It is my aim in this paper to discuss the possibility of a scientific theism, or in other words, the nature of our belief in the existence of God, the sufficiency of the grounds upon which it rests, and the adequacy of this belief for the purposes of science.
Mr. Huxley, if I mistake not, has discoursed pleasantly upon the absurdity of devoting any great share of our attention to lunar polities. But against selenology, or the science of lunar physics, he would probably urge no serious objections. The possibility of such a science he would admit to depend upon three things, first, the actual existence of such a body as the moon; secondly, the fact that the human mind has powers which fit it for knowing the moon; and thirdly, the provision of means by which the moon is brought into contact with the mind. The eye, or the telescope, or both, may bridge the gulf, and give us actual knowledge where there was only the possibility of knowledge before. A synthesis of the facts thus discovered, and the exhibition of them in their relations as parts of a system, might justly be called selenology.
I use this illustration, not by any means to indicate the nature of our knowledge of God, but ouly to point out the natural conditions of it. As in the case just mentioned, a scientific theism is possible only upon condition, first, that such a Being as God exists; secondly, that the human mind has capacities for knowing God; and thirdly, that God has been brought into intelligible contact with the human mind by revelation. If this revelation be an external one and assure us of facts which exist independently of our consciousness of them, we have in them the proper material for science; and theology, in this department of it, does nothing more than put these facts in their appointed places, as the builders of Solomon's temple took the stones made ready to their hand and put them, without the sound of saw or hammer, into the places for which they had been designed by the architect.
It is to the first of these conditions of a scientific theism, and to the first only, that I wish at present to direct attention. Does God exist? We find ourselves compelled at the very outset to define the term we use. What do we mean by God? By that name we designate not the abstract Absolute or Infinite -of the metaphysicians, nor the necessarily developing life-principle of nature, to which the Pantheist holds, but rather the absolutely perfect Being — a Being whose very perfection involves a power of self-limitation —a Being who is absolute, not in the sense that he exists in no relation, but that he exists in no necessary relation; a Being who is infinite, not in the
* Au essay read before " The Club," Rochester, February IK, 1875.
sense of excluding all coexistence of the finite, but as constituting the ground and condition of the finite, so that nothing exists beside himself except by his sufferance or under his control. God is not all things, finite as well as infinite, material as well as spiritual, foolish as well as wise, unholy as well as pure. In one sense he is the most limited being in the universe, since he can never be otherwise than he is. But whatever limitations there are to his nature are imposed from within, never from without. That he cannot lie, or cease to be, is a part of his infinite perfection.
God is the absolutely perfect Being,—but more than this must go to our definition, before it answers to our conception or becomes of practical use in our inquiry. By God, we mean not only a being who may exist in relation to the universe and to us, but a being who does exist in such relation. This Being, whose perfection answers to and transcends our highest conceptions, and to whom we are notwithstanding so closely related, we recognize in three aspects: first, as a power above us upon which we are dependent; secondly, as an authority which imposes law upon our moral natures; and thirdly, as a personality which we may recognize in prayer and worship. As we reflect upon the matter, we perceive that the spiritual energy of such a Being must be inexhaustible; trying to find its bounds, we become speedily convinced that it reaches on and on forever; immature thought may set limits here and there, or conceive of other like powers and personalities; but more thorough investigation into the contents of our own conception assures us that this Being, whom we name God, is both infinite and one.
The belief that such a Being as this exists, a Being upon whom we are dependent, to whom we are morally bound, whom we may address in prayer — a Being who, as Author, Lawgiver, End, answers to our highest notions of perfection — is in itself a remarkable fact. The idea of God, if it should be found in a single human mind, would deserve all attention. But it is found in many human minds — in so many human minds that we may characterize human nature, and difference it from the lower orders of intelligence, by its possession of this idea of God, just as truly as by its possession of the ideas of rifjht and wrong. As this, however, is an important link in the discussion, and as it has been matter of controversy, let us ask explicitly to what extent, and in what sense, the belief in God's existence prevails among men.
We are all aware that there are certain truths which men universally accept without thinking of putting them into words, and without always being able to understand them when propounded in scientific form. Men who have no notion what you mean when you say that there is a principle of causality, that even- action implies an agent, every change an efficiency that produced it, still show their practical belief in the law of cause and effect, by their language, actions and expectations. The formal denial of certain truths does not by any means prove that men do not believe them. Deniers of freedom like necessitarians, of substance like idealists, of their own existence like nihilists, all practically acknowledge what they speculatively deny. In the case of the fatalist, all that is needed to show this is the knock-down argument. The fatalist, knocked down, rises to vow vengeance or sue for damages — that is, he holds his assailant responsible — that is, he recognizes, in practice, that the assailant's action is not necessitated but free. In judging of the evidence that the knowledge of God's existence is universal, it is not necessary to require that each human being should, on interrogation, respond that he knows that God exists. Though he may never have formulated his belief, he may still show by the language he employs, the actions he performs, and the expectations he cherishes, that he has the idea of a power above him on which he is dependent, an authority that binds his moral action, a personality whom he may address in prayer and worship.
