[300] {343}

The supreme gravity of the problem of God is apparent to everyone. Man's position in the universe, the meaning of his life, his anxieties, and his history are internally affected by his attitude toward this problem. Before it he can assume positive as well as negative attitudes; but in either case he is intimately affected by them. It is indeed true that today an enormous number of persons abstain from taking any position whatsoever before this problem because they consider it irresoluble: "Why do you ask about that? It isn't my problem, and I don't worry about it. If God exists, that pertains to nature, but not to me." But at the root of this abstention, if one regards it closely, there lies an unarticulated attitude, which is deeper the less articulated it is. No one could say honestly that the abstention expressed in the above formula has the same meaning as if we were dealing with a complicated problem of differential geometry or biochemistry. That "Why do you ask about that?" expresses an attitude, a positive abstention with respect to knowledge without which life taken in its integral totality appears to lack any meaning. Making this apparent will be a task with which anyone who treats of the problem of God must come to grips. In the midst of the agitation of our times one can affirm, without fear of erring, that by affirmations, negations, or positive abstentions our epoch, whether desiring so or not, or even desiring the contrary, is perhaps one of the epochs which most substantially lives the problem of God.

Together with this impression of manifest gravity, indeed of unusual gravity, which the problem of God has for man, it is necessary {344} to emphasize another impression which is in sharp contrast: the muddle and confusion surrounding this problem in contemporary life; and not only the problem and its solutions, but even the expression and concept of God. On one hand there are political antagonisms and associated bitterness which hover over our planet everywhere and make "God" the exponent of various attitudes of people. On the other, there is an overabundance of certain literature having a psychological or psychoanalytic character as well as a plethora of similarities between a somewhat vague and confused idea of God and certain momentary concepts of positive science; finally, there are essays of pseudo-mystical character....all of which seem to come together so that the name "God" ends up being one of those words which designate not a precise reality, but rather something nebulous, indefinite, muddled, and confused on the periphery of our life. [301]

It is necessary to leave this situation, and having done so then confront the problem of God. This can be accomplished in innumerable ways. But first it is necessary to do it in the most innocuous and innocent of all: the intellectual way, and more concretely, the philosophical way. This is, in reality, the most vexing of all, because it is destined not to satisfy anyone completely: not those who profess a religious faith, because they suppose, with certain justification, that by this route they are not going to find everything that man searches for in God; nor the non-believers, because regardless of how many arguments may be adduced, it is difficult to bring them to the conviction that we are simply trying to deal with a positive belief, prior to all reasoning, which has roots anterior to intellection and foreign to it.

And at the bottom of these two attitudes lies a basic supposition which must be explained. This is the supposition that when one speaks of the problem of God, he deals before anything else with a problem concerning religious faith, or some religious confession. But this is not correct. That the intellectual position taken before the problem of God affects various beliefs is one thing; that it is in itself a question of pure belief is quite another. Whatever can philosophically be said about God enters into many religions and even into the beliefs of those who profess no positive religion at all. This is because one is not attempting {345} to give intellectual form to convictions, but rather to arrive at a convincing intellection. And thus it is apparent that not everything man searches for in God can be found by this route; but indeed without it all positive religion is lost in a vaporous religiosity, perhaps beautiful, but ultimately lacking meaning and foundation.

As an intellectual question, the problem of God is in a sense a question preeminently extemporaneous or outside of time. God is not one of those realities, such as rocks or trees, which man comes across in his daily life. Nor is he one of those realities which, without constituting an immediate datum of experience, man finds himself compelled to acknowledge as a result or an ingredient of his positive science. It would be chimerical to think that the progress of a positive science is going to carry the human intellect to a point where it definitely touches the reality of God while still maintaining itself strictly in the line of positive science. The methods of science prohibit it a limine. All the essays written to try to accomplish this are just so many sad souvenirs of an outdated and completely indefensible attitude; recall the so-called scientific [302] proofs of the existence of God. For science, when viewed from inside, everything happens and ought to happen as if there were no God, in the sense that to call upon divine being would be to go outside of science itself. And it is the case that with regard to God Himself, the reality of God is in a certain rigorous and authentic sense the most unreachable of all realities.

