter can account for our idea of the former.

With Locke ( Essay on Hum. Understanding, 2:1:1), experience is the passive reception of ideas by sensation or by reflection. Locke's "tabula rasa " theory mistakes the occasion of our primitive ideas for their cause. To his statement: “Nibil est in intellectu nisi quod ante fuerit in sensu,

," Leibnitz replied: "Nisi intellectus ipse." Consciousness is sometimes called the source of our knowledge of God.

But consciousness, as simply an accompanying knowledge of ourselves and our states, is not properly the source of any other knowledge. The German Gottesbewusstsein = not “consciousness of God," but “knowledge of God"; Bewusstsein here = not a knowing," but a “beknowing"; seo Porter, Human Intellect, 86; Cousin, True, Beautiful and Good, 48, 49.

Fraser, Locke, 143-147 - Sensations are the bricks, and association the mortar, of the mental house. Bowne, Theory of Thought and knowledge, 47 — " Develope language by allowing sounds to associate and evolve meaning for themselves? Yet this is the exact parallel of the philosophy which aims to build intelligence out of sensation.


« PreviousContinue »