Catholic Apologetics



Created to serve

The great medieval philosophers were usually better thinkers than our contemporary scientists, although we sometimes thoughtlessly adorn the heads of the latter ones with an aureole of scholarly aptitude.
Men like Anselm, Petrus Lombardus, Alexander of Hales, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventura, Duns Scotus and many others may have been exceptions, but they were exceptions who were in tune with their times. They were able to do miracles with relatively few empirical data.
In our days, students of the very specialised sciences in the fields of visible and tangible reality have made an astonishing number of discoveries, but they almost completely unlearnt thinking.
Whereas, in times of yore, philosophers were searching for the deepest grounds, desiring to know in the strict sense of the word and preferring restricted but deep insight above a broad but shallow outlook, contemporary scientists consciously keep themselves on the surface, often pretending that a contemplative mind is demanding too much of one's vigour and carrying out so little useful work.
Modern science is, despite of all its results, not in the grand manner. Our university graduates have a conviction of their own concerning all questions of world and life, but the most important problem of all, the problem of the final why of all things, almost completely escapes them. They usually don't appreciate a certainty that isn't tangible and refuse to believe in a truth they can't measure with their faculty of sensory estimation. They are at home in every science. But it's a science in pocket format. They exhaust themselves in worries of a pragmatic nature and they hardly suspect that, behind every natural phenomenon, there's rising the dark enigma of the first beginning and the final end.
This essential shortage of thinking skill wouldn't be so serious if abstract thinking were nothing else but a blank game of concepts, or, as the modern business man better understands it, an innocent but useless form of pastime.
However, thinking about causes and effects which leads to knowledge of truths we can't experience - that is: metaphysics we're talking about - is also starting from reality and studying reality, as surely and verily as the exact and inductive and descriptive sciences, which often give hypothetic possibilities rather than sufficient certainty.
Physics is not contrary to metaphysics as reality is contrary to imagination.
Rather, modern scientists and medieval philosophers have a different insight in the one and only reality, which the metaphysicist pervades more thoroughly than the student of modern science, even though the former will often have to concede he doesn't know very much about certain physical phenomenons or chemical laws.

We can't easily think of a subject where scholarly convictions of medieval and modern society are more distinct than the subject of religion.
Scholasticism derives the origins and character of religion from the fact that man is dependent on God who gives him his existence and his destination, so man should answer God by fulfilling his human duty.
The creator made man in His own image. Nothing in man escapes the causality of divine creation, preservation and cooperation. God is Lord and Master of man in everything.
Now every useful causality gives the cause a right and every favourable dependence is imposing a duty on the dependent object. Or, to say it in words that are clear to everybody: God as Creator of man has a right to man's full servitude. And man is obliged to render the highest services to his Lord and Master, with all his forces. The ideal that God proposed to man to effect with his talents determine the character of this performance of his duties and the contents of this servitude to God.
Is there anything in this reasoning that looks like a blank game of concepts?
God exists. He is highest reality. We don't perceive Him with our senses. Nevertheless, he exists. He must exist, because creation is a reality.
Man is a reality, too. He is object of sensory perception and first datum of human selfconsciousness. Man is part of creation, which is a reality God almighty called to existence from nothingness.
Intellectual reflection about the mutual relation between these two realities - God and man - must of necessity lead to the acknowledgement of a third reality: the phenomenon of religion. We can only accurately determine the origin and the essence of this phenomenon when we start from God's right and man's duty.
We must acknowledge this is true, even though man may neglect this important duty and find it difficult to distinguish true from false in the immense labyrinth of the existing forms of religion.

