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The Journal of Religion 



Volume II SEPTEMBER 1922 Number 5 



THE RATIONALITY OF BELIEF IN THE 
REALITY OF GOD 



EUGENE W. LYMAN 
Union Theological Seminary, New York City 



Religion deals with the fundamental relations between fact and value. God is 
defined as a Cosmic Mind that is conserving and creating value, (i) Rational belief 
in God rests on organized religious experience. The special marks of developed reli- 
gious experience are spiritual renewal, insight, and moral creativity. On the knowl- 
edge side religious experience consists of intuitions. Such intuitions are not infallible, 
but when organized into a coherent body they give objective truth, especially when 
correlated with other organized experience. Examples of fundamental religious 
intuitions. (2) Belief in God is rational because the synthesis of the physical and 
the human sciences reveals a cosmic trend upward. Relapses, stagnations, and evils 
regarded as due to limiting conditions which are inherent in the task of realizing 
values through a process — especially when those values are moral and social. 
(3) Belief in God as a Cosmic Mind is rational because all reality — from the atom 
to stellar systems and from the cell to the highest organism — bears to some degree 
the marks of organization and, so far as this is so, can be regarded as evidencing the 
working of a Cosmic Mind. On this interpretation belief in God rests primarily 
on religious experience, but secondarily upon the corroborations furnished by a 
reasoned synthesis of experience as a whole. 



All doubtless will agree that the idea of God is a distinctively- 
religious idea. That is, we all presvunably are in accord in 
considering the idea of God to be one that takes shape in 
close relation to man's religious life as a whole — as he prays, 
as in company with others he enters into communion with 
sacred presences, as he acts under the stimulus of that which 
arouses in him awe or admiration. In other words, we do 
not look upon the idea whose rationality we are examining 
as merely, or primarily, an affair of reason, but rather we 
recognize it as one that arises spontaneously in the midst of 
living religious experience, and as one that quickly fades and 
languishes where religious sentiments and practices cease to 

449 



450 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

be matters of warm and vital concern. The idea of God, we 
feel, can be alive and meaningful only where religion is alive, 
and dies when rehgion dies. 

Now evidently this fact about which we may safely assume 
agreement is one of much consequence for any consideration 
of the rationality of believing that God is real. For it means 
that the rationahty of such belief will depend to an important 
degree upon the access which religion itself gives us to reality. 
We are thus led at the very outset of our discussion — ^as the 
condition of making any headway with it — to the necessity 
of giving some indication of the field of religion, of the nature 
of rehgious experience, and of the consequent meanings for 
which the idea of God stands. 

Here at once, of course, disagreement is likely to set in. 
Nevertheless this risk of evoking disagreement at the start 
must be accepted; for a latent disagreement about the pre- 
suppositions of an inquiry is much more injurious to the 
results than an open one — inasmuch as a latent disagreement 
tends to make the dissatisfied critic reject all the reasonings 
and resxilts in a lump, whereas a recognized disagreement 
may be the very thing that will enable said critic to winnow 
out some wheat from the chaff. 

Let us then think of religion as having for its characteristic 
field the fundamental relations between fact and value. The 
field of facts as such belongs to science. Men have found 
that, unless they made the ascertainment of facts a systematic 
pursuit — and a pursuit at least relatively independent of their 
other interests — they could not be sure that their facts were 
genuine, nor could they discover facts an)rwrhere nearly fast 
enough. So when it is asked: " Can life come from inorganic 
matter?" or "Has radium curative properties?" or "Did 
Jesus ever live?" we all agree that the answers should be 
given by science, since they all are primarily questions of 
matters of fact. On the other hand the field of values as such 
belongs to ethics or aesthetics. For in the matter of values 



RATIONALITY OF BELIEF IN THE REALITY OF GOD 451 

men also have found that they must use systematic and 
relatively independent methods of inquiry if their values are 
not to be specious, partisan, tawdry, or commonplace. Thus 
when we ask: "What is justice?" or "Have we a right to 
consume our country's natural resources?" or "Is the Spoon 
River Anthology poetry ? " we realize that we are asking ques- 
tions that are not primarily questions of fact, but that should 
be answered only on the basis of certain standards and experi- 
ences of value. 

