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BOOK REVIEWS 103 

fessor Buckham himself appears to feel that the future progress of 
theology will be in the main continuous with the work of these men. 
While the next generation of theologians will undoubtedly gain great 
inspiration from their courage and their human sympathies, they are 
likely also to be impressed with the fact of certain assumptions which 
should be more critically investigated. 

The book is written partly in the form of biographies and partly in 
the form of theological interpretation. The great advantage of this 
presentation is that it permits the creative personalities of these leaders 
of thought to stand forth, and we thus see the making of theology in 
the actual life of men instead of having it discussed in terms of the 
development of ideas. Moreover, while all of these men had to face 
distrust and sometimes vigorous opposition, yet they continued honored 
and trusted leaders in the denomination. This is evidently due to the 
fact that their primary interest was in the promotion of genuine religion 
rather than in the indifferent discussion of theological questions. The 
practical conclusion to be drawn is that a liberalism which maintains 
social sympathy with the religious aims of the church will be permitted 
actively to make its contribution. It is only a liberalism which becomes 
indifferent to religious motives which is excluded from a place in the life 
of the church. 

In a sense this book is a contribution to the celebration of the Pilgrim 
Tercentenary. These leaders of Congregational thought are the spiritual 
descendants of the Pilgrims. Professor Buckham has rendered a 
valuable service in furnishing so appreciative an interpretation of the 
expression of that Pilgrim spirit in the religious life and thinking in 
the generation immediately behind us. 

Gerald Birney Smith 

Untveesity of Chicago 

THE PROBLEM OF GOD 
The life of modern man constantly expands with new interests, new 
hopes, new powers, and his vital reUgion, which embodies all of these 
things, tends ever to flow away from the dogmas of a more restricted 
past. One by one the ideas of the old Christian creeds have been revital- 
ized or discarded. For this generation God has become a problem, and 
the task of the apologists is made more difficult through the thrusting 
of the fact of evil into the agonized consciousness of man during these 
last few pathetic years. Professor Sorley's book' must be counted as 

' Moral Values and the Idea of God. By W. R. Sorley. New York: Putnam, 
1919. xix+534 pages. $s . 00. 



I04 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

an apologia but of the better kind. His is an argument in clear, forthright 
English with no metaphysical fog to cover failure in thought. He 
manifestly desires to come to terms with reality as it is given in experience 
not to interpret experience in accordance with preconceived ideas of 
reality. As against philosophic naturalism he demands that all the 
facts be considered, especially moral facts. As against absolute idealism 
and all monisms he insists upon the reality of purpose and freedom in 
the activities and struggles of man. The argument begins from an 
empirical basis. The problem is not. Does God exist ? but. How is the 
universe to be understood and interpreted? Given a world in which 
moral values have a place, what estimate may we make of the nature of 
reality ? 

By the following pathway, then, we come to God. Persons are 
part of the order of existence. Ethical ideas are facts of personal 
consciousness and are realized through the will and in the character of 
persons. They have therefore a place in existent reality. Hence a 
theory of the universe cannot be complete which ignores their existence 
as facts and forces. Moreover, these ethical ideas claim objective 
validity. But this validity differs from the vahdity of the laws of nature 
in that ideal values are not actualized at any specific time in existing 
persons. The ideal moral values are imperative for man whether or 
not he realizes them or accepts them or even is conscious of them. 
They may never find complete realization in time yet they are the Hmit 
toward which the nature of persons points. They are valid of reality 
and belong to the sum total of reality as an existing system. Ultimate 
reality must include the ideal moral order. This gives the setting for 
the moral argument for God's existence. "Persons are conscious of 
values and of an ideal of goodness which they recognize as having 
undoubted authority for the direction of their activity; the validity 
of these values or laws, or of this ideal, however, does not depend upon 
their recognition: it is objective and eternal: and how could this eternal 
validity stand alone, not embodied in matter and neither seen nor 
realized by finite minds unless there were an Eternal Mind whose thought 
and will are therein expressed? God must therefore exist and his 
nature must be goodness." (pp. 352-53). 

