ARGUMENTS FOR THE DIVINE EXISTENCE.
Gangauf: Psychologic des Augustinus, 82 sq. Anselm: Monologium; Proslogium. Tr. in Bib. Sacra, 1851. Hasse: Anselm, II. 233-286. Calvin: Institutes, I. i. iii. Des Cartes: Method, IV.; Meditations, III. V. ; Principles of Philosophy, L 14,15. Tr. by Veitch. Leibnitz: De la demonstration Cartesienne. Witsins: Apostles' Creed; Dissertation, IV. v. More: Antidote to Atheism, I. viii. Stillingfleet: Origines Sacrae, III. i. 14, 15. Smith: Discourses (Existence of God). Charnocke: Discourses, I. II. Cudworth: Intellectual System (Final Causes), II. 608-625. Ed. Tegg. Howe: Living Temple, I. ii. Clarke: Demonstration; Answer to Letter VII. Bates : Existence of God. Locke: Understanding, IV. x. King : Life of Looke, 313. Ed. Bohn. Kant: Pure Reason, p. 359-370. Tr. by Meiklejohn. Billroth: Religions-philosophie,? 33 sq. Chalybfius: History of Philosophy,' Lecture III. Ueberweg: History of Philosophy, I. 383 sq. Hallam: Literature of Europe, II. iii. Paley: Natural Theology. The Bridgewater Treatises. Janet: Final Causes. Martensen: Dogmatics, J 38-43. Dorner: Christian Doctrine, L 212 sq. Christlieb: Modern Doubt, IL Hodge: Theology, I. 204-237. Shedd: History of Doctrine, I. 231-238. Harris: Theism. Martineau: Study of Religion.
Although the evidence for the Divine Existence which is most relied upon in Scripture, and which is common to all men, is that of immediate consciousness, yet certain syllogistic arguments have been constructed which have the following uses:
1. They assist the development of the idea of God, and contain a scientific analysis of man's natural consciousness of the deity. These arguments all derive their force from the innate idea, and the constitutional structure of man. Hence some theologians deny that they are proofs properly so called, and disparage them. Says Rosenkranz (Encyclopadie, 6), "there are already in geometry, a hundred demonstrations of the Pythagorean proposition, all of which do what they promise. There are also numberless proofs of the being of God, none of which perform what they promise. God is not a right-angled triangle, and for his existence neither many nor convincing proofs can be discovered. There is only one argument for God's existence, and that he furnishes himself." Hamann remarks that if he who denies the Divine existence is a fool, he who would demonstrate it is a still greater one. Hagenbach (Encyclopadie, 291) says that the seeking after proofs of the Divine existence is proof enough. The human mind does not irrepressibly, and perpetually search for the evidence that a non-entity exists. 2. Secondly, these arguments reply to the counter-arguments of materialism and atheism. Of them, the principal are: The ontological, the cosmological, the teleological, the moral, and the historical.
The Ontological Argument for the Divine Existence has fallen into disrepute for the last century or more. It is now very commonly regarded as involving a sophism. Kant declares it to be sophistical, as also he declares all the a posteriori arguments to be. Historians of philosophy, like Ueberweg, analyze it not only to give an account of it, but to refute it. In the current treatises in apologetics, it is rare to find an appeal to it as a conclusive demonstration.
This is a different view from that entertained in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and by the most powerful reasoners among the fathers and schoolmen. While, owing to the subtlety and geometrical nicety of the form of the argument, its cogency was not always acknowledged, and there was some dispute concerning its logical force, yet on the whole both the philosophers and theologians of those centuries regarded it as a valid argument, and fit to be employed in the defence of theism. The English theologians made much use of it; especially those who were deeply versed in the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Cndworth, Stillingfleet, Howe, Bates, John Smith, and Henry More depend greatly npon it in their contest with the atheism of Hobbes and others. Des Cartes restated it in a modified form, and considered it to be a demonstration; and Des Cartes is the father of all modern philosophy that is founded in consciousness.
The germ of the argument is found in the remark of Augustine (Trinity, VII. iv.) that "God is more truly thought than he is described, and exists more truly than he is thought." This is one of those pregnant propositions, so characteristic of the Latin father, which compress a theory into a nut-shell. The meaning of it is, that while man's idea of God is truer to the reality than his description of him is, yet his idea is less true and credible than the reality itself. God's existence is more real than even our conception of him is for onr own mind; and our conception, confessedly, is a reality in our consciousness. The subjective idea of God, instead of being more real than God, is less real. The "thing," in this instance, has more of existence than the " thought" of it has. This is exactly contrary to the postulate that underlies all the reasoning against the ontological argument; namely, that in no case is the object so real as the idea of it, and that therefore the existence of no object whatever can be inferred from the mere idea. Every subjective conception, it is contended, more certainly is, than its objective correspondent. Consequently, no mere thought, of any kind, can demonstrate the existence of a thing.
Tin's position, we may remark in passing, that the objective can never be so certainly real as the subjective, is fatal not only to the ontological argument for the Divine existence, but to the argument for all existence. It conducts to idealism immediately. If, for example, from the subjective sensation we cannot iDfer the objective existence of matter, the certainty of the material world is gone. The sensation is the only reality, and the " thing" is at best only a contingency. Possibly it exists, bnt there is no absolute certainty that it does. The assertion that because we have the mere idea of God there is no certainty of a correspondent Being, is essentially the same as the assertion that because we have the mere sensation of matter there is no certainty of a correspondent substance. If the subjective cannot prove the objective in the former case, it cannot in the latter.
