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The Existence of God


Art. I.— The Soul, her Sorrows and her Aspirations: an Essay towards the Natural History of the Soul, as the true Basis of Theology. By William Francis Newman. Second Edition. London : Chapman. 1849. 121no.    pp. 261.

We have, as our readers will recollect, frequently asserted that the uncatholic world, Protestants as well as avowed unbelievers, have fallen into such depths of skepticism that they no longer recognize the first principles of science, and have ceased to hold any principles with that firmness which is necessary to bind them by the conclusions which logically follow therefrom. No doubt there are large numbers in the Protestant sects who fully believe themselves to be Christian believers, and who would hold us unpardonable for calling them unbelievers ; but even these, with a very few individual exceptions, are prepared to give up the Christian name itself rather than concede the identity of Christianity and Catholicity.

We take no pleasure in stating this fact. It would much abridge our arguments with Protestants, if we could address them as in some respects Christian believers, who hold in common with us the great primary principles of religion, and differ from us only on certain specific points of doctrine ; but this, if it was ever proper, is now out of the question. Those among them who believe themselves Christian believers, and who are determined to be Christians, for the most part so believe and are so determined  only  on  condition  that Christianity does  not prove to be Catholicity. They are resolved to be Christians only on condition that they can be Christians without being Catholics. With lew exceptions, they hate Catholicity more than they love the Gospel, and sooner than submit to the Church they would reject the whole Christian religion, and deny the very existence of God. Neither we nor they themselves can rely on any concessions in favor of religion they may appear to make, for they make no concessions, however honestly they may make them, which they will not revoke the moment they perceive that they cannot adhere to them without furnishing premises from which the Calholic Church is logically concludable. Were we to take them at their profession, and from their avowed principles conclude the Church, they would not accept her, but would abandon their own professed principles, and seek to escape the conclusion by alleging that we have deduced it from premises that it is necessary to establish. The reason of this is, that they have settled it in their minds, that, let what will be true, the Church is false, and therefore that the fact that any principles imply her truth is a sufficient proof of their falsity.

We are forced, in our arguments with Protestants, to proceed on the supposition that they are Protestants, and Protestants before every thing else, and therefore that they will follow out the principle on which they vindicate their protest against Catholicity, if necessary, to its last logical consequences. That principle, as every body knows, is the unrestricted right of private judgment, which is simply the denial of all authority, and the assertion of the absolute moral independence of the individual. This principle, if principle it can be called, we hardly need add, is purely atheistical ; for if there is a God he must be supreme, sovereign lord, and man must be morally as well as physically dependent on him, subject to him, and bound to obey him in all things whatsoever, — in though, word, and deed. The characteristic principle of Protestantism, in that it is Protestantism, is therefore atheistical, and although all Protestants may not be distinctly conscious that such is the fact, it is really atheism and nothing else that they oppose to the Church. Nothing is more natural, then, than that they should push their denials to the denial of God, to atheism, in case they find that it is only by so doing that they can maintain their protest against the Church. We cannot, then, construct an argument sufficiently ultimate for the final refutation of Protestantism, unless we make it sufficiently ultimate for the refutation of atheism.

No doubt many of our Protestant readers will object to this statement, and regard it as in a high degree unjust to them. But they must bear in mind that, in our judgment at least, they were never consistent with themselves. They adopt the fundamental principles of two essentially hostile and eternally irreconcilable systems. They are Protestants, and they for the most part profess to be Christians. Understanding by a Christian, not merely a baptized person, but one who professes and believes the Christian doctrine, a Protestant Christian, or a Christian Protestant, is to the Catholic mind simply a contradiction in terms. The distinctive principles of Protestants, in that they are Protestants, if logically carried out, would render them atheists ; the principles they profess, in that they profess to be Christians, if logically carried out, would require them to be Catholics. They do not ordinarily carry out either set of principles to their last logical conclusions, and they are far from perceiving the innate hostility of the one set to the other. They usually take it for granted, that, since they hold both sets of principles, the two must be reconcilable one with the other, and both alike Protestant. They consider them both to be elements, under diverse aspects, of one and the same homogeneous system, and that one may, consistently with the assertion of both, be limited and modified by the other. Hence, when we tell them that the principle of their Protestantism is atheistical, and that to be consistent they must deny God, they deny the charge, and bring forward against it the principles and doctrines which they profess to hold in common with us, and on the strength of which they claim to be Christians; and when we tell them that, if they hold these principles and doctrines, to be logical they must be Catholics, they reply by bringing forward their distinctly Protestant principles and doctrines; thus repelling the charge of atheism by alleging certain Catholic principles and doctrines, and evading Catholicity by alleging atheistical principles and doctrines, apparently unconscious that in so doing they act inconsistently, and imply that of contradictories both may be true.   They alternate between atheism and Catholicity, assume atheistical ground to escape Catholic conclusions, and Catholic ground to escape atheistical conclusions. It is in vain that we attempt to bind them by conclusions drawn from either set of principles. They suppose they may reasonably hold both, and will be held to neither, when taken exclusively.

