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he says, depend upon an ontological proof or postulate.
Every argument for every kind of reality presupposes that
we are in contact with ontological truth. c What is so con-
nected with our experience of reality that it is essential
to explain that experience is believed to be real.'

i Philosophy of Religion, vol. i. p. 309.

182 FAITH [CH,

The real force of the ontological argument lies 'n the
reasonable and stubbornly confident claim of the human
spirit to be in some sort of contact with the highe t reality.
The very conception of objective truth is most reasonably
accounted for by supposing it to be a ' revelation ' from
Him who is the truth. Whence comes our idea of God,
if not from God Himself ? Who else could have put it
there ? Since then we certainly have an idea of God, and
since only God can have put it into our minds, we may
infer that God exists. This argument was unfortunately
split into two halves in the scholastic period, and took the
following unsatisfactory form : (1) The idea of God implies
His existence ; (2) Our consciousness of God can only be
explained by an external divine revelation. Both these
are false, the former for the reasons already stated, and
the latter because the existence of an Absolute Spirit
could not be revealed in such a manner. But when we
say that God only can have implanted hi our minds the
thought of God, we are, it seems to me, using a good argu-
ment. We cannot get behind the conviction that * all
existence rests upon a Being the fountain of whose life is
within Himself ; we must ally the fugitive phenomena,
which colour the stream of life with ever-changing lives,
to an eternal and unchanging existence.' 1 It is impossible,
if we think honestly, to regard the conception of God as a
purely subjective development. * This conception, as
human reason has somehow succeeded in framing it, seems
to the same reason to demand the reality of God. ' 2

The cosmological argument, in its earliest form, as we
find it in Aristotle, concludes from the motion hi the world
to a first mover. Man is dissatisfied with the fragmentary
pictures which his experience of the world presents to him ;
he wants to find the ultimate causative principle. So he
arrives at the idea of a divine first cause. Against this

i Fichte.

9 Ldd, Philosophy of Religion, rol. ii. p. 50.


time-honoured argument Kant objected that it is useless
to search for cause beyond cause in the hope of finding the
beginning of the chain ; the law of causality is only valid
for the world of phenomena, and cannot lead us to a first
cause beyond the world. Also, we have no reason to seek
for any cause of the world outside itself.

We admit readily that the cosmological argument is no
longer acceptable hi its earlier deistic form, which separates
God from the world, and confines His action upon it to the
original act of creation. What the religious sense of our
day demands is not a Prime Mover but an immanent World-
ground. And the demand for an immanent guiding prin-
ciple, acting in accordance with fixed laws and with a
rational purpose, is itself the cosmological argument.
What gave us the idea of such a world ? What impels us
to find everywhere evidence of law and reason, to be
content when we have found them and dissatisfied until
we have done so, unless such is indeed the constitution of
the real world ? This is in substance the turn which
Lotze gives to this argument. The proof is not directed to
anything which belongs to the past, but is made to yield
an ever present energy as the source and ground of all
cosmical change and happening. 1

The Ideological argument, or argument from design, is
treated by Kant with much greater respect than the two
preceding * proofs.' He calls it the oldest, the clearest,
and the most rational of the proofs. Nevertheless it shares
the fate of the others that of being implicitly non-suited
before the trial begins. 2 It has a regulative, not a constitu-
tive value. It is a mere introduction to the ontological
proof, which he considers himself to have already disposed

The argument, as stated fairly enough by Kant, is as

1 Caldecott and Mackintosh, Selections from the Literature o/ Theism,
p. 206.
Ibid., p. 211.

184 FAITH [CH.

idlows. We observe in the world manifest signs of pur-
pose, executed with great wisdom, and existing over the
whole of its vast extent. This arrangement of means and
ends is entirely foreign to the things existing in the world.
The nature of things could not of itself tend towards
certain purposes ; they must have been chosen and
directed by some rational principle, in accordance with
certain fundamental ideas. There exists, therefore, a
sublime and wise cause, which is free and intelligent. Its
unity may be inferred from the harmony existing between
the parts of the world.

