The Existence of God.

A Dialogue.

In Three Chapters.


Richard F. Clarke, S.J.,

Formerly Fellow and Tutor of St. John's College, Oxford.




Chapter I. -- The Proof from Reason

Introduction. Inadequacy of many arguments in favour of Theism. The argument from Consciousness an invalid one. Fundamental scepticism of Mill and Hamilton. The proof of Theism sufficient but not resistless. Moral hindrances to its acceptance, viz., the indulgence of the passions, and pride. Growth of the idea of God in children.

1. Argument from Design. Often exaggerated. It proves a wise designer, but not an all-wise Creator. Imperfections in the universe. Their explanation.

2. Argument from Causation. Proves irrefragably the existence of a First Cause, independent, self-existent, Infinite, combining all the perfections in the universe. Difficulties -- (a) God cannot contain material perfections. (b) A cause does not necessarily comprise all the perfections of its effect. (c) Primeval force may have produced all things. (d) God cannot be a Person, for personality implies limitation. Replies. Summary of argument.

Chapter II. -- Subsidiary Arguments

Struggle in the mind of the sceptic.

3. Argument from the Moral Law. Can conscience be accounted for on utilitarian grounds? Difficulty of urging the moral argument against the sceptic. Its limits. It confirms and establishes the belief already derived from other sources. Is conclusive rather than convincing.

4. Argument from general consent of mankind. Not in itself a peremptory argument. Is often set aside by sceptics on insufficient grounds. Is calculated to strengthen belief rather than to produce it. Theism strong by reason of the moral strength of its supporters, and the moral weakness and degradation of its adversaries.

Summary. Is there a natural order in the various arguments for God's existence?

Chapter III. -- Popular Difficulties

Further struggle in the mind of the sceptic.

Objections to Theism -

(1) The limited nature of God's mercy.

Reply -- It is so from the very nature of things, and could not be otherwise, and besides, we do not see its full extent.

(2) The injustice of eternal punishment for a momentary action. Reply -- A momentary action often has irreparable consequences, e.g. suicide.

(3) A merciful God could not create Hell.

Reply -- Is it true that God creates Hell? The chief agony of Hell not the fire. How can this fire affect the immaterial soul? Explanation. Is Hell a state or a place? Literal significance of the terms respecting Hell.

(4) The misery of this life, often suffered by the innocent.

Reply -- It is transitory in character. It vanishes when compared with eternity. It adds to the happiness hereafter, and this for ever.

(5) The creation of those whom God foresaw would be lost.

Reply -- God's actions done because good in themselves, apart from their indirect results. Consequences apparently evil arise from some interposing cause. General results of Divine action always good. In what sense do the lost manifest the glory of God?

Effect of the arguments on the sceptic. Conclusion.

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