Certain it is that Protestants profess to be Christians only by virtue of what they hold in common with the Catholic Church; for all else in their system is negative, and Christianity, whatever else it be, is something positive, affirmative, resting on its own basis, and intelligible by itself, not merely in that it is the denial of something else. Strip Protestants of what they hold in common with the Church, of what they originally learned and retained from her, and they would have nothing with which to cover their nakedness, or which even they could or would call Christianity. They are even in their own estimation Christians only in so far as they agree with the Church, and do not protest against her. Now they cannot be Protestants in the respect in which they agree with the Church, for it is only in dissenting from her and protesting against her that they are Protestants. Hence their Protestantism is not and cannot be in the Christian principles and doctrines they profess, and in treating them as Protestants these are not to be taken into the account. Their Protestantism is to be distinguished from these, and to be judged without reference to the fact that they who hold it do or do not hold these along with it; that is, their Protestantism is to be distinguished from all Christian principles and doctrines, and to be judged unchristian, precisely as it should be judged in case that Protestants did not, inconsistently with it, profess to hold some portions of Christian truth. It is what they deny in opposition to the Church, not what they hold in common with her, that constitutes their Protestantism, as what they hold in common with her, not what they deny in opposition to her, that constitutes their sole claim to be regarded as Christians. It follows, therefore, that we cannot treat Protestantism in any respect as Christian, nor Protestants in that they are Protestants as Christians. As it is not the Christianity they profess, but the Protestantism which they hold, that it is necessary to refute, and as the principle of this is atheism, we must, in all our arguments intended to be a final refutation of Protestantism in its principle, begin with a refutation of atheism, on which the majority of Protestants will unhesitatingly fall back, if they find it necessary to do so in order to avoid Catholic conclusions.
Undoubtedly Protestants generally recognize the existence of the Supreme Being, but we apprehend that, although many of their ministers have written much to prove that God is, comparatively few of them have that clear conviction or that firm persuasion that he is, which is necessary to warrant us in assuming their belief in his existence as the basis of an argument against them for doctrines repugnant to their passions or their prejudices. There are with most of them things more subjectively certain than that God is, and consequently, if hard pressed, they would sooner deny his existence than surrender them. Hence they need to have the existence of God established anew to their minds, and to be shown that it is absolutely certain, so certain that there is nothing else that we believe or can believe that it would not be more reasonable to deny than to deny it.

We propose, consequently, to offer a few suggestions in refutation of atheism, but our readers must not suppose that we are about to indict on them a long chapter of metaphysics. There are popular errors which admit of no popular refutation. The mass of the people can understand, and profit by, the results of the profoundest thought and reasoning, but only a limited number can understand the processes by which those results are obtained. There is no truth above the reach of the common mind, but the arguments which demonstrate the truth, or the reasoning necessary to vindicate it from the errors often mixed up with it in the popular mind, can in general be appreciated only by those who have received a preparatory discipline. Hence the Divine wisdom in all matters of primary importance and essential or useful to our salvation teaches us not through philosophy and metaphysics, but by revelation communicated to us by a living and ever-present authority. But the refutation of atheism is possible without any very long or intricate process of metaphysical reasoning. The question involved is by no means so difficult as it has sometimes been made to appear, and the question needs but to be clearly and distinctly stated to be within the reach of the ordinary understanding.

There are, doubtless, real atheists in the world, both speculative and practical, but no man can be consistently an atheist. Not indeed, as some tell us, because every man in every act of intelligence asserts principles from which that God is can be logically inferred, but because, as a matter of fact, every man in every act of intelligence, in every exercise of understanding, in every thought, apprehends and asserts that which is God, although he may not be distinctly conscious that such is the fact. The refutation of atheism does not lie in demonstrating from principles distinct from God that God is; it lies in showing that the human intellect has in its operations immediate intuition of that which is God, and could not operate or know any thing at all if it had not. The question has been obscured and rendered difficult to ordinary minds by our modern philosophers, who have proceeded on the supposition that, in order to know that God is, we must be able by our natural light to originate the belief in his existence, and to demonstrate it from certain principles or premises more immediately known to the mind than is God himself. They have supposed it necessary to begin, with Descartes, in doubt, to assume, at least for the purposes of the argument, that man began in total ignorance of God, with no conception of his being or his attributes, and then proceed to show how by the operations of his own mind he might attain to the conception of God, and demonstrate his real existence. But this is an error, and one attended with many fatal consequences.

The belief that God is, inasmuch as it is a matter of supernatural revelation, pertains to faith, but as the preamble to faith, as St. Thomas calls it, it must be a matter of science. It is necessary, in order that it may be a matter of science, that we should not merely believe, but also know, that God is; and we must know that he is, because faith, though transcending reason, must be reasonable, have some relation to science, which could not be the case if we had no knowledge properly so called of the existence of God. Motives of credibility must have a scientific basis, but unless we know independently of the revelation that God is, and is the Creator of all things, they can have no such basis. But to the reality of science or knowledge as distinguished from faith it is not necessary that its matter or the object known should be originally discoverable by the mind's own operations; all that is necessary is that, when clearly and distinctly presented to the mind, it be intuitively evident. The distinction between faith and knowledge does not necessarily consist in the fact that the objects of the one are supernaturally revealed to the mind, and the objects of the other are discovered by it, but in the fact that in the former the assent is given on the authority of the Revelator, and in the latter by the intuitive apprehension of the truth. In point of fact there is very little of what we know that has been originally discovered by us, or presented to the mind otherwise than by the teacher who originally knew or had already learned it. It is not, therefore, at all necessary to the scientific validity of the belief in God, that it should have been originated by the mind's own operations, or that it should be a belief which the mind without assistance from abroad could have generated.