Meantime, our modern scientists are thinking quite otherwise.
They are analyzing human psyche ad infinitum, vivisecting the animal sociale with its creative imagination in a refined way, but they aren't convinced all spontaneous utterances in life are revelations of man's nature and expressions of God's will. They are losing sight of natural theology.
Fontenelle, de Brosses, Vacherot, Delacroix, Reinach, Janet, MacLennan, Robertson Smith, James, Lang, Frazer, Tiele, van Gennep, represent the psychological school in various ways, but they all think they are to find the origin and the very essence of the phenomenon of religion in man's spiritual life, so in the world of his thoughts and feelings. This school is very anti-intellectualistic and it's in fact refusing any metaphysical documentation as being selfdeceit. Its most radical spokesmen consider religion, and all personal, social and 'transcendental' values it's bearing in it, a fabulation, a make of human spirit:
"Le fait religieux est totalement notre oeuvre, construit par nous, projeté par nous au dehors en une série d'êtres spirituels, et finalement concentré en un Etre unique. Dieu, comme la religion, est le résultat de notre création, de notre illusion." (Michelet)
The sociological school of Durkheim and Lévy-Brühl cs has the same dislike, or should we say ignorance, against metaphysics.
The sociological explanation of the phenomenon of relgion evokes irresistable reminiscences of the positivistic view on life of Auguste Comte. Indeed, it's rather agnosticistic and thinks it can find its cogency in an external, disinterested judgement of the social and religious facta and gesta that, in their manifestations we can perceive with our senses, are open to inspection and thus offering the highest degree of objective certainty. As opposed to the psychologists, the sociologists are seeking the origin and essence of religion in human society rather than in individual people. However, this society is something quite different than the sum of individuals who are living together in a communion with rights and duties. It's a 'superstructure', a new reality that's imposing its own laws onto the individuals. To be sure, it isn't presupposing the individual is already religious, but it's making him religious. It's laying on man a varied riches of "croyances obligatoires, connexes de pratiques définies, qui se rapportent à des objets donnés dans les croyances" (Durkheim).
Sociology of religion, too, is almost entirely dependent on the description of external phenomenons. Therefore, it has to be evolutionistic. Indeed, we can't deny the culture of a primitive society is much different from the culture of a civilised people. So the positivistic investigator will easily conclude that the more perfect and organized form of religion we perceive with developed cultures must have gradually evolved from the 'prelogical' religious mentality of primitive peoples.

It would be unfair and in a general sense untrue to say that the socalled scientific and unprejudiced explanations of the religious phenomenon which psychologists and sociologists are giving have no merits at all.
But they are not sufficient!
A psychologist or sociologist may find it probable that religious practice has developed in time or that Christianity is a more perfect religion than Buddhism, but they can't sufficiently prove this as long as they have no absolute standard to measure with certainty whether Christianity and Buddhism are really practising worship, and, if so, to which degree. Indeed, the question is not whether primitive peoples confess the soul is immortal or whether Buddists are teaching that man shouldn't be attached to himself or whether Christians believe in the existence of incorporeal spirits. The question is whether or not they are serving God.
The students of descriptive theology can't ever answer this question.
They know human nature as to its external actions, but not its inner essence. They apparently don't understand the relation of dependence in which man is standing before its first Cause and final End, so they naturally find the duty of religion within the restricted domain of human thoughts and feelings and social structures.
They see man as a 'chose', a being that's nothing else but what it's revealing about itself in the utterances of life we perceive with our senses. This way, they think they will stay free from prejudice.
However, the truth is they are prejudiced against the highest values metaphysics can hold before man: his creation, his God.
But a duty of human religion that's not answering a right of the Creator, is an absurdity.
Religion without God is 'Spielerei'.

{{It's above all the French positivists who thought religion without God is possible:

Auguste Comte considered religion: "l'état de pleine harmonie propre à l'existence humaine, tant collective qu'individuelle, quand toutes ses parties sont dignement coordonnées".

Salomon Reinach gave for religion the following definition: "la religion est un ensemble de scrupules qui font obstacle au libre exercice de nos facultés".