But while the ascertainment of facts and the determination 
of values need to be relatively distinct enterprises, facts and 
values are constantly interacting with each other in life. 
With respect to our standards of value many facts are brutaUy 
indifferent, and many more are aggressively and triumphantly 
hostile; while in view of the estabUshed facts many of oiu: 
most prized values seem hopelessly remote and impotent. 
But on the other hand there are the substantial achievements 
of civilization, of art and virtue. These interactions and 
opposing tendencies are so complexly intermingled in every 
social group as to present an omnipresent though ever shifting 
problem — ^and one that few individuals can altogether escape. 
The result is that men are very generally impelled to seek 
for deeper principles of connection between fact and value than 
their surface experience or their actual achievements present. 
This quest for some deeper revelation of the good in the real 
is the religious quest. It is evident when men ask such 
questions as "Is life worth living?" "Is Jesus a Savior?" 
"Is there a purpose in the universe?" "How may I wholly 
serve the kingdom of God on earth ?" In proportion as they 
find themselves gaining positive answers to such questions 
they become possessed of a living religious experience and 
certain ripening convictions regarding the fundamental con- 
nections between fact and value. On the basis of this con- 
ception of the sphere of religion I would offer the following 
definition of religion in which I quote the happy phrasing of 



452 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

my colleague, Dr. Hamilton, of Nanking University: "Reli- 
gion is faith that in its deepest nature the universe is on the 
side of man's highest aims."' 

Religion is thus at one and the same time an experience of 
deeper penetration into reality than science or common sense 
gives and a more sustained and fruitful devotion to value than 
art or ethics or customary morality gives. This twofold 
reference is of its very nature, and pertains to all the ideas 
that arise within it. Religion, then, according to its own 
vuiderstanding of itself, does give men a special and character- 
istic access to reality. This claim of religion cannot, of 
course, be withdrawn from the test of having its results 
compared with the scientific account of reality. Just because 
religion seeks to supplement science it must not contradict 
science. Religious experiences of reality are subject always 
to the twofold testing of comparison with the results of science 
and those of ethics and art. But so far as religion supplements 
and unifies the results from these other fields of experience 
there is no philosophic justification for denying its claim to 
give access to reality. And this is all the more evident when 
we realize that religion is only a more persistent treatment 
of the problems of the relations between facts and values which 
practical life inevitably sets and for which it will always need 
the most adequate possible solutions. 

' It might be objected that the view just presented makes religion exclusively a 
modem affair, and also that it makes religion equivalent to the philosophy of religion. 
But the relations and contrasts between fact and value would certainly have been 
felt, and would have prompted men to religious experience, long before anything like 
science, or systematic reflection on morals or on beauty developed. On the other 
hand one of the most important things about this view is that the more science and 
ethics become developed the more special and definite becomes the field of religion. 
As for religion being made, by this view, equivalent to the philosophy of religion — 
it is true that philosophy also concerns itself with the fundamental relations between 
fact and value, but it does so exclusively by way of intellectual reflection and 
synthesis whereas religion deals with the problem through the complex reactions of 
the emotional and practical nature as well. Religion then will precede and foUow 
the philosophical treatment of the problem, or it may largely dispense with such a 
treatment. 



RATIONALITY OF BELIEF IN THE REALITY OF GOD 453 

We are now in a position to define the idea of God in 
relation to the experience from which it springs and which must 
bear an important part in determining its rationality. The 
idea of God must be recognized as sharing in the twofold 
reference which is characteristic of religion. It connotes both 
reality and value because it denotes some underlying principle 
of relation between them. This is what William James stressed 
when he said, in his answers to the Pratt questionnaire, that 
God meant "a combination of Ideality and (final) efficacity."' 
No supreme personal or social ideal taken simply as such, then, 
should be regarded as the essence of the idea of God. Nor 
should a purely metaphysical synthesis of reality be so 
regarded. The ideal and the real must be taken in conjunc- 
tion in our thought of God, if it is not to be withdrawn from 
the field of religion. Of course, within the field defined the 
idea of God has taken on the most varied shapes and meanings. 
But only its most developed meanings interest us here. I 
therefore propose the foUowing definition: God is a Cosmic 
Mind who is working for the conservation and creation of 
value, and with whom man may be in relations of conscious 
communion and co-operation. Of God so conceived it is 
pertinent to ask: "Does He exist?" Our question then 
becomes: "Is it rational to believe that there really exists a 
Cosmic Mind who is conserving and creating value ?" 

