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iA NOTE ON W. J. HILL'S "THE DOCTRINE OF GOD AFTER VATICAN II" F. F. CENTORE St. Jerome's Oollege, University of Waterloo Waterloo, Ontario GOD MAY NOT :be dead, hut certamly 1any strictly philosophical, scientific, rational approach to God 'WIOuld seem to ibe derud today. Modern thought, even rumong deeply religious people, seems to J:nwe despaired of ever being ruble to pwve rbhe existence oi God to anyone, even to someone who not 'SO willfully prejudiced against relig~on. that he simply rrefuses to view the evidence in 1an open-minded, calm, am.d rreflective iway. However, this does :not mean that our ,apip:voach to God must be strictly emotional and ir.rational. It may >still 1be reasonable rto believe in God, even though we cannot rprove his existence in 'Some strictly r:ationrul way. Rather ,than beginning with our ordinary human experience of the real exbramenrtail world and ,working our way up to a knowledge o:f the bet that God exists·, we might take a more inner.,directed, psychofogicail, humanistic, phenomenological, historical app1 voach to such knowledge. Such an aiprproach might even 1be more effective and more convincing rto un1believers . Reoent writers on the modern God-question ha1v;e emphasi~ed the notion that rational wgruments :for the existence (and natuire ) of God may :be :a:ll 1weH and :good hut only for ia oomputer or a rolbot. What modern man needs is not 1 so much 1a krrmwledge of God as ;a persona1 relrutionshlp to God. And perhaps the hesit 1w:ay to achieve this is not to throw out completely the role of reason in providing a .scientific support for God'1 s existence ibut to rev;errse the pmcess. We must first come to a personrul ruwaireneiss of God 1 and then proceed to v;alida;te rthfus 531 53~ F. F. CENTORE awareuess via scientific confirmation. After all, how can anyone ever hope even to 1begin the search for God unless he already hais some ·awareness of God's e:ristence? According to John Hick, fo.r inst:mce, this is especially true in the Juda.eo-Christian tradition and, hy extension, in those other religious traiditions 1 which derive f["om it, such as Islam. H " to kno·w " means " to be a1ble to prove hy syllogistic reasoning ," then the Jews of the Old 'I1esbament did not know God. Instead of attempting to prove the existence of God they took his existence £or granted. " They thought of God as an experienced reality rather than as an inferred entity." i The ancient £aithful were as sure of the existence of their God as they we:ve of the material wo:rld which surrounded them. There was. no need to :become rationalistic rubout it. In iaddition, even if they had turned ra:tiona1listic it would hav;e been of no use whatsoever to them. F11om the point of view of faith, all of the theistic proofs (none of which is v;ery oompelling or cogent an;}'iway) are completely ir:velevant. They can actually do nothing to move anyone to :feel and act in a religious way. AH such proofs are only for pedants who are content to 1live an empty ,and ·sterile rubstract life within their own minds rather than wailking in the living p:vesence of the divine. Although there may well. he a place for the rational development of our intuitive sense of the living presence of God as expressed in revelation, once we are in full possession of such a revelation, it must always hold a place secondary to the experienced fact of £aith. Thus, even though modern religious thinkers reject natuira:l theology, "This modern theofogioal rejection of natural theology is not necessarily motiva:ted ·by an distrust of reason." 2 There is a :vole :for reason, hut only so long as it comes: after we already know thrut God exists. Since reason ialone can never pirove the existence 0£ God, ·reve1 J. Hick, Philosophy of Religion, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: PrenticeHall , 1983), pp. 59-60. 2 Ibid., p. 74. A NOTE ON W. J. HILL 533 lation 1 and ·faith...


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