But the world presents a difficulty. How are we to see any harmony 
between the natural order and the moral order ? In the actual world 
there is evil, imperfection, suffering. The world as a causal system 
seems indifferent to a standard of good and evil. Moreover, persons 
in whom moral values must be realized, make painfuUy slow progress 
and realize goodness very imperfectly. This ancient problem of evil 



BOOK REVIEWS 105 

the author faces with heroic postulates. He answers, first, that moral 
values can only be realized by free beings and freedom entails the 
possibility of failure and evil; secondly, that an imperfect world is 
necessary for the growth and training of moral beings. The world 
must be thought of as a purposive system. We must postulate purpose 
in the world as well as freedom in man. " The order of nature, therefore, 
intends a result which is not found at any particular stage in the process 
of existence. It requires an idea of the process as a whole and of the 
moral order to which it is being made subservient. It means therefore 
intelligence and the will to good as well as the ultimate source of power. 
In this way the recognition of the moral order and of its relation to 
nature and man involves the acknowledgment of the Supreme Mind 
or God as the ground of reality" (pp. 513-14). 

The chasm in this argument yawns for the empiricist at the point 
where an eternal moral goodness of objective validity is assumed. For 
him moral values and ideals exist nowhere but in persons, find their 
place in reality in persons, change with persons, and beyond the pur- 
posive strivings of living beings they have no status. To speak of an 
eternal moral order of which man slowly becomes conscious is to assume 
the very thing he finds it impossible to demonstrate. The case is made 
more hopeless by the assumption of purpose in the natural order and 
the justification of evil in order that this eternal goodness may be 
realized by free spirits. Is there any purpose until living beings bring 
it into existence ? To think of the world-process as the program of a 
God for the production of free moral agents is to put a heavy discount 
on his goodness and intelligence for in that program millions of living 
beings are subjected to the position of mere means, are given over to 
merciless pain and the long drama becomes a nightmare from the human 
standpoint. Since it is all to end, at last, in the production of perfect 
spirits who, like God, will will only the good, the question is inevitable. 
If the character and not the struggle is the goal would a perfect God be 
so disdainful of his own automatic wiU to goodness as to refuse to create 
the perfect spirits at the beginning? Moreover, for the wreckage as 
well as for the perfect spirits another assumption is necessary in the 
argument— immortality of personal existence. And even this seemsto 
provide no place in the cosmic program for the idiot. He surely is a 
divine blunder. 

But suppose one were not so impressed with the sacrosanct character 
of the God-idea of Graeco-Christian philosophy, were even willing to see 
that idea as a faulty attempt to envisage reality, then from Professor 
Sorley's starting-point there might be a path to another goal. One who 



io6 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

has "folded the silken wings" of metaphysics and given up his delight 
in absolutes might find still a ground for hope in the existence of moral 
values in a world of free, living beings. He might seek the value of 
God in the future rather than the existence of God at the begirming. 
In persons this cosmic process has become moral and is becoming increas- 
ingly intelligent and purposive. This is their achievement in the interest 
of their larger life. Evil then is reduced to that part of the natural 
world and of human social relationships not yet brought into subjection 
to the inteUigence and purposes of man. With larger vision man might 
even find a religious enthusiasm in the challenge of the evil of the world 
as a task for the growing powers of intelligent purposive life, might 
accept the call to devotion and self-sacrifice in the co-operative effort 
of man to put purpose into the world, to organize cosmic life, and to 
construct a world social mind embodied in institutions which will 
guarantee the opportunity of the complete life to all men. So at last 
the value man has sought in the idea of God through the ages might 
be achieved. But this means a surrender of the quest for ultimate 
origins, a break with the old supernaturalism and a radically new idea 
of the cosmic support of men. 

A. Eustace Haydon 
Untversitv of Chicago