The Wrestle of Religion with Truth

By Henry Nelson Wieman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
RELIGIOUS TEST OF THIS CONCEPT

We are now prepared to consider the most important question in this discussion of the concept of God: On what grounds, if any, is Whitehead justified in identifying God with this principle of concretion? What criteria can we use to test the adequacy of any concept of God? There are three tests we would apply: (1) Does the concept designate that something in all being upon which human life must depend and to which humans must adjust, in order to attain the greatest possibilities of good and escape the greatest possibilities of evil? (2) Does it deal adequately with the problem of evil? (3) Is it true to religious experience?

The principle of concretion seems to meet the first test. The greatest good, the best life, is that joy and mastery, appreciation and efficiency, which reach their highest point when one is adaptive and responsive to, and so prehensive of, the widest and fullest range of all being. If we want to put it in biological terms, it is that life in which the organism interacts most intimately, most extensively and most continuously with its total environment through adequate operation of mind and body. It is that life in which there is most sensitivity to the fulness of the world about us, most far-reaching adaptation to it, most appreciation and understanding of it. Such a life is attainable only as we avail ourselves of that order of all being which sustains and pro

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