God and the Modern Mind, by Hubert S. Box, BD., Ph.D. (S.P.C.K., 10s.) Reviewed by T. E. FLYNN.
While the Church is not committed to any particular system of philosophy there is among extant systems only one which provides a sound basis for the proof of the existence of God and the discovery of His nature. But outside the Church the " philosophia perennis" is commonly regarded as outmoded, a museum piece preserved for her own purposes by a reactionary and authoritarian Church. Any convincing presentation of scholastic natural theology is therefore welcome, but an exposition by an Anglican clergyman doubly welcome.
In the last two or three years Dr. Box has established himself as a doughty champion of authentic Thomism. In The World and God he defended the traditional proofs of God's existence, and in his Miracles and Critics. he established the validity of this important criterion of revelation. Now he presents in the very words of the moderns their different conceptions of the nature of God. He lets us see how the
modern mind, disdaining tradition, tries to construct a satisfying notion of God on the basis of physical science, dynamic psychology, religious experience, or the philosophy of value. Professor Alexander, Sir Arthur Eddington, Sir James Jeans, Mr. Bertrand Russell, Mr. H. G. Wells, are found among the prophets, as are also William James, Bergson, Schleiermacher, Vail hinger, Barth.
All these and many more are put into the
witness box. Unfortunately the author does not cross-examine them, as he is well able to do. Just occasionally he pricks a lovely balloon with a little logical pin. But this not his usual plan. He prefers to call a few capable witnesses for the defence, such as Doctor A. E. Taylor or Fr. Knox. But he relies even more on his exposition of the philosophy of being to demonstrate the validity of that intellectual knowledge which is essential to the proofs given in his earlier volume and which is impugned by so many of the writers under review.
For those who can appreciate it this is a sound method, for it demonstrates the fundamental fallacy of the anti-intellectualists. But it is to be feared that while there will be many whose cars will tingle at Mr. Wells's lyrical description of a finite god who makes one think of a young Greek hero, and others who will flatter themselves that at last they have touched reality in a space-time god, and others again who will be thrilled to find that they have a mystic gift attuning their souls to the infinite; there will be but few who will have the patience and sharpness of mind necessary for the appreciation of a metaphysical exposition of the nature of concept, judgment and syllogism.