Certain beliefs, moreover, which belong to man as man, are not developed in the earliest stages of the mind's growth, and that simply because the objects with which they have to do cannot be apprehended until the mind has reached a eertain degree of intelligence. The moral ideas, for example, are apparently slumbering in the mind of the young child, but only because the notion of intelligent and voluntary action is not yet fully formed. The moment that conception in formed, you have with it another knowledge of right and wrong, derived, not from any experience of utilities, but from an original cognitive power of the mind. And even when once awakened, these beliefs are capable of indefinite education. They grow in strength and clearness. But the germ was there at the very beginning of the mental history, just as the full-grown apple existed in embryo even before the blossom had fallen from the tree.
We should not therefore be warranted in denying the universality of the knowledge of God's existence, simply because we found that this knowledge existed in children and savages in a rudimentary and undeveloped form. The mere fact that the perfection ascribed to the Being above them does not answer to our ideas of perfection, or the range assigned to the divine attributes to our ideas of infinity, proves only that the child and the savage have not yet expounded to themselves the contents of their own notions, — it does not prove that they have no real idea of God. So long as there does exist the idea of a Being above, of greatness and perfectness answering to the highest conceptions of which the mind is at the time capable, the rudimentary nature of this knowledge should not blind us to the fact that it exists,
With these precautionary suggestions, let us ask what is the exact state of the evidence with regard to the belief in God's existence. This is a matter of testimony. We find it to be simple historical fact, not only that the vast majority of men have actually believed in a God, but that there never has been an atheistic age or an atheistic people. Men in the mass have everywhere and always recognized a power, perfection, personality above them, though they have often clothed that power with wrong attributes. The race has bowed to priests more than it ever has to kings. The instinct of religion has been stronger than the instinct of either government or society ; for religious ideas have dominated in the formation and progress of both. Deprive men of one religion, they seek another. Abandoning the old gods, they seek new. Even Comte and Mill cannot be content without something to worship, and the one must deify a woman, and the other universal humanity.
Quatrefages, the French anthropologist, who has made this subject a matter of special study, says distinctly that, "obliged as he has been, to pass in review the race of men, he has sought for atheism in the lowest and in the highest, but has nowhere met it except in an individual or at most in some isolated school of philosophers; everywhere and always," he says, "the masses of the people have escaped it." It is true that now and then reports are printed with regard to some savage tribe, like the Andaman Islanders, declaring that at last a people has been found who know no God. But closer examination has in most cases proved that those who seem at first sight destitute of such a knowledge do really possess it. Ignorance of the language and of the mental and moral habitudes of a people very frequently leads to these superficial and incorrect judgments. Moffat, the missionary to Africa, declared that he had found tribes who had no religious rites and no belief in a power above them. But his son-in-law and successor, upon further investigation, showed that Moffat's judgment was based upon imperfect knowledge, and that these tribes had both; Livingstone declares plainly, in so many words, that "the existence of a God and of a future life are universally recognized in Africa."
It would be easy to multiply witnesses, but there is no need. We are mainly concerned with the exceptional cases. In what way shall we account for the fact that individuals are not rare who profess atheism? Or, granting that some tribe like the Andaman Islanders were to prove destitute of any clear conception of a supreme Being, how should we explain this? Upon the principles already laid down. Either they practically admit what they speculatively deny, or their minds are yet in a state like that of childhood, in which the intellectual faculties are not yet sufficiently developed to permit the awakening of this consciousness of God's existence. David Hume was a professed skeptic, yet, when walking in the fields with his friend Ferguson on a starlit night, he exclaimed, "Adam, there is a God!" Even the degraded tribes which we have mentioned do indirectly manifest in various ways the existence in their minds of the idea of God, and its positive influence over them. The sense of responsibility, the notion of right and wrong, the reproaches of conscience, these are but reflections in the human soul of the authority and presence of God. Wherever there is fear after wrong doing, there is an implicit, if not explicit, recognition of the existence of One who hates the wrong and will punish the wrong. So far as exploration has yet gone, no tribe has been discovered that is utterly destitute of conscience. Until we learn of such, we must maintain that all men have, at least in genn and capable of development, the knowledge of the existence of God.
