Finney's Lectures On Theology
Volume 1, Unpublished, c. 1860
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
Theology is the science of God and of divine things. The knowledge of God is possible only upon condition that he reveals himself to his creatures.
I. SEVERAL WAYS IN WHICH GOD MAY REVEAL HIMSELF TO RATIONAL BEINGS.
1. Rational beings may bear his image in such a sense as irresistibly to recognize him as possessing a nature like their own. They may of necessity transfer their conception of themselves in kind, that is, so far as the attributes of their own nature are conceived, to God; and conceive of him by a necessary law as being a rational being like themselves.
In this case it is plain that he might reveal himself directly to their intuitive perceptions, so that they would recognize his existence, his presence, and the nature of his attributes: and that this revelation might be so direct as to make them certain of his existence, presence, and attributes. I do not mean by this that he could give finite creatures a comprehension of his infinity, for this were a contradiction; but I mean that the fact of his existence might be intuitively perceived, and the infinity of his nature might be irresistibly affirmed.
2. This intuitive, or face to face revelation, might be made either to the moral function of the reason, that is, the conscience, or to the natural function of the reason. If made to the moral function of the reason, he would of course be known as the supreme and rightful Ruler; if to the natural function of the reason, he would be apprehended as a first cause, infinite and perfect.
3. Again, he might reveal himself in consciousness. This is an intuitive function, and reveals us to ourselves, and whatever can be properly brought within the field of our own experience. Sense must reveal to consciousness the outward world; but whatever should unify itself with our thinking, willing, and feeling, may be directly given to us in consciousness. We may be as conscious of such an embrace, and fellowship, and presence, as of our own existence.
For example, a revelation made directly to our intelligence by God might be a matter of consciousness; that is, we might not only know ourselves to be instructed, but be conscious of the source from which the instruction came. So, if peace, joy, hope, pervade our inward being, we may be aware of the source from which it comes -- that is, such knowledge is possible.
4. Again, he may reveal himself to our logical faculty in such a sense, that from premises irresistibly postulated by the reason, his existence may be capable of demonstration.
5. Again, he may reveal himself in his works, through sense, in such a way as to render it natural to assume his existence; and indeed as to render it logically necessary to admit it.
6. Again, he may administer such a providence over the universe as will clearly reveal his existence to rational and reasoning beings.
7. Or again, he might reveal himself through the medium of a written revelation, in this sense: that he might produce a book in a manner and of such a character as naturally to conduct us to the conclusion that no being but God could produce such a book.
TWO REVELATIONS. -- We have in fact two revelations of God; the one his works, the other his Word. His Word, the second revelation, assumes the existence and the knowledge of the first. Every attentive reader of the Bible has observed that it assumes that we already know the existence of God, and that we have an idea of his natural attributes and of his moral character; and therefore that we irresistibly assume that he is good, and that we are his subjects and ought to obey him. It never argues these questions; it does not assert them. It opens with the announcement that God made the heavens and the earth; and that he made man, and how and when he made him. Here the existence of God is taken for granted, and it is assumed that we know his existence.
Again, the second revelation, or his Word, is valid only as the first is valid, inasmuch as the second assumes the existence and validity of the first. If these assumptions have no foundation, if God has not in fact revealed himself in his works, then what we call his Word cannot be known to be his Word; and the second revelation, even if it were a revelation, would be invalid, inasmuch as its fundamental assumptions are invalid.
Again, the fundamental lessons taught in the first revelation must be learned as a condition of rationally receiving and of rightly interpreting the second. For example, being ourselves in the likeness of God, we are of ourselves a book of divine revelation. The attributes and laws of our nature are such that to understand what the Bible says of God we must to a certain extent understand ourselves, and rightly interpret the revelations which God has made to us in our nature and in the universe with which we are surrounded. Unless we recognize our moral nature, its postulates, its irresistible convictions, the law it imposes upon us, and the necessary ideas of right and wrong, we cannot understand what the Bible means. The Bible assumes that the moral law is in its essence and substance a necessary dictate of our nature; and that we have the ideas of right and wrong, and of what right and wrong in their essence are. It is only as we understand and rightly interpret the fundamental lessons given in our nature and in external nature, that we can rightly understand and interpret the Bible. Hence, they reject the Bible who fail rightly to interpret nature, understanding nature to include our own existence and attributes.