The acute and powerful intellect of Anselm was the first to construct the ontological argument in a syllogistical form. And it will appear, we think, that its first form is its best. All the subsequent modifications have weakened rather than strengthened it. The metaphysical intuition that saw the heart of the doctrine of the atonement, saw also the heart of the doctrine of the Divine existence.
The argument is derived, as the etymology (too Ovto<s \6yo<>) denotes, from the idea of absolute and perfect in distinction from relative and imperfect being. It runs as follows. The human mind possesses the idea of an absolutely perfect Being; that is, of a Being than whom a more perfect cannot be conceived. But such perfection as this implies necessary existence; and necessary existence implies actual existence: because if a thing must be, of course it is. If the absolutely perfect Being of whom we have the idea does not exist of necessity, we can conceive of a being who does so exist, and he would be more perfect than the former. For a contingent being who may or may not exist, is not the most perfect conceivable; is not the absolutely perfect. In having, therefore, as the human mind unquestionably has, the idea of an absolutely perfect in distinction from a relatively perfect being, it has the idea of a being who exists of necessity; as in having the idea of a triangle, the mind has the idea of a figure with three sides. Necessity of being, therefore, belongs to perfection of being.
The strength of Anselm's argument lies in two facts. 1. That necessity of existence is an attribute of being, and a perfection in it. 2. That necessity of existence is an attribute and perfection that belongs only to absolute and infinite being, not to relative and finite being.
1. It is clear, in the first place, that necessity of existence is an attribute. It can be affirmed of one being, and denied of another. God has this characteristic quality, and angels and men have it not. Both necessity and contingency are attributes of being. And necessity is a higher characteristic than contingency of existence. That which must be, is superior to that which may or may not be. That which cannot without logical contradiction be conceived not to be, is more perfect than that which can be so conceived. Hence there are grades of being. One species of being may be nearer to nonentity than another. The infinite and absolutely perfect is at an infinite remove from non-existence; the finite and relatively perfect is at only a finite distance from nonentity. We can conceive of the annihilation of the finite; but the annihilation of the infinite is an absurdity. "It is truly said," remarks Howe (Vanity of Man as Mortal), "of all created things, that their non esse is more than their esse; that is, they have more no-being than being. It is only some limited portion [degree] of being that they have; but there is an infinitude [infinite degree] of being which they have not. And so coming infinitely nearer to nothingness than to fulness of being, they may well enough wear the name of 'nothing.' 'All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing,' Isa. 40 :17. Wherefore the First and Fountain-Being justly appropriates to himself the name I Am, yea tells us, He is, and there is none besides him; thereby leaving no other name than that of 'nothing' unto creatures."
2. And, in the second place, necessity of existence is an attribute and perfection that is unique and solitary. It cannot be ascribed to a finite created thing, any more than eternity of existence, or immensity of existence, or immutability of existence can be. The idea of the absolutely perfect differs from tbat of the relatively perfect, or the imperfect, in implying necessity and excluding contingency. The two ideas are totally diverse in this particular, so that the analysis of the one will give a result wholly different from that of the other. Because the idea of a stone, or a man, or of any finite thing, will not yield real entity or existence as the logical outcome, it does not follow that the idea of the infinite God will not.
The nature of the ontological argument will be seen still more clearly, by examining the objections that have been urged against it, and also the modifications of it since the time of Anselm.
1. A contemporary of Anselm, the monk Gaunilo, in his tract entitled Liber pro Insipiente, or Plea for the Fool, raised the objection which has been repeated over and over again, that the idea of an object does not involve its existence. We have the idea of a tree, but it does not follow that there is an actual tree. We have the idea of a winged lion, but "it does not follow that such a creature actually exists.
The reply is, that the ideas compared are not analogous in respect to the vital point of necessary existence, but are wholly diverse. One idea is that of perfect and necessary being; the other that of imperfect and contingent being. What is true of the latter idea is untrue of the former, and vice versa. The idea of a tree implies contingency, that it may or may not exist; that of the absolutely perfect Being implies necessity, that he must exist. From the idea of the tree, we cannot prove actual objective reality, because of the element of contingency; but we can from the idea of God, because of the element of necessity. If the idea of a thing implies tbat it may or may not exist, it does not follow from the idea that the thing does exist. But if the idea of a thing implies that it must exist, it does follow from the idea that the thing does exist. This objection, therefore, to the ontological argument breaks down, because the analogy brought in to support it is a spurious one. It is an example of the Aristotelian fierdfiao-i< ; e« aXKo yevo<;. Analogical reasoning is valid between things of the same species; but invalid if carried across into another species. Gaunilo, arguing against Anselm, urged that the idea of the "lost island " does not imply that there is such a thing. Anselm replies, that if Gaunilo will show that the idea of the "lost island" implies its necessary existence, he will find the island for him, and will guarantee that it shall never be a " lost island" again.1
Gaunilo's objection overlooks the difference in kind between infinite necessary and perfect being, and finite contingent and imperfect being; between primary and secondary substance; between uncreated and created being, or between God and the universe. We are so accustomed in the case of finite beings and things to abstract necessity of existence from them, that we unthinkingly transfer this to God. Because we can logically conceive of the non-existence of the finite, we suppose that we can of the infinite. But the two species of being differ toto genere". Respecting all finite beings or things, nothing more can be inferred from their nature and idea than possibility and perhaps probability of existence. Necessity and certainty of existence cannot be inferred. But respecting infinite being, mere possibility and probability of existence are excluded by the very nature and idea of it. Possibility and contingency of existence are directly contradictory to the idea of perfect and infinite substance. In this instance, we cannot, as we can in the other, conceptually separate necessity of existence
1 Another flaw in Gaunilo's counter-argument is, that he starts from the conception of a Being "greater than all things else that exist" but Anselm starts from the conception of a Being "greater than all things else that can be conceived." The latter implies a greater perfection than the former. From the former conception, Anselm would not attempt to prove actual existence. The ideal may be more perfect than the actual.
