Principles of Natural Theology / by George Hayward Joyce, S.J.

Chapter V. Proofs of the Existence of God (iii. Moral arguments).

  1. Argument from Conscience.
  2. Argument from the Desire of Happiness.
  3. Argument from Universal Consent.

1. Argument from conscience. Since man is possessed of intelligence, he recognizes that certain actions are conformable to his rational nature and that others are at variance with it. He sees, for instance, that gluttony, cruelty, lust, and the infringement of the rights of others, are contrary to the order of reason: that in so far as a man allows the lower part of his nature, his passions, to dominate him, or disregards the law of justice which bids him give to each his due, he is doing violence to that element in him which makes him a man. In other words, these actions are evil, and, contrariwise, temperance, kindness, continence, and justice, are good. And this distinction between good and evil has regard purely to our nature as moral agents: it is entirely irrespective of any question as to whether the act results in a balance of pleasure or of pain. Those acts are good which befit us as rational beings: those are evil which are repugnant to our nature in this respect. The supreme rule of conduct is to do what is morally good and avoid all that is morally evil. The ethical standard thus imposed is clear enough as regards its broad outlines. All men can see sufficiently for the general direction of life what acts are conformable to reason and what are not. The primary precepts of the moral law, as the Scholastic philosophers said, do not admit of mistake. It is, of course, the case that on points of detail there will be numerous differences of opinion. Problems of this kind are bound to arise, since it is frequently no easy matter to judge of the application of a general principle to a particular case. All will own that obedience to lawful authority is ethically right. But the precise limits within which obedience is due alike as regards the state and as regards the family in this or that individual instance may be an extremely delicate point to settle. Sometimes, too, it happens that what once was a right action ceases to be so owing to change of circumstances. Thus it comes about that what was universally recognized as a duty is afterwards viewed as a breach of the moral law. Moreover, occasionally the force of custom is so strong that great numbers of men form an erroneous judgment on some matter which to the unprejudiced mind is plain enough. The Chinaman who commits infanticide may do so without realizing that the act is evil. But difficulties and discrepancies such as these do not alter the broad fact on which we are insisting, that all men without exception can and do distinguish between moral good and moral evil. Were a man incapable of distinguishing these, he would have no just claim to the name of man, for he would be destitute of that light of reason which is man's prerogative above the brutes.

It is, further, a patent fact not admitting of denial or question that men feel the moral law to be obligatory. They recognize it as a force which binds them. Its prescriptions are no mere norm for the realization of life at its best. They come as authoritative commands: and to slight those commands is to fail in a duty which we owe. If we act thus, we are conscious that retributive justice pronounces us deserving of punishment. Necessity is a primary characteristic of the moral law. The meaning of this word should be carefully weighed. The necessary is that which must be. We sometimes speak of physical laws as necessary. Yet it may be questioned whether we are justified in using the term in their regard. The mind does not recognize any reason in the nature of things why such and such an antecedent must be followed by such and such a consequent. Experience shews us that the fact is so, not that it must be so. On the other hand, mathematical relations are necessary: the square on the hypotenuse must be equal to the squares on the containing sides. But the necessity with which we are concerned is not mathematical: it is moral. It signifies that our will is bound by an obligation which is not conditional but absolute: that we have no choice in the matter: that no alternative course is open, which we are free to adopt if we will. It declares that we are face to face, not with a counsel, but with a command.

This sense of moral obligation cannot be resolved into a perception of expediency, notwithstanding that many have sought so to explain it. In England, Mill and Spencer, though differing on many points, were at one on this, that the sole basis of morality is expediency: that the moral law is simply the generalized result of what experience has shewn to be conducive to the public utility. Right, they held, is not absolute but relative. It is determined by the needs of the species, which are essentially variable: of no action whatever can it be affirmed that it is essentially and unalterably evil or good. Such an explanation of the moral ]aw is manifestly inadequate, inasmuch as it wholly fails to account for that binding force which is its essential characteristic. Obligation and expediency are incommensurables: the one cannot be reduced to the other. That an act will in the long run contribute to the material welfare of the community is certainly a reasonable motive of action. It is not, and can never be, an obligation -- an absolute imperative with power to bind my will. Expediency affords no account of the word 'ought.' The conviction expressed when we acknowledge that we ought to do this or that, could never spring from that source. It cannot give it, for it has not got it to give.

Law implies a lawgiver. We cannot have a command without a superior who issues the command. It is true that Kant declared the reason to be autonomous, and maintained that its precepts must be self-imposed. He contended that unless they were regarded in this light, they lacked the essential quality of moral laws: that to treat them as commands coming from an external source, was to deprive them of their moral character. But, though many writers have adopted his views on this point unquestioningly, the position is altogether untenable. There can be no obligation where there are not two persons concerned -- a superior having authority and a subject who owes obedience to his commands. No man can impose a law upon himself. For law binds the will: and so long as no superior authority commands us, we remain at liberty to choose either alternative. I cannot owe a debt to myself. If the moral law binds us, as we know that it does, this can only be because it comes to us from one who can claim the duty of obedience from us. An essential note of morality is lacking unless we recognize that the command is imposed by an external authority, and yield obedience to it as such.

This is not to say that the moral law is arbitrary. We have seen that it is not so: that it is revealed to us by reason as the rule of life involved in our rational nature. It is natural law. But only if there be an authority who commands me to observe the natural order, does it acquire the character of law.

If, then, we ask who it is who thus commands, there can be but one answer. The moral law, as we have seen, has the note of necessity. The authority who imposes it must then be final. Only when a command issues from the supreme and ultimate authority is it in the strict sense necessary. The lawgiver who commands me is, then, the source and fountain of morality, the supreme arbiter of right and wrong. But He who possesses these attributes is God.

The proof which we have here sought to enforce, is finely expressed by Butler, in language every phrase of which bears witness to his conviction of the force of the argument. His words are all the more weighty, since no point of style is more characteristic of this great thinker than his cautious accuracy of statement and his care to avoid aught that savours of rhetorical exaggeration.