Emile Durkheim considers religion "un système solidaire de croyances et de pratiques relatives à des choses sacrées, c'est à dire séparées et interdites, croyances et pratiques qui unissent en une même communauté morale, appelée Eglise, tous ceux qui y adhérent".

Since a long time, Léon Brunschvicg is defending a 'religion d'esprit' that's not very concrete. In his opinion, a religious man "au sens plein du mot, c'est celui qui accepte courageusement de se confronter à son passé, de rompre avec le préjuge du sacré comme avec de respect humain si tel est l'impératif de la conscience".}}

Saint Thomas says: "Religion essentially implies a relation with God. For we have to be strongly attached to Him as our unshakable Principle and we have to choose Him permanently as our final End".
God, whom we have to serve, isn't an arbitrary construction of our creative mind or a product of collective imagination. It's not a result of our subconsciousness.
God is highest reality, Esse Subsistens. Every other reality, so also man, is dependent on Him, as to both its existence and its destination.
The law of all created things says creatures are more strongly tied to its first origin and final end than to itself, so to speak. Therefore, although many creatures seem rather independent and autonomous, they all are bearing in themselves, through the very character of their being, which they have by participation only, a natural acknowledgement of the higher and absolute autonomy of Him who gave all creatures their existence.
This acknowledgement isn't only lying in the conscious confession of human mind which is able to deduce from the things made the existence of their independent and almighty Creator. It also finds expression in the blind striving of nature of the beings that are void of reason, because they are all directed to divine Good, and in the natural longing of man's will, who is a seeker of God, even though he may deny it.
Saint Thomas measures sense and value by the degree they answer God's intentions which He expressed in nature. Thomas says:
"The natural desires in senseless beings reveal the natural inclination of will in the intellect. Now among the beings in nature, every thing that belongs to something else as to its natural being, is more directed to that which it belongs to than to itself. So, because God is all-embracing good, embracing man too, it follows man's naturally loving God more, and more strongly than itself.

We could call religion man's answer to God's right.
God called creation to existence from nothingness for His own glorification. He gave each being a task of his own and a separate vocation.
To man, He gave the natural right of being the king of creation. However, it should be understood man isn't allowed to act as a high-handed and inconstant tyrant, but must thoughtfully carry out God's plans and consciously direct the riches, forces and beauty of visible nature to God the Creator, who in the final end turns out to be the only possible object of creation.
If man answers this natural vocation, then he is serving God. If not, he's guilty of an unnatural offence against divine law, at least in so far as he's consciously shirking his duty.
However, human nature is more complicated than the nature of other things. And man's natural striving, which is trying to develop and be fruitful by conscious acts, is often counteracted by .. man himself, who has an independent and free initiative besides his natural instinct (if we are allowed to express ourselves in this way).
However, although this initiative may be very independent, yet countless factors are influencing it from outside.
All kinds of circumstances of life, shortcomings of subcultures, excesses of hypercultures, personal obsessions, mass suggestions, mysticistic ideas of some peoples, epidemic hero worship, slogans, they all can make the king of creation a clown. They can also deprive the animal religiosum called man the devotion to God that is its natural vocation, and ... place the practisers of modern theology before enigmas they are unable to solve.
But this doesn't mean there can exist peoples without religion!
Nature never allows itself to be completely pushed aside. Indeed, we know nature by what it usually does. And the longing of nature is forcing its way even there where the most whimsical forms of human 'culture' have created circumstances where no agnosticist or positivist is able to know its way about.
There are no peoples that are completely void of religion, nor have there ever been. Likewise, no people is completely void of culture or social coherence. We can think of a rare appearance of some queer card who's wilfully refusing admittance to any religion, incited by some conviction we can't discover. It's also possible that an odd fish should behave as if he were completely antisocial and barbarous. But such a thing can't ever become usual practice. Because, although nature may bear an exception, it can't completely deny itself. Nature passes nurture, and what is bred in the bone will not come out of the flesh.
Therefore, it's as foolish as useless to intend to search ancient times for an epoch that is completely void of religion, or to intend to discover in our contemporary world a tribe that's lacking any form of religiosity.

