Francis L. (Francis Landey) Patton.

Syllabus of lectures on the anti-theistic theories online

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NOV 11


Tliis is th(> critical i)art of Theism. In it we consider
(1) the forms of tlie anti-theistic tlieories and (2) tlie practical
effects upon life of a theistic or anti-theistic view.

Two things are posited in Theism: (1) The phenomenal
world of plurality is resolvable into a unity— there is one ulti-
mate ground of all existence. (2) All existence is made up
of three fundamental data (a) a personal God, (b) a total-
ity of phenomena, (c) a finite self. All anti-theistic theories
grow out of a denial of one or the other of these categories.

Anti-theistic theories are unphilosophical or philoso-
phical. To the former class belong Atheism and Polytheism.
The philosophical theories are of three classes. Those which
explain all existence in terms of God are pantheistic ; those
which explain it in terms of the world are pan-cosmic; those
in terms of self are pan-egotistic.

1. Unphilosoi'hic.yl Thp:ories.

A. Atheism.

(1) Dogmatic Atheism is the afHrmation that God does
not exist. This is absurd, for to prove that God does not
exist one must be God. (2) Others hold that although there
may be a God, yet \\c can not know that he exists. These
are the Agnostics. (3) To believe in God we must have
i"(>asons and the th(>istic argunuMits ar(> not strong enough.
Holders of this y'ww simply maintain a negative ])osition.
(4) There are men who have no idea whatever of God, and
no belief in him. Now is this statement true? It is to be
noted (a) that the affirmation that a-theistic or godless tribes
exist is made in the interests of evolution theories as to th(>
genesis of the idea of God. (b) Though it should be pro\-ed
that such tribes exist it would not reduce the force of the

argument e consensu gentium. There may have been a de-
generation, (c) But the question is answered by the fact
that the tribes whicli have been claimed to be atheistic are
not so. No tribe or nation has yet been met with destitute
of belief in God.


Polytheism takes many forms. (1) Nature Worship,
typically represented in the Vedic literature. Max Muller
says that the Hindoo faith had an anthropomorphic develop-
ment. Before there was a personal God there was worship
of the bright powers of nature. But it has been shown that
one supreme being was always a power in early Hindoo re-
ligion. This worship of the bright powers of nature is the
corruption of the worship of one true and supreme being.
(2) Anthropomorphic Polytheism. Nature worship passed
into this by humanizing the gods and making them assume
definite shapes. The best examples of this are seen in the
religions of (jreece and Rome. Many think this is the com-
pletion of the development from nature worship. (3) Zool-
atry. While some nations worship the bright, objects of
nature others worship animals. We can not establish a genetic
relation between all the forms of polytheism. The worship
of sacred animals has the same foundation as mytholog}-.
(4) Idolatry. A man to be an idolator may be a worshipper
of one or many idols. (5) Fetichism. This is supposed by
some to be the earliest form of religion. It implies a belief
in God or supernatural agency. (6) Shamanism. This is
the worship of sj)irits who have passed into the world, and
prevails among the Japanese, Chinese, etc.

Philosophy of Polytheism.

Why do men worship? What is the basis of religion?
Many think that the l)asis is fear or wonder. Sir John Lub-
bock maintains that a crutle animism is the only foundation
for religion. But the feeling of a dog toward his master is

of the same character: reUgion however, keeps its hold upon
men after their animistic conception has been dispelled. The
first type of religion was not worship of spirits; what then
was it? (1) There is no ground for the belief that Henotheism
and Monotheism are a development from Fetichism. (2)
There is much reason to believe that these low types of re-
ligion are corruptions of Monotheism. (3) The worship of
the powers of nature is most likely a corruption of a most pur(>
belief in one God.

(1) Is it possible to relate all the forms of polytheism to
nature worship? There is no genetic relation between them.
We can not show that all nature worship is transformed Je-
hovah worship. (2) Are the anthropomorphic religions of
Greece and Rome a corruption of Monotheism? We must
answer no. The Greeks and Romans had a religious nature
and they gave expression to it. Polytheism has the good
in it that it makes way for belief in a true and living God.
(3) Given universal polytheism have men been able to reach
Monotheism? We have seen that there was a downward
tendency, was there not also a tendency upward? In the
minds of some, yes. This was the case with a cultivated
few in Greece. They show the possible trend of develop-
ment. Has a race ever come out of Polytheism into Mono-
theism? Yes. the Jews. Did they come out suddenly or
gradually by appreciating the philosophical aspects of the
matter? The Higher Criticism of to-day says that it was
gradual. But if Moses wrote the books ascribed to him,
Monotheism was a revelation. Now if it was a develop-
ment and the Jews were an exception other nations might be.