And this knowledge is certain to be developed so soon as the proper occasions and conditions present themselves, that is, so soon as the mind devotes the requisite attention to the considerations which demand the idea of God for their explanation. In contemplating existence as finite, there is inevitably suggested to the mind the idea of an infinite Being. In danger, men instinctively cry to God for help. When we speak of this belief as being universal, we do not assert that the existence of God is a truth always present before the mind. It is possible to engross the mind with objects which do not call forth the belief. Men naturally avoid the occasions which suggest it. What we claim is simply this, that everywhere and always, when the proper occasion comes, and the facta which require it for their
i complement are presented to the mind, the knowledge of God's existence leaps forth from latency into power,— a storm at sea and the approach of death have dissipated many an atheistic delusion. It is this universal, though often unacknowledged, faith in the existence of a cause, a law, an end, above the merely transient and bounded beings which we see about us, that constitutes man's capacity for religion. Without this faith, there would be nothing to which religion could appeal. When we say that man is by nature a religious being, we offer the strongest proof that the knowledge of God's existence is universal. He who has not this knowledge, either potential or actual, may be idiot or brute, — he is not man.
For this knowledge, universal in the sense we have mentioned, we have to account. What is its origin? By what process have men everywhere acquired it? In attempting an answer to this question, it will be useful to review the various theories, and to pass rapid judgment upon them. First comes the theory which holds that the source of all our knowledge of God is external revelation, communicated to us either through the Scriptures or through tradition. It might be a sufficient reply to the first form of the theory — that which holds that we believe in a God because Scripture certifies us of his existence — to say that the belief in a God prevails to-day, and has prevailed for ages, where the Scriptures were never known. But it is a more vital objection still that the theory presupposes and takes for granted the very thing to be proved, namely, that God exists. Why do I believe in a God? Because the Bible tells me that he exists. Why do I believe the Bible? Because I believe that a God exists who speaks authoritatively in it. The Bible can be no authority to me, unless I have previous knowledge of the existence of a God from whom such a revelation can come. Just as a miracle cannot establish the divine existence, because it presupposes it, so the Scriptures cannot establish the divine existence, because they presuppose it. And especially so with a revelation handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth,— it can have no power to convince me of God's existence, unless I have from some other source a previous knowledge of a God from whom such a revelation might come. To believe in God's existence upon the ground of revelation, and then to believe in revelation upon the ground of God's existence, is to argue in an incurably vicious circle. And yet to just this, amount all attempts to account from external influences for the belief in God. "Religion in the world is a delusion inspired and fostered by priests." "Fear produced the gods." But a uniform fact requires a uniform cause. Something in the nature of man leads him to religion — else there is nothing for education, culture, priestcraft to work upon. Without such a demand in the nature, the religions of the world could never have been devised, received, believed, propagated. Some knowledge of a higher power must be presupposed to make either true or false priests possible.
Or shall we say that the knowledge of God comes from experience, in the sense of Locke's philosophy? Locke, we remember, held that all our ideas came directly or indirectly from the senses. They were either notions of sensible and material objects, or, combinations of these formed by the mind itself. Can sense-perception or reflection, then, account for the idea of God? We must answer in the negative, for the idea of God is not that of a sensible or material object, nor is it a combination of such ideas. Since the spiritual and infinite are the direct opposite* of the material and finite, no experience of the latter can account for our idea of the former. Does it help the matter to say that we know the existence of God from consciousness? No, because consciousness is only a cou-knowing, an accompanying knowledge — a knowing of the mind's acts and states as its own. We are not properly conscious of facts or beings out of the mind. To say that we are conscious of the existence of God is simple tautology. It can mean only that we are conscious of knowing that God exists; and the question as to the origin of this knowledge comes up as before. The Germans, indeed, use the term Oottesbewusntsein, without being guilty of this tautology; but only because this Oottesbewusstsein means, not'consciousness of God,' but 'knowledge of God.' Bewnsstsein is, not a ' con-knowing,' but a 'beknowing.'
Does the knowledge of God's existence, then, arise from reasoning? Since it is very frequently maintained that our belief has its source in argument, it will be necessary to consider this view somewhat more at length. We may appeal here to our own mental history, while we confidently affirm that the rise of this knowledge in the great majority of minds is not the result of any conscious process of reasoning. We say, in the great majority of minds. Some unquestionably do have this conviction wakened within them in the course of argumentative investigation, but even then the investigation is commonly reckoned as the occasion, not the cause, of the new knowledge. Among men who reason about God, the majority do not rest their belief in his existence upon argument, any more than they rest upon argument their belief in right and wrong. On the other hand, upon occurrence of the proper conditions, in hearing the thunder or being brought face to face with a past transgression, the conviction of God's existence flashes upon the soul with the quickness and force of an immediate revelation.
