Saturday, February 27, 2010


The following is extracted from the first chapter of Fulton Sheen's "God and Lntelligence in Modern Philosophy" which is his first book, written in 1925.

The Problem

Modern philosophy has seen the birth of a new notion of God. There is nothing of greater importance, as there could be nothing more ultimate. Even the very attitude of one man to another or of one nation to another varies with the conception of God. The outlook on the world changes the moment the outlook on God changes. And if we had intellectual vigor enough to ascend from effects to causes, we would explain political, economical, and social phenomena less by credit sheets, balance of trade and reparations, than by our attitude towards God.

The new idea of God has not burst upon the world with the suddenness of a new star. It has had its antecedents dating back over half a century. New scientific notions, increased faith in the philosophy of progress, birth of new values and interpretations of life, love, of novelty, dissolution of dogmas – each has contributed its share to bringing it into being.

Now that it is born, it stands before the world, not so much as a modified notion, as a new creation. Though coming from the past, it differs from all that has appeared in the past. It is, as it were, one of the novelties of evolution; it differs from the old even more than Aphrodite differs from the sea from which she sprang. Its face is set in another direction. It brings man into greater prominence. It exalts him even to the extent of giving him a “vote in the cosmic councils of the world.” It is, in a word, the “transfer of the seat of authority from God to man.”

What us the new notion of God? “God is not; He becomes”

As man lost faith in the intelligence, they acquired faith in the God of becoming. The modern God was born on the day the “beast intellectualism” was killed. The day the intelligence is reborn, the modern God will die. They cannot exist together, for one is the annihilation of the other.

Intellectual restoration is the condition of economic and political restoration. Intellectual values are needed more than “cosmic imaginings,” and God is needed more than “a new idea of God.” If we look to the foundations, the superstructure will take care of itself. Thomistic Intellectualism is the remedy against anarchy of ideas, riot of philosophical systems and breakdown of spiritual forces. “The Intelligence is life and the greatest thing there is in life” (Contra Gentes, Lib. 4 c. 11). This Thomistic principle is at once an expression of the ideal of modern philosophy and the very preventative against its decay.

The first paragraph Fulton Sheen published, and the last paragraph I have copied here, validate what I have proposed; that the foundations are the target, not that rather awakward construction built upon sand.

The book I obtained is a paperback edition from 1958. It is obvious that it has never been read, never perhaps even opened; perhaps a sign that a generation that should have been securing foundations, drank from other than clear waters.

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