I 
My first main point in striving to answer this question is 
that organized religious experience supports the rationality 
of believing that God is real. That is, just as by an organized 
body of scientific experience we come to rational beliefs about 
nature and history — beliefs that amount to genuine knowledge 
— so, in so far as our religious experience becomes harmoniously 
organized, it gives us rational beliefs about God — ^beliefs 
which, if they meet our other tests of rationahty as well, 
deserve to be accepted as truth or knowledge. 

' Letters, II, 213. 



454 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

In order that this point may have its proper force some- 
thing further must be said as to the nature of religious experi- 
ence. We thus far have characterized religious experience 
chiefly by the questions it asks. But in so far as man's 
religious questions get answered his experience of course 
takes on a more positive character. If he finds himself in 
vital relation with a cosmic God who is creating and conserving 
value, his religious experience will be especially marked by 
spiritual renewal, insight, and moral creativity. Indeed it is 
only where results like these are present that the full nature 
of religious experience is disclosed. Has not inspiration, 
together with its fruits in spiritual achievement, always been 
the outstanding mark of great religious personahties and of 
new religious movements ? 

Now the knowledge side of religious experience as thus 
understood we may best describe as consisting of intuitions — 
new apprehensions of divine realities and fresh discoveries of 
divine possibiUties. And of religious intuitions two main 
sorts may profitably be distinguished — perceptive intuitions 
and synthetic intuitions. By a perceptive intuition in the 
religious life I mean some immediate awareness of a divine 
presence or of the attitude of divine reaUty toward men — 
such as: "The place whereon thou standest is holy ground"; 
or, "Thou art my Beloved Son." And by a synthetic intui- 
tion I mean the apprehension of a totality as having such 
inner relations as give it divine significance. For example: 
"Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you: 
that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he 
maketh his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth 

rain on the just and unjust Ye therefore shall be 

perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." 

Now these two kinds of intuitions interact with each other, 
and they both together receive testing by practical Ufe and 
by critical reflection. Moreover, the gaining of the intuitions, 
their practical testing and their critical interpretation are 



RATIONALITY OF BELIEF IN THE REALITY OF GOD 455 

not simply the experiences and activities of individuals but 
are commonly shared in by groups. Thus a body of religious 
experience grows up, all of which converges upon the recogni- 
tion of a real God — a Cosmic Mind working to create and 
conserve value. The intuitive elements in such experience 
do not give it any .claim to finality as knowledge, but they 
do supply a body of data which presents itself as a characteristic 
type of contact with reality, and which, when coherently 
organized, practically tested, and brought into relation with 
what we otherwise know about reality, becomes more and 
more transformed into rational belief, philosophically valid 
truth, and genuine knowledge of reality. 

But in appealing to organized religious experience as evi- 
dence of the reality of God, is it to systematic theology that we 
are appealing? Unfortunately this cannot be the case, for 
theology has not clearly recognized its task as the securing of 
coherence between intuitions of reality — ^intuitions that are 
also socially shared — and as the synthesizing of its coherent 
body of intuitions with the organized body of scientific judg- 
ments about reality. Nor has theology sufiiciently recog- 
nized that religious intuitions deal also with the possibilities 
of reality in the way of values to be achieved no less than 
with its established structure, and that hence the practical 
testing of intuitions in moral, social, and artistic experience is 
no less vital for their vindication than their mutual harmoniza- 
tion. So theology has made its work artificial by appeals 
to authority which closed inquiry and inhibited thinking, and 
by seeking to get some blanket agreement between reason and 
faith which has tended to forestall their actual co-operation. 
Hence it is that the organization of religious experience which 
has been actually effective in human society, and which gives 
rationality to the belief that God is real, has been too largely 
merely a spontaneous growth, supplemented here and there 
by the great synthetic intuitions of the few, and has been too 
little aided by such deliberate co-operative inquiry and criti- 



456 TBE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

cism as, in the form of physical science, has done so much for 
our knowledge of nature. Yet in modern liberal theology, 
from Schleiermacher on, important progress has been made in 
the task of developing into a coherent body those intuitions 
of reality and value, in their deeper relations and their fuUer 
possibilities, upon which the rationality of believing in a real 
God primarily rests. 