"There is," he writes, "a principle of reflection or conscience in every man, which distinguishes between the internal principles of his heart, as well as his external actions: which passes judgment upon himself and them; pronounces determinately some actions to be in themselves just, right, good; others to be in themselves evil, wrong, unjust: which without being consulted, without being advised with, magisterially exerts itself, and approves or condemns him the doer of them accordingly: and which, if not forcibly stopped, naturally and always, of course, goes on to anticipate a higher and more effectual sentence, which shall hereafter second and affirm its own."{1}

It has sometimes been urged that it is impossible to feel the sense of obligation before we are aware of a lawgiver: that no man can recognize that he owes the duty of obedience, unless he already knows for certain that someone makes this claim upon him. The argument, it is contended, which professes to prove the existence of God from the consciousness of obligation is manifestly fallacious: the conclusion is presupposed in the premisses. We imagine we are demonstrating God's existence, whereas it is really assumed without proof. The objection has, it is true, a prima facie speciousness; but this is all. It amounts to no more than that it is not easy to see how the sense of obligation can arise: it is wholly a priori. On the other hand, we have but to appeal to our own experience to convince ourselves that in point of fact the sense of obligation arises spontaneously in the mind so as to afford us the basis of a legitimate argument for the existence of a lawgiver. When faced with the alternatives of right and wrong, we are immediately aware that we ought to choose the right. And this consciousness of duty owed is attested no less unmistakably by the character of the feelings which are consequent upon our actions. A breach of the moral law arouses in us certain affections of the mind such as shame, self-reproach, remorse which necessarily involve the presence of obligation. Cardinal Newman, when dealing with this argument in The Grammar of Assent, has given an admirable description of the emotions occasioned by the commission of some evil act in one whose moral sense is not yet blunted by wrongdoing. He writes: "No fear is felt by anyone who recognizes that his conduct has not been beautiful, though he may be mortified at himself, if perhaps he has thereby forfeited some advantage; but if he has been betrayed into any act of immorality, he has a lively sense of responsibility and guilt, though the act be no offence against Society -- of distress and apprehension, even though it may be of present service to him -- of compunction and regret, though in itself it be most pleasurable -- of confusion of face though it may have no witnesses. These various perturbations of mind, which are characteristic of a bad conscience, and may be very considerable -- self-reproach, poignant shame, haunting remorse, chill dismay at the prospect of the future -- and their contraries when the conscience is good, as real though less forcible, self-approval, inward peace, lightness of heart, and the like -- constitute a generic difference between conscience and our other intellectual senses" (p. 105). The value of this argument is strikingly attested by the great writers of classical antiquity. Not a few of these affirm, as beyond all possibility of question, the existence of a law, rooted in the very nature of man, immutable, universal in its obligation, and independent of all human authority. No earthly ruler, however absolute his sway, has, they declare, the power to change or override what this law prescribes, for it is divine in origin, and is imposed upon us by God Himself. Lactantius has preserved for us a passage from Cicero's lost work, De Republica, which is, perhaps, the most remarkable of these. It runs as follows:

"There is a true law, right reason, consonant to nature, coextensive with the race of man, unchanging and eternal. . . . It is not allowed us to make any alteration in that law: we may not take away any least portion of it: nor can we repeal it as a whole. Neither senate nor people have power to release us from our obligation in its regard. We need not search for some one to explain or interpret it. We shall not find one law at Rome, another at Athens: one now, another hereafter; but that law, one, everlasting and immutable, is binding on all races and at all times: and there is one common Master and Lord of all, God. He it is who drew up this law, determined its provisions, and promulgated it."{2}

Yet our claim that man cannot fail to refer the moral law to a Divine authority, is not allowed to pass unchallenged. Appeal is made to the notions prevalent among uncivilized and barbarous races as, e.g., the Australian aborigines. More is to be learnt, it is contended, from these backward peoples than from civilized man, since they exhibit human nature in its primitive condition. We are assured by certain anthropologists that amongst these races morality is merely tribal custom, and that it is destitute of supernatural sanction. Thus Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, speaking of the precepts forming the moral code of the tribes which they describe, declare that "in no case whatever are they supposed to have the sanction of a supernatural authority."{3} A closer investigation has shewn, however, that the statement thus confidently made was based on insufficient knowledge: that on this point the native had not fully communicated his beliefs to the European. Those who have acquired a deeper insight into the mentality of these tribes, assert unhesitatingly that the Australian, no less than the civilized man, sees in the moral law the command of a Divine Being.

It may very likely be objected that, were the obligation of the moral law really inexplicable apart from a belief in God's existence, then those who deny the latter would as a consequence repudiate the former; that this, however, is most certainly not the case, for many of those who reject all belief in a Deity are forward to acknowledge the binding character of duty, and vehement in asserting that they recognize to the full the imperative nature of its commands. This is true. And it is natural that it should be so, even though it be the case that they have deprived themselves of all reasonable basis for such an attitude. Those who enunciate a revolutionary principle do not usually recognize all that is contained in it. It is left to those who come after to draw the conclusions and apply them to the conduct of life. Our militant rationalists have been educated to regard the moral law as binding. They grew up in a society where men's opinions on these matters were determined by that Christian tradition, which for so many centuries governed European thought. From their earliest years they were taught, in common with their fellows, to regard the law of right as obligatory. It has not entered into their minds to question that early teaching, or to scrutinize very closely the grounds of that obligation. They accept it as self-evident, and overlook the important fact that the reverence for the moral law, which Christian teaching enjoined, was based on the conviction that it is the authentic voice of God speaking within the soul. If there be no God, then no adequate ground for an obligation properly so called -- for a moral necessity -- exists: the sole authority to which a man owes obedience is the state. He may, it is true, see that of two courses of action open to him the one is more, the other less desirable. In this he has a motive for choice. But, as we have said above, a motive and an obligation are not the same thing. Be this, however, as it may, even if the champions of materialism fail to realize the consequences of the principle which they have adopted, their disciples will draw the inevitable conclusion. And, human nature being what it is, we may rest assured that this conclusion will be reduced to practice. Under any circumstances the passions chafe under the restraints of the moral law, and are always tending to break loose from its control. If it be deprived of that which alone gives it its constraining force, its power to rule us will be at an end: the sole barrier to the domination of passion will have been removed. In view of these facts the rapid spread of materialism suggests to thoughtful minds some very grave apprehensions for the future.

The point which we have been considering leads us naturally to the argument from the need of a sanction to the moral law. The argument is so closely connected with that from conscience, that they may conveniently be treated in the same section.

We have already urged that the distinction between good and evil is fundamental: that the goodness of an action is altogether independent of the question whether or not it will in the long run result in a balance of pleasure to the doer or to the community: and, further, that the life of virtue is the only life which befits man as a rational being. This, we maintain, is not merely the spontaneous affirmation of reason, but the verdict of all philosophy worthy of the name. Yet in face of these truths the realities of life present us with a strange spectacle. The forces which in human society make for evil are so strong, that the practice of virtue is seen often enough to involve a man in temporal misfortune. There is no need to develop a theme which is a matter of universal experience. In a world where fraud, vindictiveness and treachery are so prevalent, the man who follows after justice does not compete with his rivals upon equal terms. His faithfulness to the law of right puts him at an overwhelming disadvantage. The prizes of life tend to fall to those who are devoid of scruples. These, as a rule, are the men who "prosper in the world and have riches in possession." Even in those cases in which a man, in spite of this handicap, attains some measure of success, the practice of virtue entails tremendous sacrifices. Purity, forgiveness of injuries, integrity, are possessions which are dearly bought. They involve an uphill struggle with our lower nature, which only ends with death. Those who purpose to be faithful to the moral law must be prepared to act directly counter to their comfort and expediency, not once or twice, but again and again: and so far as this existence is concerned, to forego in most cases all hope of a compensating advantage. It is impossible for human reason to acquiesce in this state of things. It refuses to believe that where the moral law is concerned, the universe lapses into chaos. In all other regards the mind of man recognizes the presence of order in the world. In so far as that order holds sway, things attain their perfection: it is the violation of order which involves them in catastrophe. To suppose that, when we are concerned, not with physical, but with moral law, this should become otherwise, that in that sphere alone the path of order should be the road to ruin, and the contempt of order the path leading to success, is to put inconsistency at the very heart of things. It is to affirm that the universe is at the same time rational and irrational, and, what is still more incredible, that it is rational as regards what is inferior, irrational as regards its higher element. This our minds unhesitatingly reject as an impossibility. But in this case, there is but one conclusion to be drawn. It is that the end is not yet: that the wrong of this life will be righted in another: that in due time the just will be rewarded and the wicked punished. But those who grant this must go further. They must admit that there exists a Supreme Ruler of the world who has imposed the moral law upon us as His command, and has attached adequate sanctions to its observance: and that at His tribunal the actions of all men will be judged. They must allow, likewise, that He possesses the attributes requisite for such an office: that the secrets of all hearts are open to Him, and that He can judge infallibly regarding the merit or demerit of every thought, every word and every action that has ever been. To hold this is to affirm the existence of God.