Again, they and they only fundamentally misinterpret the Bible who misinterpret nature, using the term in the sense last mentioned. I have said that the first revelation is made mostly in the laws and attributes of our own nature. From our own nature we can learn more of God, if it be rightly interpreted, than from the whole material universe. Our nature and attributes we learn directly in consciousness; hence a correct mental philosophy or psychology is indispensable to a correct interpretation of the Word of God. The first book of revelation of which we speak teaches what is generally called natural theology. It is plainly necessary that God should be revealed to us to a certain extent as the condition of any rational inquiry into the question whether the Bible be a revelation from him.
But again, suppose his existence be admitted, we must have the conviction or knowledge of his natural and moral attributes as a condition first, of settling the question whether the Bible is a revelation from him; and secondly, if it is a revelation from him, whether it is to be implicitly received. For example, unless we know his natural attributes, as his omniscience, we might suppose him mistaken in any revelation he might make, and should not feel ourselves bound, or even at liberty, to receive as unquestionable truth whatever he might say, even did we assume that it was well-intended. Again, unless we assume his omnipotence, his omnipresence, and his natural immutability, we could not be assured that he was able to do that which he wished and promised to do; or that he might not be absent on occasions when we had the promise of his aid.
Again, if we did not assume his moral attributes, we could not trust him, although we were aware of his natural attributes. His claiming to be good would not prove him to be so unless we had other evidence than merely that of his word. I do not mean to deny that we are so created as naturally and irresistibly to assume that God is to be trusted, and therefore that we do not need any other evidence than his assertion to demand our implicit confidence; but this is so just because, and only because, we are so created as necessarily to assume it. In other words, we are so created as necessarily to assume his goodness, and the existence and infinity of all his moral attributes. It is the knowledge of these obtained from the first book of revelation that makes it obligatory, or even consistent for us, to receive the second as a universally true and infallible revelation from God.
I proceed now to give that definition of God which is revealed to us in his first book of revelation; that is, to postulate what God is as known to us in the irresistible convictions of our minds, as these minds exist with our surroundings in the universe.
II. WHAT GOD IS AS KNOWN TO US IN THE IRRESISTIBLE CONVICTIONS OF OUR MINDS.
1. Such are the laws of our minds that no being can be recognized by us as the true God, a greater and better than whom can be conceived as existing or possible. When we think of God, I believe it is the universal conviction of all who have the conception of him as the self-existent, infinite God, that no greater, wiser, or better being can possibly be conceived by us; and further, that our highest and best conception of him, though just in the main, are nevertheless very inadequate; that he must, after all, be far beyond the compass of our thought, except in the sense that we affirm that he must be unlimited in all his attributes.
2. Our highest possible conception of Being is the nearest the true idea or conception of God, and just, so far as it goes.
3. Hence again, our highest possible description or definition of a Being, is the best definition of God that is possible to us. I believe it will be generally admitted that we could not conceive any being to be the true and living God of whom finiteness and imperfection were predicable. We have the idea or conception of a Being whose existence and attributes are unlimited and perfect in every respect; we define this Being to be the infinite and perfect Being; we can, we do, and must recognize this Being as God; and a greater and better we can have no idea or conception of as possible. And as I said, a finite and imperfect being we cannot conceive to be the true God. By God, then, we mean the infinite and perfect Being.
Hence, we may define God to be the infinite and perfect Being. Or, we may add to this, God the infinite and perfect First Cause. Or, we may add to this, God the infinite and perfect First Cause and Moral Governor of the universe. Or, we may vary the definition, and define him thus: God the First Cause of all finite existences, infinite and perfect. Or, God the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the universe, infinite and perfect. If we search for him by the argument a posteriori, and define his existence as a First Cause, we may then legitimately inquire what is implied in his being a First Cause, and thereby arrive at the attributes of infinity and perfection. Or, if we arrive at his existence through conscience as a Moral Governor, we may then properly inquire what is implied in his sustaining this relation, and thereby arrive at his infinity and perfection.
The methods of arriving at the fact of the divine existence are two: the a priori and the a posteriori. By the a priori method we directly assume or intuit the fact that he exists; affirm it as a first principle truth anterior to all logical reasonings. By the method a posteriori we reason from effect to Cause; seizing upon the events of the universe we infer his existence as a First Cause. Before entering directly upon the discussion of the question of God's existence, we must define the principle terms to be used.