II. Philosophical Theories.

A. Pantheism.

Origin and meaning of the word. It is said that Leibnitz
and other theologians never used the word pantheism. It
was first used about 1705. Various definitions of it have
been given and the name pantiieism has been given to widely

difforent systems of belief. Some have said that it is a refined
theism. (1) If there is any significance in the term there must be
a theistic basis in it. It admits intelligence. (2) Those who
hold pantheism destroy the distinction between God and nature,
including man. Pantheism says that God is one and the one is God.
We can reach a conception of Pantheism by exclusion.
Some beliefs have been called pantheistic which are not so.
(1) Ritter's view that existence is a totality of material atoms.
This is materialism and materialism is not pantheism. (2)
The dynamic theory oi matter. Suj^pose that the world
were a manifestation of God, this would not be pantheism;
for the world would be simply a phenomenal manifestation
of God and not God. (3) Idealism in all its forms has been
said to be pantheism, but this is not true. The Idealism of
Berkeley is not necessarily pantheism. (4) It is common to
hold that the Stoic doctrine of anima mundi is pantheism.
This however, depends on the way it is held. If we conceive
of God as outside of the world it is deism. The Stoics had
a criide conception of the fact that God is immanent in nature.
(5) The doctrine of continuous creation. The "Theory of
Providence" taught by Jonathan Edwards is that of contin-
uous creation but surely this is not pantheism. (6) Denial
of personality of God. To think of God as a person is to think
of him as an individual like one of us and God is therefore
not a person. Those who take this view are not pantheists.
for supra-personality as referred to God is not synonymous
with pantheism. (7) The Scholastic doctrine of Realism.
It does not lead to pantheism but on the other hand is far from
it. The worst that could be said is that ReaHsm makes no
difference between individuals, Init even then the difference
would be marked between man and animals and animals and
God. Realism might be shown to have trouble with immor-
tality and other doctrines, but it is not pantheistic. (8) The
co-eternity of God and creation. There are good reasons for
believing that matter is not eternal, but passages of Scripture
are not overwhelmingly in favor of creation ex nihilo. Suppose
that matter were eternal, it would not be God. Were we to

hold eternal creation we would not be pantheists. Matter
is not mind: we believe in a duality while pantheism is monism.
(9) Immanent Theism is not pantheism for rightly understood
this is what Christian theists believe. (10) Religious Mystics
have been called pantheists. This would make our most
cherished hymns open to the charge and our roll of ministers
would be a roll of pantheists. (11) Poetical conceptions of
nature are not pantheistic. (12) Nor does a definition of
pantheism turn upon a theory of the will. All ])antheism is
determinism but all determinism is not pantheism.

It is easier to sa}^ what pantheism is not than it is to say
what it is. The following are the main theories of the uni-
verse: (1) All that is is matter. This is pan-cosmism or
materialism. (2) All that is is matter and mind, and mind
is both finite and infinite. This is diialistic. and is the ordi-
nary view of theism. (3) All that is is mind. This is monistic
in terms of mind and does not believe in matter. It is Ideal-
ism. It is hard here to keep in view the distinction between
finite and infinite mind. If esse est percipi the idealist falls
into solipism unless he posits an eternal perceiver to keep
the solid world in existence. He does this and calls the eternal
perceiver God. (4) Theory positing mind and matter but
having only one category for mind and making matter ani-
mated by a universal spirit. The great spirit sleeps in the
vegetable, dreams in the animal and wakes in man. The
theory is known by many as panth(4sm and is held by men
like Emerson and others believing in the ''Over soul." It
is really only half pantheism. It is not theism either. (5)
.4// that is is mind and that mind is God. This view posits
only one substance; mind is the oidy (>ntity in the universe.
It is pure pantheism, and is found in India. Spinoza and
Hegel. (6) All this is is my mind. This is Solipsism. It
says: I am the only entity. 1 th(^ only universe. (7) Ther(>
is neither mind nor matter but a tcrlium quid. seven
are the main theories of the miiverse. The only purely pan-
theistic one is that in wliicli the totality of things is looked
upon as mind, and this is spoken of as God.