The belief, moreover, is one that the mind not furnished with it could not originate.    If we could suppose a people at any time  entirely destitute  of the  belief, in total ignorance  of God, with  no  conception of his being, we should be obliged to suppose them remaining for ever without it, unless supernaturally taught it by God himself, or by teachers from some other people who had already been taught it.    The reason of this is, that there is no conceivable process  by which the  mind can originate it, which does not presuppose that the mind is already in possession of it.    " Fear made their gods," sang old Lucretius, and whole hosts of philosopherlings have labored to prove that the passions have generated the belief in  God, and that therefore it has no validity.    The passions have, no doubt, obscured the intellect, and influenced the notions which men left to themselves have formed of the attributes of God, and of the worship which he exacts of them, but they   could   not  have  originated  the  belief itself, for  the belief is an act of the intellect, which precedes all motion of the passions, and without which neither passion nor its object is conceivable.    I must intellectually apprehend an object before I can desire it, fear it, or love it; and I must conceive it to be God before  I can  tremble  or love, be filled with fear or awe, thrill with terror or delight in its presence as in the  presence  of the Divine.    All the passions in themselves are blind, and no one of them is capable of presenting any object to the mind, and they have and can have no object save as presented by the intellect. Men must have had the belief that there is the Divine, that God is, before they could have supposed that what moves their passions is God or Divine, or be left to infer from the fact that their passions are moved that there is a Divinity that moves them ; they must also have held his existence before they could have dreamed of saying this or that is God, or of identifying him with wood or stone, heroes or animals, the elements, the mysterious, the terrible, or the beneficent forces of nature, the wind or the rain, the storm or the tempest, the sun, the moon, or the stars of heaven; and consequently the belief that God is must have preceded the rude, forms of African fetichism, as well as the poetical and polished mythology of Greece and Rome. The belief must necessarily precede its applications or its corruptions, and consequently all those have grossly erred who have labored in the interests of atheism to prove that man has generated in his own mind the belief in God.

They, again, have erred no less grossly, but from more commendable motives, who have alleged in the interests of the belief that the human mind is able to generate it. This to some extent is the case with the author of the work before us. We say to some extent, for he does not precisely allege that the individual has originated the belief for himself, since he assumes that the well-instructed child has before forming the belief heard say from his father that there is a God. Nevertheless, his whole argument proceeds on the supposition that the individual is able to originate the belief, and he undertakes to show the process by which it may be done. Like all philosophers of his class, he begins with the child, — forgetting that the adult is before the child, and that the human race must have begun in the adult man, not in the infant, — and attempts to show the gradual formation of the belief through the development of what he calls the sense of awe, the sense of wonder, the sense of admiration, the sense of order, the sense of design, the sense of goodness, the sense of wisdom, and reverence. In what sense the author here uses the word sense is not very clear, and we suspect it would be difficult even for him to inform us. He writes with great looseness of expression and indeterminateness of thought.   The word sense in our language has more than one meaning. It means the faculty of perceiving through external organs, as the eye, the ear, &c.; sometimes it means the organ itself; sometimes, again, the exercise of the perceptive faculty, sometimes its object, and, finally, sometimes simple feeling, or affection of the sensitive soul, in modern language, of the sensibility. When we say sense of a thing, we use the term to denote a feeble or obscure perception. Thus a sense of awe would mean a feeble and obscure perception of awe, which, if not nonsense, means that we are conscious of a slight degree of awe. This of course is not the meaning of the author, and by sense of awe he would have us understand most likely either the feeling of awe or the faculty or capacity of feeling awe, or of being affected by the emotion termed awe. So of the sense of wonder, and of admiration. Thus far we presume the author understands by sense the power or capacity of the soul to feel awed, to wonder, and to admire. But when he speaks of sense of order, of design, of wisdom, and of goodness, he cannot use the word in the same sense, because order, design, wisdom, goodness, are not feelings or emotions of our soul, but objects intellectually apprehensible by it, and he must here use the word to denote either the "intellect itself or an exercise of intellect, either the power to apprehend order, design, wisdom, and goodness, or the actual apprehension of them. Reverence, again, is an affection of the rational soul, and demands as its condition the intellectual apprehension of its object, and follows instead of preceding such apprehension.

But passing over the unphilosophical use of language, a common fault of our author, let us inquire if it be possible either to obtain the conception of God or to establish the belief in his existence in the way Mr. Newman indicates. Awe, wonder, admiration, order, design, wisdom, goodness, are all considered by him as properties or affections of the soul, and as affections of the soul they lead us gradually, as they are developed, to the belief in God.  We demand how this is done. By way of deduction or induction ? Not by way of induction, for there is no induction in the case. Induction is concluding from a number of particulars a general law or principle common to them all, and the law or principle is not applicable beyond the particulars enumerated.   In the present case, regarding the particulars enumerated as subjective affections, the principle or law obtainable by induction from them would be subjective also, and pertain solely to the human soul, or be the human soul itself. Not by deduction, for deduction is simply analysis, and analysis can give you only what is in the subject analyzed. But these affections are subjective, human, and therefore do not contain God, and therefore God cannot by analysis be obtained from them. This is sufficient for the refutation of Mr. Newman's theorizing.

But omitting the awe, wonder, and admiration, and confining ourselves to the sense of order, design, wisdom, and goodness, as a feeble and obscure perception of them, we are still unable from it alone, as assumed to be developed in the child, to obtain either immediately or by way of inference the belief in God. Men must hold the principle of causality, must believe in a first cause and a final cause, and in the necessary relation of cause and effect, before they can either intellectually apprehend order, design, wisdom, or goodness, in nature, or dream of inferring the existence of God from them, and therefore must really believe in necessary and eternal being, cause and end of all things, that is to say, in God himself. This fact alone condemns the whole physico-theology of your Bridgewater Treatises, and the ordinary argument a posteriori, so much insisted upon by the pretended natural theologians of modern times.