from substance. Infinite being, ex vi termini, is necessary being.
Necessity, as a logical term, denotes so firm a connection between tbe subject and predicate, that it is impossible that they should be separated. If therefore substance and necessity of existence cannot be separated from each other, even in thought or logical conception, in the instance of "the most perfect Being conceivable," it follows that the denial that such a Being exists is not only moral but logical "folly." The atheist is guilty not only of sin, but of unreason. For it is a contradiction to suppose that the most perfect Being conceivable, that is, a necessarily existing Being, was non-existent a million of years ago, because this would make him a contingent and imperfect being. It is equally contradictory, for the same reason, to suppose that the most perfect Being conceivable will cease to exist at some future time. But there is no contradiction in supposing that the angel Gabriel had no existence a million years ago, or that he will have none a million years hence, because he is not the most perfect being conceivable. And there is no contradiction in supposing that the entire material universe was a nonentity a million years ago, unless it can be shown that it is the most perfect being conceivable.
The impossibility of separating necessity of being from absolute and perfect being, may be illustrated by the necessary connection between extension and matter. The idea of extension is inseparable from that of matter. To ask me to think of matter without extension is absurd. In like manner, to ask me to think of absolute perfection of being without necessity of being is absurd; as absurd as to ask me to think of absolute perfection of being without eternity of being, or infinity of being. The being is not absolutely perfect, if it may be non-existent; just as a substance is not material, if it is unextended. To conceive of the most perfect being conceivable as a contingent being, or a non-existent being, is impossible. Says Anselm (Proslogium, XXII.), "That which begins from non-existence, and can be conceived of as non-existing, and which unless it subsist through something else must return to non-existence, does not exist in the highest and absolute sense."
Kant commits the same error with Gaunilo, in employing a spurious analogy. Objecting to the ontological argument, he remarks (Pure Reason, 365, Meiklejohn's Tr.) that " it is indeed necessary that a triangle have three angles if it exist, but there is nothing in the idea of a triangle that necessitates its existence." Very true; and therefore the example is not pertinent. The idea of a triangle lacks the very element and attribute, contained in the idea of the most perfect being conceivable, upon which the whole force of the ontological argument depends—namely, necessity of existence. The predicate, " if it exist," connected with the subject, "a triangle," implies contingency. Kant's objection is in fact even weaker than that of Gaunilo. To attempt to invalidate the ontological argument by employing the idea of a purely mental construction like the idea of a triangle, is even more illegitimate than to employ the idea of a real, though non-absolute and contingent object like a tree or a man. The idea of a triangle, like that of a mathematical point or line, is purely imaginary. There is no objective substance in any mathematical figure whatever. Angles, lines, surfaces, and points are not things. The idea of a triangle does not imply that it is being of any kind, still less that it is necessary being. A triangle is not an entity. It cannot be brought under the category of substance; consequently it is a nonentity. It is a purely ideal construction, to which there is and can be no objective correspondent. It cannot be said to objectively exist, either contingently or necessarily. Kant's analogy, consequently, is even more spurious than that of Gaunilo; for a tree or a man, though not having necessarily-real, yet has contingently-real existence.
Kant endeavors to prove that the ontological argument is a synthetical, not an analytical judgment; that the conclusion is not deduced from the premise, but imported into it. There is no better expositor of Kant than Kuno Fischer, and he gives the following account of Kant's refutation, as he regards it, of the ontological argument. "Kant affirms that the propositions asserting existence are synthetical judgments; in other words, that existence is no logical attribute which we can find by analyzing a concept. This position completely destroys all ontology; for it removes the possibility of concluding from the concept of a thing, its existence. If existence belongs to the attributes of a concept, the ontological proof is quite valid. If it be a logical attribute, it follows immediately from the concept by mere dissection, and the ontological proof is an analytical judgment; an immediate syllogism of the understanding. If existence be a logical attribute, it must stand in the same relation to the concept that other logical attributes do. The content of the concept must be diminished if I subtract existence, increased if I add it. The concept of a triangle, for example, is not changed, whether I merely represent it to myself, or whether it exist without me. The attributes which make a triangle to be such are entirely the same in both cases. It is the same with any other concept; that of the deity." 1
We place the finger upon the last assertion in this extract, and deny that what is said of the concept of the triangle is true of the concept of the deity—assuming it to be conceded, that the deity is the equivalent of Anselm's "most perfect Being conceivable." For if from the concept of the deity, or the absolutely perfect Being, the attribute of existence be subtracted, the concept is changed. It is no longer the concept of the most perfect Being conceivable. The concept of an existing Being is, certainly,
> Mahaffy: Translation of Kuno Fischer on Kant, pp. 135, 258, 259.