History of Pantheism.

All ancient pantheism is found in India, Persia, Egypt,
Greece and Rome.

The religions of India may be considered under five heads.
(1) In the Vedas we find the bright powers of nature worshipped.
Whether this is pantheistic or a corruption of primitive mono-
theism has not been decided. (2) Brahminism. In this
caste originates, and the religious cult becomes minute and
burdensome. (3) Sankhya — very much like our material-
ism. (4) Buddhism is a protest against Brahminism, and
is called the Protestantism of the East. There are two kinds
of religion; one deals particularly with God and the other with
the soul. The latter is true of Buddhism. To the Brahmin
God is everything, to the Buddhist he is nothing. Buddhism
is parallel to Schopenhauer's pessimism; it pities miser}^ and
promises annihilation. (5) Vedanta is the orthodox rehgion
of India. Max Mueller says: "The highest aim of the Brahmin
is to recognize his self as a reflection of the 'highest self,' the
only thing which could be said to be true and real. All finite
selves are modes of this infinite self. This is pantheism in its
most unequivocal form.

In Persia we find the rehgion of Zoroaster. It is an open
question whether or not this is pantheism.

The Egyptians worship the objects of nature, which are
the symbols of God. This is hardly pantheism, for we can
not identify nature with God.

The Greeks were monotheists as well as polytheists.
The popular religion was polytheism, which is a corruption
of monotheism. J^ut pantheism always runs along with poly-
theisni. Pure pantheism never exists among the popular
religions of the world; hence it is not found in Egypt or Persia.
It is, however, found in India and in Greece because ther(>
philosophy flourished. Pantheism never exists without having
a connection with philosoj)hy. Parmenides and Heraclitus
were the pantheists of Greece. Parmenides held tliat all
multiplicity is due to the senses; all real existence is one.

The true first principle is the self conscious idea. Parmenides
'saw through a glass darkly.' Heraclitus called the universe
a process of incessant change. Nothing is, everything is
becoming. All phenomena are but manifestations of one
substance. Plato was a theist. Bain, however, says that
he was moving in the direction of pantheism, but died before
he got there. Aristotle has been called a i)antheist, but the
charge is untrue. Zeller says that he was tlie first to })ut
theism on a scientific basis.

John Scotus Erigena was the most decided pantheist ^f
the whole scholastic period. His principal work was his
"De Divisione Naturae." By nature he means all being,
and of it he makes a fourfold division. (1) That which creates
and is not created. (2) That whicii creates and is created.
(8) That which is created but does not create. (4) That which
neither creates nor is created. The divisions are made simply
to show that all is God, since' the four natures are only ivvo-
lations of God. The universe has no existence independent
of God. it is therefore God, although not all of God. With
God, being, thought, and creating are identical. God's being
consists in thinking, and his thoughts arc things. Conse-
quently the world is eternal. God and the world are identical.
Sufism is the speculative side of Mohammedanism. It
teaches that the great creator is diffused over all creation.
It compares the divine emanations to rays of the sun. The
soul of man and the principle of life in all nature are not only
from God but are God. The phenomenal world is a mere
illusion which seems to be something but is nothing. Sufism
represents an endeavor to reconcile philosophy with religion.
In the period marking' the transition to niod(>rn philo-
sophy is Giordano Bruno. In him tiie Italian Renaissance
finds expression on its philosophic side. He was a pantheist.
Modern pantheism is best treated by .Saisset. This
writer thinks- — and rightly- — that Descartes is a theist. He
says, however, that some of Descartes theories are pantluMstic
in their tendency: (1) Descartes' doctrine of continuous
creation. Saisset thinks that substance becomes a niei-e phan

torn under this doctrine; but Descartes does not assert this.

(2) Descartes was a determinist and Saisset says that this
is a pantheistic tendency. Saisset's criticisms are at fault.

