We may now return to consider the relation of Bradley's philosophy to that further aspect of the religious consciousness to which I referred some pages back. Hitherto we have been treating the religious consciousness abstractly: and 'abstractly' not only in the sense (which would be legitimate enough for our present purpose) of leaving out the wealth of actual but variable content in the concrete religious consciousness, but also in the sense that nothing has been said of the relation which tranquil faith and moral fervour bear to one another within the religious consciousness. I have spoken as though the two aspects merely 'co-existed,' and have been concerned to show only that their co-existence is not self-contradictory. Nothing can be plainer, however, than that the relation in question is not one of mere 'co-existence.' Faith in God is experienced in religion as the most powerful of all driving forces to moral endeavour. It is not merely co-ordinate with the moral moment, but rather its effective stimulus. Upon this there is no need to enlarge, for there is no likelihood of dispute. Nor is it necessary to attempt to appraise the precise influence of 'faith' upon morality. It is enough if we agree that in the religious consciousness faith in God works as a spur to moral endeavour. And this is so obviously true that it is possible that religion would be quite adequately defined simply as 'faith in God,' since, given this, the moral aspect, whose presence we also demand for true religion, is an inevitable emanation.
This, then, is the relationship which we have to explain and, if possible, to justify.
From the point of view of religion itself, however, the relationship is not very difficult to explain. The important point to bear in mind is that for the religious consciousness God is not only Supra-rational but is also Supreme Value - the consummated reality of human aspirations. Now because God is taken as 'Supra-rational,' we saw, moral endeavour is not felt as inconsistent with our faith in the Divine Perfection. And it is because God is also taken as 'Supreme Value' that faith in Him, the assurance of His Reality, is felt as an actual incitement to moral endeavour. For the assurance of God's Reality, the reality of Supreme Value, is ipso facto the assurance that our ideals are no mere 'high-blown fancies' but in the deepest sense are: not (if I may emphasise this once more) already are, but 'are' in that sense in which, as Plato knew, the Form of the Good transcends being and knowing alike. And how can this assurance that the goal of our aspirations is no figment of the imagination, but the very heart of Reality itself, do other than charge our spirits with a new and profounder zeal in its quest?
So far, and in so far as it is accurate, what we have here is no more than the account of the actual forces at work in the religious consciousness. But we have to note now one thing that is implied in this account. It is implied that the religious consciousness, at the same time as it recognises the Supra-rational character of Divine Perfection, and therefore its difference in kind from human ideals of perfection, also asserts a certain affinity between the two kinds of perfection. For it is assurance of the reality of the former kind that acts as the impetus to our pursuit of our moral ideal, which must inevitably be, in so far as envisaged, of the latter type. It is clear, therefore, that the religious consciousness does implicitly assert an affinity between two orders whose relations are, ex hypothesi, not apprehensible by intelligence. The assured reality of Supra-rational perfection is felt, however illogically, to validate the quest of humanly conceived perfection. Religion is boldly asserting that, despite the admitted disparity of God and 'good,' the path of 'good' is for man the path to God.
Now for religion itself such an assertion is well enough. Religion, although it claims to be true, does not claim that its assertions are built up like scientific theories upon a basis of inferential reasoning. It would even say, through at least many of its spokesmen, that the most important of its assertions could not be so arrived at. Its fundamental apprehensions are not merely admitted, but claimed, to be intuitive. If religion is asked to explain, therefore, how it knows that there is this affinity which it pronounces between God and 'good,' when by its own avowal God's nature is inscrutable, its inability to answer should involve no diminution of its prestige qua religion.
When it comes to the question of the philosophical vindication of religious beliefs, however, the case is somewhat different. I have committed myself to the contention that the Supra-rational philosophy which derives from Bradley is in essential harmony with religious experience. I should wish to show, therefore, that this philosophy can justify such an affinity between God and 'good' as the religious consciousness asserts. But here we seem to be confronted by a difficulty. For it is the business of philosophy to give grounds for that which it asserts, and here we appear to have a case in which 'grounds' are strictly impossible. How can our philosophy assert that God's nature is inscrutable, and at the same time assert, as philosophic truth, that we 'know' of this unique affinity between God and 'good'? Does not the latter assertion imply some apprehension of the nature of the inscrutable God, and thereby contradict the former assertion?
In truth, however, the άãoρίu is capable of a fairly easy solution. There are two ways, we have to observe, in which philosophic vindication of a belief is possible. In the one case, the more common, philosophy may endeavour to show that a belief which, as ordinarily held, may be almost wholly unmediated, reveals itself upon a thorough examination of the relevant data as capable of support by the most comprehensive mediation. That is one way - but a way which is plainly closed to us in the present instance. It is impossible, by the very terms of the problem, to see how 'good' connects with God. But there is another way, the validity of which is equally unquestionable. Philosophy may try to show that the belief or assertion in question, although incapable of the mediation proper in the former case, is nevertheless an assertion which the very constitution of human experience renders necessary.1 This type of vindication, of which, of course, we have already had examples in earlier chapters of this book, is, I take it, quite as cogent as the other. And it is the type which, clearly, is proper to our present instance. It is of the very essence of Supra-rationalism, we may remind the reader, to recognise the possibility of such 'datum beliefs.' Supra-rationalism denies the omni-competence of mind, denies that 'mind is in a manner all things' (if we interpret that maxim in its strictness). It contends that mind is a function limited by definitive conditions, and that the apprehension of these conditions must in the nature of the case be a 'knowing that,' never a 'knowing how' - since a 'knowing how' would imply that the conditions in question were not limiting conditions. Accordingly Supra-rationalism may properly, while retaining its full philosophic integrity, give its sanction to unmediated assertions, where these assertions concern the actual basic conditions of experience itself.