It is quite a mistake to suppose that Darwinism, or
modern science generally, has destroyed the teleological
argument. The naive teleology of Paley is no doubt to a
large extent discredited. It is an inner teleology a vast
network of final purposes continually working themselves
out in the inextricably complex processes of natural life
to which we are now directed. The very conception of
order and law, so far from contradicting the idea of pur-
pose, implies it. The appearance of mechanism is Just what
we ought to expect from a tremendous power operating
constantly and uniformly. What is really significant is
that in spite of this appearance of mechanism, in spite of
the enormous waste and apparent recklessness of Nature's
method, man cannot renounce the idea, nay, the conviction,
that an unceasing purpose runs through it all. It is per-
fectly true, as Kant says, that this drives us back upon the
ontological argument again. We have to face the objection
that this conviction may have a purely subjective origin.
But we have already conceded the righteous and reasonable
demand of Faith that when our whole personality will,
thought, and feeling tells us that we are in the presence
of objective truth and reality, we shall believe it.

' There are many proofs of God's existence, but no
demonstrations.' 1 Final postulates of thought are in-

Gwatkin, The Knowledge of God, vol. L p. 9.


capable of demonstration. They are hypotheses, which
may be said to be ' proved ' if they explain the facts. Some
hypotheses, however, are so inwrought with the very
texture of rational experience, that to deny them is to
destroy experience. Many have thought that we may
rest our certainty of God's existence on this ground, and in
a sense I agree : but this argument at best only leads
half-way to the God of religious Faith.

The history of the Aufkl'drung, and kindred movements
in other countries, is very instructive for a due apprecia-
tion of the results of pure intellectualism. If it takes the
form of rationalism, it tends to slide into naturalistic
pantheism. If it takes the form of speculative ideal-
ism, it tends to slide into idealistic pantheism. In
either case, its final state is to become a cosmological
theory, and to fall outside of religion properly so called.
A good example in England is John Toland, who in 1696 \
published his once famous book, Christianity not Mysteri-
ous, in which he argues that all the doctrines of Christi-
anity are in complete agreement with the religion of
reason,' that is, of educated common sense. ' All Faith
now in the world,' he writes, * is entirely built on ratiocina-
tion.' He does not reject revelation, but holds that
revealed doctrine, though we might not have discovered
it for ourselves, is now capable of being proved and veri-
fied by common sense. Orthodox Anglican rationalists,
like Tillotson and Paley, use much the same language, but
lay stress on miracles as signs offered to the understanding
in confirmation of the revelation. Tillotson, for instance,
says : ' Nothing ought to be received as a divine doctrine
and revelation, without good evidence that it is so : that
is, without some argument sufficient to satisfy a prudent
and considerate man.' l Again : ' Faith is an assent of the
mind to something revealed by God : now all assent must
be grounded upon evidence ; that is, no man can believe
1 Tillotson, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 260.

186 FAITH [CH.

anything, unless he have, or think he hath, some reason
to do so. For to be confident of a thing without reason
! is not Faith, but a presumptuous persuasion and obstinacy
of mind.' 1

It is worth while to contrast these utterances with St.
Paul's conception of evangelistic teaching. * My speech
and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom,
but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power ; that your
Faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the
power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among the per-
fect ; yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of
this world which are coming to nought : but we speak
God's wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath
been hidden, which God foreordained before the world
unto our glory.' 2 And again : ' By manifestation of
the truth commending ourselves to every man's con-
science in the sight of God.' 3 Few great religious
teachers have attached so much importance to mental
enlightenment as St. Paul. But he carefully distinguishes
the kind of ' knowledge ' which makes a man ' spiritual '
and capable of discerning spiritual truth, from the prudence
and worldly wisdom to which appeal was so frequently
made in the eighteenth century. The appeal of the Gospel
is not to the logical faculty purged from ' enthusiasm.'
That is a temper of mind which precludes acceptance of
the evidence which Faith brings with it, namely, what the
Apostle calls * demonstration of the Spirit and power.' It
is the peculiarity of revelation that it brings the mind into
contact with higher orders of reality and truth than are
accessible to worldly prudence and respectability ; and
these new experiences carry with them their own verifica-
tion in a new sense of power and spiritual vitality. It is
not too much to say that these eighteenth-century divines
had quite lost the true meaning of Faith. They regarded