Malebranche. "Seeing all things in God" is the state-
ment on which his pantheism is charged. He may be re-
garded as a typical representative of the better side of the
Roman Catholic Church. He was a student of Descartes
and started out with Descartes' duahsm of thought and ex-
tension, mind and matter. He was pre-eminently a man of
pious' convictions and beheved in the truths of Christianity.
His was no system of mere naturalism. The Incarnation
was the one event in this world which made it worthy of God.
We need other reasons for calling him a pantheist than that
he held the doctrine of continuous creation and denied second
causes. The following are the points most worthy of notice
in Malebranche's system: (1) His theory of perception. He
did not believe in immediate perception. We do not see
extended objects, but only ideas or copies of things. Whence
do we get these ideas? (a) From the objects themselves,
(b) from the mind, (c) from God, (d) from the mind in con-
templating itself, (e) we see all things in God; in him are all
ideas, our minds are in contact with him. This last view is
Malebranche's own. Ho did not deny the external world
but made it superfluous. (2) His doctrine of efficiency. I
will and God pro(kices the change. God is the only cause.
He exercises his power immediately. This doctrine pre-
supposes a i)rior doctrine of the duality of mind and matter.

(3) His theory of matter. Martineau says that Malebranche
does not have place for both finite creatures and an infinite
creator. The question is, does Malebranche blot out finite
creatures? He did not in(>an to identify God with extended
bodies. His is only a lln'oiy like the Stoic doctrine of anima
mundi, which is not pantheism. (4) His doctrine of personality.
Does Malebranche identify God with human persons? Is
it possible^ for finite spirits to exist with the infinite spirit?
.Vlartinean says that Malebranche identifies God with human
]jersons in two ways: (a) By identifying Ciod with tlu^ human

soul, which is a complete surrender of individuality. But
we might ask, does universal reason obliterate finite mind?
(b) By affirming the unity of the thing apprehended. But
it would surely not be plausible to say that two men are one
man because they see the same thing. Man and God are not
the same because they have the same objects of knowledge.
Malebranche says, ''Our mental modifications are possible
only within certain limits. In an act of the will two things
are involved, the muscular change and the volition. Both
are produced by God." This is not an obliteration of the
separate mind or make it identical with God. Having tried
to show that on the cognitive side it is impossible for both of
these to exist in Malebranche's system, Martineau turns to the
practical side where he makes out a somewhat stronger case
but fails to prove his point.

Spinoza was born at Amsterdam in 1632, his parents being
Portuguese Jews.* He was excommunicated at the age of
24 and thereafter found friends among the Mennonites prin-
cipally. He led a quiet life and w^as very kind. A chair
at the university of Heidelberg was offered him but he re-
fused in order that he might not be trammeled in his views.
For a living he ground lenses. He w^as indebted to Descartes
and Bruno for inspiration and for some of his thoughts but
the articulation of his thought into a system was his own.
He was poor and consumptive. There is a mystery con-
cerning his death.

His "Ethics," his most elaborate work, was published
in 1675. Part 1 concerning God, II concerning the nature
and origin of the mind. Ill concerning the nature and origin
of the emotions, IV concerning human bondage and the
strength of the emotions, V concerning the understanding
and human freedom. The "Ethics" is made up of defini-
tions, illustrations, etc. Definition three' is "Substance is
that which is in itself and is conceived through itself." Hence
it follows that one substance can not produce another; exis-
tence belongs to the nature of substance; every substance is
necessarily infinite; substance is indivisible; substance ex-


cept God is inconceivable. There is therefore but one sub-
stance; there may be many things but only one substance
and this is infinite. There is one infinite, indivisible sub-
stance and that is God. The trouble is with the definition.
If we agree to his definition of substance we can easily agree
that there is but one substance and can call this God.