If the belief in God's existence were the product of reasoning, it would seem that the strongest reasoners should be men of the strongest faith. But we all know that the strength of men's faith in that existence is not proportioned to the strength of the reasoning faculty. On the other hand men of greatest logical power are often inveterate sceptics, while men of unwavering faith are found among those who cannot even understand the theistic arguments. Ask the mass of Christian people what is the foundation of their belief in God, and whatever else they may or may not say, they will refer its origin to anything but reasoning. The mass of Christians can no more follow the a priori or a posteriori arguments, than they can appreciate the demonstrations of a great physical truth like the shape of the moon's orbit, or the distance of the earth from the sun. Yet this does not prevent their having a knowledge of God. John, with his insight, has more faith than logical Thomas. And the converted barbarian has often a stronger conviction of God's existence than the undevout philosopher.
But it is time to examine the arguments themselves. It is possible for us to overrate the value of mere argument, even to the minds that comprehend and conduct it. I believe that a careful review of the chief arguments for the existence of God will convince us that, valuable as they are for purposes to be shown hereafter, they are not sufficient of themselves to demonstrate the existence of the Being whom we call God. The arguments are four. Let us begin with the argument commonly called the Cosmological. This is not properly an argument from effect to cause; for the proposition that every effect must have a cause is simply identical, and means only that every caused event must have a cause. It is rather an argument from the contingent to the necessary, and may be stated as follows: Everything begun, whether substance or phenomenon, owes its existence to some producing cause. The universe is a thing begun, and owes its existence to a Cause which is equal to its production. And this mighty Cause must be God.
Now the chief difficulty with this argument is in the minor premise. It cannot be shown that the universe, so far as it« substance is concerned, has had a beginning. Hume urged, with reason, that we never saw a world made. Science knows nothing of the origin of substance. Creation is purely a truth of revelation. It is "through faith " that "we understand the worlds were made by the word of God, so that things that are seen are not made of things which do appear." But we cannot use Scripture in our argument. Aside from the Scriptures, we do not know that the world ever had a beginning. Many philosophers besides Hume, in Christian lands, and the prevailing opinion of ante-Christian times, have held that matter is eternal. Or do we mistake the principle of causality? Does that teach us, not that every begun thing, but that every thing, must have a cause? Then God himself must have been caused. No. Our principle is right. A cause is to be postulated only for what has clearly a beginning; but the universe, so far as its substance is concerned, has no known beginning.
But have the phenomena of the universe a beginning? Yes, we see changes which come and go with every passing day. Do they not require a cause? Yes, but even here it is difficult to show that any other cause is requisite than a cause within the universe itself — a cause such as the Pantheist supposes. The Pantheist holds all change to be only modification of one universal, necessary, self-existent, eternal substance; and the Cosmological Argument alone cannot refute it. Or, if we grant that the universe has had a cause outside of itself, it is difficult to show that this cause has not itself been caused — that is, that it consists of an infinite series of dependent causes. And, if the cause of the universe has not itself been caused, it is impossible to show that this cause is not finite like the universe itself. We are warranted in assigning only a cause just sufficient to produce the effect. But what we know of the universe is finite. To say that it is infinite is pure assumption,—and it is of little use to assume an infinite to prove an infinite. From a finite effect, therefore, we can argue only a finite cause; and a merely finite cause cannot be God.
The value of the Cosmological Argument is therefore simply this — it proves the existence of some Cause of the universe indefinitely great; when we go beyond this, and ask whether this cause is a cause of being or merely a cause of change to the universe, whether it is a cause apart from the universe or one with it, whether it is an eternal cause or a cause dependent upon some other cause, whether it is intelligent or unintelligent, infinite or finite, one or many, this argument cannot assure us.
Let us consider, next in order, the Teleological Argument. This is not properly an argument from design to a designer; for that design implies tt designer is simply an identical proposition. It may be more correctly stated as follows: Order and useful collocation, pervading a system, prove the existence of intelligence and purpose as the author of this order and collocation. Since order and useful collocation pervade the universe, there must exist an Intelligence adequate to the production of this order, and a Will adequate to direct this collocation to useful ends. This Intelligence and Will must be divine. There are certain common objections to the premises of this argument which are clearly invalid,— for example, the objection that order and useful collocation may exist without being purposed; for we are compelled by our very mental constitution to deny this, where the order and collocation pervade a system. Nor is the objection that order and useful collocation may result from the operation of mere physical forces and laws any the more tenable, for the operation of physical forces and laws does not exclude but implies an originating intelligence and will. Before evolution, there must be involution. If anything is to come out, something must first be put in,— and if there is to be any certain progress to cosmos, instead of to chaos, there must be a guiding wisdom all along the line.