III. PRINCIPAL TERMS TO BE USED IN DISCUSSION OF GOD'S EXISTENCE.
1. ABSURDITY -- An absurdity is any proposition or statement that is contradictory to known truth. A proposition may be absurd when it is self-contradictory; or, it is absurd if it contradict any truth of reason, for these truths, it will be observed, are intuitive and therefore certainly known. The absurd, then, is the contradictory, that which is inconsistent either with itself or with some known truth. That may be absurd which contradicts the intuitions of sense, as well as that which contradicts the intuitions of reason; for, as we have seen, sense is an intuitive faculty and its testimony is valid. Whatever, therefore, contradicts the plain and unequivocal revelations of sense is absurd. Again, that is absurd which contradicts consciousness. Consciousness is also intuitive; all its revelations are valid; and any proposition that plainly contradicts consciousness must involve an absurdity.
2. MYSTERY -- A mystery is that which is incomprehensible; that which cannot be explained by us or referred to any known law or cause. The mysterious is that which is beyond or above the comprehension of our faculties in such a sense that although it may be a fact, it is a fact unexplicable by us. The absurd is contrary to reason, the mysterious is simply beyond reason; the absurd is that which we affirm cannot be so, the mysterious is that which may be, though we may not be able to explain or even conceive how it can be. The mysterious may be true. The absurd cannot be. In theology many things are above our comprehension, as the object of our study is the infinite. Therefore, mystery is to be expected. But in theology there can be no absurdity.
3. POWER -- Power is the capacity or ability to be a cause or to produce effect.
4. CAUSE -- This term is used in various senses, of which the following are the principal ones:
(1) Cause proper is an efficient; it is power in efficient or productive action. Cause implies an effect and is the efficient reason of the effect. It creates or produces. This is cause in its proper sense. Cause in this sense, as we shall soon see, must be intelligent, free, sovereign, efficient. Cause in this sense is called efficient cause.
(2) Instrumental cause. Cause in this sense is not of itself an efficient. It is not a power in itself, but only transmits an efficient power. It acts only as it is acted upon. It is neither free, sovereign, nor intelligent. Cause in this sense is an instrument and not an agent. To this category belong all the causes that are instrumentally producing the changes in the realm of unconscious matter. Cause in this sense is under the law of blind necessity. It acts as it is forced to act. I speak not now of the changes produced in the world of matter by the action of free agents, but of changes occurring under laws of necessity.
(3) Occasional cause. Occasional cause is only a motive or reason, that upon occasion of its being presented, induces a free intelligent being to act, or to become a cause in producing an effect. Cause in this sense is not an efficient. It does not compel or produce action. It is merely an instrument to act, and is as the terms denote only an occasion on which a true and proper cause acts, or a free intelligent being or power becomes a cause.
(4) Final cause. By final cause is intended the end or reason in view, and for the sake of which an intelligent being acts or becomes a cause. It is that reason that induces action, for example, the end God had in view, or the reason that induced him to cause the universe. His final end has been by necessitarian philosophers improperly called the final cause of his work of creation.
(5) Efficient cause. But to return to the consideration of efficient cause, of cause in its proper sense. Cause in this sense must be a power in itself. It is uncaused cause, as distinguished from caused or instrumental cause.
(a) It must be intelligent, as it acts upon occasion of the perception of some motive or reason for action. It must be free. It originates its own actions and is not caused to act.
(b) It must be a free agent. An agent is one who acts, and in the proper sense of the term, one who originates his own acts and is properly the author of them. A being who acts and is forced to act under a law of necessity is not capable of being a cause, in the proper sense of the term. He can be only an instrumental cause.
(c) Efficient cause must be sovereign. It must act upon occasion of some inducement, but never under a law of compulsion. It cannot be absolute in the sense of unconditional, for it acts upon occasion or condition of some perceived inducement, but it is sovereign in determining or acting in one direction or manner or another.
(d) Proper cause is not mere antecedence. It is production. Cause or causation is a mystery. There is no accounting for the self-originated acts of a free sovereign power. Such acts have no cause out of the power itself. Hence we cannot tell why an efficient cause is what it is or why the power acts as it does, and not otherwise. We may be able to tell the reasons which were the occasion of the act, but why this occasion rather than another has induced action we cannot tell. It is a mystery.
Cause and effect imply each other. Both must belong to time and neither can be eternal. A being may exist who has power to be a cause, who has never exerted that power for want of the proper occasion. The being may have existed from eternity. But from eternity he could not have been a cause. Exerting this power in an act must be an event and belong to time. But I must define event.
(6) Event. It is something that comes to pass.
(a) It may be the beginning of some existence or being.
(b) Or it may be some change in something already existent.
(c) All change is an event.
(d) Events occur in time, and cannot from their definition be eternal.