2. Argument from the desire of happiness. The proof of God's existence drawn from man's desire of beatitude resembles that from conscience in that it considers man in his capacity as a voluntary agent, and finds in human nature viewed under this aspect data which suffice to establish the existence of God. Very briefly the argument may be stated as follows. The desire for full and unalloyed happiness, or, as it is termed, beatitude, is common to the whole race of man. It is an inborn craving of the soul. The existence of this constitutional tendency is itself a guarantee that a satisfaction corresponding to the desire is to be found. In other words, beatitude is no chimera, but it is something which the soul may attain. But the nature of the soul is such that it could never find satisfaction in any finite good. If it is to attain perfect happiness, it can do so only in the Infinite Good: and the Infinite Good is God Himself. God, therefore, exists.

At first sight the argument may fail to carry conviction. It may appear a hazardous proceeding to argue from the existence of a desire to that of an object which will satisfy it. Are not, it has been urged, the most deeply felt and long cherished desires often frustrated? No wish, however ardent, carries with it a pledge of its fulfilment.{4} Yet it is hardly needful to say that this is not the meaning of the argument. Indeed, it is surprising that those who offer this reply should not have realized that they must have misapprehended its purport, and that thinkers of repute could not have employed so childish a sophism. We believe that, rightly understood, the proof will appear conclusive.

By way of preliminary it will be well to explain somewhat more fully the meaning of our assertion that all men desire perfect happiness. We do not signify that every man must have framed, however crudely, some idea of such a lot, and that he desires it for himself: that he must at some time or other have elicited the wish that he may arrive at perfect bliss. The desire of which we speak is not an act of the will -- though, of course, we may form such acts -- but a fundamental tendency of that faculty, belonging to its nature, and determining the direction of its activities. Every natural substance displays certain tendencies proper to its nature. The impulse in virtue of which a plant shoots upward and produces fruit and seed after its kind, furnishes a case in point. Such, too, are the chemical affinities of mineral substances. Such, again, are the instincts of animals by which they are enabled to accomodate themselves to their enviroument, and which prescribe in rigorous detail their way of life with a view to the preservation of the species. The human will is no exception to the rule: it possesses its own specific tendency. And in virtue of this tendency, as we contend, man is ever seeking, sometimes blindly, sometimes consciously, for perfect beatitude.

The sense of the term 'beatitude' also calls for a word or two of explanation before we begin to deal with the argument itself. It is here employed to express the state in which the will has found entire repose in the possession of good. It no longer strives for any further object: its appetencies are completely satisfied: it quiesces in the enjoyment of its final end.

It may readily be shewn that man does in fact desire beatitude, and, further, that the beatitude for which he craves can only be found in the possession of a universal good, which in some way contains within itself the value of all lesser goods of whatever kind. In every action to which our will impels us we aim at some good. Either we wish to secure something which attracts us, or we seek to free ourselves from something which we view as evil. In both cases, the object of desire is apprehended as a good to be obtained. Our judgment may, of course, be erroneous. There is good which is truly such (bonum verum), and good which is merely apparent (bonum apparens). And only too often the object after which we are striving is an apparent, and not a real, good. Besides, the term 'good' is used in various significations. A thing may be good because it is conformable to man's rational nature. In this case it is morally good (bonum honestum). Or it may be good simply in the sense that it is pleasurable (bonum delectabile). Certainly the pleasurable is a good; but it is one of quite another kind from moral goodness. Again, a thing may be regarded as good, not in virtue of any quality which it possesses in itself, but because it is a means to the acquiring of something which is either morally or pleasurably good. This is the goodness of utility (bonum utile). But though the aspect under which an object of desire is viewed as good, is different in different cases, and our judgment regarding it may be gravely at fault, it remains true that it is desired as being good: nor can the will desire anything save for this reason. In other words, the object of the will is good as such: it is not this or that particular kind of good, but good in its universality. Whatever the mind can apprehend as good, that the will can desire. Now every faculty involves a relation to its appropriate object in all its manifestations. The intellect tends to lay hold of the real in all its forms: the eye to exercise its power of vision on all coloured things. It follows that the will being of its nature an appetitive faculty, involves a longing for all good: and that this inborn craving, if it is to obtain full and perfect satisfaction, must find it -- not indeed in the possession of every particular good thing, which would be impossible -- but in the possession of a supreme and universal good, in which all particular goods are equivalently, or more than equivalently, contained.

We may reach the same conclusion in another way. The aim of every voluntary act, as experience shews us, is some good. This is so, even where the act is known by the doer to be in itself evil. The man who out of hatred desires to injure another, and of set purpose inflicts a grievous wrong upon him, does so because his malignant temper clamours for satisfaction, and its satisfaction appears to him as a good. The suicide, who purposes taking his own life, and believes that thereby he will lose even existence itself, does not view the result as an evil to be avoided. To him the sufferings which he is now enduring appear intolerable; and he holds that their cessation must be a good, even though it be purchased at the price of annihilation. Yet, although the will -- the mainspring of our actions -- compels us to be ever striving after the good, experience makes it no less certain that no particular good can bring full satisfaction to that faculty. No sooner have we secured what we wish, than some other desirable object presents itself to the mind, and we long to obtain it. The will is restless till we have made it our own. Yet the moment our ambition is realized, the same process begins afresh. Such is the law of the will's activity, as we experience it. What is involved in this cannot be doubtful. The will, it is manifest, craves for all good. And each time that it urges us to seek this or that particular good, and yet remains unsatisfied when it has attained it, it proclaims, implicitly indeed, but in no uncertain tones, that only perfect goodness -- that which includes within itself the value of all particular goods -- can bring it full satisfaction.