That order and useful collocation do pervade the universe is assumed in science. The physical investigator could not proceed for a day without taking it for granted that the methods of nature are rational methods, that the properties and qualities of matter are uniform, that all things have their uses. Let science busy herself with the whal, as much as she may; it is the why, and the prudenx qiurstio with regard to it, that have been her most useful clues to nature's labyrinth; and the scientific imagination which Prof. Tyndall lauds', is nothing else than insight into the thought and purpose of which nature is the embodiment. We have evidences of this order and useful collocation in the correlation of the chemical elements to each other; sweep away all the proofs of intelligence in the existing universe; pass over all the intervening history,— go back to the nebula if you will; yet even here, an atom of oxygen is au atom of oxygen — an atom of hydrogen is an atom of hydrogen; and in the fitness of both to combine, with results so wonderful, you have proof of a designing intelligence. And this same intelligence appears in the fitness of the inanimate world to be the basis and support of life; in the typical forms and unity of plan apparent in the organic creation; in the existence and cooperation of natural laws; in cosmical order and compensations — the precessions and retrograde movements that from age to age secure the safety of the system, even while they seem to threaten it.
It does not invalidate the argument for intelligence to say that we often misunderstand the end actually subserved by natural events and objects; for the principle is, not that we necessarily know the actual end, but that we necessarily believe that there is some end, in every case of systematic order and collocation. Nor does it invalidate the argument to say that the order of the universe is manifestly imperfect; for this.'if granted, would argue, not absence of contrivance, but some special reason for imperfection, either in the limitations of the contriving intelligence itself, or in the nature of the end sought. And just here Mr. Mill, in his posthumous essay on Theism, plants himself, and recognizing the blights and cruelties and devastations of nature, the hurricanes that destroy the fruits of man's labor, the beasts that live only by torturing and devouring others weaker than themselves, the thousand blossoms that perish for the one that brings forth fruit, he declares that, if nature proves a God, it proves one who lacks either love or power; and, since there are signs of love, he who rules the universe must be a God in fetters — working with intractable material — bearing uphill a heavy burden that more than taxes his utmost strength.
But Mr. Mill's conclusion is not the only one. The Pantheist's conclusion is just as logical as his. So long as there is such a thing as impersonal intelligence, and we see the bee building her hexagons and storing for the winter, yet without self-consciousness or freedom, but bound to lines of necessitated action by its very physical structure and conditions, why, says the pantheist, may not the whole universe be only the unconscious work of a sublimer impersonal intelligence, that fashions forms of beauty and adaptation of means to ends, by an inexorable law of its own nature? And we must confess that either Mr. Mill's theory, or the theory of the pantheist, is logically consistent, and cannot be successfully combated upon the ground of the Teleological Argument alone. Leave out of the estimate entirely the self-consciousness, moral ideas, and free will of man — and we cannot prove, either that God is absolute sovereign of the universe, or that an impersonal intelligence may not suffice for its production. And as this argument cannot prove personality or sovereignty in God, so it cannot prove unity, creatorship, eternity, or infinity.
What then is its exact value? Simply this. It proves, from certain useful collocations and instances of order which have clearly had a beginning, or, in other words, from the present harmony of the universe, that there exists an intelligence and will adequate to its contrivance. But whether this intelligence and will are personal or impersonal, creative or fashioning, one or many, finite or infinite, eternal or owing their being to another, this argument cannot assure us. In it, however, we take a step forward. The causative Power, which we have proved by the Cosmological Argument, has now become an intelligent Power.
The third argument is commonly called the Moral, though we should prefer to call it the Anthropological Argument. It is an argument from the mental and moral constitution of man to the existence of a divine Author, •Lawgiver, and End. Man's intellectual and moral being have had a beginning upon the planet. Material and unconscious forces do not afford a sufficient cause for his reason, conscience, and free will. As an effect, therefore, man can be referred only to a cause possessing self-consciousness and a moral nature, or in other words, personality. This is the first part of the argument. It is held to prove a divine Author of man's higher being. But there is a second part which argues from the existence of man's moral nature to the existence of a holy Lawgiver and Judge. Conscience recognizes the existence of a moral law which has supreme authority. Known violations of this moral law are followed by feelings of ill desert and fears of judgment. But this moral law, since it is not self-imposed, and these threats of judgment, since they are not self-executing, respectively argue the existence of a holy Will that has imposed the law, and of a punitive Power that will execute the threats of the moral nature. "But why," says Murphy, "should we suppose conscience to be the Toice of a will, or personal authority? Why should we suppose conscience to be anything more than the voice of impersonal reason, when it speaks on the subject of duty?" And Murphy answers his own question as follows: Because "unlike impersonal abstract reason, conscience speaks with a command. Reason speaks in the indicative mood; conscience in the imperative. The intuitions of the reason do not come into consciousness as if made known by a voice, but rather as knowledge comes through the eye, and do not suggest personality in their origin. A voice of command, on the contrary, at least suggests personality in its origin. It is this proof that has had greatest effect on mankind. "The heavens declare the glory of God,"— but they declare it only to those who believe in God. The light from the heavens is really the reflected light of conscience, though men often mistake its origin."