The argument a priori, or from cause to effect, as it is usually defined, is no more conclusive. It proceeds on the supposition that there are certain principles, at least in the order of our knowledge, more ultimate than God, from which his existence may be logically concluded. But either God is contained in those principles, or he is not. If he is not, he cannot be concluded from them, for nothing can be in the conclusion not contained in the premises. If he is, he can be said to be contained in them only in the sense that he is identical with them, or identically those principles themselves, and then he is not concluded from them, but is immediately apprehended in the immediate apprehension of them. In the order of reality there can be no principles more ultimate than God, for he is himself prior to all not himself. If at all, he is himself ultimate, the first principle conceivable or possible, and therefore there can be no principle from which his existence is concludable. There can be none in the order of our knowledge. In what we know, God is either apprehended or he is not. If not, he cannot be concluded ; if he is, then he is apprehended prior to the logical process, and not obtained by it, and all it can do is to clear up and establish the fact that what we do really apprehend is God.

Let us understand this.    Reasoning consists in deducing conclusions from given premises.    It can neither operate without premises, nor furnish its own premises, and therefore it does and must always proceed from premises furnished it, and, in the last analysis, from premises furnished or   given  to  the mind  prior to  all reasoning or  logical process.    The mind cannot by reasoning obtain  its first principles, because without first principles it cannot reason at all.   Hence the first principles of all reasoning are given, not obtained; therefore  are called data.    As there can be nothing  in the conclusion  not contained  in  the data or premises, so nothing can be assented to in the conclusion which had not really been assented to in them.    Reasoning is not an operation by which knowledge is extended to new matter, a process by which we go from the known to the unknown and make new conquests to the domain of  our  knowledge.     All  it does is to distinguish,   clear up, and establish what we already know in  its premises, or is  given us in the data from  which  we reason.     It changes the state or the form of our knowledge, but does not give us knowledge of any new matter.    In the order of   knowledge, distinguished on the one hand  from faith and on the other from opinion, the principles, premises, or data are intuitively evident, and consequently nothing not intuitively evident can be concluded.    It is therefore impossible to conclude God by any logical process, whether a priori or a posteriori, — for the principle of both arguments is the same,— unless he is intuitively evident in the premises, and therefore apprehended prior to the commencement of the reasoning.    Hence the belief in God has not been and cannot be generated by any simply logical process whatever.

Reasoning is an exercise of the reflective, as distinguished from the intuitive understanding, and its premises must be distinctly apprehended as the condition of its operation. But in the intelligible order, as distinguished from the sensible order, reflection cannot take its premises immediately from intuition, as modern Transcendentalists and exaggerated spiritualists maintain, because we are not pure intelligences, but intelligences united to body, and, unless by a miracle, can  act in this life only in conjunction with the body.    Hence we  are capable, in the reflective order, the order in which we properly act, of no pure intellection, or intellectual operation.     We  are  incapable  of performing any intellectual process in which the senses do not take part.    We must act as  we  are, soul and body, intellect and  sense united, and consequently cannot reflect or reason on any object which is not either sensibly presented or sensibly represented.    This is the great fact on which Aristotle  insists against  Plato, and   St.   Thomas  against   the Platonists, and is the fact intended in the famous maxim, Nihil, est in intellectu, quod prius non fiterU in sens/t.    Neither Aristotle nor St. Thomas ever intended to teach that nothing is apprehensible  by us which is not an object of sense, or to deny that we may have, and have, intuition of the intelligible; for Aristotle makes philosophy properly so called consist in the knowledge of principles and causes, which he holds to be supersensible, and St. Thomas concedes that we  have in our desire, for good at least an obscure apprehension or intuition of God, who is our sovereign Good.     What they mean is, that nothing can be in or present to the mind as an object of the reflective understanding which is not either a sensible object or an intelligible object sensibly represented.    Neither held the modern doctrine of Sensism, any more than the modern doctrine of Transcendentalism.     All they  meant   is the   well-known fact, that the intuition of the intelligible, though real and the basis of all science, as of all demonstration, is not, and cannot be, immediately an object of reflection.     To  be such, the object of the intuition  must be sensibly represented to the mind.

But the intelligible has no sensible representative in the order of nature, for by its own nature it is always supersensible. The pretence of some, that the sensible world is the image and representative of the intelligible world, is unworthy of any serious consideration. The material is, and can be, no image of the spiritual; and all theologians agree, that the image and likeness of God to which man was created pertain to man's soul, not to his body. Analogies may be detected between the forces operating in the sensible world and those of the spiritual, and on the exhibition of these much of the charm and vivacity of poetry depends; but these forces are not themselves sensible; they are invisible and immaterial, save in their effects. The correspondences of the Swedenborgians are too fanciful to be entertained. Intuition of the intelligible must, in order to be an object of reflection, be sensibly represented; and as it has no natural representative, it must be represented to us through the medium of artificial signs, or words, which are the sensible signs of ideas, or intelligible objects. Sensible objects may be objects of reflection without the aid of words or language. I can reflect, for instance, on a tree, a blade of grass, or a flower, although ignorant of its name, because I am able to seize the object itself and hold it up before my mind's eye, and speculate on its form, its properties, or its uses. But in the intelligible order this is not possible. Mathematics is a mixed science, and pertains only in part to the pure ideal or intelligible, and yet no mathematician can carry on his processes without the aid of sensible signs or symbols. If we could, as our Boston Transcendentalists contend, take our premises immediately from intuition, we should be pure intelligences, and independent, intellectually considered, of the body while in it, which certainly is not the fact. We must take them from the sensible signs which signify them, and therefore from language. The real office of intelligible intuition is not to originate belief or to propound its object to reflection, but to evidence or confirm it when sensibly represented.