This question is extemporaneous, perhaps, as no other can be. But it is at the same time, by a singular paradox, the most contemporary of all questions. Because if it is true that in science everything happens as if there were no God, it is no less certain that if there were no God nothing at all would happen. And thus the reality of God, though on one hand the most distant and unreachable of all realities, is also on the other the closest of them all.

And this singular paradox is what makes us delve into the intellectual problem of God, the problem most extemporaneous and most contemporaneous of all; because as I indicated above, it is a question which affects the very roots of human existence. Today's man is prompted to set himself this question with a keenness comparable to that of only two or three periods of history {346} by the fact that he feels himself touched in his ultimate roots. As in other epochs, the man of today feels himself drawn from the passing of his life into the radical part of his reality. And in this movement of reversion occurs what St. Paul, in a splendid expression, called metanoia: reversion, transformation; in our case, the transformation by which the understanding goes from material things and from the passing of life toward the ultimate nature of the universe and itself.

In this regard our situation has a specific sign of epoch. It suffices to compare our situation with, for example, that of the Middle Ages. Medieval man found himself installed generally not only in a faith, but also in a theology: Judaic, Islamic, or Christian. In the first place he saw the Divinity. Then there was a serious problem (for the resolution of which several centuries were necessary), namely to create the intellectual field within which material things, though dependent upon God, nevertheless possessed a true reality and their own functions. The result was the idea of secondary causality, which permitted constitution of a true philosophy of nature that was more than a vague theological metaphor. Today, on the contrary, man finds himself already in full possession of the natural realities. His science and his [303] technology are his legitimate pride. But even so it is undeniable that modem man feels himself crushed and oppressed by the weight of his conquests over the things with which he works. Thus, in contrast to what happened in the Middle Ages, the contemporary intellect finds that it must make a reversion to the problems and ultimate explanations of the universe and of itself.

And while this reversion toward the ultimate by way of intellect is a difficult operation, it is undeniably necessary. By means of his understanding, in effect, man confronts material things as realities. An animal always responds to things as systems of stimuli. Now in the problem of God man's own reality comes to him, and therefore that reality necessarily has a bearing on the problem, appearing in the form of an intellectual reflection. How? A superficial reflection on what has happened with regard to the intellectual problem {347} of God can serve to clarify the question of the way to penetrate the problem itself.

At first glance, nothing is more obvious than this matter of the intellectual problem of God. Man puts his understanding into play of learn what things are in their reality. For this he passes from some things to others and describes the internal connections among them; he sees in some the origin of others. The intellect, then, besides confronting things as realities, and indeed precisely on account of that, looks for and tries to give explanations of this reality. So, since God is not something given, it becomes necessary for the intellect, having provided explanations of material things, to arrive at God, which it does. The intellectual problem of God then takes the form of a demonstration. The problem of God as an intellectual problem is reduced to a problem of speculative reason. In two places on the earth, very different and very distant, the problem of God as a problem of speculative reason has budded and matured: India and Greece. At the very least these two countries were the most advanced with regard to it. And from them the problem of God follows the path it will take throughout the history of philosophy. This may be rather commonplace, but it is fitting to repeat it.

In India, starting from the Vedic gods, the sacerdotal casts, i.e. the Brahmans, elaborated the first speculations. These were primarily of a ritual character, in respect to the relations of the Vedic gods with the omnimodal and absolute power of sacrifice. From here would later come the first speculations of the Upanishads, to give rise finally to the elaborate speculation which [304] the systems of the Vedanta represent: Wisdom, the Veda, is salvation and human deification through knowing. Knowing is operative and that which operates is the identification (without insisting here too much on the propriety of the word) with God.

In Greece it is with Aristotle that speculative reason for the first time pierces the philosophical problem of God. In his work the speculation becomes fully mature. Until Aristotle philosophy scarcely occupied itself with gods in a rigorous and strictly intellectual sense. I say "rigorous and strictly" so as not to become involved in nuances of this difficult historical problem. The gods {348} had not entered in an expressive, formal, and elaborated way into the philosophical architecture of the pre-Socratics or of Plato. But, for the first time in the West, the inclusion of the theme of God in a system of speculation is realized with Aristotle. And after this Aristotelian ideas are carried on in the poorer but not altogether disdainful philosophical speculations of the Epicureans and Stoics.

