« AnteriorContinuar »
concerning God, since none is more fitted to exert a fructifying and far - reaching influence along the lines of theological thought, giving character to the whole system.
We may here note that recent Christian thought has, in our view, inclined to attach less importance to the results of inquiry as to whether or not tribes occur without traces of theology, in which we deem it on better track, since a negative determination of the question by actual observation could not, on any just and careful view, seriously affect theological truth.
While the so-called proofs for the Being of God have, since Kant; sunk to the position of being regarded as more of the nature of confirmations of the idea of God when already in the mind than independent proofs of the existence of Deity, it has been gain to modern theology that they have come to be viewed as organically related, being, in fact, constitutive elements of one grand comprehensive whole of argument, and that theistic thought has risen to nobler effort at call of a one-sided and self-destructive Agnosticism. The Cosmological argument has been seen, it is supposed, to give a merely negative result, and to be nowise capable of yielding an infinite or absolute cause. “This proof,” says Lotze, “cannot of itself attain to the religious conception of a God, but only to the metaphysical conception of an Unconditioned. And it is not even able to establish the unity of this Unconditioned.” It has to be said that Christian theology, waking from its dogmatic slumbers, has freely recognised that the First Cause of the Cosmological argument was confessedly not the ceaselessly active Ground of the World, and the continuously present Governor of all things, but simply the Primum Movens, the First Cause in respect of time ; and has acknowledged the merely negative or indirect character of the cosmological proof, that in its endless regress of finite causes an infinite Being, who is causa sui, never can be reached, and that it is inadequate to yield an infinite and necessary Being. It has acknowledged the validity of the objection expressly taken by Kant to the transition sought to be effected, in the Cosmological argument, through the category of cause, from the
sphere of experience to a realm transcending “the world of sense,” and of the declared defect of the argument a contingentia mundi in its reaching the Infinite merely by negation of the finite.
But, while this is true of the causal argument as a syllogistic demonstration, the infinite not being derivable from the process, it does not seem too much to say that Christian theology has perceived that there is more in the principle of causation as demanded by reason than has in the logical process received explication, and that it has not branded the pursuit of a first or ultimate cause, in answer to the demand of intelligence for a resting-point in the regression of the conditional, as irrational: it has not seen the idea of God itself refuted, but only the particular form in which that idea was presented : it has not discovered any invalidity in the synthetic movement whereby thought seeks a unity to which the finite and the contingent may be referred : it has not shrunk from asking whether it may not infer, seeing that will is the one true cause, knowledge of which is ours, not only causation in God, the self-related Causality, but also an Infinite Will as the necessary fundamental Cause of all things : it has not granted that, if there be postulated an Absolute Cause, a Causa sui, freewill and free personal Being, which the whole material plus rational phenomena of the universe, included in the sweep of causation, presuppose in their ultimate source, are not involved, and it has not believed the last word to have been uttered on this subject. The futility of the endeavour, we may add, to set aside as a gratuitous hypothesis the doctrine of a First Cause, as that has recently been made on grounds of physical science and not on metaphysical grounds, Christian thought has shown in the way it has declared its inability, in the very light supplied by the scientific theory of force, to dismiss the doctrine of a First Cause, incomplete as such a bare and blank conception admittedly is, but not for that reason unessential.
The Teleological argument has been shown to give a merely external Designer, with only an arbitrary exercise of His will and power in creation, until this earth of grim conflict and strange
anomaly may no longer say for itself what Dante put into the lips of the city of woe
“Fecemi la divina potestate,
It gives, not a creator of matter, but only, as Kant showed, a world-architect; and further, one not, strictly speaking, infinite, since creation is finite. This proof has been declared “destitute of all demonstrative force.” 2 Syllogistically considered, the design argument has been taken by Christian theology to be open to the objections urged by Kant, following in the wake of Hume, against it, infinity in the conclusion of the argument not being derivable from the world's finite designs. It deserves to be better remembered, however, that the special function of the argument was to prove intelligence in the First Cause. Then it seems right to say that while recent advances in science have modified our uncritical anthropomorphic notions of the Designer's mode
i Dante, “Inferno,” iii. As Plumptre puts it
“The power of God it was that fashioned me,
Wisdom supreme, and primal charity.”
Vide also his Philosophy of
2 Lotze, Microcosmus, ut supra. Religion.