It is overlooked by Kant and Fischer, and by all who reason upon this line of analogy, that the idea of God, or the absolutely Perfect, is unique and solitary. God is not only unus but unicus. There is no parallel to him. No true analogue can be found. "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" Isa. 40:18. To employ analogical reasoning in a case where all analogies fail, was the error of Gaunilo, and has been repeated from his day to this.1
2. A second objection to the argument of Anselm is that it amounts only to this: "If there be an absolutely perfect Being, he is a necessarily existent Being. One idea implies the other idea. It is only a matter of subjective notions, and not of objective existence. The absolutely perfect Being may not exist at all; but if he exist, he exists necessarily." Ueberweg (History of Philosophy, 1.384) employs this objection.
This objection, likewise, is self-contradictory, as is shown by the analysis of the proposition, "li the absolutely Perfect exist, he exists necessarily." There is inconsistency between the protasis and apodosis. The word "if " in the former denotes contingency, and the word "necessarily " in the latter excludes contingency. The absolutely perfect Being is described in the protasis as one respecting whose existence it is proper to use a hypothetical term, and in the apodosis as one respecting whose existence it is improper to use it. This conditional proposition implies that the most perfect Being conceivable is both contingent and necessary.
Coleridge (Works, IV. 408, Ed. Harper) urges this objection, in the following terms: "The Cartesian syllogism
In this criticism, we have assumed, as Kant and Fischer do, that "existence " may be regarded as an attribute, and have argued from their point of view. As will be seen further on, existence is not strictly an attribute. But if " necessity of existence," be substituted for "existence," the argument still holds good. Certainly if from the concept of the absolutely perfect Being, the attribute of necessity of existence be subtracted, the concept itself is changed.
ought to stand thus: The idea of God comprises the idea of all attributes that belong to perfection. But the idea of existence is such; therefore the idea of his existence is included in the idea of God. Now, existence is no idea, but Bkfact; and though we had an idea of existence, still the proof of a correspondence to a reality would be wanting; that is, the very point would be wanting which it was the purpose of the demonstration to supply. The idea of the fact is not the fact itself." This objection holds against the Cartesian form of the argument, but not against the Anselmic. The idea of "existence," it is true, is one to which there may be no corresponding reality or fact. But the idea of " necessary existence" is not. "Existence" is ambiguous, and may mean contingent existence, as well as necessary; in which case, the idea does not logically involve the reality or fact. But " necessary existence" has only one meaning, and logically involves a corresponding fact or reality. To say that a necessary being has no existence, or may have none, is, of course, a contradiction in terms. And to say that the idea of necessary existence does not imply the idea of actual existence, is equally contradictory. But in reasoning analytically from an idea, the reasoner is entitled to all that the idea contains.
Coleridge, like Kant and others, brings the idea of the infinite and finite, the uncreated and created, God and the universe, under one and the same category, and contends that what is true of one idea is of the other. As the idea of a tree, in Coleridge's phrase, is " the mere supposition of a logical subject, necessarily presumed in order to the conceivableness of the qualities, properties, or attributes" of the tree, so is the idea of God. The idea in both instances is a mere hypothesis, to which there may be no corresponding fact or reality. It is only "a mere ens logicum, the result of the thinker's own unity of consciousness, and no less contained in the conception of a plant or of a chimera, than in the idea of the Supreme Being." Works, IV. 409. This implies that the idea of a plant or a chimera is a true analogue to that of the most perfect Being conceivable.
3. A third objection to Anselm's argument is that made by Leibnitz; namely, that the argument supposes the possibility of the existence of the most perfect Being. This he thinks needs first to be demonstrated. And yet he adds, that " any and every being should be regarded as possible until its impossibility is proved." Leibnitz remarks that he "stands midway between those who think Anselm's argument to be a sophism, and those who think it to be a demonstration," and that if the possibility of the existence of the most perfect Being were demonstrated, he should regard Anselm's argument as "geometrically a priori." De la Demonstration Cartesienne, 177. Ed. Erdmann.
The reply to this half-way objection of Leibnitz is, that there is no greater necessity of proving that the most perfect Being is possible, than of proving that any being whatever is possible. That being of some kind is possible, is indisputable. That something exists is self-evident. To assert that there is nothing, is absurd. The premise with which Clarke begins his construction of the a priori argument; namely, " something exists; " is axiomatic, and must be granted by atheist and theist alike. The idea of " being" is certainly one that implies an objective correspondent. If I say, " I have the idea of being, but it is only an idea, there really is no being," I perceive the absurdity immediately. "The very words," says Coleridge (Works, II. 464. Ed. Harper), " there is nothing, or, there was a time when there was nothing, are self-contradictory. There is that within us which repels the position with as full and instantaneous a light as if it bore evidence against it in the right of its own eternity." But if the mind does not perceive any necessity of proving the possibility of being in the abstract, even of relative and contingent being, still less does it perceive a necessity of demonstrating the possibility of the most perfect being conceivable. On the contrary, there is more need of proving the possibility of a contingent than of a necessary being. That which may or may not exist is less likely to exist, than that which must exist and cannot be conceived of as non-existent.