And this may be remarked in passing: that while a truly 
philosophical theology has come later and more slowly than 
modern natural science, certain major religious intuitions 
have received a more massive verification, by reason of their 
longer history and their more structural place in civilization, 
than almost anything in natural science. 

But because our theologies cannot be appealed to forth- 
with as presenting the organized religious experience on which 
the rationality of beheving that God exists finally rests, we 
need to make the present point somewhat more concrete by 
noting certain religious intuitions which may hopefully be 
regarded as forming a coherent body and thus as giving us 
reality — the more surely so if they can be synthesized with 
our other major judgments about reality. 

First, let me mention two intuitions that belong very 
closely together — the intuition of personality and the demo- 
cratic intuition of human equality and human solidarity. 
Now both of these intuitions are either consciously religious 
or else they occur in ethics and in science as more or less 
unconscious borrowings from religion. That personality is 
an intuition, both perceptive and synthetic, is indicated by 
the fact that just as personality, or the soul, or the self, has 
been vanishing from psychology, it has been becoming more 
and more the presupposition of ethics and of social reconstruc- 
tion. That personality is an intuition of a religious character 
is indicated by the recognition of the prophetic personality 
as the supreme revelation of God; or by the way in which 
Kant or Dr. Adler is impelled to ground his fundamental 



RATIONALITY OF BELIEF IN THE REALITY OF GOD 457 

ethical axiom of the worth of the person in a supertemporal 
spiritual order; or by such a sentence as this from James's 
Varieties: " So long as we deal with the cosmic and the general, 
we deal only with the symbols of reality, but as soon as we 
deal with private and personal phenomena as such, we deal 
with realities in the completest sense of the term."' Similarly 
the democratic intuition, seemingly discredited by evolution 
and anthropology, becomes more and more the moving 
principle of social change. While its religious character is 
admirably expressed by Professor Coe, in his chapter on " Reli- 
gion as Discovery," when he says of our present social ideal- 
ism: "It knows itself to be more than a subjective preference; 
it is the fulfilment of a destiny; it is the working out of some 
cosmic principle through our preferences. Duty is for us not 
a mere imposition of the mass will upon the individual; it is 
reaHty in the large making itself felt in the parts."^ And the 
manner in which the intuition of personality and the demo- 
cratic intuition enter into the intuition of God is well expressed 
in the following passage from Hoffding: "If we understand 
by 'God' something that is not only 'outside' us but also is 
active in all reality and all values — and accordingly precisely 
in the relation of value to reality, and in the personalities 
that have experience of this relation — then it is setting up 
a false dilemma when one says 'either the truth comes from 
God, or it is worked out by each one of us individually.'"* 
But we must be much briefer in noting other fundamental 
intuitions. There is the intuition of prayer — the awareness 
of contact and communion with a Greater and Holier Reality 
than one's self or one's fellows, to which nevertheless we and 
they belong. There is the intuition of reconciliation — the 
sense of inward renewal through being drawn back into an 
unseen spiritual fellowship, and the accompanying appre- 
hension of reconciUation as an indispensable social principle 
because an actual cosmic principle. There is the truth 

'P. 498. ' Psychology of Religion, p. 242. ^ Religionsphilosophie, p. 281. 



4S8 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

intuition — the intuition that truth can be gotten, that our 
mental powers can be trusted, that the universe "is honest" 
or has a truth structure, the inward assent to the harmony of 
careful judgments as that which puts us in possession of 
reality. (This intuition, again, may be either rehgious or 
borrowed from religion.) There is the faith intuition — the 
conviction that by going deeper we can go farther; that by 
a more adequate hold — intuitive and intelligent — upon reality 
ever greater values may be discovered and achieved, that 
with God all things are possible. 