1 Tillotson, Sermons, voL iv. p. 42.

1 Cor. ii. 4-7. 2 Cor. IT. 2.


it as ordinary knowledge or opinion concerned with divine
matters. But religious truth is not to be won in this
manner. Orthodox rationalism became more and more
dry and lifeless ; while some of its defenders, like Toland
himself, drifted into pantheistic naturalism, in which the
religious valuation of the world quite disappeared.

It is worth noticing how this type of rationalism some-
times shows its affinity with a cold, hard moralism, and
with utilitarianism in philosophy. When all the poetical
and imaginative side of religion is rigorously banished, the
religious sense, which is still not extinguished, may attach
itself firmly to conduct, and may give its sanction to a cool-
headed ambition to improve the outward conditions of
humanity. In this way many excellent men in the last
century found a worthy aim and an adequate task. We
must always think respectfully of the utilitarian movement
which grew out of eighteenth century rationalism.

If utilitarian rationalism may be claimed as a character-
istically English type, speculative idealism has been the
typical German product of intellectualism. With Leibnitz,
and the Aufklarung generally, Faith in a divine reason,
encompassing the world, and the ground of human reason,
had been the basis of belief that universally valid truth is
accessible to man. 1 Spinoza made this cosmic reason
immanent, so that it is not so much we who think, as God
who thinks in us ; and in order to think divinely, we need
only purify our souls from all personal interests and selfish
aims. But he never taught, like Kant, that our thought
is unrelated to objects existing outside itself. His error
was in placing this cosmic nature, which thinks in us, too
exclusively in intellectual activity. This limitation arose
from his great desire to win detachment from mundane
concerns, which seemed to him obstacles in the way of
cosmic consciousness. The loss involved in one-sided in-
tellectualism was disguised from himself by the mystical

1 Eucken, The Life of the Spirit (translated by Pogson), p. 309.

188 FAITH [CH.

and genuinely devout side of his own character, which
supplied motives and experiences quite alien to the purely
speculative nature of his philosophy. 1

With Fichte and Hegel the thought, which Kant had
severed from the world, became the workshop in which the
whole of reality is created. Thought produces contra-
dictions out of itself and overcomes them, until the whole
of existence has been embraced, transmuted, and assimil-
ated into one all-embracing, absolute harmony. For a
short time it was thought that this ambitious philosophy
had solved the ultimate problem. Then followed a reaction
which has threatened to sweep away the substantial
gams which these great thinkers really secured for human
thought. Their disciples in this country now adopt a
much more modest tone, as becomes those who are standing
on the defensive. A good example of this school is Princi-
pal Caird, who, in his Introduction to the Philosophy of
Religion, thus vindicates for intellect the place of honour
in religious Faith :

' It is no valid objection to the endeavour after a rational
knowledge of the contents of our religious belief, to say
that the primary organ of spiritual knowledge is not reason
but Faith. That we must begin with intuition is no reason
why we should not go on to scientific knowledge. The
spontaneous and the reflective tendencies may co-exist.
Granting that the act of spiritual apprehension is quite
different from intellectual assent, there is still a place left
for reason in the province of religion. The science of
acoustics is not meaningless because we can hear without
it. We act before we reflect ; and religion must exist
before it can be made the subject of reflective thought.
But in religion as in morality, art, and other spheres of
human activity, there is the underlying element of reason
which is the characteristic of all the activities of a self-
conscious intelligence. To endeavour to elicit and give

i Euckeii, The Life of the Spirit (translated by Pogson), p. 312.


objective clearness to that element to infuse into the
spontaneous and unsifted conceptions of religious experi-
ence the objective clearness, necessity, and organic unity
of thought is the legitimate aim of science, in religion as
in other spheres. It would be strange if in the highest of
all provinces of human experience, intelligence must
renounce her claim.

