And, first, let us definitely state, in the light of the principles already traversed, the necessary limitations in the theistic argument. From our present position, we can see beforehand, that no strict and demonstrative proof of the existence of God is possible. We shall not be surprised, therefore, at the manifest limitations of the ordinary forms of the theistic argument. Many things forbid anything like strict proof here.
In the first place, there is no absolute demonstration outside of mathematics, but only probable reasoning. A strict mathematical demonstration, then, is here impossible.
Moreover, even in the only sense in which we may speak of strict proof outside of mathematics-the case of complete deduction-it cannot be applied to God. For, as Purinton has pointed out, such deduction involves a classing of the individual concerning whom the argument is made, and God admits of no such classing. He is not one of a class of gods. A strict deductive argument, also, is, then, impossible.
Moreover, if one attempts to reach his conclusion by induction, it is plain that we can know, and have to do, only with finite data. Now, it cannot be that finite data should give us sufficient ground for a strict inference to the Infinite. A strict inductive proof is thus impossible.
Once more, if one is to use terms with full accuracy, the actual concrete in any case cannot be reached in a demonstrative way. We can only know the concrete-a Person, in this case-in experience; and, in the present argument, there is the further difficulty, that God is not for us a direct sensuous fact; and, moreover, in the nature of the case, any manifestation of him, that we could take in, must be necessarily, finite. His fulness could only be partly manifested. Along the line, then, of even some kind of perception, an Infinite could not be strictly given.
Again, the moral reasons for the comparative hiddenness of God have to be considered-both that sense of the unreality of God which comes from long practical ignoring of him, and that intended unobtrusiveness of God which arises from his reverent regard for the human personality. In such a situation, also, strict proof is plainly set aside. The moral argument cannot be made coercive.
Finally, strict proof here is impossible, because that which is to be the goal of the argument for God, must be really the fundamental assumption of all argument, including that made for God. This will be more clear later. We may content ourselves now with Lotze's statement that all these proofs for the existence of God themselves "presuppose the absolute validity of a truth which knits all the world together," and so seem in part, at least, to assume at the start their conclusion. The difficulty is not unlike that in which any argument for the trustworthiness of our faculties is involved, where, as we have seen, it is evident that, if any weight is to be given to the argument, one must assume the trustworthiness of the faculties which make the argument, but which by hypothesis are under question. So, as to the argument for God, just so far as the goal is assumed in the argument, it is plainly not strictly proved.
There seem, then, to be decisive reasons why a strict proof, in any sense, of the existence of God is not to be expected. What lines of argument are open?