It may be urged, and at first sight with some plausibility, that most men have no conscious desire for a complete and all-inclusive good. The goal of their efforts, as they themselves would maintain, is not good in its completeness, but something more limited and more practical. They desire wealth, or fame, or advancement in their profession: or they have formed an attachment, and are eager that their affection should be returned. Give them this, they will say, and they will ask no more: they do not ambition anything so chimerical as supreme and perfect goodness. It is not to be denied that great numbers of men are so minded. They are persuaded that some particular good thing will satisfy them, and they devote all their energies to its pursuit, making it the final end of their life. This, however, only shews that many men misinterpret the promptings of nature. They wish for happiness: this is inevitable. But they are utterly mistaken in imagining that happiness will be found, if they do but gratify the most vehement of their present desires. As we have already pointed out, the expected happiness always eludes their grasp. Yet for the sake of argument let it be supposed -- an extravagant supposition -- that some man were to find full and absolute contentment in the enjoyment of a temporal good. If this were so, we contend that we should have before us a case in which human nature had undergone degradation and perversion. For in such a man the soul's infinite cravings would be replaced by a single poor desire: its limitless capacities cabined and confined within the narrow sphere of the visible and temporal. This would be no normal example of our nature: it would be as futile to adduce such a case as a basis of argument regarding the soul as it would be to take a hunchbacked contortionist as the type and model of man's physical powers.

It must, however, be shewn that the voice of nature is not deceptive: that this imperious craving of the human heart for a state of perfect happiness -- a craving which holds such sway over us that every voluntary action which we perform is due in the last resort to its influence -- affords a proof that such a state is really attainable, and that there exists an object the possession of which will confer this supreme boon upon us.

To establish this conclusion we appeal to the patent fact that there is no such thing as a natural tendency for which a corresponding satisfaction is not to be found. An induction of the widest range bears witness to this truth. It holds good through the whole realm of nature and admits of no exception. "Wherever we find a natural power," writes Professor Flint, "we find also a real and appropriate field for its display. The existence of any instinctive craving or constitutional tendency is itself a guarantee of the existence of due satisfaction for it."{5} Aristotle long since gave concise expression to the same principle in the well-known formula: "Nature does nothing in vain."{6} This truth may indeed be regarded as but another aspect of that finality, which, as we have seen, is exhibited throughout the whole system of the universe. If throughout the realm of nature means are everywhere adapted to ends, it stands to reason that wherever any natural type is characterized by some constitutional craving, that craving will not be left unsatisfied. The fact of lactation, to which we have already referred, may serve us as an illustration. The young of the mammalia, when they come into the world, stand in urgent need of food of a very special kind. It must of necessity be liquid, highly nutritive, and most easy to digest. Nature has not left them unprovided for: but has established in the mother the wonderful process of lactation exactly meeting the requirements of the newly-born offspring. It will, we think, be readily admitted that the principle here illustrated is of universal validity, and that wherever any specific type displays a constitutional need, the existence of this craving affords proof that a satisfaction may be found.

As applied to the particular case with which we are concerned, the argument is of exceptional weight. It is impossible to represent the desire for good as an acquired characteristic of the will. It is the primary law of its activity. The impulse to the good is the fundamental characteristic which makes the will what it is. Without it the will would be something totally different. It would not in fact be the will at all. To suppose that this craving lacks a corresponding object is to suppose a wholly irrational element in nature. It may perhaps be urged that the appeal to the law, which prescribes that every natural craving shall find its due satisfaction, is invalid when applied to the desire for perfect happiness: that the case of the lower animals makes it certain that this is so, even though it may be hard to say why the law shall fail in this instance. The brute creation, like ourselves, seeks for full and complete satisfaction. A desire for the good is the explanation of their activities as it is of ours. Yet no philosopher concludes from this that they are destined for beatitude, and will eventually find some perfect good beyond which nothing will remain for them to seek. To this it may be replied that the parity between man and the lower animals in this regard is only apparent. The brute, it is true, experiences a craving for this or that object -- it may be for food for its stomach, for provision for its young, for a way of escape from some danger which it scents, and so on. But its desires are limited by the narrow horizon of the particular: for it knows no other good except that of the sensitive-appetite. Destitute of intelligence, it possesses no tendency which embraces in its range the good in all its universality. Nothing can be plainer than the difference between brutes and man when they have respectively attained some object which they have sought. The lower animal is perfectly satisfied. For the time, at least, it desires no more. Man, on the contrary, never reaches this state. Whatever he may have obtained, he knows that it is but a partial and incomplete satisfaction of his desire. He is not yet content; he still craves for something else. Is it possible to imagine that, whereas there is full and ample provision for the lower creatures, so that every craving which nature has implanted in them finds its appropriate satisfaction, for man it should be otherwise: that the tendency which determines the whole activity of the will should be doomed to ultimate frustration: that the very faculty by which man is raised above the brutes, should be the one to which final satisfaction is denied?

Moreover, just in so far as man emancipates himself from purely material cares, and gives scope to the higher elements of his complex nature, his longing for the good takes definite shape as a craving for the infinite. We recognize that no accumulated stores of knowledge, however extensive, could stay our quest for truth, no acts of virtue satisfy our aspirations for the Good. Even were life long enough to allow us to make our own the whole of man's heritage of knowledge, we should still be as far from satisfaction as ever. Were we to secure every good of soul and of body which imagination can picture, if these goods were finite, we should still desire something else. And this longing for the infinite is not, as we are well aware, a disease of the mind, a mere morbid symptom, which the wise man will dismiss as soon as possible. It is the natural prompting of the heart, which amid much that is sordid and base, by this at least testifies that our nature is noble. Were the True and the Good a mere dream, a figment of the phantasy, then man's plain duty would be to refuse to admit the deception, firmly to deny such imaginings any place in his mind, and to aim at nothing save what lay within his powers. Yet who is there who does not see that were he to do this he would be eradicating from his nature the noblest element which it possesses? Here our own heart seems of its own accord to affirm the truth of the principle we have just sought to establish, and to assure us that there is a Supreme Truth and a Supreme Good to which we may attain.

God then exists. For only if God exists is there a Being who possesses in Himself all the goodness which in diverse forms we find dispersed in creatures. If all finite things are the handiwork of a self-existent Creator, then whatever there is in the universe of perfection, whether moral or physical, is already contained in an immeasurably higher manner in the Source from which it sprang. In this case, and only in this case, the longing of the human heart is not doomed to frustration: for though its desires are infinite, there exists an Infinite Object, which will satisfy them When the soul reaches God, it will have found the goal for which it has been striving throughout its whole course -- the last end, the possession of which constitutes beatitude.

It may perhaps seem to some that the argument which we have employed will compel us to admit that all men reach beatitude. We have maintained that the existence of the desire is sufficient evidence that there exists a corresponding satisfaction. Now the desire is found in all men. Does not our reasoning, then, logically involve the conclusion that in all it must be satisfied: that every man, whatever be his character, must in due time attain perfect happiness? If so, the result is strangely at variance with the usual belief of theists. These commonly hold that life is a probation, and that man's attainment of his final end depends upon the manner in which he has conducted himself during the span allotted to him: that while many reach beatitude, many are finally excluded from it. We might, strictly speaking, neglect this objection, since it does not affect the value of the argument for God's existence. But it may be well to point out that it admits of an answer. Our argument deals with human nature as such: and establishes that since the nature of man involves this desire, an appropriate satisfaction for it must be found. It does not shew that in the individual that desire may not be frustrated. Man is endowed with free will: and the individual may so use, or rather misuse, his free will as to fail of attaining his final end.

