He Who Is: A Study in Traditional Theism

By E. L. B. D. Mascall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
EXPERIENCE AND REVELATION

WHY do we believe God exists? This is an extraordinarily difficult question to answer, for several reasons. In the first place, it depends very much upon us. It may quite well be the case that no two people have come to believe in God in precisely the same way, and that no two people would give exactly the same set of reasons to justify their belief. But this does not mean that their reasons are necessarily unsound, for there may be quite a number of different arguments leading to a particular conclusion and all of them may be perfectly valid. If, however, we try to set up a body of argument which we feel would convince a perfectly reasonable man, we shall probably lay ourselves open to the charge of artificiality. For the perfectly Reasonable Man is as much an abstraction as is the Economic Man or the Average Man, as Mr. A. P. Herbert has amusingly demonstrated in one of his "Misleading Cases." "Devoid, in short, of any human weakness, with not one saving vice, sans prejudice, procrastination, ill-nature, avarice, and absence of mind, as careful for his own safety as he is for that of others, this excellent but odious character," said Mr. Justice Marrow, "stands like a monument in our Courts of Justice, vainly appealing to his fellow-citizens to order their lives after his own example. . . . All solid virtues are his, save only that peculiar quality by which the affection of other men is won." And, in fact, he is a myth.

As a matter of experience, most Christians have acquired their belief in the existence of God in extremely elaborate ways, which have varied widely from case to case, and which it is most difficult to disentangle into their component parts in such a way as to display a logical and coherent argument. This is not, however, as discreditable to Christian belief as it might seem. For the same thing is true about almost all the beliefs by which our lives from day to day are governed. Very few married men, for example, could give a perfectly watertight answer to the question, "How do you know that your wife really loves you?" Presumably, in most instances, if he was really forced to it, a man could put up some sort of case for the fidelity of the lady in question, but it is very

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He Who Is: A Study in Traditional Theism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Preface vii
  • ERRATA. xiv
  • Chapter I - INTRODUCTION 1
  • Chapter II - THE MEANING OF "GOD" 8
  • Chapter III - EXPERIENCE AND REVELATION 14
  • Chapter IV - THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH 30
  • Chapter V - THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH 40
  • Chapter VI - THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH 57
  • Chapter VII - INTELLECT AND INTUITION 83
  • Chapter VIII - GOD AND THE WORLD: ANALOGIA ENTIS 95
  • Chapter IX - THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES 116
  • Chapter X - TRANSCENDENCE AND IMMANENCE 126
  • Chapter XI - THE COSMOLOGY OF WHITEHEAD 150
  • Chapter XII - THE COSMIC TELEOLOGY OF TENNANT 161
  • Chapter XIII - CONCLUSION 191
  • Bibliography 200
  • Index 208
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