During this last phase of thought a second phenomenon appears in Greece: not only the Greek gods, but oriental gods as well enter the Greek mind. It is the epoch of Hellenism. From Alexandria and from Asia Minor, etc., and through this channel from Iran, Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine, these new gods come into the Greek world. In them the Greek is going to look for something new: he aspires not only to know and venerate the gods, but moreover to possess them, to enter into communion with them and thus achieve salvation. This is the idea of the mystery religions; whence the conversion of speculative knowledge into ecstatic knowledge as the end and supreme form of intellection. Prescinding from intricate historical questions, we can say that ecstatic knowledge culminates in Neoplatonism.

Contemporary with the mystery religions, and in some respects (e.g. what refers to Plotinus) earlier than they, a third type of problem about God is injected into Greece, motivated by the appearance of the God of Christianity. Following the classical Greek gods and together with the oriental gods is the God of Israel and the New Testament. The Greek power of reasoning sets itself to thinking about this situation conceptually with the mental organs of the metaphysics of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and above all the Neoplatonists. Whence the creation of Greek theology, the theology of the first Fathers of the Church; and above all, the creation of the first speculative and systematic theology, that of [305] Origen. This theology, which at times is more Neoplatonic, at times more Aristotelian, spreads throughout the world following two distinct routes. The one, from the Hellenistic world including Rome will diffuse throughout the rest of Europe; this is the work of the Greek and Latin Fathers. The other route is from the Hellenistic world to the Orient, and especially Syria, by means of {349} the Greek and Oriental Fathers. In the midst of this intellectual ferment the first clash between Greek philosophy and New Testament theology will take place, a clash which acquires status and resolution in the councils of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. And at that time the first excisions are produced. Apart from Arianism (which spread extensively in Europe, but which does not affect our problem) Monophysites and Nestorians (of Aristotelian inspiration usually) fled from Syria to enclose themselves in the school of Edessa, and to take refuge in Persia. Persia, the only country which Rome did not succeed in dominating and which was not Romanized, maintained with Greece an intellectual exchange difficult to pin down, but quite undeniable; and at this moment was converted into the refuge of Greek philosophy and especially of Neoplatonism, Stoicism, and above all, Aristotelianism, which was regarded suspiciously by the theology of the councils.

Following along these two routes, speculative reason will disembark in medieval Europe. Through the Latin Fathers it constitutes the tradition, albeit somewhat poor intellectually, of Christian Europe prior to the 10th century. By the other route, from Persia, Islamicized Iranians and Mussulmen will give the great creative impulse to Islamic philosophy, which transmits Greek philosophy and creates the overall picture of the systematization of the problem of God. Through the Arabs, and in Arabic form, this speculation reaches Europe via Spain; in Spain the speculation develops not only in Christianity, but in Judaism as well. Both movements, the Occidental and the Oriental, meet in Paris around the 11th and 12th centuries. The result was, on one side, a medieval form of Augustinism, inspired mainly by the metaphysics of Plotinus and Avicenna; on the other was Thomism, inspired mainly by the doctrine of Aristotle and Averroes. Thus the relatively unitary channel was created through which speculative thought about God would flow during the course of European history, passing through Henry the Ghent, Scotus, and Ockham up to Suarez. [306]

In the rise of the modern world there are noticeable differences. Man feels that he is submerged in himself, far from the world and from God. Whence a new attitude before the problem of God arises, {350} the pure belief that by the route of sentiment the abyss separating man from God can be bridged. But there is also a new attitude before the problem of the world: creation of the "purely mental" method of arriving at the world, viz. mathematics. Nonetheless despite pure fideism speculation about God is not completely shipwrecked, and the proof is the philosophy of Kant. But, incapable of elevating itself from the world to God, speculative reason instead absorbs the world in God; this is the work of German Idealism. Its bankruptcy submerges modern man in material things such as they are given to him in scientific facts. Positive science with its methods, precisely delineated, is converted into the canonical type of knowledge; this is positivism. In it an agnostic attitude before the problem of God is established. On the strength of positive realities and positive science, contemporary man challenges speculative reason in its pretention of arriving at God by means of demonstration. God is, in the majority of cases, the Unknowable.

So here we have in broad outline the routes along which, more or less, speculative reason has traveled with regard to the problem of God.

I said earlier that superficially there is nothing more obvious than this march of speculative reason. But only superficially, Because prior to this journey, regardless of whether it reaches God or remains in pure "agnosis," there occur certain reflections affecting its structure and its very point of departure.