There is, however, one conclusion regarding individuals which we may legitimately draw. Although it does not follow that all will attain beatitude, it does follow that beatitude must be within the reach of all. Beatitude is the last end of man viewed as a species -- of every member of the class. If this be so, it cannot be a good barred to all except a favourably circumstanced few, but must be attainable by all without exception, whether rich or poor, learned or unlearned, civilized or barbarian. Our conclusion that it is to be found in the possession of God satisfies this condition. Every human being who reaches the age of reason, may, if he will, regulate his life by the law of God: and those who so do will not forfeit the happiness for which they were created. On the other hand, those who deny God's existence, and who consequently regard temporal felicity in one or other of its forms as the sole aim of life, must perforce admit that the greater number of men are deprived of all possibility of attaining the end proposed to them. Most men are compelled to earn their bread in the sweat of their brow: their days are spent in hard monotonous toil. And even as regards the privileged few whose lot would appear to be brighter, disappointment, bereavement, disease, and at last the inevitable summons of death render void their struggle after happiness. A theory which makes man's last end practically unattainable is not one which the mind can readily accept.

In conclusion, we may call attention to the fact that this argument from the desire of happiness corresponds in a certain manner to the proof of God's existence as the First Cause. Just as a necessity of the intellect drives us to trace the series of efficient causes back to a primal source from which they spring, so in a similar fashion are we compelled to follow up the series of final causes, till we discover the ultimate reason of every choice. God, as we have seen, is alike the supreme efficient cause and the supreme final cause. From Him all came: to Him all tends: He is the Alpha and Omega of all being.

3. Argument from universal consent. The present argument may be said to be independent of any special system of thought. It has been employed by those whose philosophical positions are widely different. It rests simply on the principle that man's intellect is fundamentally trustworthy: that, though frequently misled in this or that particular case through accidental causes, yet the instrument itself is sound: that, of its own nature, it leads, not to error, but to truth. It follows from this, that if the human race, taken as a whole, agrees in regarding a given conclusion as certain, it is impossible to suppose that that conclusion is false. Could a general conviction of this kind be mistaken, it would argue that something is amiss with the faculty itself: that it is idle for man to search for truth, since the very organ of truth is fallacious. Pure scepticism would be the sole logical attitude. In point of fact, man cannot use his intellect without recognizing its trustworthiness. It is its own sufficient guarantee. When we judge, we do not judge blindly: we see that our judgment is true. This being premised, we urge that there is a veritable consensus among men that God exists. All races, civilized and uncivilized alike, are at one in holding that the facts of nature and the voice of conscience compel us to affirm this as certain truth. We do not, of course, mean that none are found to deny it. There is no proposition which some will not be found to question. The pragmatist denies the necessity even of the principle of contradiction. But we contend that those who admit the existence of God form so overwhelming a majority, that agnostics and atheists do not affect the moral unanimity of the race. If, then, the judgment of all mankind cannot be mistaken, we have here yet another valid proof of the existence of God.

It is unnecessary now to argue the point that there is no race without religion. In the last century the evolutionary school laboured much to shew that man in his natural state had none. It was from time to time confidently asserted that tribes had been discovered who possessed no notion of the supernatural. Closer investigation shewed that the travellers who brought these reports were insufficiently informed. The question, writes a competent authority,{7} "has now gone to the limbo of dead controversies. Writers approaching the subject from such different points of view as Professor Tylor, Max Müller, Ratzel, de Quatrefages, Tiele, Waitz, Gerland, Peschel, all agree that there are no races, however rude, which are destitute of all idea of religion." For the present argument, however, it is not sufficient to shew the universality of belief in a supernatural order of some kind or other. A mere cult of superhuman powers or of disembodied spirits does not involve belief in God. And we are contending that a true belief in God, the supreme self-existent Being, is found in all races.

Regarding the mode in which the different branches of the race first acquired the idea of God, we offer no opinion. We must not be understood as affirming that they reached it by process of reason. We know so little of the centuries which preceded all recorded history that such an assumption would be hazardous. Some theists hold that the primitive revelation mentioned in the book of Genesis was never completely forgotten by any race, though often distorted and overlaid with much legendary matter. But even those who believe that the knowledge of God's existence comes in the first instance through a direct revelation, admit that its preservation must be attributed to the fact that man's reason saw in the world around him and in the moral law within such unmistakable proofs of the same truth, that it was impossible that it should ever lapse altogether from his memory and be lost.

It is important to observe that an idea of God does not cease to deserve that name because it is inadequate. It is not necessary that He should be known as Creator, as omnipotent, or as omniscient. It suffices that the notion under which He is conceived should be applicable to Him alone. A conception which simply represents Him as the Supreme Being, personal and intelligent, to whom man owes honour and reverence, is a true idea of God, even though those who entertain it should have extremely imperfect and erroneous ideas regarding the divine attributes. Plato and Aristotle held the eternity of matter: yet no one disputes that they had reached an elevated conception of God. So too, savages may possess a true idea of Him, even though they have no notion of the infinity of His power or of the universality of His providence. It is necessary to call attention to this point, since certain authors, on the ground that the idea of the Supreme Being entertained by some primitive peoples is highly inadequate, draw the wholly illegitimate conclusion that they have no idea of God at all. The eminent anthropologist, Howitt, after establishing that certain tribes of Australia believe in a being who is creative, everlasting and benevolent, says: "In this being, although supernatural, there is no trace of a divine nature." A. Lang justly remarks: "Howitt was exigeant in his ideas of what 'a divine nature' ought to be."{8}

Again, the conception of God may be, in some regards, positively unworthy. Many, not merely of the cults practised by savages, but of the great historical religions such as those of Greece and Rome, have been polytheistic. Many have involved practices at which the conscience revolts, such as human sacrifice. Nearly all offer us fantastic mythologies, in which imagination has run riot. Yet none of these things invalidate the force of the argument; for notwithstanding the irrational element, we invariably find that the religion recognizes a supreme deity, the ruler of gods and men. Moreover, while belief in a supreme deity is common to all, there is no agreement in the respective mythologies, nor in regard to those features which are contrary to the moral law. The former of these is due to the play of human fancy: the latter reflects the low moral standard of a people at some period of its history. It is the central doctrine alone which is imposed by reason itself. Indeed, a careful consideration of the data not infrequently proves that the less worthy elements of a religion are later accretions, and were not found in its earlier stages. To this point we shall return.