V * What then is the office of intelligence in religion ?
To purify our intuitions, which often deceive us. Truth
is indeed its own witness, but not all that seems to be true.
We need intellect in order to distinguish that which has
a right to dominate the mind from that which derives its
influence only from accident and association.}

' Moreover, it is the highest task of philosophy to justify
those paradoxes and seeming contradictions in which the
religious consciousness finds its natural expression. It
seeks to lead us to a higher point of view, from which these
seeming contradictions vanish.'

These extracts are not sufficient to make Caird's stand-
point clear. His Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
should be read carefully. He holds that Thought or self-
conscious Mind is the only category under which the
Infinite can be conceived by us. ' All other categories
are still categories of the finite.' He agrees with the
Intuitivists that religion enables us to rise from the
finite to the infinite, and to find the ideal become real. 1 But
he considers that feeling, taken at its face value, gives us
no sure foundation. We still have to inquire, Is it true ?
And to this question thought alone can give an answer.
Intuitive knowledge which professes to answer this question
is not really intuitive or immediate, but inferential, and
it is safer to recognise it for what it is.

Edward Caird's philosophy, though further from ortho-
dox Christianity, at any rate in tone, is very similar to his
brother's. He is equally confident that the right use of

1 Caldecott, Philosophy of Religion, p. 149.

190 FAITH [CH.

reason must lead us to religion. He rejects the Ritschlian
value-judgment theory, as luring us into the acceptance of
the theoretically false hi the guise of the practically true. 1
The mystics, he thinks, are only wrong in being hi too great
a hurry. The patient processes of thought would give
them all that they are eager to snatch.

A particularly good and illuminating discussion of the
present attitude of reflective thought towards religion, or
rather, I should say, of religion and psychology towards
reflective thought, may be found in the Hibbert Journal
for 1903, in two articles by Professor Henry Jones, of
Glasgow. He observes that our possession of the rich
inheritance which the nineteenth century has transmitted
to us its store of scientific knowledge and spiritual
interests is threatened by the scepticism which doubts,
or even denies, that intellectual inquiry can have any real
value in precisely those matters which are best worth
knowing. No generation has ever employed intelligence
more, or trusted it less, than our own. And yet, as he goes
on to say, this is not really a sceptical age. Outside the
province of epistemology, which investigates the sources
and limits of knowledge, there is no disposition on the part
of scientific men to defer to ' authority,' as Mr. Balfour
would have us do, nor to appeal to immediate assurance,
or direct intuition, or the feelings of the heart, instead of to
free inquiry, guided only by observation and reason. In
all branches of science alike, we find the same conviction
of the uniformity of nature and the universality of law.
Nor does this faith in the methods of science lead to scep-
ticism hi morals and religion. This is an age which believes in
God, and in the distinction of right and wrong, as grounded
in the nature of things. Our great poets, who are the best
representatives of the deeper thought of our time, are pro-
foundly convinced that the spiritual life of man is based on
solid foundations. And yet, among professed philosophers,

i Caldecott, Philosophy of Religion, p. 152.


the tide of anti-intellectualism runs very strong. The
tendency to give the will supremacy over the speculative
intellect, and to interpret the world in terms of human pur-
pose, induces philosophers to use language which if accepted
in the world of science would make all science impossible.
They assert real discontinuities, uncaused beginnings, and
non-logical occurrences in the objective world. Such views
are calmly ignored by the scientists ; but they are introduc-
ing great confusion and perplexity into religious and philo-
sophical thought. Professor Jones maintains that since
both reason and religion claim dominion over the whole realm
of man's nature, to attempt to temporise between them
is to be disloyal to both. There can be no delimitation
of frontiers where both claimants think they have a right
to the whole territory in dispute. And, as he adds, surely
with truth, * No age of the world was ever strong except
when Faith and reason went hand hi hand, and when man's
practical ideals were also his surest truths.' The contra-
diction, if there is one, between the heart and intellect
has somehow to be worked out. The religious and the
intellectual spirit of the age are both sincere, and therefore
somewhat intolerant. ' There are some things on which
the world does not go back, and the right to seek the truth
is among the number. The intellectual ardour of the world
cannot be damped, far less extinguished, by any theory,
blindly advanced in the service of religion, of the radical
insecurity of knowledge, or of the incompetence and un-
trustworthiness of human reason.'