But beyond this, and as the third part of the Moral Argument, man's emotional and voluntary nature proves the existence of a Being who can furnish in himself a satisfying object of human affection, and an end which will call forth man's highest activities and ensure his highest progress. Only a Being of power, wisdom, holiness and goodness, and all these indefinitely greater than any that we know upon earth, can meet this demand of the human soul. Such a Being must exist. Otherwise man's greatest need would be unsupplied, and belief in a lie be more productive of virtue than belief in the truth.
Such is a strong statement of the Moral Argument. Its defects are that it cannot prove a creator of the material universe; nor can it prove the infinity of God, since man from whom we argue is simply finite. Its value is that it assures us of the existence of a personal Being, who rules us in righteousness, and who is the proper object of supreme affection and service. Among the arguments for the existence of God, however, we give to this the chief place, since it adds to the idea of causative Power (which was derived from the Cosmological Argument), and of contriving Intelligence (which was derived from the Teleological), the far wider ideas of Personality and righteous Lordship.
These arguments are the only ones to which we can assign any logical value as proving the existence of a Being above us whom we can in any sense cull God. The Ontological or a priori Argument, from the abstract and necessary ideas of the human mind, has had currency in past ages, but is now generally abandoned. Because I have the idea of an absolutely perfect Being, it does not follow that that Being exists. If it were so, Kant's analogous argument might be valid: because I have a perfect idea of a hundred dollar bill, it would follow that I actually possessed one, which is far from being the case. And so we may come to a conclusion from the arguments as a whole. It appears that the a priori argument is capable of proving only an abstract and ideal proposition, but can never conduct us to the existence of real being. It appears that the arguments a posteriori which we have considered in detail, since they are arguments from merely finite existence, can never demonstrate the existence of the infinite. In the words of Sir Wm. Hamilton: "A demonstration of the absolute from the relative is logically absurd; as, in such a syllogism, we must collect in the conclusion what is not distributed in the premises." And the same considerations apply to the attempt to explain our knowledge of God as an inference from the facts of nature or of mind,— for either this inference is what is called in logic '' an immediate inference," and so is a mere restatement in other words of some proposition with regard to the finite and is not a process of reasoning at all, — or it is a process of reasoning, and so is only a condensed deductive syllogism, which, because it is condensed, may be expanded into regular syllogistic form. In this case, since it is a process of reasoning, it is open to the objections which have been previously mentioned.
But to all arguments for the existence of God, we have a still more radical objection to urge, namely that all reasoning presupposes the existence of God as its logical condition and f oundation. Not only does the trustworthiness of the simplest mental acts, such as sense-perception, self-consciousness and memory, depend upon the assumption that a God exists who has so constituted our minds that they give us knowledge of things as they are; but the more complex processes, such as induction and deduction, can be relied upon only by presupposing a thinking Deity, who has made the various parts of the universe to correspond to each other and to the investigating faculties of man. Upon what warrant do I perform the simplest act of induction, and infer from one or more particular instances a truth universal in its nature? What right have I to conclude, from two or three facts within my observation, that unsupported bodies always fall, and that fire burns, and arsenic kills? Only upon the ground that the universe is a solidarity, that part corresponds to part, that laws of nature here are also laws of nature there, that there is a thought running through the universe, and that there is a thinker who thinks that thought. In the words of Dr. Peabody: "Induction is a syllogism with the immutable attributes of God for a constant term." Or as Dr. Porter expresses it: "Induction rests upon the assumption, as it demands for its ground, that a personal or thinking Deity exists." It has no meaning or validity, unless we assnme that the universe is so constituted as to presuppose an absolute and unconditioned Originator of its forces and laws." And, as all deduction rests upon previous processes of induction or upon the intuitions of space and time, it follows that every sort and kind of reasoning toward the existence of God actually presupposes that existence, and begs the whole question in the very attempt to prove it.
Much new light is thrown from this point back upon our arguments for God's existence. We see that it is impossible to argue from man's wants to a supply, impossible to argue from conscience to a lawgiver, impossible to argue from adaptation in nature to a designing intelligence, without taking for granted that indications do not deceive us — that there is a correlation between the human mind and the universe, as well as between the human mind and the divine. Imagine an evil being to sit upon the throne of the universe, and to constitute all things so as to falsify our observations, expectations and reasonings, and all our arguments yield no fruit. It is because we take for granted that God is, that he exists in truth and righteousness, that the rational methods of the divine mind bear analogy to our own, that we are made in God's image,— it is because of these assumptions, that any theism or any science is possible. In other words, we cannot demonstrate that God is, but we can show that in order to the existence of any other knowledge, men must assume that God is.
