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July 27, 2005

Ch.IV. Q.32. Theistic Doctrine

BELIEF that God exists is largely instinctive. The arguments for the existence of God do not originate such belief. They justify it, and afford points of view from which to contemplate its Object. They show, not simply that God is; but, by drawing our attention to certain inferences which can be gathered from His handiwork, they help us to see what He is.1

2. The evidences of God's existence teach us that He is the uncaused, eternal and infinite Cause and Orderer of all things, One and unique, intelligent, free, and personal, the beneficent and righteous Governor of the world, whom we should worship and whose will we should ascertain and obey.2

3. The Cosmological argument points to One uncaused First Cause and Orderer of all things. The idea of a cause carries with it the presence of will, and therefore of purpose. The First Cause must also be without beginning, i.e., eternal, and self-conditioned, i.e., infinite. That God is intelligent, wise, and free, is more directly shown by the evidences of design in nature.3

4. The Historical argument employs evidences which indicate this wise Person to be beneficent since He overrules all things for the ultimate good of His creatures. The existence of evil does not conflict with this teaching. It shows, however, that the Divine purpose is not fully worked out, and that Divine power, although infinite, is internally limited. To create finite persons possessing real freedom without ability to sin would seem to exceed the limits of power as such.4

5. So far as the evolutionary theory is true, God seems to work in and through creaturely things as well as upon them. If the higher grows out of the lower, the Divine power operates from within the lower; i.e., God is immanent in the universe. Yet the fact that each step of the evolutionary process brings a higher nature to birth shows that the Divine power which works in evolution transcends the universe in which it works. The lower cannot of itself produce the higher, which is supernatural to itself. God is at once immanent and transcendent — "not far from any one of us,"5 and yet over all His works as almighty and self-sufficient Sovereign.

6. The Moral argument draws attention to indications that the good Being whom we call God is righteous in all His ways and will not behold iniquity.6

7. From the universal prevalence of the religious instinct, and the sense of accountability, we are led to infer that our worship is due to God and that our lives must be conformed to His will, however made known. That will appears truly, although partially, in what are called the laws of nature; and to live according to nature is to that extent to live according to the will of God.

1 Fisher's Grounds of Belief, p. 24; Lindsay, Recent Advances, p. 5; Flint, Theism, pp. 60-61.

2 St. Thos., Summa, I. ii. 2 ad sec.; Martensen, Dogmatics, § 38; Chalmers, Nat. Theol., Bk. V., ch. iv., pp. 358-387; Barry, Boyle Lecs., pp. 320-324.

3 Flint, pp. 124-129; Martineau, Religion, Bk. II., ch. i., § 8. Smyth, Through Science to Faith, ch. ii.-v.

4 Smyth, ch. vi.

5 Acts xvii. 27.

6 Clarke, Outline of Theol., pp. 120-123, 127, 128, urges the dilemma, God is either good or evil, and the improbability of His being evil.

Posted by Debra Bullock at July 27, 2005 11:15 PM

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