{{The relatively young branch of scholarship called philosophy of religion, which is trying to determine the origin and the essence of natural religion, must find its task very difficult. It has to face a considerable number of philosophical fancies that seem to have sprung from imagination rather than from intellect. For we can't evade the impression that many a socalled philosopher found the eldest documents of human civilisation defective and, hence, gave too easily free play to suppositions and conjectures that may seem plausible at first sight, but are partially or fully falsified by metaphysics upon further consideration.

For example, Voltaire and his followers from the epoch of Enlightenment saw in religion the product of human imagination that had in the early times of mankind in some individuals, mainly priests, an originality and force we can in our times only compare to the inventiveness and cogency of the cheap Jack on the market.

Thomas Hobbes and Jean Jacques Rousseau were not able to believe in the possibility of so universal and stubborn a deceit as according to Voltaire religious dogma allegedly was. They were convinced it's impossible selfish priests were to deceive mankind all over the world and through all times, and thought probable man embraced religious practice of free will and by collective agreement.

Much more probable, and therefore much more dangerous, is the thesis of David Hume and David Friedrich Strausz, who in imitation of Epicurus, Lucretius and Petronius defended the opinion religion must have sprung from fear.
They thought all kinds of disasters of nature, inescapable worries and incurable suffering had made such an impression on the childish minds of primitive people that they resorted to religious prayer and sacrifice for fear of the unknown forces in nature. Indeed, these primitive people didn't know the natural causes. So it was without saying they were to explain the terrors that burst in upon them from the higher power of a being that looked like man. The good luck these primitive people experienced in life gave them the idea it could be useful to flatter the high powers through sacrifice and prayer in order to have disaster pass into prosperity.

Besides these opinions that have in the meantime become completely obsolete, according to which there must once have existed a sort of atheistic starting period, whereafter mankind suddenly passed into religious practice because of some external motive, in later times there came forward some five theories that accept some transitional form between the atheism of primitive times and religious life of later periods of culture.

Auguste Comte and John Lubbock thought we can see this transitional form in fetishism.
When elaborating his theory, Comte had almost no other source than the standard work of Charles de Brosses, so he followed him in giving the word fetishism (related with 'factitious') a very broad meaning. His concept of fetishism was so broad he included every non-animistic and non-anthropomorphic cult.
Lubbock gave the expression a sharper content, but in order to do so he had to make place in his theory of the development of religion for other concepts besides fetishism, like totemism, shamanism and idolatry. He was convinced primitive people served and venerated the fetish because of some spirit they felt was related with it.

We may call Sir Edward Tylor the spiritual father and most important representative of the theory in which the animistic explanation of religion is playing the leading part. This ethnologist, who is unmistakably competent, thought religion had grown from animism (anima means soul or spirit).
In its original condition, animism was nothing else but a conscious experience of purely biological phenomenons like being awake or asleep, health of the body, illness and death, dream and hallicunation. In due course of time, primitive people formed from these and similar perceptions some idea of a human soul, which moves outside the body for a moment during a dream, and leaves the body altogether when it dies, to settle in some other body. Thus, on the analogy of human life, they also gradually adjudged life to other beings they perceived with their senses.

Whereas the ethnologist Tylor thinks the origins of the religious phenomenon are lying in the veneration of spirits that are living in the things of visible nature, the philosopher Herbart Spencer starts from the thesis it has been the veneration of ancestors that formed the transitional phase between the atheistic epoch and the religious era.
His manism (from Latin 'manes', which means spirits, ghosts) is after all little more than a new formulation of an old theory, according to which the gods were only idolized heroes or kings. For Spencer was convinced the manes in the belief of primitive people were no ghosts that looked like human souls, but real human souls that commanded respect and awe by their power and exceptional influence.