But a knowledge thus fundamental, necessary and universal, we call an intnitive knowledge. Of this sort we consider the knowledge of God's existence. We hold God's existence to be a first truth, like the conviction of our own personal existence, or the belief in causality, or the knowledge of substance as the reality in which attributes inhere and find their unity. But we hold this fruth to be a deeper and more fundamental truth than any one of the others we have mentioned, and for that very reason the easiest to overlook and the last to be formulated. It is a knowledge which logically precedes all observation and all reasoning,— yet only reflection upon the phenomena of nature and of mind occasions its rise in consciousness. There is a prejudice against the doctrine of intuitive knowledge of any kind which arises too frequently from an imperfect conception of what is meant by an intuition. When we say that God is known intuitively, we do not hold that this knowledge will developc itself apart from observation and experience, but only that it will develope itself upon occasion of observation and experience. A first truth is a knowledge, which, though developed upon occasion of sense-perception and reflection, is not derived from these,— a knowledge which on the contrary has such logical priority that it must be assumed or supposed to make either sense-perception or reflection possible. Such truths are therefore not recognized first in order of time; some of them are assented to somewhat late in the mind's growth; by the great majority of men they are never consciously formulated at all. Yet they constitute the necessary assumptions upon which all other knowledge rests, and the mind has not only the inborn capacity to evolve them so soon as the proper occasions are presented, but the recognition of them is inevitable so soon as the mind begins to give account to itself of its own knowledge.
The doctrine of this paper, therefore, is that all men have at the very basis of their being, and as the deepest principle of all their thinking, a knowledge of the existence of God, as a Power upon which they are dependent, a Perfection which imposes law on their moral natures, and a Personality which they may address in prayer and worship. It is a knowledge, however, which more than any other has been dimmed and obscured by transgression, and by the loss of that love to God which is the condition of its clearest and strongest exercise. In an unfallen state, we may believe that it manifested itself as naturally and spontaneously as the intuition of self does now. God was seen in all things, and all things were seen in God. With the exercise of this intelligence, there was also the knowledge of affection and communion. But with sin, the knowledge of friendship and manifestation ceased, and only the necessary and intuitive remained. There is no longer an extensive knowledge of the divine attributes — no longer a seeing God face to face, only the cold, blank apprehension of fear, and the effort to rid the soul of the thought of God. But still in every mind the knowledge remains. It is dim, yet it burns — a light ready to flame forth in time of danger, or sinning, or judgment. It is like a choked-up well from which you have only to remove the debris, and the water that has been flowing so long in secrecy and silence can be seen once more and drawn up to quench the thirst.
And this is the object of God's twofold revelation in nature and in the .Scriptures. Arguments drawn from nature and the human mind awaken, confirm and enlarge a conviction of God's existence, which may have been -slumbering for lack of reflection. Arguments can never conduct us to God, or account for our idea of God. Both ends of the ladder are wanting. The top does not reach to heaven, since argument can give us not the infinite but only the finite. The foot has no firm basis on the earth, since all logic presupposes the existence of God and without this is invalid. Arguments cannot conduct us to God. They are not the bridge itself — they are only the guys that steady and strengthen it. Intuition is the great suspensionbridge that spans the gulf. The arguments are indeed only the efforts of the mind that already has a conviction of God's existence to give to itself a formal account of its belief. As such they will always be helps to faith, mid means of bringing out into clearer light the deliverances of our inmost nature. This intuitive knowledge the Scriptures always take for granted. They never attempt to prove the existence of God. They address men as •already knowing it. They bring a new revelation of the grace of God, and promises of a special work of God's Spirit, to turn this knowledge, which now is only a knowledge of intellect and of fear, into the knowledge of assured friendship and of sacred communion. Only in Christ are we brought back to our lost sonship and made possessors of that saving knowledge which is identical with eternal life.
But is a knowledge like this adequate to the purposes of science? When we know God by intuition, have we a right to use the materials thus gathered as foundation stones of theology? Herbert Spencer denies it, upon the ground that this intuition is, like all the rest, a mere accretion of past experience, a hereditary tendency of thought, a result of multitudes of senseiReceptions and awe-stricken feelings of past generations — tranccndental for the individual but empirical for the race, a representation after all of the transient and earthly, a representation that in time may be outgrown. But this theory can be maintained only by wholly mistaking the natnre and contents < >f the intuition itself. It is not merely a hereditary tendency, like that of the brutes, for the brutes have no intuitions — least of all, the intuition of a God. It is the intuition not of the finite or of the indefinite, but of the positively infinite; and this, as we have seen, can in no manner be derived from experience, either in the present or the past. Just as the idea of right nnd wrong can be explained by no combination of utilities, and the idea of cause by no combination or uniformity of sequences, and the idea of material or spiritual substance by no succession of sensations, so the idea of the infinite cannot be explained by any combinations or successions of the finite. "For the very reason that it is too great an idea for so mean an origin, Herbert Spencer is obliged to reduce its scale in his representations of it, until it is small enough to be reasonably supposed to have emerged from the narrow aperture of sense. In other words, the intuition of God, and all the other intuitions, are explained by simply denying their existence. The trick is too old a one, and too fatal to Mr. Spencer's own system. For, if the validity of causation and of logical laws and of our knowledge of God be denied, what rule can save Mr. Spencer's belief in the Unknowable and in the Persistence of Force, the corner-stones of his philosophy, since these are not truths of experience but postulates of the reason? And whither is philosophy tending, if the most fundamental knowledges of all, which it has taken uncounted ages to-build up and consolidate, are to be proved utterly invalid by the latest research? In this doctrine, we have the reducdo ad absurdum of the Speneerian philosophy. Evolution is proved to be a progress from knowledge to ignorance, from certainty to doubt. With the sweeping away of a single intuition, all the rest must also perish, for the mind certifies to none if not to all, and with them Herbert Spencer too, with his philosophy, must be consigned to the abyss of absolute skepticism.
