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It is proper to observe that though the theistic arguments have usually been cast into the foregoing types, the evidences in themselves are much more numerous, and, indeed, are capable of receiving an almost infinite diversity of form. For every part and point in nature, thousands on thousands, offers some peculiar reality that demands God for its explanation. The single existence of life, appearing after the azoic period of geology, is inexplicable without the living God, having "life" in
" Himself. The existence of the human mind, in itself, makes sure the existence of a creative Mind. The order and laws of the heavenly bodies give us an impressive astronomical argument. The science of numbers, being but the necessary product of possible relations in time and space, when applied to the size, orbits, distances, and periods in celestial and earthly systems, furnishes a striking mathematical argument, illustrating the geo metrizing work of the Great Author of nature. So, from other special sections of creation. There is hardly a point to which we can turn our eyes that does not offer its plea for God. The full theistic proof is, therefore, almost infinitely cumulative, consisting of the consilience of all the myriad lines of evidence from the seemingly illimitable universe. In view of it all we may justly claim that if there is any one truth in the world invincibly assured, it is that of the being of God.
It is well here, in view of this overwhelming adequacy of the proof, to point out the inadvisability of invoking three or four forms, often offered, whose validity cannot fairly be accepted. We should set them aside.
(a) The claim that God is known by direct consciousness. Only the confusion of loose and mystical terminology can accept this. In large measure it is connected
with a monistic pantheism which identifies the divine
how the idea or knowledge was given to consciousness. Consciousness is not the discoverer of knowledge or the creator of ideas, but only the inner vision in which men are aware of the ideas and knowledge which the apprehending and rational faculties perceive and present to it. The idea of God comes into consciousness only through the idea-forming faculties of the mind, as awakened to thought by the phenomena of the world and the experiences of life, and as the reason acts in turning the idea into belief. And it is remarkable that the writers who urge this direct“ God-consciousness," nevertheless, when attempting an account of it, proceed to offer only suggestions that correspond to no known laws or capacities of the mind and mystify by inapplicable phraseology." The whole method so transcends or inverts psychology and allies itself with semi-pantheistic mysticisms as to bring doubt instead of certainty into the theistic proof.
This criticism of the claim in this relation is not meant to be understood as at all questioning the truth that the Christian believer, after he has been made to know God through His message of revelation and grace and has been brought into a state of fellowship, prayer, and service, may have such conscious experiences of illumination, regeneration, spiritual life, and help, through the divine word, as shall become certification, even the strongest, both of the being and love of God. But all this is an experience, with a consciousness of it, which is the effect of obedience to precedent knowledge reached by the intelligence.
(6) The assertion of an immediate intuition of God. However evident the divine existence may become under
· For illustration, "The Grounds of Theistic and Christian Belief," Dr. G. P. Fisher, pp. 28-31.
proper showing, it is not self-evident. It is not a truth seen to be clear in the simple terms of its statement. Even the ontological argument does not claim that it is so; else no argument would be used-none would be needed. If men stood face to face with God, perceiving Him directly in immediate vision, the whole history of this effort to certify His existence to reason would be inexplicable. There are, indeed, various a priori elements involved in the apprehension of God, such as the intuitions of Causality, Infinity, Self-existence, Time, and Space, but these alone, and simply as intuitions, are neither the concept of God nor of the existence of God. They are simply the material out of which, in connection with our knowledge of the facts of external nature, the judgments of the reason may affirm the existence of God to be necessary.
A combination of both intuitional and experiential elements is involved. The very idea of God is built up cumulatively, and the certification, “God exists,” stands only as a conclusion from the premises.
(c) The notion of knowing God by an immediate feel ing of Him. Though the absurdity of this notion renders it unworthy of notice, the frequent repetition of it calls for a word of repudiation. Psychology makes no truth plainer than that feeling or emotion, i. e., the action of the mental sensibilities, depends and waits on knowing, and that a man feels, or can feel, only in so far as he perceives or knows something that excites feeling. Simple feeling, without knowing, is a purely imaginary and really impossible experience. To put it in the forefront as a direct apprehension of God only illustrates the nonsense which good men sometimes substitute for legitimate evidence.
(d) The agnostic allegation that the divine existence is wholly a matter of faith—faith as distinguished from knowledge, and instead of it. Led by false metaphysics many writers have declared that God cannot be known by the finite mind. Some of them claim that we should yet believe in Him. Holding that His being lies wholly beyond our knowledge, that we can know neither that He is or what He is, they claim that we can and ought to apprehend Him by faith. Despite endorsement by great names, this view is utterly misleading. It entirely misconceives the real relation between knowledge and faith. A mere belief, without a reason or knowledge to warrant it, is arbitrary, and rests on nothing. Faith always requires some knowledge or evidence to justify it. This evidence must precede, to beget faith. Belief, unsupported by reason, resting only on and in itself, without warrant and not implied by real knowledge, is irrational and without authority. The real relation between faith and knowledge is that faith attends and blends with knowledge. In all human thinking1.g., in sense-perception, by which we know external objects, or in memory, in which we know again past events, we cannot prove the truths involved, but must rest on faith in our faculties, and depend for certitude on their trustworthiness. But we clearly observe that faith arises only in our knowing, and attends it. The knowing is the initial, primary, basal point in the mind's action. This faith in our knowing, or warranted by it, is always a very different thing from the so-called faith which it is proposed to substitute for knowledge, where knowledge is declared impossible. True faith moves on the certification of knowledge—because we are to live as intelligent beings, children of light and the day.