Now God, if he be at all, must be in the intelligible order, or rather that order itself, as distinguished from the sensible. He certainly is no object of our senses, as is conceded on all hands; the distinct or reflective belief that he is, is not and cannot be taken immediately from intuition, even assuming that he is intuitively apprehended by us, because in intuition nothing is reflective or distinct. It would by intuition alone be impossible to assert either to ourselves or to others that God exists. Before we can distinctly conceive that he is, we must have the truth that he is, sensibly represented to us, that is, expressed to us by sensible signs, in words, or language. Hence we could not attain to the belief that God is, could have no distinct belief that he is, unless taught it through the medium of words by some one other than ourselves.

But if the human mind is unable to generate the belief, the very fact of the existence of the belief becomes a proof, and a conclusive proof, of its validity. We do not, of course, contend, that the simple fact that a belief is entertained is in all cases a proof that it is well founded, for we are far from believing in the infallibility of the human race ; we only say, that the fact that a belief which man could not of himself originate, and which he can have present to his mind only as taught it by another, is in the world, and generally held, is full proof that it is true. For if we can have it only as we are taught it, we must either assume that God himself has first taught us, or else suppose an infinite series of teachers. My father may have taught me, but who taught him? His father? But who taught his father? These questions may be continued to infinity, and we must either assert an infinite series of teachers, which is an infinite absurdity, or we must stop with the first man, the commencement of the series of generations, and then arises the question, Who taught the first man ? God himself, is the only answer conceivable, and then God really is; for if he were not, he could not teach his existence, since what is not cannot act. This is historically the way in which the belief has actually originated. God taught the first man his own existence, and the belief has been perpetuated to us by the unbroken chain of tradition. This of itself sufficiently refutes the atheist.

The tradition of the human race in this respect is uniform and unbroken. History traces the belief from the first man down to us, and the testimony of the human race to the existence of the tradition in every age and in every nation is itself sufficient to warrant belief in its reality, if human testimony is sufficient to establish any fact whatever. There may have been atheists in every age who have denied the existence of God, but even these are so many unexceptionable witnesses to the fact of the tradition, for these all assailed it, and they could not have assailed it if it had not existed; they all arraigned the belief in God, but in so doing they only proved that the belief survived, since men do not arraign what is not, or deny what is not affirmed. The mythologies and idolatries of the heathen all vouch in like manner for the fact of the primitive tradition, for they are all manifest corruptions or perversions of it, — of the belief and worship of God which preceded them, subsisted with the patriarchs and the Jews contemporaneously with them, and in the Catholic Church have survived them. Even if man could have originated the belief itself, still the universal tradition would be full evidence that he first learned the existence of God from God himself.

But we will not stop here, lest we be supposed to hold one of the errors of Lamennais. This would establish the validity of the belief in God, it is true, but it would not make his existence a matter of science. Here was the error of Lamennais. He made the belief traditional, assumed the original revelation by God himself, but made the belief rest for its evidence, not on intuition, but on the testimony of the race, and therefore left it a matter of faith, of mere human faith too, and not a matter of science. The belief is proved to be true by the tradition, but to be a matter of science it must be evident not merely from testimony, but from intuition, or, in other words, it must be intuitively evident, and that it is intuitively evident we proceed now to show.

We allow the atheist to doubt all things if he wishes, till he comes to the point where 'doubt denies itself. Doubt is an act of intelligence ; only an intelligent agent can doubt. It as much demands 'intellect to doubt as it does to believe, — to deny as it does to affirm. Universal doubt is, therefore, simply an impossibility, for doubt cannot, if it would, doubt the intelligence that doubts, since to doubt that would be to doubt itself. You cannot doubt that you doubt, and then, if you doubt, you know that you doubt, and there is one thing, at least, you do not doubt, namely, that you doubt. To doubt the intelligence that doubts would be to doubt that you doubt, for without intelligence there can no more be doubt than belief. Intelligence, then, you must assert, for without intelligence you cannot even deny intelligence, and the denial of intelligence by intelligence contradicts itself, and affirms intelligence in the very act of denying it, Doubt, then, as much as you will, you must still affirm intelligence as the condition of doubting, or of asserting the possibility of doubt, for what is not cannot act.

