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religious sentiment, just as the belief in light comes from using our eyes, and belief in our existence from mere existence. The knowledge of God's existence, therefore, may be called an intuition of reason, in the language of philosophy; or a revelation from God, in the language of the elder theology.
“ If the above statement be correct, then our belief in God's existence does not depend on the a posteriori argument, on considerations drawn from the order, fitness, and beauty discovered by observations made in the material world ; nor yet on the a priori argument, on considerations drawn from the eternal nature of things, and observations made in the spiritual world. It depends primarily on no argument, not on reasoning, but reason. The fact is given us outright, as it were, and comes to man as soon and as naturally as belief in his own existence, and is, indeed, logically inseparable from it, for we cannot be conscious of ourselves except as dependent beings." - Discourse, pp. 20 - 23.
This passage is designed expressly to answer the question, How does man come to the idea of God, or how is it that he is in possession of the idea of God, belief in the existence of God, or knowledge of the existence of God? To this question, notwithstanding the looseness of the passage, we may say, two answers are given. 1. The idea of God is a primitive datum of our nature, or fact given us in our nature itself. 2. It is an intuitive perception of God, - "given us," as he says in the following page, “ by intuition.”
These two answers Mr. Parker evidently regards as one and the same, and with him a fact given us in our nature and a fact of intuition mean one and the same thing. This shows that he is not far advanced in his philosophy, and that he but imperfectly comprehends the meaning of the words he uses.
À fact given us in our nature must, if it mean any thing, mean an essential element or principle of our nature as human nature, the absence of which cannot be conceived without implying the absence or essential change of our nature itself. An intuition is a fact of experience, a simple intellectual act, the immediate perception of an object ; that is, perception of an idea or object, without another idea or object as the medium of its perception. And intuition of reason can only mean the immediate perception of an object of reason as distinguished from an object of external sense. Whether in this last sense there are any intuitions of reason, that is, whether we have immediate perception of any non-sensible objects, may be a question, or rather in our mind is no question ; but it is certain, that,
VOL. II. NO. IV.
if the idea of God be an intuition, it cannot be a fact given us in our nature ; for since it is an act, it must be subsequent to the nature that acts. The intuitive nature, the intuitive subject, must precede it, be independent of it, and complete without it. It requires very little philosophy to know this. Mr. Parker cannot, then, insist on its being both. Which he will decide in favor of we know not ; but we deny that it is either.
1. The idea of God is a fact given us in our nature. By this, we repeat, Mr. Parker does not mean that the idea of God may be merely inferred from a fact or facts of our nature, but that it is itself a fact of our nature ; for he tells us it depends on no argument, no reasoning, but is given us outright in our nature. Now, to this we object (a.), that no idea can properly, in the sense Mr. Parker uses the term, be considered a fact of
Idea must be taken either objectively or subjectively. Taken objectively, as it is by Plato, it means the form or essence of the thing in question, that which distinguishes it from all other things, determines it to be what it is, and is that which, in knowing it, must be the real object known. In this case, the idea is simply the object known, and the idea of God would not be a belief or knowledge of the existence of God, but would be the object of such belief or knowledge. But this is not the sense in which Mr. Parker uses the term ; for we may learn from the passage quoted, that, what in one place he calls the idea of God, he in another calls belief in the existence of God, and in still another, knowledge of the existence of God. He evidently understands the term in a subjective sense, and designates by it a fact in the mind, not the object of that fact. But, subjectively, idea is simply apprehension, notion, or conception of some object existing, or believed to exist, out of the mind. It is, then, a fact of experience, an act performed by the intelligent subject, and therefore cannot be a fact or principle of the intelligent nature itself. If Mr. Parker undersiands the word subjectively, then idea of God is not a fact given in our nature, any more than is the idea of a horse, a mountain, or a book. If he understands it objectively, then the idea of God is God himself, and cannot be a fact of our nature, unless God himself is a fact of our nature, which not even Mr. Parker will dare assert. So, take the word either objectively or subjectively, it cannot designate a fact given us in our nature itself.
(6.) According to Mr. Parker's own account of it, idea of
God cannot be a fact given us in our nature, for he makes it depend on the sense of dependence. His assertion is, that the sense of dependence implies it. He himself makes it a deduction from the sense of dependence. “The sense of dependence is a proof by implication," he says, “ of something on which dependence rests.
A natural want in our constitution implies satisfaction in some quarter. As the tendency to love implies something lovely for its object, so the religious sentiment implies its object." Now, admit, what is not true, that the sense of dependence is a fact, element, or principle of our nature, — the idea of God, which Mr. Parker defines to be " an idea of that on which we depend," is only a deduction, a logical inference, from a fact of our
It is obtained only by analyzing the idea of dependence, and drawing forth from it what it logically contains. Consequently, the idea of God cannot be said to be given us outright in our nature, prior to, or independent of, all reasoning.