In the first place, consider the structure of the journey. Observe that insofar as history has advanced, it has created a type of great metaphysical avalanche. The problem of God is involved in such an accumulation of metaphysical problems that sooner or later the question must arise whether all of them pertain sensu strictu to it. Is it that this problem which so intimately and directly affects man has to be intellectually united with one or various metaphysical systems? It is true that every metaphysical system has to occupy itself with God. But is the converse true in the same way? Is it true that in order to occupy oneself intellectually with God it is necessary to use a determinate metaphysical system? {351} The problems encountered by a metaphysical system when it faces the reality of God are one thing; quite another are the problems God [307] poses for man as a reality endowed with finite intelligence.

But there is something even more serious, something that affects the initial point of the speculation in question. In virtue of all the speculative reasoning about God through the course of history one gains the impression that the speculation is not simply a speculation about God, but rather that speculation is "the" path to reach God: two completely different things. Now, if one directs his attention briefly to this point, it can be described without great difficulty, but probably with a certain surprise for speculative reason, because in fact speculation has never been the primary way of intellectual access to God. When speculative reason sets itself to speculate and theorize about God, men are with intellectual anticipation already turned toward God.

This is clear in India. It is easy to take the Vedantic systems and try to see what they say about God. But where has the speculation of the Vedanta come from? The metaphysics of the Vedanta has come from the Brahman intellectual elaboration, which did not even remotely have the metaphysical character of Vedantic speculation. The Brahmans theorized about the power of sacrifice, in the sense that even the Vedic gods found themselves bound to its inexorable efficacy. The god to whom one sacrifices is thus the first supposition of all metaphysics. It is useless to insist that the same did not happen in Iran or even in Islam.

Moreover, this same thing is what occurred everywhere in the West. And it could not have happened otherwise. Let us take an example. That speculative reason must squarely face the important question of the reality of the external world does not mean that such speculation is the primary way of intellectual access to external reality. The same thing is true in our problem. Aristotle, however many modifications one may wish to make to his philosophy, did lodge the Greek gods in his metaphysics (though depriving them of religious character); but he did not discover them via metaphysical paths. A similar thing {352} occurred in Helenistic metaphysics with respect to the Oriental dieties.

Not even scholastic speculation is an exception to this, a fact which it is necessary to stress. St. Thomas, for example, had before him a well-defined public, with a monotheistic (Islamic, Judaic, or Christian) intellectual conception of God. And this public confronted God by means of an organ which was called "reason," but a reason precisely delimited: the Greek metaphysical reasoning transmitted and represented at that time by [308] Avicenna and Averroes. Naturally, it was then legitimate and obligatory for St. Thomas to put this speculative reason into play with regard to the problem of God. Does that mean St. Thomas thought the primary intellectual path by which man approaches God was Aristotelian metaphysics?

It is curious that St. Thomas, before answering the question of whether God exists, justifies the question itself. Such is the sense of the question St. Thomas examines first, i.e. if the existence of God is something known through itself. St. Thomas aims rightly at the demonstrative foundation. What he justifies is the fact that a demonstration is necessary. For this the first thing he does is confront those who say that the proposition "God exists" is evident in the sense that the predicate is already contained in the subject. From this point of view, St. Thomas affirms the non-evident nature of said proposition and thus justifies the necessity of demonstration. But the necessity of demonstration, for what? The question is not idle, because the first question St. Thomas comes upon is not that of St. Anselm, for whom in the idea of the greatest or most perfect being existence is already included; but rather a distinctly different problem which suprisingly we see is the first which is presented. It is a passage of St. John Damascene in which he tells us that we call truths known through themselves those knowledge of which is naturally implanted in our mind. And one of those truths is the intellection of the ultimate Good, which is precisely God. Thus God would be a truth known through itself. The reply of St. Thomas, however well known it may be, deserves to be repeated here. {353} St. Thomas affirms that "knowing God in a certain confused and general way is something naturally implanted...but this is not to know simpliciter that God exists; just as knowing that someone is coming is not knowing Peter, although it may be Peter who comes." Now, if we peruse this text we encounter at least three distinct points. First, St. Thomas needs reason not so much to discover God intellectually, but rather to learn who this God is. St. Thomas needs to find out who it is that comes, not that someone is coming. Second, "a being known through itself" has for St. Thomas two different senses: there is that of being an evident judgment such that the predicate is contained in the subject; but there is also the sense according to which something is known through itself when it is naturally present in the mind. Third, since there was no question for the men of his epoch and environs that someone was coming, it was [309] natural that St. Thomas should pass over this point limiting himself to a statement of evidence, in order to delve into the question of who it is that comes. But regardless of how briefly St. Thomas directs his attention to knowing that someone comes, it is well to point out the evidence for the priority of this knowledge with respect to all demonstration. But for us, in our moment of history, this prior question has gained sufficiently in importance to deserve treatment by itself as the primary way of intellectually discovering God; to the man of today it is not obvious that someone is coming. We are no longer dealing with a merely incidental question, but rather one which is primary in the order of foundation.