This much, then, is certain, that however far the atheist may be disposed to carry his denials, he cannot carry them so far as to deny intelligence, because that would be denial of denial itself.    Then he must concede intelligence, and then whatever is essential to the reality of intelligence. In conceding any thing, you concede necessarily all that by which it is what it is, and without which it could not be what it is.    Intelligence is inconceivable without the intelligible, or some object capable of being known.   There is no intelligence where there is no knowledge; there is no knowledge where nothing is known ; and there can be nothing known where there is nothing to be known.   So, in conceding intelligence, the  atheist  necessarily concedes the intelligible.    He who asserts intelligence asserts the intelligible, for without the intelligible intelligence is impossible. But as what is not cannot act, so what is not cannot be intelligible.    The intelligible therefore is something  which is, is being, real being too, not merely abstract or possible being, for without the real there is and can be no possible, or abstract.    The abstract in that it is abstract is nothing, and therefore unintelligible, that is to  say, no object of knowledge or of the intellect.    The possible, as possible, is nothing but the power or ability of the real, and is apprehensible only in the apprehension of that power or ability.    In itself, abstracted from the real, it is a pure nullity, has no being, no existence, is not, and therefore is unintelligible,  no object of intelligence or of intellect, on the principle that what is not is not intelligible.     Consequently, to the reality of intelligence a real intelligible is necessary, and since the reality of intelligence is undeniable, the intelligible must be asserted, and asserted as real, not as abstract or merely possible being.    The atheist is obliged to  assert   intelligence,   but   he  cannot   assert   intelligence without asserting the intelligible, and he cannot assert the intelligible without asserting something really is, that is, without asserting real being.     The real being thus asserted is either necessary and eternal being, being in itself, subsisting by and from itself, or it is contingent and therefore created being.    One or the other we must say, for being which is neither necessary nor contingent, or which is both at once, is inconceivable, and cannot be asserted or supposed.    Whatever is, in any sense, is either necessary and eternal or contingent and created, — is either being in itself, Absolute Being, as the Germans say, or existence dependent on another for its being, and therefore is not without the necessary and eternal, on which it depends.   If you say it is necessary and eternal being, you say it is God ; if you say it is contingent being, you still assert the necessary and eternal, therefore God, because the contingent is neither possible nor intelligible without the necessary and eternal.    The contingent, since it is or has its being only in the necessary and eternal, and since what is not is not intelligible, is intelligible, as the contingent, only in necessary and eternal being, and therefore can be known only in knowing necessary  and eternal  being,  the  intelligible  in itself, in which it has its being, and therefore its intelligibility.     So in either case you cannot assert the intelligible without asserting necessary and eternal being, and therefore, since  necessary and eternal being is  God, without asserting God, or that God is ; and since you must assert the intelligible in order to  assert intelligence, and since you must assert intelligence even to deny it, it follows that in every act of intelligence God is asserted, and that it is impossible without self-contradiction to deny his existence. The conclusion here is evident, but if we analyze it we shall find that it is not that God is, but that what is really apprehended  in every act  of intelligence   as  the   intelligible, without which the act were impossible, is God.   The whole argument proceeds on the assumption that the mind has immediate and direct intuition of being.     We find that in every act of intelligence there is apprehension of real being, and it is only in virtue of such apprehension that there is any actual intelligence at all.    But this apprehension is immediate, intuitive, not discursive, by virtue of a prior act of intelligence, or a previous apprehension, because without it there is no apprehension, and no intellectual act at all.    As certain, then, as it is that there is intelligence at all, so certain is it that in the first, as in the last, act of intelligence there is intuition of being, and of real being.    It is equally certain that this real being is necessary and eternal being, and therefore God; for only that which is necessary and eternal, which is being in itself, subsisting by and from itself, absolute, perfect, independent being, is intelligible in and by itself alone.    Nothing but being is intelligible, and consequently that which has being only in another is not intelligible in and by itself alone, and can be known only in the being in which it has its being.    Hence  Malebranche rightly maintained, after St. Augustine, that we see all things in God, in whom we live, and move, and are. If nothing but being is intelligible per se, it follows that the being which is the intelligible, and without which there could be no intelligible, is independent being, being that has its being in and from itself; for otherwise it would not be intelligible per se, and could be known only in knowing another being on which it depends or in which it has its being. But being which is independent, that has its being in itself and not in another, is necessarily necessary and eternal being, therefore God. Consequently that of which we have immediate intuition in every act of intelligence as the intelligible is God, which is what was to be proved.

It may help us to understand this if we bear in mind that there are no abstractions in nature, and that whatever is is real. We may say this or that which does not exist is possible, but we cannot say the possible is, for in that it is possible its characteristic is that it is not, but may be. Abstracted from the real, from the power or ability of the real, as we have said, it is a mere nullity, and is unintelligible, the subject of no predicate whatever. Between that which really is in itself or in another, that is, between real being or real existence, and nothing, there is no medium. A thing is or it is not, exists or does not exist. Existence as distinguished from being is that which is not in itself, but in another, and has being only by virtue of the creative act of him in whom it is. The word itself, from ex-stare, says as much. It is never necessary and eternal, but contingent, with a beginning in time, and therefore is inconceivable without the independent, necessary, and eternal being that has created it, and on which it depends. All conceivable, all possible reality is that which is and exists, that is to say, creator and creature. Hence, between God or Creator and existence or creature, and nothing, there is no tertium quid, no medium, and consequently whatever is intelligible to us, or essential to intelligence, which is not existence or creature, is God.

Now it is certain that in reasoning, for instance, we have immediate intuition of cause and effect, and of the necessary relation of the one to the other, and we could not perform a single act of reasoning if we had not. In the syllogism we hold there is necessary nexus between the premises and the conclusion, and in all languages the conclusion is said to  follow necessarily from  the premises.

Here is evidently apprehension of the necessary. This apprehension is necessarily intuitive, and not the result of reasoning, because it precedes all reasoning, and is the basis of every discursive process. But the necessary, as the eternal, wherever we encounter it, must have a real entity, — is, in the language of the schools, ens necessarium, necessary entity, and therefore God. Consequently, that of which we have immediate intuition in every process of reasoning, and without which no such process would be possible or conceivable, is God the Creator.
In all the operations of the mind concerning numbers, for instance, there is always intuition of unity ; for all numbers, as says Thomassin,* (footnote: * Lib. VI. cap. 10, art. 2, ct seq., apud Gerdil, Tom. IV. p. 24.    Romae, 1806.)

