a1 Jesus College, Cambridge.
‘PROOFS of God’ are under a cloud today, and whether the cloud can be dissipated or not, I am not going to try to dissipate it in this article. Modern thinkers have created a mental climate very unfavourable to metaphysics, but they have certainly not succeeded in disproving on principle the possibility of valid and fruitful metaphysical arguments even in the old transcendent sense of ‘metaphysics’. However, I must admit that in my opinion the best that can be said of arguments for the existence of God is that they give some intellectual support to the belief, not that they are really decisive. If this is so, it becomes of very special importance to consider whether those may be right who maintain that we can come to knowledge of or at least justified belief in God otherwise than by inference. I am not considering the views of those who base the belief solely on authority: argument would be required to decide whether we ought to accept an authority, and if so which. What I am referring to is the claim that there are certain 'mystical' and other religious experiences which can without argument adequately and rationally assure one of God's existence. Obviously from the nature of the case a man who makes this claim for himself cannot prove to others that he is right, but can any good reason be given to support the view that he is wrong? If not, the possibility remains that those who dispute with him are in a similar position to that of a tonedeaf man disagreeing with Beethoven about the value of music.