There are certain modes of conceiving God which
Spinoza thinks are wrong, e. g., the anthropomorphic way.
But we say that Spinoza's deterministic way of conceiving
God is pantheistic. He affirms that God is free, but makes
free mean necessary. Therefore his determinism is objec-
tionable," says Prof. FHnt. But the human will is deter-
mined by the character. A man acts in accordance with
his nature or character, and must do so if he is free. Deter-
mination according to character is of the essence of freedom
in man, and therefore it is so in God. Prop. 17. "God acts
solely by the laws of his own nature, and Is not constrained
by any one. Therefore there can be no cause extrinsic to
his own nature which compels him to act. There is nothing
in Spinoza's determinism which is against his Theism, and
we will therefore have to look further. "If intellect and will
appertain to the essence of God we must take them in a differ-
ent sense from our own ; they are only the same in name. There
is no more likeness between God's mind and man's mind than
between the constellation dog and the animal dog." Spinoza
says that God made man's intellect, and so the two intellects
are necessarily different. We are accustomed to reason the
other way: That which has nothing in common with another
thing can not be its cause. Whatever has intelligence and
will must have intelligence and will as its cause. Spinoza
simply meant that intelligence in God is not the same as in-
telligence in man. As to tlic divine nature lie may have been
a sincere worshipper of the one true and living God. and his
pantheism must be proved on otlier grounds.

Prop. 15. "Whatever is is in (jod and without God
nothing can l)e conceived. Dependent beings are modes
and not substance." Prop. 18. "He is the indwelling and


not the transient cause of all things." Prop. 24. "He is
not only the cause of all things coming into existence but of
their continuing in esixtence." God is efficient cause. All
things are predetermined by him by his nature. So far Spinoza
is all right. We must decide whether he is a pantheist by
saying that dependent beings are modes of the on(> substance,
God. The question is, does he make a -distinction between
natura naturans and natura naturata'i

What does God mean in Spinoza's vocabulary? "Natura
naturans is nature active, and natura naturata is nature pas-
sive or all that follows from the nature and attributes or modes
of attributes of God. Natura naturans is that which is in
iteslf and conceived through itself and those attributes of
substance which express infinite essence — in other words,
God." Now how do these two terms stand related? Are
natura naturans and natura naturata two different things, oi-
aife they two aspects of one and the same thing? The question
as to Spinoza's theism is inx'olvcd in the same answer to this

Spinoza says, "Substance and modes, or substance and
its modes, make up the sum total of existence." Finite beings,
such as men, are not substances, they may be modes. Spinoza
might have used substance and mode as we use creator and
creature and he would not then have been anti-theistic. We
do not identify God and matter. We might say that the
phenomenal world is a mode of God but we would not mean
by this that God and the world are identical.

Part II. Definition 1. "By body I mean the mode
which expresses the essence of God so that we conceive of
him as extended." Def. 2. "Essence is that which without
the thing and without which the thing can neither be nor
be conceived." "Attribute is that which the intellect per-
ceives 'as constitutmg the essence oi substance. E. g. generic
man; each man is a mode; mind and body are attributes.
Spinoza says that attributes are infinite and are two in number
— thought and extension. Tlu; human mind is part of the
infinite mind of God. As bodv is identified with the essence

nf^ ihM>vU^Jjl^ *-» ^w^.«-cy


of God in extension, so mind is identified with the essence of
God in thought. Natura noturans and natura naturata are
two aspects of the same thing. This is not theism or anything
hke it.

Spinoza says that the body is the embodiment of the
idea constituting the human mind. He aims to keep up the
parallehsm between body and mind but makes statements
which make body the source of mind. Man is both body and
mind; they are two aspects of the same thing; viewed as ex-
tension he is body, but viewed as thouglit he is mind. A
mode is that which expresses the essence of God. Here
Spinoza is bringing in his dual view of causation. He dis-
tinguishes between essence and existence. As to essence he
holds the doctrine of first causes but in mechanism — the con-
trolling power of the world's order — he says there is room
for second causes or causation as to particular existences.
Spinoza is neither a materialist or an idealist but there is a
stronger basis for the charge of idealism against him than of

Substance is and is one. All things which exist are modes.
God has cogitatio though not mind such as man has. When
man speaks and thinks God is speaking and thinking. Man
is not a separate soul but God. Man is the highest existence
form of God. This is Pantheism.

Spinoza's system: (1) Substance is and is one- — God.
(2) All things are modes of this one substance. (3) This does
not mean that substance and mode are related as creator
and creature. (4) There is a con)plet(> identification of natvra
nafnrans and natura naturata.

Is Spinoza a theist? Some say yes (1) because of his
use of the word God, (2) because he speaks strongly of in-
tellectual love of God, (3) because he teaches a personal im-


Online LibraryFrancis L. (Francis Landey) PattonSyllabus of lectures on the anti-theistic theories → online text (page 1 of 2)