THE primary purpose of this book is purely academic. It is an attempt to restate and reassess the traditional Christian approach to the fundamental question of natural theology, namely the question of the existence of God and of his relation to the world, and then, in the light of the conclusions arrived at, to examine some important allied problems and to review some of the more notable discussions of natural theology of recent years.
But, from the very nature of the case, a secondary purpose is inevitably involved of a very practical kind. For it is altogether impossible, unless one has achieved a quite inhuman degree of intellectual detachment, to ignore the tremendous repercussions which one's intellectual convictions about the existence of God and his relation to his creatures are bound to have upon the very deepest levels of one's personal life. And, if anything is clear about the predicament in which man finds himself at the present day, it is that, both in its individual and in its corporate aspects, human action is profoundly influenced by the assumptions which men make about the nature of ultimate reality. In the realm of individual piety this is too obvious to need remark, but in the corporate realm it is hardly less evident. I would advise anyone who has doubts about it to study such a penetrating discussion of the influence of ideas upon society as that which is given by Dr. Demant in his book The Religious Prospect, or even merely to refer to the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf and then consider the state of Europe to-day. And all the time that I have been writing this book the thoroughly practical implications of its subject have never been far from my mind. I have, however, tried to resist temptations to digress from the main theme, and I offer it simply as an essay in the basic problem of natural theology.
I have described this book as "A Study in Traditional Theism," and in view of this and of the frequency with which the word "traditional" occurs in it, the use which is made of the term may seem to demand both definition and justification. I mean by traditional theism the doctrine about God and the universe which, deriving from the impact made upon the Græco-Roman world by