In connection with the meritorious publications of J.F.Maclennan and James G.Frazer about the meaning of the totem, especially in the folklore of Indo-European and North-American primitive nations, W.Robertson-Smith and Sigmund Freud thought, each according to his own conviction, they must explain the origins of religion starting from totemism.
Smith thought we can find in this strange belief the first traces of religion, especially of semitic sacrificial service. And Freud found, applying his psycho-analytical method on the ethnological data about totemism, the cult of totem is bearing the root of all essential elements of religion and civilization. As we may call Tylor the classical representative of animism, so we might call J.H.King the main representative of pre-animistic theory of magic.
His magism (from Greek 'mageia', that is the secret doctrine of Persian Magi) is in the first place a sharp criticism of existing theories of fetishism, animism, manism and totemism, which are lacking a sufficient number of historical documents, so must of necessity be hypothetical and arbitrary. King finds the only possibility to determine the actual origin of religion with perfect certainty is in the study, both rational and experimental, of human psyche. Then it turns out that primitive people must since the first stage of their cultural development have marvelled at remarkable phenomenons like thunder, lightning, storm, epilepsy, hallicunation and somnambulism. They surely didn't know any natural explanation for them, so, because of their primary inclination to relate the distinct phenomenons to each other, they resorted to mysterious magical forces that were exceeding the limits of the possibilities of nature.
In due course of time, these primitive people got the idea they might win the affection of the magical forces and make them subservient to themselves by saying magical formulas and using magical means like amulets. The people who best knew this art, the magicians and medicine men, knew how to suggestionize the ideas of personal power and spirit by evoking biological phenomenons like dreams and hallicunations. Thereafter, the idea of a personal soul and the practice of magical arts must have developed in due course of time the concept of God and religion.}}

Because man is essentially dependent on the almighty Creator and Preservator, according to both his origin and his final end, it's his natural duty to serve God.
No duty is more important than this one, since there are no higher rights than these that God asserts with man.
God called man into existence out of love, without any compulsion. And He equipped man with all those talents that embellish human life and make it worth living: the spiritual faculties of his immortal soul and the manysided forces of his beautiful body, the rich possibilities of his incorporeal intellect, the noble power of his free will and the warm love of his beating heart.
Man has to give something in return.
Not by his own strength, for his strength isn't great.
Not as a benefactor, for God is the only benefactor.
But in due servitude of his entire person to Him whose Essence is goodness itself and who as an unsparing donater of all gifts is spreading great benefactions over the realm of visible nature. Man doesn't only enjoy many benefactions, he's a benefaction himself.
How can he ever reward God in proportion to all he received from Him?
He can't.
However, he has to do all that's lying within his power. He has to honour God in and through his benefactions.
Therefore, the highest duty of man is complete servitude, that is the servitude of his entire being. A momentary prayer isn't sufficient. While a man is praising the Creator with his lips, his heart may stay with his fellow creatures. While he's adoring God in his mind, he may worship Mammon in his works. God's goodness excels the goodness of the creatures and his right isn't restricted to a single pious thought or a short devotion of our hearts. He has a right to the entire person. Man must love God with all his heart and soul, all his force and intellect. If we don't want to understand this, that's a defamation of God and a betrayal of our own nature. It's a betrayal in a double sense: first, because man's recklessly negating the voice of nature, second, because he's failing to fulfil his primary duty: he doesn't contribute anything to perfect his being and refuses to cooperate in the development of the image of God the Creator laid down in his nature.