In a work such as this it is necessary to present the evidence in a very succinct form. But even so, the argument is conclusive. So far as civilized races are concerned, a brief reference will serve, since the facts are not in dispute. Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, India, Persia and China furnish the great examples of pagan civilizations. In all of them civilization and religion were so closely bound together that apart from religion civilization could hardly have come into existence. Religion, which was the bond of national life, was likewise the inspirer of all advance in the arts and sciences. But the point on which we desire chiefly to insist, is that in every case there was clear recognition of a supreme deity. Such was Marduk to the Babylonians: Zeus among the Greeks: Jupiter with the Romans. In the Vedic religion Varuna has the foremost place: and in the Iranian, the same deity under the name Ahuramazda is the sole god. The early Chinese writings represent Shang Ti as supreme. In Egypt the chief deity differed in the different nomes, the people of each district assigning the first place to their local god. It might, perhaps, seem that if we can thus make good our contention for the civilized part of mankind, we have established our conclusion: since it is civilized man, and not the savage, in whom we obtain the truest insight into human nature. The latter, it has been argued, affords an example of that nature arrested in its normal development and subjected to a long process of deformation: so that the information derived from this source is less trustworthy than that gained from the races who have gone forward on the path of progress. This view contains a measure of truth. There are undoubtedly savages who have sunk into deep degradation. Yet in general it seems to be the case that these peoples have simply stood still on the path of culture, and that they represent with a fair degree of accuracy the infancy of the race. Hence there is good ground for supposing that their beliefs should yield valuable data regarding the religion which is natural to man. Here, however, great caution is needed to distinguish those two aspects of belief in the supernatural which we have already mentioned -- the religious and the mythical. "There are two currents," writes A. Lang, "the religious and the mythical, flowing together through religion. The former current, religious, even among very low savages, is pure from the magical, ghost-propitiating habit. The latter current, mythological, is full of magic, mummery and scandalous legend. Sometimes the latter stream quite pollutes the former, sometimes they flow side by side, perfectly distinguishable, as in Aztec ethical piety, compared with the bloody Aztec ritualism."{9} Our argument, we need not say, is based entirely on the religious belief of primitive peoples, and not on the gross superstitions which are its too frequent accompaniment. Many recent writers ignore its existence, and represent the religion of savages as consisting of these superstitions. But such a view is completely at variance with attested facts. The superstitious rites are more prominent, and come more quickly under the observation of travellers. But a closer enquiry invariably proves the existence of religious belief properly so called, and yields additional proof that the idea of God is, as we are contending, universal to the race. The results of recent investigation are summed up by the writer of the article Creation in Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics as follows:{10} "Increasing research into the mental habits of the least advanced races of mankind now living tends to demonstrate that side by side with the most foolish, tedious, and often repulsive myths, there is almost invariably a high if vague conception of a good Being who is the Maker of all things, the undying Guardian of the moral life of man."

Where uncivilized races are in question, our minds turn naturally to Africa. Regarding the peoples of this continent no witness can be better qualified to speak than Bishop Le Roy, C.S.S. His long residence among the natives, his close familiarity with their thought, and, further, his position as Superior of a religious order whose members are stationed in many different districts and thus come in contact with a great number of tribes, give to his judgments an altogether exceptional authority. In his work, La Religion des Primitifs, he does not hesitate to affirm in the most emphatic manner that the recognition of God is absolutely universal among the Bantu-speaking peoples: and that the denial of this fact so confidently made by anthropologists of the evolutionary school is attributable to the misleading reports of travellers incompetent to penetrate the native mind.{11} The error, he admits, was not wholly unnatural, inasmuch as though the natives speak of God, recognize Him as Ruler of all things, and hold Him in reverence, they offer Him no worship. Their family and tribal cultus is paid to the ghosts of departed ancestors. How sharp, however, is the distinction which they draw between God and the other supernatural beings whom they acknowledge, appears clearly from two features in their belief. In the first place, God is wholly beyond the reach of those magical incantations by which they endeavour to influence the spirit world. And, secondly, there can be no such thing as a fetish of God. Fetishism, which holds a prominent place among Bantu customs, may be said to consist in localizing a spirit in a material object with the result that its powers are at the disposal of the person possessing that object. To think that God could be connected with a fetish would be regarded by a native as the height of folly. Furthermore, although the name by which God is known varies from tribe to tribe, none imagines that there is a plurality of gods. Polytheism, such as exists in India, is unknown. Indeed, these names are themselves very instructiye as to the manner in which God is conceived. They fall into four classes derived from roots which signify respectively 'to make,' 'life,' 'power,' ' the heavens.' With all this, it is true, the bishop admits, that in the native mind the idea of God lies so to speak in the background: it plays little active part in his life. Yet in view of the facts which we have cited, it can hardly be questioned that among the Bantu peoples of Africa religion is in no way identical with superstition. They possess a true belief in God.

The Pygmies of North Central Africa seem to claim a special mention, since as regards material civilization they are as backward as any race which exists. Bishop Le Roy was in personal contact with this strange people alike on the eastern and western sides of the continent. They make no attempt to cultivate the soil, but live on what they can pick up in the forest. They have no permanent settlements. They construct for themselves only the most temporary habitations. It surely is a very remarkable fact that this most primitive race have a clear knowledge of a supreme being, unique, the maker of all things, the lord of life and death, the guardian of morality, who rewards and punishes in the life to come.

The evidence forthcoming from Australia is no less striking than that which Africa supplies. The Australian aborigines are in a stage of culture as rudimentary as that of the Pygmies themselves. The tribes of the south-east of the continent have not emerged from the stone-age. If, as the evolutionary anthropologists allege, the idea of God is not a primary conclusion of the reason, but a creation of fancy and of very gradual growth, it might be confidently expected that here no such belief would be found. That such was the case was boldly stated by Huxley. Yet, as the knowledge of these natives advanced, it appeared that no greater mistake could be made. Many of these tribes, and notably those south-eastern peoples whom we have mentioned, possess a belief in a self-existing supreme being, known by them under various names, Baiame, Bungil, Daramulun, etc., etc. Lang has given currency to the term 'All-Father' to designate this being. In view of the attributes assigned to him, it is impossible to doubt that we have here a true, if somewhat crude, belief in God.{12} He is, as might be expected, somewhat differently represented in the various tribes. But we find him regarded as self-existent, as the father and benefactor of man, the creator of all things useful to them, as the rewarder of the just in the future life, and, at least in one case, as consigning the unjust to a region of fire.{13} Moreover, the moral code of the tribe is held to have been imposed by him. It is noteworthy that this knowledge regarding both the nature of the All-Father and the ethical standard which he imposes, is only communicated at the initiation-ceremonies by which the full privileges of manhood are conferred on the youths: it is not shared by women and the uninitiated. These are only acquainted with the tribal myths regarding him, often ludicrous and trivial, about which no secrecy is observed. Howitt, even after a prolonged residence among the natives, knew nothing of the esoteric teaching, until he was admitted to the rites of initiation. This fact well illustrates how difficult it is to gain a knowledge of the more intimate beliefs of savage races, and should serve as a useful reminder that the statements of travellers that some tribe which they have visited, is destitute of all religion, should be received with great caution.{14} It is further to be observed that comparatively little worship is paid to the All-Father. Prayer and sacrifice, though not wholly wanting, are rarely offered to him. He cannot be swayed by gifts, whereas other spirits of a lower order are bribable. The inevitable result has been that the cult paid to these spirits is far more conspicuous, and has often led the unwary stranger to imagine that belief in these beings constitutes the sum of Australian religion. Most striking, again, is the case of the Andamanese islanders. These, says Sir Richard Temple, are "an aboriginal people uncontaminated by outside influences, whose religious ideas are of native growth and exhibit the phenomena of a truly untutored philosophy."{15} They are a race "as low in civilization as almost any known upon earth." Superstitions regarding evil spirits and the names of dead ancestors abound among them. Yet together with these beliefs and much puerile mythology, they acknowledge a god, Pulugu. "He was never born, and is immortal. By him were all things created, except the powers of evil. He knows even the thoughts of the heart. He is angered by yubda = sin or wrongdoing. . . . He is judge of souls."{16}