There is another denial which we must mention— that of Sir William Hamilton. Ho virtually ruled our conviction of God's existence out of the realm of science by calling it faith, and then defining faith as that organ of the mind by which we apprehend that which is not an object of knowledge. Of course, if God is not an object of knowledge, then science, which is knowledge, cannot have theism for one of its departments. Now we accept the title of faith for the peculiar apprehension which we have of God. Notwithstanding this, we claim that this faith furnishes proper material for science. And that, simply for the reason that faith is not mere opinion or imagination, but a higher kind of knowledge. All physical science rests upon faith, faith in human testimony and in our primitive cognitions, but is not invalidated thereby. And why? Simply because this faith, though unlike sense-perception or logical deduction, is yet a cognitive act of the reason. Faith, in this lower sense, may be defined as certitude with regard to mutters in which verification is unattainable. If the intuition of God is to be excluded from the realm of science because it is faith, then by the same rule must the doctrine of the uniformity of nature and the facta received upon human testimony be excluded from science also. Faith in God's existence is indeed a faith of higher nrTik than these, but it follows the same rule. The faith which constitutes the source of truth with regard to God is simply a certitude with regard to spiritual realities, upon the testimony of our rational nature and upon the testimony of God. The only feature that differences it from the lower faiths of science is the fact that it is conditioned upon the presence of a holy affection toward God. Yet even here we are not without analogies. There is a knowledge of the beautiful which is conditioned upon a love for beauty. Only one who loves beauty can ever see it, whether in sunset sky or on the poet's page. There is a knowledge of the morally good which is conditioned upon love for the morally good. Only one who loves moral excellence can recognize it in character, or truly set forth its principle and nature. So there is a knowledge of God which is conditioned upon love for God. Only one who loves God can see God or truly know God. As the sciences of esthetics and ethics respectively are products of reason, but of reason as including in the one case a power of recognizing beauty practically inseparable from a love for beauty, and on the other hand a power of recognizing the morally right practically inseparable from a love for the morally right, so a scientific theism is a product of reason, but of reason as including a power of recognizing God practically inseparable from a love for God. This cognitive act of the reason by which we apprehend God, under the condition of a holy affection toward God, is faith. As an operation of man's higher rational nature, though distinct from ocular vision or from reasoning, it is a kind of knowledge, and so may furnish proper material for a scientific theism.
A single question yet remains. If this right affection toward God be a condition of all scientific knowledge of him, in what sense can those who have no such affection know God, and what claim can such theism have upon them, since they lack the affectional conditions which alone can enable them to understand it? We answer that all men have a knowledge of God, dimmed and obscured though it be. A thorough and clear and vivid acquaintance with the truth, however, belongs ouly to those who look through eyes of love, and have their vision purged with the " euphrasy and rue" of divine revelation. But we can better answer by a parable. A certain man afflicted with cataract still perceived faint rays of light piercing the curtain that ever hung before him. He could tell daylight from dark, and the comparative dimness of his dwelling from the brightness of the outer world. One of his sons was an optician, and another was a painter. The father tried to understand their work and to help them in it, but he could not. What could the blind man know of lenses or of colors? At last he began to deny that there was any such thing as optics, or any such thing as painting. His sons vainly argued with him. They urged that the little light that reached his retina should be evidence to him that something existed outside of and beyond his eyes; that he ought to take their word for it that they saw shape and beauty where none appeared to him; that whole sciences had been constructed out of simple matters of form and light; that, with the cataract removed, he might see it all, and know it all, for himself. But the old man had been born blind; he believed nothing; he had no trust in oculists, as he had no trust in science; the veil before him grew thicker and his scepticism more inveterate, till at last with neither eyes nor mind could he see at all. Was there, therefore, no science of painting or of optics? and had these sciences no claim upon him?