" are only unity more or fewer times repeated, and since it is seen as unchangeable and eternal, God himself is seen. The truth of unity and of numbers, and of their innumerable and ineffably wonderful properties, and the necessity of this truth which could not not be, its immutability whence it cannot be otherwise than it is, and its eternity whence it cannot not always be, are most evidently perceived and most clearly seen, and since it has so many of the Divine attributes, it can be no other than God himself. .....As to figures also, there are in the universe no circles, no spheres, no figures which exactly agree with the laws and definitions, which the understanding alone perceives to be prescribed to them......In God, therefore, as in the supreme principle of numbers, as in the very citadel of unity and equality, as in the art of arts and law of arts, all these things are seen, and are clearly seen, with the fullest light and evidence. Finally, the truth of these figures and of their properties, and the necessity, immutability, and eternity of this truth, surpass all created nature, and yet are plainly and most certainly seen with the eye of the mind ; and therefore God himself is seen [or intuitively apprehended]."

We may add to the same purport the following passages from St. Augustine, with Thomassin's commentary on them, as cited by Gerdil.

" Aug, By these and many similar arguments are those reason-ers, to whom God has granted understanding, and who are not led by pertinacity into error, compelled to acknowledge that the truth and reason of numbers do not belong to the external senses, and that this truth and reason are sincere and unchangeable, and common to all who reason.* (* Lib. If. de Lib. Arbit., cap. 8.) Thom, Therefore this truth, since it is intelligible, unchangeable, and eternal, is God."
" Aug. There is* ( * Retract, agens de Lib. VI., De Music.) a thing worthy of being known, which is, how from corporeal and spiritual, but mutable numbers, we can come to the immutable numbers which are in that immutable truth : and thus the invisible things of God are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. Thom, You see the numbers, which are so plainly evident, appear incommutable, and are seen in God, who is the incommutable truth. Aug. The incommutable truth of numbers is as the chamber, the penetrate, the region, habitation, or seat of numbers." *(* Lib. II. dc Lib. Arbit., cap   11. )  And again : " A sort of light in a wonderful manner, both secret and public, is present and illumines all those who perceive immutable truths." And further on : " Pass, then, beyond the mind of the artificer, that you may behold the eternal number, then will wisdom shine upon you from its inner recess and from the dwelling-place of truth. Thom. So therefore most constantly asserts that God, the eternal and immutable truth of numbers, is seen [intellectually apprehended]."

As to figures, St. Augustine says : § (* De Vcr. Rclig., cap. 30.)—
" Since agreement, by which alone all things are beautiful, pleases in all arts, and this agreement requires equality and unity, either in the similitude of equal, or in the gradation of unequal parts, who is there that can find supreme equality or similitude in bodies, and would dare to say that any body is truly and simply one, if carefully considering that all bodies are changed cither by passing from species to species, or from place to place, and that they are composed of parts occupying their places, by which they are divided into different spaces ? Moreover, the true equality and likeness, the true and first unity, are apprehended not by the eyes of the flesh, nor any external sense, but by the intellect. For how should any equality be desired in bodies, or how should the most of them be known to be imperfect, if that which is peifect were not apprehended by the mind, — if indeed that may be called 'perfect which is not made and which is neither extended in place nor changeable in time. Thom. He argues, then, that the transcendental equality is seen neither by the senses nor the imagination, but by the intellect alone, and that works are judged by it as by the law of all arts. But since this equality is immutable and immense, having no relation to place or time; since it is perfect, though not made ; since it is the law which may not be judged, but according to which, as being supreme and above them, all created
minds judge,— it must necessarily be God himself, the law of all arts and the art of the Almighty Artificer, as the same St. Augustine immediately adds : But since this law of all arts is in all respects immutable, and the human mind to which it is granted to apprehend this law is liable to the mutability of error ; it is evident that there is a law above the mind of man, which is called truth.

And again : —
" Aug. This is that immutable truth which is rightly called the law of all arts, and the art of the Almighty Artificer. Thom. Hence it is evident that God is seen [or intuitively apprehended], since this law or truth of equality and unity is apprehended by the intellect ulone. Aug. Is it easy for the soul to love these things, in which it seeks only equality and likeness, and of which, after the most careful consideration, it hardly detects the least trace or shadow ? Is it difficult for the soul to love God, in whom, as far as is possible for it, still thinking of earth, it sees nothing unequal, nothing unlike, nothing extended in place, nothing varied in time ? If it pleases us to build edifices, and to be busied in such works, what is it that pleases, if it be not numbers? For I find nothing else which may be said to be similar or equal in them which discipline may not deride. If this be so, why do we descend to these things from that citadel of most true equality, and build on its ruins ? Thom. You perceive that the equality itself is God," and is seen by our understanding, and seen so clearly and surely as to be more evident than bodies.

" Aug. It belongs to the higher intellect to judge of these corporeal things according to incorporeal and eternal reasons, which, if they were not above human understanding, would not be immutable ; and if nothing of ours were added to them [that is, if we were not in relation with them, or could not apprehend them], we could not by them judge of sensible things, &c. But that of ours which is employed in treating of sensible and temporal things, and is not common to us with brutes, is indeed rational, but proceeds from that rational substance of our minds by which we adhere to the intelligible and immutable truth [that is, intuitively seize or apprehend it], and is given us for treating and governing inferiors."*(* Dc Trinit., Lib. XII. cap. 2.)  And Chapter VII.: "As we have said of the nature of the mind, if it contemplates the whole truth, it is the image of God, and from it is in a certain manner distributed and directed to the action of temporals ; nevertheless, though inasmuch as it consults the truth perceived it is the image of God, yet inasmuch as it operates in inferior actions it is not his image."