From many quarters there is testimony to the same effect. The Malagasy of Madagascar, whose practical recognition of the supernatural order consists in ancestor-worship and sorcery, nevertheless "believe in a god, whom they call Zanahary 'creator of all things'; but this god being essentially good and, consequently, incapable of doing evil, is more or less neglected."{17} Of the inhabitants of the Malay archipelago we are told: "In general it may be said that the pagan Indonesians recognize the existence of real gods, and that the supreme god is the creator, more or less directly, of the world, and the preserver of it, and punishes the transgressors of his laws."{18} The early missionaries to the Eskimos of Greenland found traces of the belief amongst them.{19} And the Jesuits who in the seventeenth century evangelized the Red Indian tribes of Canada witness that, notwithstanding their extreme barbarism, they acknowledged and invoked the Maker of all things.{20}

It will, we think, be granted that we have ample ground for our contention that the belief in God is morally universal: that it is no outcome of a developed civilization, but common to all, whatever their stage of culture: and that if this belief be false, there must be something radically amiss with the faculty of reason itself.

It will be well to notice here an objection sometimes urged as destructive of the value of this argument. In view of what has been said, it will be seen to be devoid of all force. Principal Caird employs it in his Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion; we cite his words. " It is," he writes, "only by thinning down the idea of God to an abstraction which would embrace under a common head the rudest fetishism and the spiritual theism of Christianity, that a consensus gentium can be alleged on behalf of the fundamental idea of religion. But of what worth as a criterion of certitude is an intuition which leaves out of the idea of God to which it certifies all that can interest the intelligence or elevate the character of the worshipper."{21} It is unnecessary to point out that the objection rests on a complete misconception of the nature of the argument. It is not grounded on the mere belief in the supernatural, including those gross superstitions which too often replace the worship of God; but on the universal recognition of a supreme being, so conceived as to furnish a genuine, even if inadequate, notion of God.

The theory of the evolutionary school calls for somewhat ampler consideration. Its adherents seek to shew that religion arose from some superstition entertained by man in his savage state: that his beliefs passed through various stages as he progressed in culture and little by little dropped those elements which were patently irrational: and that thus at last he reached the spiritual monotheism characteristic of Christianity. The conclusion which it is intended should be drawn, is that religion is in all its forms destitute of solid ground: and that those who to-day dismiss it altogether are on a higher level of culture than those who still retain a belief in a Creator. The defenders of the theory are not at one as to the primary germ of all religion. The view which has met with widest acceptance is that of Tylor. He maintained that the first beginnings of religion are to be found in the belief in spirits -- first in man's own spirit, and then in ghosts of the departed and in countless spirits of nature conceived after this model. Sir James Frazer sees the starting-point in magic. Man, he holds, first sought to influence the powers of nature by imitative magic: and then, finding that he failed to win the results for which he looked, he was led to conclude that these powers were in the hands of one stronger than himself, who could not be controlled by magic, but must be moved by supplication and sacrifice. M. Durkheim considers that the religious sense originated in certain emotions which arise spontaneously in bodies of men as bodies, totemism being the form in which that sense first finds expression.

The theory led naturally to a close investigation of the beliefs of uncivilized peoples, both on the part of those who believed that the whole process of development might be found going on before our eyes, and by those who held that the facts, if fully known, would prove that religion had a very different source from that suggested. The facts thus accumulated have furnished certain definite results: and they are by no means favourable to the theory.

It is essential to the validity of the evolutionary hypothesis that the successive stages of religious development should bear a direct proportion to the progress of civilization: that where culture is very low, there religious beliefs should be likewise on a low level, and that the grosser elements should be gradually eliminated as culture advances. Now, as we have already shewn, this is most emphatically not the case. Tribes which are at the very bottom of the ladder of civilization -- which, like the Pygmies, possess a more rudimentary culture than any prehistoric race which has left its relics for us fo study -- are found to possess an idea of God purer than that entertained by races far more advanced in social and material progress. Moreover, those superstitious beliefs and practices in which the evolutionary anthropologists see the source and origin of all religion are much less developed and hold a much less important place in the more primitive folk than among those who have raised themselves to a slightly higher level. Nor are these things peculiar to one part of the world only -- to Africa or to Australia, to the Malay archipelago or to Melanesia. They are of general occurrence wherever savage races are found. Furthermore, there is ample evidence that these superstitions, more particularly animism, fetishism, and magic, so far from affording a road to religion, tend to stifle, and eventually to extinguish it. The supreme being, it is felt, does not need our gifts, and is too exalted to be controlled by us. Moreover, he is good; he is not on the watch to injure us. But it is otherwise with the spirits which surround us. They are in large measure malevolent: and though powerful, they may be swayed by our rites. Little by little the worship of spirits and the practice of magic usurp the place of the worship of God. He passes into the background. So far is it from being true that these things lead to religion, that it is safe to say that the more there is of animism or of magic in any race the less there will be of religion.

Nothing can shew more clearly how refractory to the evolutionary theory are the facts which we have mentioned than the manner in which the evidence is burked by anthropologists of this school. They ignore the information about the supreme beings acknowledged by primitive peoples and decline to take account of such unwelcome data. Lang calls attention to this highly unscientific method in various of his writings{22} and the Austrian ethnologist, Father W. Schmidt, denounced it roundly in the pages of his learned periodical Anthropos. But their protests fell on deaf ears.