And the truth is that in almost every period of the history of philosophy there has existed together with "demonstration" another idea of God, be it complementary, in the nature of a consequence, or even as a support or prop. And this idea is that God is an object not only of intellect, but of other dimensions of the human being as well; not to be sure excluding intellect, but involving it in a form distinct from speculation. It suffices to record some of the most salient points. In the late Middle Ages Scotus insisted that theological science is formally a science which does not pertain to speculative reason, {354} but rather to practical reason; i.e. it is unquestionably a science, but belongs to the realm of speculation about the good rather than about being. In an ambivalent sense Nominalism accentuated this difference. On the one hand it affirmed, with reason, that what man understands by "God" cannot be reduced to what dialectical reason achieves. But on the other, it tended to reduce this reality of God, as object of religion, to a mere belief. One step more and God would be the object of pure extra-intellectual belief.

With this statement of the problem, all of the conditions were given so that positivism could confront the ideas about God, as speculative reason had done. God is unknowable, we are told, but ideas about God and religious beliefs are an undeniable "fact." Whence the structure of a positive science of the divine. The ideas about God, as facts, offer three aspects: historical, psychological, and sociological. Thus were created the three customary disciplines: a (positive) comparative history of religion, a sociology of religion more muddled than the history, and a psychology of the divine which is infinitely more vague than the sociology. Properly understood, as positive sciences, the three are absolutely [310] legitimate and do not presume any agnostic position with respect to the problem of God; in them ideas about God are treated simply as facts about human life. For this reason it would be unjust to deny any scope to such a point of view, especially since the orgy of theoretical speculation of the first half of the 19th century compelled abandonment of the abstract terrain of the dialectic in order to approach the problem of God such as it is presented in each of the viable religions. But having said this we can scarcely do otherwise than question that which is so innocently called a I religious fact." Because the truth is that we are not told where the religious character of this fact is. Recalling the pages of William James' celebrated Varieties of Religious Experience, the ingenuous reader finds himself a bit astonished to see such a disparate assortment of facts and deeds which the author parades before our eyes grouped under the same heading. The same can be said of {355} Durkheim's Elemental Forms of Religious Life. At the bottom of these religious "facts" lie four interpretations: for some they are a fact of morality; for others, they deal with sentiment; for others, an experimental way of life; and for still others, a social phenomenon.

Now, these four interpretations are based on a generic supposition that in the idea of God, God is primarily an object of belief and not of intellection. But where is it ever said that because the primary thrust of man toward God is not speculation, it does not involve a pre-speculative, but still rigorous intellection? And what is more, the fact that this belief is interpreted under one of the four forms cited, i.e. the fact that the thrust toward divinity is assigned a moral, sentimental, experimental, or social origin, reveals very clearly that behind the apparently simple rubric of "thrust toward divinity as a fact" lies a serious and important question: what is the character of these ideas about God, what is the character of this thrust of man toward divinity which we call "the problem of God?" In what does its intimate and radical structure consist? From what dimensions of man does it spring: from one or more of his particular activities or rather from the radical unity of human reality as a reality? If it were the latter, the thrust toward the divine would not simply be a fact, but rather something different. A demonstration that "someone is coming" [311] would then be in order, but along different lines than those of which St. John Damascene speaks.

I said at the beginning of this essay that it was necessary to confront the problem of God via an intellectual and philosophical path. Now we see that this path is not as simple as it might have seemed. The preceeding pages have revealed to us that in its journey toward God the human intellection is rather complicated. The different aspects of this intellection are not only distinct, but each is built on the previous one, so that the intellection of God is only achieved at the end of the path. Nevertheless, we are always dealing with intellection.