Professor Jones than proceeds to define the issue by an
observation which penetrates to the heart of the problem.
The standpoint of modern scientific thought is cosmo-
centric ; that of the new psychology is frankly anthropo-
centric. ' Instead of explaining nature from the being
of man,' says a scientific writer, 'we follow the reverse
process, and seek to understand human life from the general
laws of nature.' On the other hand the pragmatists have

192 FAITH [CH.

revived the ancient maxim that c man is the measure of all

Now I must own that my own sympathies are with those
who hold the cosmocentric view. ' The conception of
reality,' says Professor Jones, ' as a single system, in which
man occupies his own irrevocable place, has come to stay.
To give it up would be to give up philosophy as well as
science, and reasoning as well as philosophy.' If the
world is * wild,' as Professor James thinks, we ought to
give up thinking ; for connected thought about a dis-
connected world must be false. But modern thought can
never commit suicide in this fashion. That nature and
man are in some way continuous, that man is what he is
only in virtue of his ontological relation to the world, apart
from which he can have neither being nor meaning, is no
longer questionable. And yet, so great is the fear en-
gendered by the conception of a cosmos which shuts man
up in an iron framework, that we find Lotze reducing
natural laws to mere conceptual generalisations, not
representing facts in the outer world ; we find Eitschlians
warning the intelligence from the domain of religion, thus
opening the door wide for any superstition ; we find
Professor James and his followers constructing the universe
of enigmatical atoms dignified by the name of persons,
and rushing into polytheism.

I have already explained what is the real motive of the
attacks upon the intellectual side of our nature which are
now so frequently heard. A positive dislike is felt to-
wards the attempt to establish a systematic coherence in
the world of experience. It is hoped that the attempt may
fail. We are told that there is no such universal system,
but only finite particular facts and events. /Man, we are
reminded, is wider than mere intellect. His moral and
religious life falls outside the schematism of the intelligence.
It deals with facts ' of another order.'

This last argument I believe to be false and dangerous.


We cannot set up an order of facts which shall be outside
the whole intellectual realm. The sphere of the intelli-
gence is not limited in the sense that there are provinces
of reality which it cannot touch. No doubt there are many
things which we do not know. The world as we know it is not
a complete system, and, since all reality is interdependent,
no object within it is completely known. But this admission
does not oblige us to parcel out the kingdom of truth into
several ' orders,' each under the charge of one of our
faculties. We have already seen what havoc results from
maintaining these rifts within our mental life. J

The function of thought is not to invent generalisations
and fabricate connecting links. The underlying unity is
there already. It is utterly impossible to regard the
particular facts as objectively real, and the laws and
principles which connect and regulate them as having only
a subjective significance. ' Mere ideas ' cannot bind to-
gether ' real objects.' Or if the particulars also are re-
garded as merely subjective, everything disappears at
once into dreamland. Nothing can be proved false if
nothing is taken as true. The sceptic cannot throw his
opponent if his own feet are in the air.

It seems therefore that a denial of the Absolute means a
denial of the relative as well, and that unless we believe
that reality is a coherent system, we can say nothing
about the particular existences, which ex hypothesi are
intrinsically unintelligible.

The pursuit of the Absolute is no invention of the arro-
gant * intellectualist.' It is a fact that man always has pur-
sued the truth, the good, and trusted in a God, who gathers
into Himself all the perfections that man is able to conceive.
Religion is always a theory of reality. It cannot be sep-
arated from the ontological consciousness. Man does pur-
sue absolute ideals, however well he may know that they
are never fully attained in his life and action ; and in
this pursuit his life and his activity consist. He cannot

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Online LibraryWilliam Ralph IngeFaith and its psychology → online text (page 16 of 21)