Servitude of the intellect

Of course, the religion of a reasonable creature must be a reasonable religion. There is a meaning hierarchy in the multitude of human faculties. There must also be a meaning order in the distinct services man renders to his Creator.
Because of his intellectual faculty of knowing, man is the image of God and king of visible creation. Because of his intellect, man is the conscious manager of all nature and therefore God's first and responsible servant.
In the natural finality of visible creatures, there surely is room for human egoism, which has its value within the modest proportions of social and cultural life, both for the perfection of individuals and for the development of society. But this egoism should never degenerate to become self-sufficient egotism, as if man were Creator instead of God, as if individuals and society weren't to find their final destination outside and above the narrow bounds of this world and this life.
Acknowledging this fact is the first duty the benefaction of his own intellectual nature is laying on man. Indeed, the common object determines the order of things. And man can only honour and maintain the right order of things on the condition that he has an open eye for the inalienable rights of Him who as the first Cause and final Object has directed this order to Himself.
The acknowledgement of God's right is in fact a confession of faith. Human mind doesn't only look downwards but also upwards. It's ascending above itself and surrendering to God's omnipotence and wisdom.
If agnosticists contend human intellect can't independently ascend to the acknowledgement of higher truths than senses can perceive, they deny the most precious possession of man. In fact, they clearly contradict the history of man's thinking, which is never content with the surface of things and never allows philosophical instructions of, say, Kant or Hume to systematically repress sound philosophy. Agnosticism is a violation of nature, so it's naturally something passing, a freak of fashion. Sooner or later, a reaction will come, and metaphysics will regain its original esteem. "Alle Welt ist des unfruchtbaren Agnostizismus müde, und alle Einzeldisziplinen der Philosophie beginnen einzusehen dasz sie sich in Sackgassen verrannt haben, aus denen nur die Metaphysik ihnen den Ausgang zeigen kann." (von Hartmann)
A reasonable creature that can't know its Creator, can't ever honour God through reasonable worship, either.
It's a fiction to think a 'religious mind' may play the role of a religious intellect, because a reasonable worship is presupposing an intellectual consciousness of our divine origin and destination. A religion that's only a function of irrational sides in man - an unconscious urge, religious feeling, or sentiment of mind or heart, or whichever name we wish to give it - is essentially staying beneath the standards the Creator must require from his reasonable creature, and unworthy of man.

{{In the conveniently arranged work of Otto Pfleiderer about the history of the philosophy of religion, we can find a rich anthology of propositions for religion, formulated by the main spokesmen of anti-intellectualistic circles.

Friedrich H Jacobi thinks we can't acquire any certain knowledge via speculations about things supersensual. Only the revelations of belief can inform us about things we can't perceive with our senses. Jacobi invented the wellknown phrase: "Mit dem Herzen bin ich ein Christ, mit dem Verstande ein Heide".

Friedrich E D Schleiermacher thinks religion sits in feeling. According to him, religious conviction springs from the immediate contact of feeling between human society and eternity, which is always latently present and often comes to life.

John Stuart-Mill's doctrine about the emotional values of man is very dynamic. He maintains we should seek the essence of religion in the natural regulation of man's emotional life, which is directed to its ideal object that is transcending all conscious human striving because it is representing values surpassing everything man's will could positively strive after.

Auguste Sabatier thinks religion has before all the character of a defence against the traps nature is setting to attack man's greatness. Religion is the activity of human mind that instinctively takes part with the unspeakable value of his own being "pour se garantir contre les menaces perpétuelles de la nature", clinging to the nobleness of his own I, in which he knows the spirit of the All is present: "L'acte instinctif et réfléchi tout ensemble pousse l'esprit à s'affirmer lui-même la valeur absolute de l'esprit".

The pragmatist William James rejects a materialistic view on life, saying he has much respect for confession of faith. He enthusiastically speaks about the beauty and riches of religion, but he apparently doesn't see the essence of religion, which is only beautiful because it's a honourable service and worship of our Creator. Indeed, James considers religious practice only a force that's stimulating life and giving it a consecration the intellect with all its natural insight and logical skill can't evoke.