There is, further, the intuition of beauty and harmony — 
somewhat perverted in Bertrand Russell's impartial worship 
"of all that is and happens" — ^better illustrated in our modem 
poetry of social feeling, which seeks both to discover and to 
impart beauty as it penetrates into the inner meaning of our 
social processes and conflicts. And there is, finally, the 
intuition of love, which is the synthesis of the other intuitions, 
and which also is the intuition of God. It is the recognition 
of an Eternal Principle that is working creatively and redemp- 
tively for the fullest development of all persons through their 
own co-operative fellowship. 

This must here suffice as an indication of how religious 
experience may be interpreted as yielding an organized body 
of intuitions concerning the deeper relations of reality and 
value, which have massive personal and social verification, 
and which therefore render the beHef in the reality of God 
rational. 

II 

But religious experience, having as its field the deeper 
connections between reality and value, is bound to take account 
of the relation between its interpretations of reaUty and reality 
as it is presented by science.' Accordingly we must go on 

' Religion, to be sure, has often assumed this relation to be inherently hostile, 
and so has tried to break down the scientific interpretation or has welcomed some 
subtle philosophical invalidation of it. But this hostility is no longer possible on the 



RATIONALITY OF BELIEF IN THE REALITY OF GOD 459 

to a comparison of organized religious experience and the 
generalized results of science with respect to the resultant 
interpretations of reality. 

My second main point, then, is that the synthesis of our 
knowledge in the physical and human sciences reveals a 
progress in things which supports the rationality of believ- 
ing in a real God. In affirming that progress is revealed by 
the synthesis of the sciences it is, of course, important to 
avoid the illusion of progress, the illusion that because things 
have been coming our way they therefore are moving along 
the right way. This is an illusion to which favored nations 
or social groups, or unusually prosperous epochs, are subject. 
And there are optimistic forms of religion and morals which 
are particularly liable to this illusion. It is doubtless well for 
the optimists to be heckled by having it pointed out to them 
that Aristotle meets the intelligence tests better than anybody 
since, that Athenian culture has hardly been equaled in 
succeeding times, that quite primitive agricultural societies 
possessed more of happiness and wholesome communal life 
than our modern industrial societies, that the medieval period 
produced more beauty than has the modem age of the machine, 
and that the art of war is now more nearly perfect than ever 
but is far from having reached its maximum. 

But on the whole religion, with its sensitiveness to sin 
and its disposition to unworldliness, has not been especially 
subject to this illusion of progress. And on the other hand 
when the hecklers go so far as to try to break up the meeting 
by denying that there are any facts of progress which give 



practical side. Religion cannot aid in creating value and experience the fellowship 
with God that comes from so doing, without co-operating with science. Indeed, as 
Stratton says, " the course of events clearly points to a time when disregard of common 
knowledge and intelligence will seem as repugnant to the religious mind as disregard 
of common morals" {Psychology of the Religious Life, p. 356). But if this be true with 
respect to the practical bearings of science, the hostility between religion and science 
on the theoretical side should be abandoned in favor of making as positive a synthesis 
as possible between the two. 



46o THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

rational support to the hopes of men, then the voice of science 
speaks with an authority sufficient to silence them. For 
science, working with its supreme principle of continuity, 
establishes unmistakable sequences between the caveman and 
the modem inventor, between the medicine man and Phillips 
Brooks and Pasteur, between the primitive human pack and 
the modern free state, between the first picture-writing and 
the free public library. By none of the tested standards that 
the philosophy of value has worked out can these sequences 
be called anything but progress on a great scale. And back 
of these sequences lie those which trace the development of 
intelligence and of the instincts which equip man for society, 
and along with and prior to these are the sequences of biology 
in general. It is not necessary to claim that all these sequences 
converge to a single result, nor to deny arrests and relapses, 
in order to vindicate the idea of progress. It is enough to 
show that there are continuous sequences from earliest to 
latest forms, that in the various results are to be found notable 
embodiments of our highest values, and that these embodied 
values tend more and more to become a harmonious system 
in which the various values are mutually furthered. Where 
this is shown a cosmic trend upward is established, such as 
corroborates the religious intuition and experience of a Cosmic 
Mind working to create and conserve value. 