So far, indeed, is it from being the case that religion progresses pari passu with civilization, that, on the contrary, the advance of civilization seems invariably to be accompanied by religious decadence. In the very early stages God's supreme dominion and man's obligations to Him are more clearly recognized. Gradually these truths become obscured, and alien elements are taken up such as nature-worship or the cult of ancestors, which are wholly incompatible with purity of religious belief. Under these influences superstition invades the province of religion, and a primitive monotheism may lapse into polytheism. This is true not only of uncivilized peoples. It holds good generally. Indian religion affords a case in point. There is no question but that the Vedic religion was far purer and more elevated than the pantheistic Brahmanism of to-day. Or to take another instance, the development of Greek and Roman mythology lowered the religious level of these peoples. Spiritual decadence is, however, perfectly compatible with advance along the line of speculative reflection. The intellectual progress of a people secures for them a more accurate realization of the notions involved in religious thought. This process is conspicuously visible in the classical peoples of antiquity. The rapid decay of religion and the progressive deterioration of morals were no bar to philosophical speculation de natura deorum. If the testimony of history is to be trusted, the religion of a people does not assume a purer and more elevated character with the passage of the years. Its tendency is downwards not upwards. And to this law the ancient Hebrew religion and Christianity appear to be the sole exceptions.

The evolutionary theory is open to objection on yet another head. Animism, as we have seen, supposes that the cult of spirits led to polytheism, and that among the gods thus worshipped one was advanced to the foremost place -- a step which paved the way to monotheism. It has been pointed out with great force that ghosts and gods are utterly distinct: that the two notions have nothing in common: and that no possible reason, logical or psychological, can be assigned for the transformation of one into the other. A people might believe in ghosts, might fear them or try to control them: yet it does not appear why they should endow them with a totally new set of attributes and regard them as, e.g., all-seeing, moral and benevolent -- the qualities almost universally assigned to a deity -- and place them in an entirely new category of being as divine. The conclusion at which the animistic theory artives is not contained in any of its premisses. We are asked to believe that the transition took place; but the process is purely arbitrary. And this criticism is all the more pertinent, when it is observed that the gods of primitive peoples are not conceived as spirits. The idea of the Deity as a 'spirit' is of late occurrence, and is foreign to the mind of early races. The Homeric gods are not spirits: they are conceived anthropomorphically. The same is true of the supreme beings of savages. Their nature is not accurately determined; but they, too, are conceived man-wise. Indeed, most of the Australian tribes, of whose beliefs we have knowledge, teach that their supreme being (Baiame, Bunjil, etc.) never died. A being who never died is not a ghost.{23}

It is manifest that the evolutionary theory fails to perform its promise of explaining the origin of the belief in God as an outcome of primitive superstition. We may justly claim that our original conclusion holds good, viz., that inasmuch as that belief is entertained with moral unanimity by all peoples in whatever degree of civilization, all alike acknowledging that the world they see around them must be the work of a personal and intelligent cause, it follows that the belief is true.

The conclusion receives further confirmation from the fact that no system of world-philosophy which rules out belief in God has ever succeeded in maintaining a permanent hold on any people. Buddhism used at one time to be cited as an exception. It is now recognized that it cannot be reckoned as such. In fact, the history of the Buddhist movement affords a conspicuous instance in favour of our contention. In India, the teaching of Sakya-muni spread widely. But it disappeared altogether to make way for modern Hinduism. No persecution apparently effected the change. The Buddhist creed proved incapable of holding its own.{24} In China, where the system still flourishes, it has become to all intents a mere polytheism. The adherent of Buddhism acknowledges a pantheon of divinities, amongst whom the Buddha himself takes rank.

In estimating the force of our argument, due weight should also be given to the fact that, were not the voice of reason so emphatic, man's natural inclinations would lead him rather to deny God's existence than to believe in it. Man craves for liberty of action: and his native pride makes him quick to resent the authority of a superior. The motives must be strong indeed which lead him to admit as perfectly certain the existence of One who is his absolute Master, who has imposed upon him an urgent moral law, and who will punish him if he should violate it. Only a cogent reason could induce him to bow down in worship. The evolutionary anthropologists suppose that he took the step of inventing God of his own accord. They shew no reason why he was bound to do so. It is for them merely another step along the road of superstition. It may safely be said that, were the case as they represent it, that step, human nature being what it is, would not and could not have been taken.

{1} Second Sermon on Human Nature. Works, II., p. 26 (ed. 1835). The italics are ours.

{2} Cited in Lactantius, Inst. Div.., VI., c. viii.; cf. Meyer, Inst. Juris Natur., I., n. 251.

{3} Spencer and Gillen, The Northern Tribes of Central Australia, p. 504. A later investigator, Mr. Howitt, arrived at very different conclusions. He shews that the moral doctrine is inculcated in connection with the initiation ceremonies, and that these ceremonies have a religious sanction. He was in a better position to form a judgment than were Spencer and Gillen, as he was himself initiated, whereas they were not. See A. Lang, The Making of Religion, p. 180.

{4} Mr. McTaggart writes: "I can see no contradiction whatever in the statement that a desire is real, but remains ungratified. The statement is often true. Many people had a real desire that the Pretender should be victorious in 1745, but they were disappointed. . . . If the reality of any desire is compatible with its non-fulfilment, then we can never argue from the reality of any desire to its fulfilment" (Some Dogmas of Religion, § 47).

{5} Agnosticism, p. 165.

{6} De Anima, III., c. ix., § 6. It is of interest to note that Sir Isaac Newton bases upon this principle the first two of his Rules of Philosophizing: and that it is by an appeal to these two rules that he reaches his conclusion that the force which the earth exerts upon the moon is the same force of gravity by which bodies are drawn to the earth's surface.

{7} F. B. Jevons, Introd. to the History of Religion, p. 7.

{8} Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, art. God (Primitive and Savage), Vol. VI., p. 245.

{9} Making of Religion (2nd ed.), p. 183.

{10} Mr. J. Strachan.

{11} Op. cit., p. 171. He quotes to precisely the same effect two English authors, whom he regards as of quite exceptional competence, Mr. R. H. Nassau, Fetishism in W. Africa, and J. L. Wilson, Western Africa.

{12} In the article Australia in Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Mr. N. W. Thomas calls attention to the difference of opinion among anthropologists as to the position occupied in the aboriginal view of the universe by these beings. "Some authors have denied that the term 'god' can be applied to them, while others have maintained that they are eternal, omniscient, all-powerful creators. Probably the truth lies nearer the latter than the former view" (op. cit., II., p. 245).

{13} Lang, Magic and Religion, p. 73.

{14} On the secret religious tradition of savage peoples and the difficulty of discovering it, see also The Life of a South African Tribe, by H. H. Junod, c.ii., pp. 389 if.; also, The Ila-speaking Peoples of Rhodesia, by E. W. Smith and R. Murray Dale, c. ii., pp. 197 ff.

{15} Art. Andamans in Hastings' Encyclopaedia of R. and E.

{16} Making of Religion (ed. 2), p. 195.

{17} Hastings' Encycl., VIII., p. 203.

{18} Ibid. p. 307.

{19} Making of Religion, p. 183.

{20} P. Ragueneau, S.J. (1648), cited apud Hastings' Encycl., art. Hurons.

{21} P. 54

{22} Magic and Religion, pp. 53, 57; art. God in Hastings' Encycl. of R. and A., etc.

{23} Making of Religion, c. xi.

{24} Cf. art. Buddhism, by Prof. Rhys Davids, in Encycl. Britannica (11th ed.), IV., p. 748.

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