4. A fourth objection to the ontological argument is, that it makes existence an attribute of a Being, when in fact it is being itself. The subject is converted into its own predicate. To assert that a Being possesses being, is tautology. This is a valid objection against one form of Des Cartes' statement of the ontological argument, but not against Anselm's. Des Cartes shortened the argument, by deriving actual being directly from the idea of absolute perfection of being, instead of first deriving, as Anselm did, necessity of being from absolute perfection of being, and then deriving actuality from necessity. The spread of Cartesianism gave currency to this form of the argument; and it is this form of it which most commonly appears in modern speculation. The English divines of the seventeenth century very generally employ this mode. In Kant's polemic, the argument is stated in the Cartesian manner, not in the Anselmic. The following is an example: "Having formed an a priori conception of a thing, the content of which was made to embrace existence, we believed ourselves safe in concluding that reality belongs to the object of the conception merely because existence has been cogitated in the conception."1 If in this extract "necessity of existence " be substituted for
1 Reine Vernunf t, 463. Ed- Rosenkranz. Uoberweg (Vol II. 50) notices the difference between the two forma of the argument in the following remark: "The Cartesian form of the ontological proof has a defect from which the Anselmic is free; namely, that the premise, 'being is a perfection,' involves a very questionable conception of 'being' as a predicate among other predicates, while Anselm has indicated a definite kind of being, namely, being not merely in our minds but also outside of them, as that in which superior perfection is involved." But this misses the true point of difference. Anselm's "definite kind of being" is, Tiecessity of being," not being outside of our minds." This latter is objective being, and is the same as Des Cartes' "existence." If this is all the difference between Anselm and Des Cartes, there is none at all.
"existence," the "illusion" which Kant charges upon the a priori reasoner disappears.
Necessity of existence, as we have before remarked, is a true predicate, like eternity of existence, and immensity of existence, and all the other attributes that describe absolute being and differentiate it from relative and finite being. And from this predicate, the objective actual existence of that to which it belongs can be inferred. In omitting it, and attempting to make a predicate out of " existence " instead of " necessity of existence," Des Cartes lost an indispensable term of the syllogism, jumped directly from the premise to the conclusion, and exposed the argument to a valid objection.1
But while Des Cartes' form of the argument is vicious reasoning, it suggests a profound truth. It directs attention to the difference in kind between primary and secondary being, and to the important fact already alluded to, that existence cannot even conceptually be separated from substance in the instance of the absolute and perfect, as it can in that of the relative and imperfect. The finite may exist only in thought and imagination; the infinite cannot. There may be no imperfect and contingent being; there must be perfect and necessary being. The universe may be non-existent, but God cannot. And this, because absolute perfection of being excludes unreality of every kind. Consequently, it excludes imaginary being, which is no being at all. And it excludes contingent and temporary being, because these are relative and imperfect grades. None of these are " the most perfect being conceivable." The absolute Being, therefore, is the only strictly real. All
1 Des Cartes seems to have been aware of the defect in this form of stating the argument. He more oommonly employs " existenoe " in the Method, and the Meditations. Bnt he uses " neoessity of existence," in the Method, p. 79; Meditations, p. 67, 68; Principles of Philosophy, p. 119,189.190,191. Veitch's Trans. Ueberweg (History, H. 42, 49, 51); Schwegler (History, 175); and Locke (King's Life of, 314) represent Des Cartes as stating the argument in the Anselmic form.
else, in comparison, is a shadow. Existence cannot be abstracted from substance of this kind, without changing its grade. To attribute non-existence to the infinite, is to convert it into the finite. But existence can be abstracted conceptually from secondary and contingent substance without changing the species. In fact, it is substance of a secondary species for the very reason that it can be conceived of as nonexistent.
Des Cartes not only adopted Anselm's ontological argument with a modification, but added another feature to it. His addition is the following. We have the idea of the most perfect Being. It does not come through the senses, because such a Being is not sensible. It is not a fiction or fancy of the mind; this we know from our own consciousness. It is therefore, an innate idea, and must have been inlaid in our constitution by the most perfect Being himself. This is an a posteriori addition to the ontological argument. It is of the same nature with the cosmological argument. From the effect, the cause is inferred. The idea is a product which has God for its author. But to mix the a priori with the a posteriori argument is not to improve either.
Locke (King's Life, p. 315 sq.) objects to Des Cartes' argument, that it does not demonstrate anything more than the existence of the eternal matter of atheism. In this, he implies that eternity of being belongs to the idea of matter. But this is an error, because eternal being supposes necessary being, and necessary being supposes absolute perfection of being. But matter is not the most perfect being conceivable. Consequently, it is contingent, not necessary being. "Reason can annihilate matter in thought, always and without self-contradiction." Kant: Pure Reason. Meiklejohn's Trans. p. 379."
1 See Locke, Understanding, IV. x., for the arguments for the Divine existence. In this part of his work, he really admits the doctrine of innate ideas in the sense in which Plato taught them, though not in the mistaken sense in which he himself combats them.
Stillingfleet (Origines Sacrae, III. i.) stated the ontological argument as follows. The perfectly clear perception of the mind is the strongest evidence we can have of the truth of anything. This postulate he borrowed from Des Cartes. We have a perfectly clear perception that necessary existence belongs to the essence of God; and if necessary existence belongs to God's essence, it follows that actual existence does. This clearness of the perception, it is to be noticed, shows that the idea of God is an idea of the reason, not of the imagination. It is accompanied with the conviction that it is a true idea, and not a mere invention of the fancy, like the idea of a winged horse, for example.