Finally, Modernism preached religion is essentially an expression of our mind.
George Tyrell ridiculed the scholastical proofs of God's existence, thinking he could find a firm base of religion in mysticism and not in "the proof of motion". He maintained the Spirit of God moves man's life in a religious experience that's a perception of the heart rather than of the intellect. Then, according to him, affective faith is the only possible and necessary base for a fruitful religious life. So true religion doesn't rest on some syllogistic reasoning but on "religious feeling".}}

In chapter seven of his Confessions, Saint Augustine testifies he had already rather clear natural knowledge of the existence and the essence of God before he received the mercy of holy baptism and accepted supernatural belief in Christ.
"I acknowledged You as the Immaculate and Unchangeable one, and I firmly believed You are our Lord and true God, who created our souls and our bodies and everything ... "
People usually don't think as independently and brilliantly as Saint Augustine. However, it would be erroneous to think that the reasonable nature of man could only in Saint Augustine rise to the knowledge of supernatural things, especially of the first Cause of man and world. We even needn't restrict ourselves to the testimony of Catholic thinkers to find more examples. Outside Christianity, too, people usually agree with Ratzel, when he concludes that ethnography didn't anywhere find a people without God.
The pre-christian writer Cicero already says he knows no people without a living idea of some God it should serve:
"No people is so wild and uncivilized it isn't convinced it should acknowledge a God, even though it doesn't know which one."
And the historian and philosopher Plutarch, whom we can hardly credit with an outspoken sympathy for scholastical proofs of God's existence, isn't even willing to believe in the existence of a single city without God and religion:
"When you travel through the countries, you may discover cities without circumvallations, without learning and art, without kings and palaces, or cities that don't know nor circulate money, and you may encounter cities without public halls and theatres; but a city without temples, gods, prayers, oath, oracles, which doesn't try to acquire good and avert evil by sacrifices and religious festivities, nobody ever saw and nobody will ever see, either."

Although many people behave as if they don't acknowledge any higher power besides the autonomy of their own personality, or to say it with a vivid biblical image, as if their own stomach were their god, this doesn't say anything against the thesis that there are no godless peoples, which metaphysics proves and ethnology fully endorses. It's only emphasizing the divergence between spirit and flesh, between theory and life, which is both striking and pitiable.
Anyway, is there really somebody who seriously believes the so-called atheists are real atheists?
Perhaps they don't practise any religion, but this doesn't prove they are godless. It's possible they would like to be godless, because they are relating their concept of God with some foolish fixed idea, but despite themselves - or should we say because of themselves, that is, because of their own reasonable nature - they can't free themselves from the agonizing thought of some Supreme Being that's governing their life and fate.

However, although we conclude from descriptive ethnology and metasphysical anthropology there are no convinced godless, we can't say all people have a clear natural concept of God. Distinct people don't usually have equally strong and perfect ideas of God, and such an idea may fluctuate in each person as to its intensity. It's always the narrowness and superficiality of sensory life on earth that's unfavourably influencing the noblest activity of human spirit. Hereditary taint, infectiousness of bad examples, thoughtless pollution by reckless environments, and blurring influence of modern 'culture', secret enchantment by corruptive literature, and systematical coercion of godless, they are together factors that leave clear traces in the development and deterioration of our natural concept of God.
Although it's personal strength of will that suffers the most directly by provocation of sensory temptation, this also influences our power of judgement, for we can't deny man often judges as he wishes, especially regarding truths that only acquire their coercive character through the efforts of steady and laborious thinking.
Everybody is partially the product of his surroundings. The favourable atmosphere of an exemplary family life will refresh the inner life, will and thoughts of the distinct family members. On the other hand, the poisoning atmosphere of the suspicious place weakens will and injures man in the most human thing: his spiritual faculty of thinking. What Mausbach wrote about this, is completely taken from life:
"Die Möglichkeit und Seligkeit eines vollkommen abgetöteten und gottinnigen Lebens wird dem Lebemann und der Dirne schon darum unverständlich sein, weil ihnen ein solches Dasein als unendliche Leere und Langweile vorkommt."
Thus, everybody has to a certain degree his own concept of God, in which the superior power of God over the contingent existence of things in the world does always make its influence felt, but which can take the strangest forms in its further nuances by influences of, mostly, a moral character.