It is important at this point to note certain traits of the 
idea of God to which this interpretation of the results of science 
leads, if the interpretation is to have its full positive force. 
The idea of God that the cosmic trend upward points to 
is that of a Spiritual Being immanent in the processes of 
nature and history and conditioned in his working, at any 
given point, by the stages already reached in these processes; 
and at the same time that of a Being transcending the processes 
in which he is working, inasmuch as he is directing them to 
comprehensive values and knows the conditions which must 
be controlled, if the values are to be achieved, and the methods 



RATIONALITY OF BELIEF IN THE REALITY OF GOD 461 

of control adequate for the task. Now if the necessity of 
process for the realization of values, and the consequent fact 
of limiting conditions for God, are accepted frankly, the 
evidence for his transcendent qualities which can be derived 
from the synthesis of the sciences is correspondingly strength- 
ened. For on this basis relapses, stagnations, and evils are 
not disproofs of God, but rather indications of the magnitude 
of the task of creating values and of the consequent unlikeli- 
hood that there would have been any progress at all without 
a cosmic God. For without a God possessing the transcendent 
qualities man's efforts for progress woiild be like the favorable 
variations in animal organs, which are recognized to be of 
no value at all apart from a fundamental will to live in the 
organism as a whole. 

But this idea of God as immanent in the processes of nature 
and history and working by subduing limiting conditions to 
his purposes is not essentially different from the idea of God 
in which we found organized religious experience culminating — 
God as a Cosmic Mind working to conserve and create value. 
Thus we find the synthesis of the sciences and of organized 
religious experience corroborating each other in respect to the 
rationality of believing in a real God. On the one hand there is 
a cosmic trend upward which is difficult to comprehend without 
recognizing the activity in it of a Cosmic Mind, and on the 
other hand are the organized religious intuitions and experi- 
ences bearing witness to the actual presence of such a Mind, 
working redemptively and creatively for the achievement of 
ever richer and more comprehensive values. 

And this corroboration of religious intuitions and experi- 
ences of God by the facts of progress becomes all the more 
complete when we realize that these intuitions and experiences, 
as they become harmoniously organized, have played a power- 
ful constructive part in producing progress in its more advanced 
stages. That is to say, progress has come about not only 
because men have been intellectually inventive and socially 



462 TEE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

co-operative, but also because they have been conscious of 
living with God. 

Ill 

In conclusion I must touch briefly on a third point. We 
have found religious experience to be best interpreted as 
involving communion and co-operation with a Cosmic Mind 
that is working to conserve and create value. And we have 
found this interpretation corroborated by the synthesis of the 
sciences, which reveals progress on a cosmic scale. But the 
question is bound to arise: How may we more fuUy conceive the 
relation between the Cosmic Mind and the cosmos itself? 
We have found that in recognizing the Cosmic Mind as the 
ground of progress we also have been impelled to recognize 
that progress implies a series of conditions which at any 
given point are limitations for the Cosmic Mind. How 
extensive are these Umiting conditions ? 

This, indeed, is a highly speculative question, and at first 
thought it may seem too remote from man's religious experience 
as a worker with God for his Kingdom to require consideration. 
But it is remotely speculative only in so far as it asks for an 
elaborated theory of the way in which the Cosmic Mind is 
related to the forces of nature. On the other hand it is 
practical when the questioning- takes the following forms: 
If there are Hmiting conditions for God, is he not finite — 
indeed so finite that the triumph of his purposes is doubtful ? 
If the human race, in spite of all the achievements that it may 
yet make, is liable to become extinct on this earth, why might 
not God himself cease to be — or become permanently hemmed 
in and checkmated by the universe ? 

It is, then, with reference to questions like these that the 
third point just referred to has its pertinency. It may be 
stated as follows: Progress in the biological and human realms 
is grounded in processes and conditions in the cosmos as a 
whole which are best understood as the product of a Cosmic 
Mind. 