IV. SOME SELF-EVIDENT TRUTHS OF REASON.
I now proceed to postulate several self-evident truths of reason. Some of them are first truths, as they have been defined. Others are self-evident and are directly intuited by the pure reason, and must therefore be accepted as infallible truth. We have seen that cause in the most proper sense of the term, that is, efficient cause, is power in efficient action. That efficient cause must be intelligent, free, sovereign. We have also seen that an event is something that occurs, comes to pass, or take place in time. It is a change somewhere and in something. Or, it may be the beginning of something that before had no existence. As it occurs, begins, takes place, it must occur in time, and cannot be eternal. An event cannot be self-existent and eternal, for this is absurd and contradicts the true definition of an event.
1. My first postulate is that every event must have an efficient or an adequate cause. The efficient may act through or by means of an instrumental cause, or through a series of instrumental causes; but whenever there is an event, there must be a self-acting power in efficient action producing the effect immediately, or through instrumental cause or causes.
2. My second postulate is that neither cause nor effect can be eternal. This is self-evident from the definition of cause and effect. God existed from eternity with power to become a cause. When infinite wisdom called for an act of causality, he became a cause. But both the act and effect belong to time, and are not from eternity.
3. I postulate that a power acting as cause from eternity under a law of necessity is a contradiction. It is no cause if necessitated to act; it is a cause only in a secondary sense. It is therefore impossible that the material universe should have existed from eternity under a law of necessary change. In other words, it is a contradiction to say that the material universe has existed in a state of eternal change; for every change is an event, something comes to pass, and it is a contradiction to say that that which comes to pass is eternal. That which is eternal never began to be, it is therefore no event.
4. Again, if a necessary cause were possible, a self-existent and necessary cause must be an eternal cause, and is therefore a contradiction. A being may have existed who is free and who became a cause by acting in time; but neither a self-existing and necessary, or a self-existent and free cause can be an eternal cause.
5. Again, an eternal series, therefore, of causes and events is a contradiction; because all causation and events must occur, and therefore come to pass in time.
6. Again, a self-existent being must be an unconditioned, and therefore the absolute, immutable, and infinite being. If self-existent his existence cannot be conditioned; if unconditioned in his existence he must be immutable; and if immutable he must be infinite in his being.
7. Again, a self-existent being must be absolutely perfect in every respect in which he really exists; that is, in all the attributes that inhere in his necessary existence. The term perfect is used in two senses -- the relatively perfect and the absolutely perfect. By relatively perfect we mean that which is complete in its place or relations, in its adaptedness to its end. By the absolutely perfect we mean that to which nothing can be added. A self-existent being is a necessarily existent being, and exists just as it does with all its inherent properties or attributes, not one of which is capable of increase or of change; therefore, all the attributes of a self-existent being must be infinite.
8. Again, matter cannot be eternal. Whatever is eternal is self-existent. If it be eternal it never came to pass; its existence was never an event; it never had a cause. Again, whatever is self-existent is immutable. This we have seen in the last proposition above. If self-existent it exists just as it does in all its attributes from a necessity of its own nature -- that is, it is eternally impossible that it should not have existed, and so existed. If the material universe existed from eternity, it existed in a quiescent state or in a state of change, from a law inherent in itself. If in a quiescent state, it was immutable in that state and could never have changed; but it does change, and therefore it is not eternal. But if it existed in a state of change and under a law of necessary change, then cause and effect must have been eternal, which is a contradiction.
Again, if matter were self-existent, it must be eternal, absolute, immutable, infinite. That is, if it be self-existent, it is eternally existent; it must be absolute because its existence has no conditions. It must be immutable because self-existent; for self-existence is necessary existence; it must be infinite because immutable, self-existent and eternal. But matter can be neither; this is plain from the preceding proposition. Again, if matter were self-existent, the order in the material universe must have been necessary, unchangeable, and eternal. But an eternal order is a contradiction, if by order is meant order of events; for events, as we have seen, cannot be eternal.
Again, it is a contradiction because it implies an infinite series of causes and events. But this again is a contradiction; because every event and every cause must belong to time, and cannot be eternal, as we have seen. Again, if matter were self-existent and eternal, neither God nor man could change it in any respect. But we know that we can change the order of events in the material universe, and produce many changes of form and order, which show clearly that the material universe does not exist and act under a law of necessity. For if it did exist and act under a law of eternal necessity, then no supernatural influence could possibly exist that could vary its order. And it is also true, as we have seen, that a self-existent universe, acting under a law of eternal change, is a contradiction, as it implies an eternal series of dependent events; whereas every event, from its definition, must occur in time.