"Intellection" signifies here "intellectual justification." It implies, then, not turning to God in just any way with the intellect, but rather in a way intellectually justified. Man not only has an idea of God, but also needs to justify {356} the affirmation of God's reality. This justification unfolds in three successive stages.

1) It is necessary to start with an analysis of human existence. Man to be sure carries out his acts always and only on determinate things (exterior things, those things that are other men, and the very reality of himself). But what is essential is how he carries out his acts. And these acts are not exhausted so to speak in being what they are, for even in the most modest and inconsequential of them man takes a position with respect to something which uncompromisingly we call ultimateness. And this is because man is not a thing like the rest, but rather a strictly personal reality. As a consequence of being so he is constituted as something de suyo and therefore confronts the world in a form so to speak "absolute." Whence his acts are velis nolis the actualization of this absolute character of human reality. What we call "ultimateness" is nothing else. Now, this ultimateness is not merely something in which man "is," but rather something in which man has to be in order to be able to be what he is in each of his acts. Thus the ultimateness has a grounding character. But it is an ultimateness which is grasped by the intellect (through his understanding, in fact, man is a personal reality). And as such it is present to man as something which affects reality itself. The ultimateness in virtue of [312] its grounding character is something real. Because of it, in his acts man finds himself grounded in this character as in something through which and from which alone he is in his acts that which he is able to be, which he has to be, and which he in fact is. This grounding character entails that man in his acts be not only a reality acting in one form or another, but moreover a reality relegated to the ultimate. This is the phenomenon of religation. Religation is nothing but the absolute personal character of human reality actualized in the acts which it carries out. Man is relegated to the ultimateness because in his own character he is absolute reality in the sense of being something of "of his own." And inasmuch as it relegates, the ultimateness is just that border of ultimate reality which we call "deity." This is not to speak of God as a reality in and through Himself. That we do not yet know. But it is to speak of a "character" according to which man {357} is shown everything real. In religation we are "coming" religatedly from an ultimate, from the deity. Here we have "the something which comes." This opening toward the deity is not the product of the moral conscience, nor is it a sentiment, or a psychological experience, or a social structure; on the contrary these four aspects are what they are in and through religation. They are in fact something brought about by religation. Religation is not, then, just another act of man; nor is it the character of certain privileged acts of his; but rather the character which every act has by virtue of being the act of a personal reality. The discovery of the deity is not the result of a determinate experience of man, be it historical, social, or psychological; but rather is the very principle of all this possible experience. Religation does not have an "origin, " but rather a "grounding" or a "foundation." To show it thus is the work of the understanding. But it is not a reasoning process in the sense of illative or inferential demonstration; rather it is a discursive analysis, but merely an analysis. The examination of conscience is discursive intellection, but is not a "demonstration;" rather, it is an exhibition or showing.

Now this has told us nothing yet about what the deity is as the ultimate character of reality. We know nothing at present except that it is a character. We are ignorant even of whether it is a simple character or something which is a reality in and for itself. The only [313] thing that we know is that, seen in the deity, things appear to us to reflect that character and they in turn are reflected in it. It is exactly what constitutes an enigma (aŠnigma) And by being so, the deity compels the intellect to a further state: to knowing what the deity is.

2) Since it is a character of what is real, the understanding sees itself compelled by material things themselves to resolve that "enigma." And this second stage is thus strictly demonstrative. it consists in making clear that the character of "deity" is inexorably grounded in something which is reality, but essentially existent and distinct from the world, distinct in the sense that it is the real foundation of the world. Deity thus refers us to the "deity-reality, " as it were, to the "divine reality. "This is the deity as a character of ultimate reality: the deity-reality as first cause. And this {358} primality is what we call "divinity." As such, that reality is the first cause not only of material reality, but also of human realities inasmuch as they are characterized by understanding and free will. In a preeminent sense it is, therefore, an intelligent and free reality. Its primality is of the intellectual and willing order. And in respect of being primary, this reality is beyond the world precisely in order to be able to ground it as reality. Hence the discovery of the abstract transcendent reality. Deity is nothing but the specular reflection of this divine transcendence.