Samuel Clarke stated the ontological argument as follows: It is certain that something has existed from all eternity. Absolute nonentity is inconceivable. Whatever has eternally existed is self-existent, and whatever is selfexistent, is necessarily existent, and whatever is necessarily existent cannot be conceived as non-existent. The material world cannot be the " something " that has eternally existed, because we can conceive of its nonentity. Therefore the "something " which has eternally existed is God. Furthermore, infinite space and time cannot be conceived of as non-existent; yet they are not substances or beings of themselves. They must therefore be properties of some substance or being. God is this substance or being.
Clarke's construction of the ontological argument is inferior to that of Anselm, for two reasons. 1. The " something" which eternally exists may be confounded with the pantheistic ground of all things; the " substance " of Spinoza. An eternal " something " does not necessarily suggest intelligence and morality in the "something." Anselm's "most perfect Being conceivable" does. 2. Space and time are not properties of any substance whatever. They are not properties of material substance; nor of finite spiritual substance; nor of infinite spiritual substance. They are not properties of matter, nor of the human spirit, nor of the angelic spirit, nor of God.
Edwards (Will, Pt. II. Sect, iii.) shows a hesitation concerning the ontological argument similar to that of Leibnitz. He asserts that if man had "sufficient strength and extent of mind," he would " intuitively see the absurdity of supposing God not to be;" but adds, that" we have not this strength and extent of mind to know this certainty, in this intuitive, independent manner." This is saying that the human mind is not strWig enough to perceive an absurdity. Yet Edwards adds, that " he will not affirm that there is in the nature of things no foundation for the knowledge of the being of God, without any evidence of it from his works," and that he thinks that "there is a great absurdity in the nature of things simply considered in supposing that there should be no God, or in denying Being in general." But, certainly, the human mind has sufficient "strength and extent," to perceive what is " absurd in the nature of things."
The ontological argument has the endorsement of inspiration. The Hebrew Jehovah, in Ex. 3:13, denotes necessity of existence. "This term, as applied to God, intimates that to be is his peculiar characteristic; that he is, in a sense in which no other being is; that he is self-existent, and cannot but be. In the opinion that in this lies the significance of the name, the ancient Jews and most scholars of eminence have concurred." 1 To give a name, in both the Hebrew and the Greek intuition, is to describe the inmost and real nature of the thing. Plato, in the Cratylus (390), represents Socrates as saying that "the right imposition of names is no easy matter, and belongs not to any and everybody, but to him only who has an insight into the nature of
'Alexander: Kitto's Encyclopaedia, Art. Jehovah. Maimonides, the Rabbi of the 12th centaury, eo explains Jehovah. See Lowman: Hebrew Ritual, p. 370. Delitssch (Old Testament History of Redemption, § 58) says that "the name Jehovah denotes the One whose nature consists in being (Seyn), which continually manifests iteelf as existenoe (Daseyn); the eternal, and eternally living One.
things." The nomenclature given by the unfallen man to the objects of nature (Gen. 2 :19, 20) implies a deep knowledge of nature. And when the deity chooses before all others the name I Am, or Jehovah, for himself, th,e reference is to his absoluteness and perfection of being. The ethnic names in distinction from the revealed name of the' deity imply attributes, not essence. The Teutonic " God" indicates that the deity is good. The Greek and Latin world employed a term (0eo?, deus) that lays emphasis upon that attribute whereby he orders and governs the universe. But Moses, divinely taught upon this point, chose a term which does not refer to any particular attribute, but to the very being and essence of God, and teaches that the deity must be, and cannot be conceived of as non-existent. He was not bidden to explain or justify the name, but only to announce it. This shows that the idea of a necessarily existent being is one which the human mind readily accepts.
The sweeping assertion is sometimes made that no idea whatever implies an external object corresponding to it. There is certainly one idea that does. It is that of being itself. If I say, " I have the idea of being, but it is only an idea: there is really no being," I perceive the absurdity immediately. It is the same as saying, "There is nothing." The postulate in Clarke's argument: "Something exists," must be granted by the atheist as well as by the theist. But if this be true of the idea of being, it is still more so of the idea of necessary being. If the general idea of being implies objective being corresponding to it, the special idea of necessary being certainly does.
The ontological argument is of uncommon importance in an age tending to materialism, and to physical science. For it turns the human intellect in upon itself, and thereby contributes to convince it of the reality of mind as a different substance from matter.* The recent neglect of a priori methods, and over-valuation of a posteriori, is one of the reasons why matter has so much more reality for many men than mind. If an object is not looked at, it gradually ceases to be regarded as an object at all. When theorists cease to contemplate mental and moral phenomena, they cease to believe that there are any. The gaze of the physiix cist is intent upon the physical solely. Consequently, the metaphysical, or spiritual becomes a non-entity. Out of sight, it is out of mind, and out of existence, for him. Analyzing and observing matter alone, he converts everything into matter. The brain is the soul, and molecular motion is thought. What he needs is, to cultivate metaphysical in connection with physical studies; a priori, in connection with a posteriori methods; to look at mind as well as matter. In this way he gets a consciousness of mind, in distinction from the consciousness of matter.