9. A cause must be a free agent exerting his power in action. A cause is a mystery only. But a cause, as we have seen, cannot be an eternal cause. A free being may be an eternal power, as is the case with God; but an eternal cause or power in an eternally-productive action, is a contradiction. It involves no contradiction to speak of a free being self-existent and eternal, who originates his own action and becomes a cause in time; but the supposition of an eternal necessity in nature is not a mere mystery, it is a contradiction, as in that case cause and effect must have been eternal.
10. Again, as we have seen, a cause must be a free agent. We have seen that an agent is an actor. An agent exerting his power in producing actions, is a free, and hence a proper, cause. Again, I am conscious of being a free cause. I am a moral agent and therefore free; I act myself in producing effects. In these actions I am cause; I know myself to be a cause, and a free cause, by being directly conscious of it. Hence I know that I am a supernatural being; in the actions of my will I am not subject to the law of cause and effect; the volitions of my will are causes. Of this I am conscious.
11. Again, we know that matter is not in any case a cause, in the highest sense of the term. It may transmit an influence which it receives; but all that we can know is, that in nature events succeed each other, under a law of necessity. The power cannot reside in matter itself; matter can be only an instrumental cause. An influence may be transmitted from the great First Cause through this chain of material causes, but we have seen that proper causes must be intelligent and free.
But in consciousness we know ourselves as proper causes; that the power by which we become cause is our own; and that we exert it at discretion, and under a law, not of necessity, but of moral responsibility. No intuitive faculty of ours can give us any other cause than that of free power in action; and this cause is directly given in consciousness.
V. ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
The proposition to be proved is the existence of God, first as a First Cause of all finite existences. The method of proof in this case must be a posteriori. But although the method must be a posteriori, it must have an a priori foundation; in other words, we must use two postulates of the reason as the foundation of our argument. The method, therefore, in this case, although called a posteriori, is strictly a combination of the a priori and a posteriori.
Foundation postulate: (1) Every event must have a cause. (2) An eternal series of dependent events is a contradiction. Syllogism -- major premise: A series of dependent events implies a First Cause. Minor premise: The universe is a series of dependent events. Conclusion: There must be a First Cause.
1. Proposition: The First Cause must be infinite and perfect. Syllogism -- major premise: Whatever is self-existent must be immutable, infinite, and perfect in all its attributes. This we have seen among the postulates of the pure reason. Minor premise: The First Cause must be self-existent, and therefore immutable, infinite, and perfect in all its attributes. Conclusion: God is, and is the First Cause, and therefore infinite and perfect.
2. Proposition: A first cause must be a free cause. Syllogism -- major premise: A first cause is an uncaused cause. Minor premise: None but a free cause can be uncaused. Conclusion: Therefore, the first cause must be free.
VI. ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD AS MORAL GOVERNOR.
This, as in proving the existence of God as a First Cause, is to prove his existence in a certain relation. Having proved his existence in certain relations, it is then proper to inquire what attributes are implied as belonging to his nature, and his character. These may be ascertained by an intuitive perception of what is implied in his existence in these relations.
1. God is a moral governor, infinite and perfect. In a former lecture the existence of conscience, as revealed in consciousness, came under consideration. This faculty, as we there saw, and as we are at present aware in consciousness, postulates an authoritative rule of moral action with sanctions. That is, this faculty affirms our obligation to be universally benevolent, and affirms this obligation in the name of God as the moral governor to whom we affirm our accountability. The moral nature of conscience, or in other words the reason in its moral application, is so related to God that it necessarily knows and assumes his existence. Within ourselves we are conscious of subjective moral law in the form of an authoritative rule of action. We are conscious of being amenable to an Author of this law, whom we cannot avoid conceiving to be the Author of our nature. We cannot resist the assumption that this Being has a claim upon our love and obedience; and it is to him that we necessarily regard ourselves as being amenable. In this our moral nature directly assumes and a priori intuits his existence as the Author of our nature, and of the law within us which we necessarily impose upon ourselves.
2. Again, in postulating obligation to universally submit to, obey, and trust him, our conscience or moral nature irresistibly assumes his infinity and perfection, both natural and moral. Did we not necessarily conceive of him as naturally perfect, we might suppose that he might err, and therefore as not worthy of universal confidence and obedience, however well he might intend. If we did not assume his moral infinity and perfection, we could not conceive ourselves under universal obligation to obey, submit to, and trust him. But our conscience or moral nature does unequivocally affirm our obligation to obey him implicitly and universally, to trust him implicitly and universally, and universally to submit to all his dealings. This affirmation being an ultimate fact of consciousness, is conclusive of his existence and perfections.