We  come to the same conclusion  from the notion of justice.    St. Augustine must speak for us:--
" What the mind is, we know from ourselves, for the mind is within us. But how shall we know the just, since we are not yet just? If we know it without us [in space], we know it in some body. But this is not a thing belonging to bodies. In ourselves, then, we know the just; for I do notjfind it anywhere when I seek it, if I may say so, but with myself. And if I interrogate another what is the just, he asks himself what he shall answer. Is that which he sees the interior truth present to the mind which is able to see it ? Nor are all able to see this : and those who are able are not all of them that which they see within themselves, that is, they are not just minds because they can see and tell what is a just mind. Whence could they be just minds, unless by adhering to that form which they behold within them, and, being informed by it, made just minds ?.....The man, then, who is believed to be just, is loved by that form and truth which he who loves him sees and understands with himself; but which form and truth he is not, as otherwise he would himself be loved."*(* De Trinit, Lib. VIII. cap. G.)    

The soul, as Gerdil remarks, knows itself, in the manner in which it knows itself in this life, by its interior sentiment of itself, but it knows justice only in beholding the very form of justice. Now this form and this truth is God himself; for, as St. Augustine says, it is loved for itself, and, besides/justice can be represented to us by no idea of it distinguished from itself, as St. Augustine says again in express terms: —

" For we find nothing such except itself that, when it is unknown, by believing we love it because we already know something similar. For whatever you see like it is it, since it alone is such as it is."

And again : *(* Ibid., Lib. XIV. cap. 15.) —

" Hence, even the wicked think of eternity, and rightly blame and praise many things in human actions. By what rules, then, do they judge, unless by those in which they see how each one should live, although they themselves do not live according to them ? Where do they see them ? Not in their own nature, since they are certainly seen by the mind, and it is evident that their minds are changeable, and whoever sees these rules sees they are unchangeable. Nor do they see them in the habit of their mind, since they are the rules of justice, but their minds are evidently unjust. Where are these rules written ? where do the wicked see what is just and what is unjust ? whence do they know they should have that which they have not?    Where are these
rules written, if not in the book of that light which is called truth ? Hence, every just law is written in and transferred to the heart of the man that works justice, not by migration, but as it were by impression, as an image passes from a ring to the wax, yet does not leave the ring. But he that does not do that which he sees should be done, is turned from that light by which, notwithstanding, he is enlightened."

"Behold, you blame God," he says (Enarr. in Ps. lxi.), "as if for injustice. You could not blame him for injustice if you did see justice, for how could you know that this is unjust, unless you know what is just ? You see this to be unjust from some rule of justice, and comparing with it the evil that you see, and finding that it does not agree with the rectitude of your rule, you blame it as an artificer distinguishing the just from the unjust. I ask you, then, whence do you see that this is just ? Whence that I know not what with which your soul is sprinkled, — for it remains in many respects in darkness,— that which flashes upon your mind ? Whence is this just? Has it no origin ? Is it from you, and can you give justice to yourself? No man gives himself what he has not. Therefore, since you are unjust, you can be just only in turning to some permanent justice, which you cannot depart from without being unjust, nor come to without being just: when you go from it, it is not wanting, when you approach it, it does not increase. Where then is this ? Go where God has once spoken, and you will find the fountain of justice where you find the fountain of life."
These extracts, which are only a specimen of what we might make from St. Augustine, and which we introduce both for their merit as arguments, and as authority for our Catholic readers, fully sustain our position. They prove that in all our intellectual operations, as their necessary condition, we have intuition of real being, of the unchangeable, the necessary, and the eternal, and real, necessary, unchangeable, and eternal Being is God, and therefore they prove that we have intuition of God. This intuition is like all intuition, indistinct, indefinite, and we do not from it alone ever know or become able to affirm that its object is God. To know this, it is necessary to reflect on the object of the intuition as re-presented to us in language, or sensible signs. Here is the place for the various arguments ordinarily adopted by theologians. They do not prove to the mind that has no intuition of God that God is, for God is the first principle of all proof, of all demonstration, of all science; but they do prove to the mind that the object of its intuitions, by virtue of which it knows or reasons, is God. These arguments, whether from effect to cause or from cause to effect, whether from the order and design of nature, the necessity of a prime Mover or of a universal Governor, do not prove from principles distinct from God that God is, but that principles which we did not know to be God are God, and nothing else, which is still better.

Another branch of the subject, namely, the evidence that God not only is, but is the creator of all things, or has created the world, and which contains the refutation of pantheism, remains to be considered; but as it would make this article quite too long to take it up now, we reserve it for a future occasion.    Pantheism is the form which atheism now assumes, and the great point to be proved to complete the refutation of atheism is not to establish the fact that we have intuition  of God  as being, but of him as creative being, for it is the creative Deity that is now generally denied.    We live in an age marked by the revival find prevalence of heathenism, and the grand error of heathenism originated in the loss of the conception of God as creator. Heathen philosophy forgot the first verse of Genesis : " In the  beginning, God created  the heavens and the earth." It lost sight of the creative act of the Divinity, and hence it was never able to attain to sound theology even in the natural order.    The philosophers of our age lose sight of the same fact, and hence their errors.    We will endeavor hereafter to recall the fact to their minds, and establish it. But we have said enough for the present.   We have shown that God is, and that he is the very principle of all our intelligence, the fountain of all truth, and the source of all light.   As such, we are in immediate relation with him, are in our own minds intimately united to him.    Let it be our study to be as intimately united to him in our hearts by a never-failing charity, which loves him above all things for his own sake.