Consciousness is consciousness, however it be obtained. If it be the result of a purely mental process, it is as truly consciousness as if it resulted from a purely sensuous process. When I am conscious of the agencies of my soul by introspection, this mode or form of consciousness is as real and trustworthy, as when I am conscious of the agencies of my body by sensation. It is of no consequence how consciousness arises, provided it does arise. Those a priori methods, consequently, which dispense with sensation and sensnous observation, and depend upon purely intellectual and spiritual operations, are best adapted to convince of the reality of an invisible and immaterial substance like the human soul. Some men tell us that they want a philosophy of common things. The soul of man is a very common thing; and if the physicist would spend as many hours in observing the phenomena of his soul, as he does in observing the phenomena of an oyster, he would have as much consciousness of his soul as he has of the oyster. We acquire consciousness of an object by busying the mind about it. And if, after sufficient effort, the materialist should fail to obtain any consciousness of his mind, in distinction from his body, he would indeed have to conclude that he has none.
The CosTnological Argument is derived from the existence of the universe (Koo-fiov ^0y0?). It is implied in Ileb. 3: 4, "Every house is builded by some man, but he who built all things is God." Its force depends upon the axiom that an effect supposes a cause. Aquinas (Summa, I. ii. 3) states the argument as follows: 1. Motion in the universe implies a prime mover who is not moved; and this is God. This form of the argument is valuable in reference to the mechanical physics, which resolves all existence into the movements of molecules or atoms. These atoms must either be self-moved, or moved by a prime mover other than the atoms. 2. Effects, generally, imply an efficient. 3. That which is contingent; which might not be, and once was not; implies that which is necessary, or that which always was and must be.
Kant (Pure Reason, Meiklejohn, 374,) objects, that the concept of causality cannot be pressed beyond the domain of sensuous existence, and therefore the first cause given by the cosmological argument would not be intelligent. But the world of finite mind is a part of the universe. The existence of the rational universe implies that of a rational first cause. Clarke (Answer to Letter VII.) makes the objection, that the argument from causality will not prove the eternity, infinity, immensity, and unity of God. The temporal phenomena of nature prove that there has been from the beginning of the phenomena, a Being of power and wisdom sufficient to produce them. But that this Being has existed from eternity, and will exist to eternity, cannot be proved from these temporal phenomena. It is necessary, therefore, says Clarke, to fall back upon the necessity of the existence of God that is given in the rational idea of him. The same reasoning applies to the infinity of God. The universe is not known as infinite, or even as unlimited, because it is not completely known. We are, therefore, arguing from only a finite effect, which would yield only a finite cause.
Clarke's objection overlooks the fact, that every finite object implies original non-existence, and therefore creative power in the cause. Hence the quantity of being in the effect, is not the measure of the quantity of being in the cause. A grain of sand, even an infinitesimal atom of matter, if it be granted that it is not eternal but came into being from non-entity, would prove infinite power, equally with the immensity of the universe, because finite power cannot create ex nihilo. The absolute origination of the least amount of finite being requires omnipotence, equally with the greatest amount. The other objection of Clarke, viz: That the temporal phenomena of nature would prove only a temporal author of them, falls to the ground, when it is considered that it is inconceivable that the cause and the effect should begin to exist »imvltanecmdy. The cause must be older than the effect, from the nature of the case. Creation from nothing, in this case too, as in the previous one, implies that the cause of the phenomena in time must be prior to time. In John 1: 1, it is said that the Logos was already in being "in the beginning" of time; which proves that he existed in eternity. In like manner, God as the efficient cause of events in time must have existed before time, in order to be capable of such action at the very beginning of time.
Hume objects to the cosmological argument, that it is a petitio principii. Cause and effect, he says, are relative terms, so that one implies the other. But whether the phenomenon is an effect, is the very question. Hume denies that it is, asserting that it is only a consequent that follows an antecedent. There is no necessary connection between the two related phenomena. It is only the habit of seeing one succeed the other, that leads to the expectation that they will invariably do so. Hume requires proof that any event is an effect, proper; for if thirf be granted, it follows of course that there is a cause. Father and son are relative terms. In constructing an argument to prove that Napoleon Buonaparte had a father, it would not be allowable to begin by assuming that Napoleon Buonaparte was a son. This objection of Hume is the same as that of the ancient Pyrrhonist, as stated by Diogenes Laertius. "Causation, the Pyrrhonists take away thus: A cause is only so in relation to an effect. But what is relative is merely conceived, and does not exist. Therefore, cause is a mere conception." Mackintosh: History of Ethical Philosophy. Note 2.
The reply to this is the following: (a) Hume's view of the connection of one event with another, as being merely that of antecedent and consequent, is founded upon sensation merely, not upon the action of reason. A brute's eye sees that one event precedes another, and this is all that the brute sees and knows. And, according to Hume's theory, this is all that the man should see and know. But the fact is, that the man knows much more than this. In his consciousness there are additional elements, that form no part of the animal's consciousness. A man not only sensuously sees that the one event precedes another, but rationally perceives that the one invariably and necessarily precedes the other. These two characteristics of invariability and necessity in the sequence are not given by the sense; but they arc by the reason. The animal does not perceive them. The real question, consequently, between Hume and his opponents is, whether animal sensation or human reason shall decide the case. A man's mind, unlike the brute's eye, perceives not merely the sequence, but the manner of the sequence. (5) All phenomena, without exception, either precede or succeed each other, and therefore, according to Hume's theory, all phenomena ought to be either causes or effects. But we do not so regard them. The light of day invariably succeeds the darkness of the night, but we do not deem the former to be the effect of the latter. It is only of a particular class of antecedents and consequents, that we assert that one is the cause and the other is the effeet. The mark of this class is not merely ocular antecedence, but efficient and necessary antecedence. (c) In mere succession, the antecedent and consequent may change places. The day may be either the antecedent or the consequent of the night. But in causation, the places of cause and effect cannot be so reversed. The cause must always be prior to the effect, (d) If the certainty of the connection between one event and another is the effect of custom, and not an intuitive perception, this certainty should increase in proportion to the number of instances. A man should be more certain that the explosion of gunpowder is the effect of its ignition, in the hundredth instance in which he witnesses it, than in the tenth instance. But he is not.