Still, this is not sufficient for reaching God, because a very important question remains unanswered. Is the first cause that which men call God, that to which man directs himself not only with demonstration, but with all his acts of submission, prayer, etc.? Or stated somewhat externally, who is the first cause? Is it Zeus, Djaus, Yahweh, etc.? The fact is that the first cause is nothing but the "what" of divine reality in the order of being the foundation of the world. But insofar as it transcends the world, the question of "who" remains to be answered. This is the third stage of the problem.

3) This transcendent reality of the primary cause is an intelligent and free reality. As such it is the absolutely absolute reality. It belongs to nothing but itself In a word, it is a personal reality. Moreover, because it is absolute it depends on nothing, not even that on which every human person depends, to wit, his nature. Its character of grounding the world is not the result of any internal necessity, but is rather a free act. The first cause as a personal and free reality: here we at last have God. The foundation [314] of the world is not something required by internal necessity; it could not be other than a purely free gift. All causality is formally ex-static; it consists in going towards what is outside of oneself, toward the effect. But the causality of all volition (including human) is simple determination. Except that in the case of man it is not a determination of pure volition, because all of his determinations are motivated by a desire, that is, by something prior to the volition itself. Only a pure will would be pure {359} ex-stasy. This act of ex-stasy of pure volition is precisely what constitutes love in all orders; agape as oppose to eros. Love is the supreme form of causality. Whence God, as the foundation of the world, is the primary cause as pure donation of love. Only having grasped this will we have ultimate justification for affirming God. To God thus understood must all the characteristics refer which the various religions attribute to Him.

Deity, primary reality, personal and free reality, i.e. deity, divine reality, God: these are the three stages in any intellectual discovery of God. Each of them depends on the previous one and leads by internal necessity to the following. The first of them is not demonstrative, but simply seeks to show or exhibit. And it is therein that the demonstrations of the final two stages are inscribed. This is the reason that demonstration is not the primary way of intellectual access to God.

In this intellectual journey toward God, man does not obtain nor can he obtain adequate notions about God, because he must acquire his notions from material things only. But it would be an error to think that these material things give us nothing but concepts or notions of themselves; rather, the concepts which these things give us serve not only to "represent them," but also "go toward" other things as well. Even in the most ordinary experience, the intellect with its concepts has two distinct dimensions: that of being "before" some things and that of being "directed toward" others. If in the first dimension man acquires "representative" concepts of things, in the second he acquires "directional" concepts leading toward other things-i.e. he finds conceptual pathways in the concepts. In our problem material things do not give us representative concepts of God, but enable us to select diverse paths with which to position ourselves in a direction toward Him. The labor of the intellect consists in discerning the possible ways from the impossible. What is meant by this is that there are some paths such that if we manage to [315] follow them to their end, we would encounter therein the reality of God, infinitely overflowing any representative concept, but a reality which would eminently justify what the intellect had only conceived in a directional way. On the other hand, {360} some paths are dead ends, simply because at the end of the direction indicated by them we would never reach the reality of God. It is a question simply of the difference between embarking upon a good road or embarking upon a bad one.

To be sure, after having understood the personal and free reality of God in this form, we have not run out of questions. Only the conceptions of God which do not meet this condition of intelligibility are eliminated; and now we have reached the point where the meaningful ones can be discussed. But there are many possibilities, or at least several. The diversity of religions is inscribed within these possibilities, discounting those that are impossible. And a decision on them is no longer a purely intellectual question, but rather of faith. But faith would be impossible if it did not carry within itself at least the possibility of rational justification which we have just indicated. Among those possibilities there is one in which the nature of the personal and free gift of reality to the world and everything in it enclosed another gift, one in which God gave Himself personally to the world; such was the origin of Christianity. But that exceeds the limits of pure understanding. On the other hand, Christianity is not possible except within the structure indicated.

Philosophically the intellect, taking leave of man and the things of the world, justifiably undertakes a journey in which it follows the three stages indicated: deity, divine reality,. God. Only in this journey is the reality of God intellectually justified. Neither simple deity nor divine reality is by itself God. We only reach God having understood the deity as a character of divine reality, and divine reality as a character of the free personality of God. Each one of these three stages must be intellectually given in all its complexity and precision. Here we have not proposed to do more than point them out as a brief introduction to the problem of God, the most distant and, nonetheless, closest of all realities.