(c.) But, even admitting that the idea of that on which we depend is given us in the sense of dependence, explicitly, not merely implicitly, — the idea of that, or of a somewhat, on which we depend is not equivalent to the idea of God. To the idea of this, Mr. Parker says, men give the name God. This is not true ; for the idea of God, as the race entertains, and always has entertained it, is the idea of a Supreme Power from which we spring, to which we are subject, and for which - propter quem
we are bound to live, which is more than the mere idea of a somewhat on which we depend, which is merely the complement of ourselves. (d.) And, even passing over this, admitting that the idea of a somewhat on which we depend is equivalent to the idea of God, and that it is given immediately in the sense of dependence, it is, nevertheless, not a fact given us immediately in our nature, — for the sense of dependence itself is not a fact of our nature, as we have already proved, but merely a deduction from certain facts of our experience. We find by experience that we are limited, that we cannot do what we will, that we are insufficient for ourselves, and therefore infer that we are not self-sustained, but are dependent beings, and therefore, again, that there must needs be something on which we depend, and which does not depend on us.
That this something on which we depend, and which does not depend on us, is God, we, of course, do not deny ; but the idea of something not dependent on us, and on which we depend, is yet, considered in se, far below the idea of God, and can only by a long chain of induction, to which only a few gifted minds are equal, be shown to imply it. The idea of God is not, we say, therefore, a fact given us in our nature, a primitive datum.
2. The same arguments we have used to prove that the idea of God is not a fact given us in our nature, or, at least, all but one of them, prove equally that it is not an intuition. Mr. Parker offers no evidence of its being an intuition, but the fact that it is implied in the sense of dependence, and that men have entertained it before they could have demonstrated it, either by the argument a priori or the argument a posteriori. Admit the first, and it proves nothing to his purpose; for an idea which is given only as implied in another is not given by intuition, even though that other idea be itself intuitive. An intuitive idea is not an implicit, but an explicit, idea. An implicit idea is merely an idea involved or contained in another, and is obtained through that other as its medium ; but intuitive ideas are not given through the medium of other ideas. They are given immediately, or else they are discursive, not intuitive. Moreover, the sense of dependence, assumed to give implicitly the idea of God, is not even itself intuitive, as we have just seen, but a logical deduction from facts of experience. Even admitting, then, that an idea implied in another may be an intuitive idea, the idea of God is not intuitive, since the idea which implies it is not intuitive.
The second proof alleged begs the question. The human race may have entertained, and no doubt have entertained, the idea of God prior to having demonstrated the existence of God; but this does not prove the intuitive origin of the idea of God; for the idea may have been communicated, in the first instance, supernaturally, by God himself
, as is alleged by the universal traditions of the race. Mr. Parker must prove that the idea could not have been communicated in this or in any way other than the one he assumes, before, from the fact that the human race has entertained the idea prior to having demonstrated it, he can conclude to its intuitive origin.
But it is unnecessary to dwell longer on this point ; for it is evident from what we have already said, that man has, and can have, no intuitive perception of God. Indeed, Mr. Parker concedes this ; for he says in a note, p. 24, that the idea of God may be called a judgment a priori. Now, if it is a
judgment a priori, it is not an intuitive perception ; for the intuitive idea can never precede, either historically or logically, the actual perception of the object. Consequently, no intuitive idea is or can be a judgment a priori, that is, a judgment which logically precedes every real or possible fact of experience.
Nevertheless, we do not admit that the idea of God is a judgment a priori ; for we do not admit the reality of any judgments a priori. A judgment is an act, and always implies an act of discrimination, and therefore, from its very nature, cannot precede intuition of the matter or matters discriminated. The Kantian doctrine on this subject is more specious than solid, and involves us in a new difficulty greater than that from which it proposes to extricate us. What Kant calls judgments or cognitions a priori are nothing but the properties, the essential qualities, so to speak, of the subjective faculty of intelligence, and therefore are not ideas, judgments, or cognitions, but, at best, the subjective ability to form ideas, judgments, or cognitions.
But all this reasoning is unnecessary, for Mr. Parker concedes the whole question in debate. 66 We can know God only in part, — from the manifestations of his divinity, seen in nature, felt in man." - p. 160. Even he will not, we think, after this, dare maintain that the idea of God is an intuitive perception ; for the existence of a being knowable only through the medium of his manifestations, that is, of his works, is not and cannot be an object of intuitive perception.
The idea of God, Mr. Parker tells us, " is the logical condition of all our other ideas ; without this as an element of our consciousness, lying latent, as it were, unrecognized in us, we could have no ideas at all.” Consciousness is the state or condition of being conscious. An element of consciousness must be a fact of which we are always and invariably conscious, when we are conscious at all. To be conscious is to know, to recognize. If the idea of God be an element or fact of consciousness, it must be a fact of which we are always and invariably conscious when we are conscious at all, and, therefore, cannot lie latent or unrecognized in us.
The idea is either subjective or objective. It is not in this case objective, as before proved, and as is evident from the fact that Mr. Parker makes it synonymous with belief or knowledge. It is, then, subjective. Then it is the notion or conception of the existence of God. Then it is not latent or un