Sixteen Lectures on the Proofs of the Existence of God - Along With Proof Amplifications

Sixteen Lectures on the Proofs of the Existence of God - Along With Proof Amplifications

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These Lectures are devoted to the consideration of the proofs of the existence of God. The occasion for them is this. I had at first to make up my mind to give only one set of lectures in this summer session on philosophical knowledge as a whole, and then afterwards I felt I would like to add a second set on at least one separate subject of knowledge. I have therefore chosen a subject which is connected with the other set of lectures which I gave on logic, and constitutes, not in substance, but in form, a kind of supplement to that set, inasmuch as it is concerned with only a particular aspect of the fundamental conceptions of logic. These lectures are therefore chiefly meant for those of my hearers who were present at the others, and to them they will be most easily intelligible.

But inasmuch as the task we have set ourselves is to consider the proofs of the existence of God, it would appear as if only one aspect of the matter belongs to the subject of logic, namely, the nature of proof. The other, again, the content, which is God Himself, belongs to a different sphere, that of religion, and to the consideration of it by thought, to the philosophy of religion. In point of fact, it is a portion of this branch of knowledge which has to be set apart and treated by itself in these lectures. In what follows it will more clearly be seen what relation this part bears to the entirety of the doctrine of religion; and further, that this doctrine in so far as it is scientific, and what belongs to the sphere of logic, do not fall outside one another to the extent that would appear from the first statement of our aim, and that what is logical does not constitute the merely formal side, but, in fact, occupies the very centre point of the content.

The first thing we encounter when we seek to make a beginning with the execution of our design is the general, and, so far as this design is concerned, repugnant, point of view of the prepossessions of present-day culture. If the object, God, is in itself capable of producing exaltation of mind by its very name, and of stirring our soul to its innermost depths, our lofty expectation may just as quickly die away when we reflect that it is the proofs of the existence of God with which we are about to concern ourselves. For the proofs of the existence of God are to such an extent fallen into discredit that they pass for something antiquated, belonging to the metaphysics of days gone by; a barren desert, out of which we have escaped and brought ourselves back to a living faith; the region of arid Understanding, out of which we have once more raised ourselves to the warm feeling of religion. The attempt to renovate, by means of new applications and artifices of an acute Understanding, those rotten props of our belief that there is a God, which have passed for proofs, or to improve the places which have become weak through attacks and counter-proofs, could of itself gain no favour merely by its good intention. For it is not this or that proof, or this or that form and way of putting it, that has lost its weight, but the very proving of religious truth has so much lost credit with the mode of thought peculiar to our time that the impossibility of such proof is already a generally accepted opinion. Nay more, it has come to be regarded as irreligious to place confidence in such reasoned knowledge, and to seek by such a path to reach a sure conviction regarding God and His nature, or even regarding His mere existence. This business of proof, therefore, is so much out of date, that the proofs themselves are barely even historically known here and there; and even to theologians, that is to say, people who desire to have a scientific acquaintance with religious truths, they are sometimes unknown.

The proofs of the existence of God have originated in the necessity of satisfying thought and reason. But this necessity has assumed, in modern culture, quite a different position from that which it had formerly, and those points of view must first of all be considered which have presented themselves in this reference. Yet since they are known in their general aspects, and this is not the place to follow them back to their foundations, we need only recall them, and, in fact, limit ourselves to the form which they assume within the sphere of Christianity. It is in this region that the conflict between faith and reason in Man himself first finds a basis, and that doubt enters his soul, and can reach the fearful height of depriving him of all peace. Thought must indeed touch the earlier religions of imagination, as we may shortly call them; it must turn itself with its opposite principles directly against their sensuous pictures and all else in them....

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013181311
Publisher: OGB
Publication date: 08/06/2011
Series: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , #3
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 372 KB

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