3. Again, we are aware in consciousness that conscience as truly postulates and assumes the existence of God as consciousness does our own existence. In other words, we are directly conscious of our own existence, and we are directly conscious that conscience assumes the existence of God. The one of these functions is as reliable as the other; they are both intuitive functions. Conscience gives the existence of God as a direct intuition or assumption in postulating our obligation to love and trust him; conscience gives our own existence directly in our internal exercises. So that in postulating the existence of God and my obligation to him by my conscience, I am aware of my own existence in this assumption of my conscience; and thus these two existences, my own and the existence of God, are simultaneously revealed to me -- my own directly by consciousness and God's directly by my conscience or moral nature. Both existences are thus revealed to me in consciousness; my own directly by consciousness, and God's indirectly through my conscience.
It is in this way, beyond all doubt, that mankind in general first come to the knowledge of the existence of God. It is not by reasoning, but by the a priori intuitions of conscience. He is not first known as a First Cause by the reason and logical faculty co-operating in the demonstration. As a First Cause he is known a posteriori; as a Moral Governor a priori. And indeed, it is impossible that as a Moral Governor he should be known in any other way. As Moral Governor he reveals himself to moral agents by revealing to their intuitive perceptions their obligation to him. Their obligation to him is not an inference from his existence and their relations to him as Creator. For were it admitted that he existed and that he were our Creator, it would not follow that we are under obligation to obey him, unless he be worthy of obedience. But how are we to learn that he is worthy of obedience? This we cannot get at by reasoning as a condition of our moral obligation to obey him.
We know ourselves to have been moral agents antecedent to all reasoning on the subject of the character of God. Every moral agent knows that he assumed from the very beginning of his moral agency his obligation to obey God, and his amendability to him, anterior to all reasoning as it respects the moral character of God, or even of his existence. God's existence, therefore, and moral character, are directly and intuitively revealed to the moral nature of every moral agent; and it is this intuitive revelation of his existence and character that is the condition of moral obligation to him. Now who does not know that he had the ideas of right and wrong, of moral obligation, of praise or blame-worthiness, before he had ever reasoned either concerning the existence or the attributes of God.
The existence of God, then, as a Moral Governor, is a fact revealed in the conscience, and consequently consciousness, of every moral agent. So true is this that men find it impossible to rid themselves of the idea of his existence in affirming their obligation and amendability to him.
4. Again, no moral agent under the pressure of conscience or standing in the presence of affirmed obligation, ever did or can doubt the existence of God and his amendability to him. It is an absurdity and a contradiction to say that, in the presence of postulated obligation and accountability to God by the conscience, the existence of God should really be doubted.
5. Again, the existence of God is only doubted when by improper methods an attempt is made to prove that he exists; or under the influence of some temptation that diverts the attention for the time being from the authoritative voice of God.
6. Again, the idea of future retribution as it lies in the universal conscience is an assumption of the existence of God. We necessarily conceive of God as just; all sinners are necessarily aware that they have disobeyed him. Now the conception of his moral perfection, and the consciousness that we have disobeyed him, lead to the irresistible assumption of the fact of a future retribution. This assumption of course includes the assumption of God's existence.
7. Again, it is generally agreed that man has a religious nature, that is, a nature that demands religion. Even atheists admit that man is by nature a superstitious being, which implies that by nature they assume the existence of God, of moral obligation, etc. Now, whether our nature be assumed to be a religious nature or a superstitious nature, it really amounts to the same thing. We have a nature that craves or demands the existence of God, that affirms his existence and our amendability to him. Call this a natural superstition, or a natural assumption, that God exists and claims our obedience -- call it what you will, the fact remains that by nature we assume and know the existence of God; and that this assumption is natural, not as a logical deduction, but as an intuitive knowledge. Again, if conscience did not give God as an irresistible conviction, or an intuitive knowledge, guilt and selfishness would reject the fact. But the fact cannot be rejected just because the knowledge is intuitive.
8. Again, moral agency is an ultimate fact of consciousness; moral agency implies moral law and accountability. Accountability implies a Moral Ruler or Governor. Moral government implies moral law; moral law is necessarily perfect and implies a perfect Moral Ruler; and a perfect Moral Ruler must be infinite. Therefore, the moral argument gives God as the infinite and perfect Moral Governor of the universe. (Roman numerals added, some headings added -- Gordon Olson).
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