The Teleological Argument1 is derived from a particular characteristic of the world: namely, the marks of design and adaptation to an end (tcxo?) which appear in it. It is stated in Ps. 94: 9. "He that planted the ear shall he not hear? and he that formed the eye, shall he not see?" The evident adaptedness of the eye for vision proves an intelligent designer of the eye. This form of the argument for the Divine existence is the most popularly effective of any. It is an ancient argument. Cicero (Tusculan Questions, I. 23) states it in an eloquent manner, borrowing from Socrates and Plato. Xenophon presents it in the Memorabilia. Galen (De usu partium, V. v.) employs it in opposition to Asclepiades. The Bridgewater Treatises contain it in the fullest form. Paley's statement of it is marked by his usual lucidity and force.3
i Janet: Pinal Causes. Bell: The Hand. Kirby: History and Habits of Animalft.
8 Final causes are moro easily discovered in a narrow than in a wide sphere; in biology than in astronomy. When it is asked: Why do the planets revolve around the sun? the efficient cause is commonly meant. The inquirer asks for the particular force that causes the revolution. But when it is asked: Why do the motor nerves run along the limbs? the final cause is commonly meant. The inquirer asks for the purpose of this arrangement.
The teleological argument, like the cosmological, must not be confined to the material world, but extended to the intellectual; as in Ps. 95 :10, "Ho that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?" The marks of design in the constitution of the human soul infer an infinite designing mind who created it. The human will is intended for volition, not for perception. The human imagination is made for picturing, not for reasoning. The human understanding is designed for perception, not for volition.
Chemistry furnishes some fine materials for this argument. Elementary substances cannot be combined in any proportion at pleasure. The ratio in every instance is predetermined; the amounts are weighed out by the Author of nature with a nicety which no art can attain. For example, twenty-three ounces of sodium will exactly unite with thirty-five and five-tenth ounces of chlorine, and make table salt. But if 23.5 ounces of sodium are put together with 35.5 ounces of chlorine, nature will put the extra half ounce of sodium on one side, and the remainder will unite. Cooke: Religion in Chemistry, p. 288. Crystallography, also, affords examples of symmetrical arrangement of particles, in which geometrical proportions are invariable. The crystal is a petrified geometry.
An objection similar to that urged against the cosmological argument, has been made to the teleological. There is adaptation, it is said, but not design; as there is sequence but not causality. Certain things are adapted to certain uses, but not made for certain uses. The eye is adapted to vision, but has no designing author. When it is asked, how this striking adaptation is to be accounted for apart from design, the answer is: either by the operation of law, or by chance. To the latter explanation, there is a fatal objection in the mathematical doctrine of probabilities. The chance of matter's acting in tlns manner is not one in millions. Natural adaptation, upon this theory, would be as infrequent a phenomenon as a miracle. And yet adaptation to an end is one of the most common facts in nature; occurring in innumerable instances. The other explanation, by law, is equivalent to the acknowledgment of a designing author, or else it is mere tautology. A law implies a law-giver; because it merely denotes an invariable course of action, or a universal fact in nature. The law of gravitation is only a name for a general fact, namely, that matter attracts inversely as the square of the distance. The law is merely the rule of action in the case. To say, therefore, that the law of gravitation is the cause of gravitation, is to say that the fact itself is the cause of the fact; that a general fact produces particular facts. There is nothing causative in the law, any more than there is in the fact or facts which are its equivalent. Consequently, a law requires to be accounted for, as much as do the phenomena under it; and this carries the mind back to a creative author of law.
Bacon objects to the inquiry for final causes, as leading to unfounded explanations and conjectures, thus hindering the progress of science. But Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood, in endeavoring to find out the design and use of the multitude of valves in the veins. And, generally, the search after the purpose in nature has been the stimulus in physical science. That some of the conjectures regarding final causes should prove to be erroneous, is unavoidable to a finite intelligence. Aristotle (Metaphysics, I. ii.) contends that if the end or final cause cannot be found, science is impossible. There would be endless progression in inquiry, with no terminus or goal. Scientific investigation would have no result.
The Moral Argument is stated in two modes: 1 Conscience testifies to the fact of obedience, or of disobedience, of a moral law. This implies a law-giver. This is God. Calvin, Melanchthon, and Turrettin employ this mode. 2. We observe an inequality between the happiness of good and bad men, here upon earth. This requires an adjustment hereafter. This implies a righteous arbiter and judge.
The Historical Argument is derived from the historical fact, that all the nations have had the belief that there is a Supreme Being. Aristotle employs it, Metaphysics, XI. viii. Cicero, also, De Legibus, L viii. ; and Grotius, Christian Religion, I. 12.