RATIONALITY OF BELIEF IN THE REALITY OF GOD 463 

Broadly speaking, this grounding of progress in the cosmos 
as a whole has two main aspects. In the first place physical 
science shows that uniform laws run throughout the realm 
of physical nature, and without these uniform laws it is not 
possible to conceive progress as taking place at all. But a 
unified system of laws, which is inclusive of all existence in its 
physical aspects, is a worthy product of a Cosmic Mind. 
And this is the more evident when the system of laws proves 
to be the basis of progress on a great scale. Nor need it be 
maintained that the correlation between the system of laws 
and the realization of progress must be complete in order to 
give this point effect. It is enough if there is a process of 
correlation going on. A part of the outworkings of the 
system of physical laws may be merely mechanical — either 
unrelated to progress or hindering it — and yet a Cosnxic 
Mind may reasonably be recognized in the whole, provided 
there is evidence that a great process of turning mechanism 
to account for ends of value has been, and is still, going on. 
For if the creation of value is fundamental to our conception 
of God, there is no reason why we should not think of him as 
now creating in the realm of the physical cosmos as well as in 
the realm of human society. Thus the system of uniform laws 
in physical nature may be thought of as the groundwork laid 
by a Cosmic Mind for the values already achieved in our 
experience and for a value-creating process that shall ulti- 
mately result in a spiritual universe. 

The second aspect of the grounding of progress in the 
cosmos as a whole of which we are speaking is the fact that 
progress need not be thought of as beginning first with the 
organic world, but may be recognized as having its earlier 
stages in the inorganic. For prior to organisms we already 
have processes of organization which result in the building up 
of systems that maintain themselves over indefinitely great 
periods of time. As L. T. Hobhouse writes: The "process of 
development begins within the inanimate world." Such 



464 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

beginning he finds manifested in certain mechanical "struc- 
tures." "The solar system," he says, "is such a structure," 
and he adds, " It would appear that the chemical atom is such 
a structure, its elements being the corpuscles, and the binding 
force the electrical attractions and repulsions that constrain 
corpuscles to assume certain alternative mutual relations"; 
and further, "atoms brought within the sphere of mutual 
influence can modify one another, and form higher structures, 
which are the molecules of the chemical compounds."' 

Now in this building up of stable organizations capable of 
maintaining themselves indefinitely we again have a process 
fit to be a manifestation of mind. And still more appropriate 
as manifestations of mind are the processes just referred to in 
which these stable organizations are modified in such a way 
as to produce higher organizations. When, then, we find a 
continuity of such organization processes, leading up to and 
conditioning organic development, we gain corroboration 
from the mechanical realm for the faith in a Cosmic Mind. 
Moreover, all the reality we know bears the marks of some 
organization, and the process of organization is actual or 
potential everywhere. Hence there is reason to think that 
there is no reality beyond the scope of the Cosmic Mind. 

This interpretation leads to the view that God is infinite, 
if the term infinite is used in the sense in which alone ethical 
religion is concerned about it. That is, we are led by this 
view to conceive of God as infinite — not indeed as an Uncon- 
ditioned Being, who determines all that is and happens accord- 
ing to his inscrutable nature — ^but as a Power pervading all 
reality with the value-creating process, and so inspiring faith in 
the ultimate spiritualization of the universe. 

We find, then, when we attempt a synthesis of the sciences 
that treat of matter and mechanism with the sciences that 
treat of life and history, that the idea of a Cosmic Mind working 
under Hmiting conditions for the creation and conservation of 

' Development and Purpose, p. 337. 



RATIONALITY OF BELIEF IN THE REALITY OF GOD 465 

value gets real corroboration. I have not desired to maintain 
that the conception of the merely mechanical and astronomical 
aspects of the universe here presented is the absolutely neces- 
sary result of science, nor that it is the only possible synthesis 
that can be made. I only urge that it is the more rational 
conception when one starts from religious experience, and 
that religious experience gains confirmation in the fact that 
these parts of the universe can rationally be so interpreted. 

The merely mechanical and astronomical view of the imi- 
verse is like a winter landscape. It gives us all the objects that 
there are. But the synthesis of this view and that of the 
biological and human sciences gives us a conception that is like 
the landscape in springtime. It shows the universe infused 
with the same kind of life that is pressing for fulfilment in 
man. A fuller view of the mechanical and astronomical 
universe may have to await a time when we walk not by faith 
but by sight.