It's striking indeed that primitive man originally had a much sounder relation to God than the heathen of modern culture, who is much less open-minded. Studious research of father Wilhelm Schmidt and his staff of capable colleagues has sufficiently proved this. Although contemporary man usually opens his mind for all possible things worth knowing, he unlearnt independent thinking. Instead of believing in the one and only true God, he often confesses a superstitious faith that the man of nature would probably be ashamed of.
In fact, this phenomenon attracted the attention of ethnologists since a long time. Indeed, von Schröder already wrote:
Wenn wir die Religionen der prmitiven und primitivsten Völker näher betrachten, tritt uns eine merkwürdige Tatsache entgegen, die sich met den herrschenden Theorien vom Ursprunge der Religion aus dem Seelenkult oder der Naturverehrung allein schlechterdings nicht in Einklang bringen läszt. Es ist der gerade unter ihnen weitverbreitete, wenn nicht allgemeine Glaube an ein höchstes gutes Wesen, das meist schöpferisch gedacht wird, das selbst gut ist und auch von den Menschen fordert dasz sie gut, moralisch, in mancher Beziehung selbstlos und aufopfernd handeln. Es wacht über den Handlungen der Menschen und wird oft, wenn auch nicht immer, das Böse bestrafend, das Gute belohnend gedacht."
We may call it evident that primitive man, who is still standing open-minded before the secrets of life and death, of sun and moon and stars, should acquire a more natural idea of God, which is much more real because of its artless character, than the average non-Christian European, whose life of thought is too easily influenced by the impressions a tradition infected with delusions is thrusting upon him.
The man of nature is more independent and original in his thinking than the man of culture.
Natural reason is working more normally in him. Everything makes an impression upon his receptive mind. And the phenomenons he can't perfectly judge because he has no natural explanation for them, must irresistably evoke in his mind thoughts of a higher power that is analogous to human ability and makes itself felt in the changing phenomenons of nature, which are in greater ways and have a stronger intensity than man can bring about. The regular course of the stars, sunrise and sunset, waxing and waning moon, daybreak, inconstant behaviour of the sea, earthquake, drifting clouds, moaning of winds, blinding flashes of lightning, resounding rattle of thunder, are striking events human forces can't directly influence. They must form a problem for anyone who is subject to these regular phenomenons or arbitrary disturbances.
Man wouldn't be man if he didn't want to find explanations.
Man wouldn't be an animal metaphysicum, a thinker, who can see beyond the reach of his senses, if he didn't know an answer to these questions, that is: the omnipotence of God, the supreme Being.

Servitude of the will

Whoever serves his neighbour, obeys some law of righteousness or love. Who serves God, obeys the highest law of both righteousness and love.
Towards a fellow man, this servitude may be optional, towards God it's always obligatory. The first may spring from a kind of abundant affection nobody is asking for and nothing is demanding, so this kind of servitude is more than only righteous. Dependence on some creature is never so great that there is no room for an unforced and arbitrary love, which doesn't suppose a strict right in the beloved object, nor a strict duty in the lover.
However, God's right to man's servitude is universal, and so is man's duty to serve God.
Being the last and only source of human existence and of all perfections man can bear in himself, God can't but make His exlusive right felt to all the riches man received from Him, the Benefactor, through creation: the faculties of the soul, the forces of the body, intellectual reflection, and the noble feelings of love and enthusiasm.
Man is not free in loving God. This love is always a duty under all circumstances. It is never merely an arbitrary affection that isn't based on right and righteousness.
It's impossible to love God without knowing Him.
But knowing God without loving Him is a sin against God's rights and a betrayal of man's own nature.
Therefore we can't understand how a religious man could exist who has nothing to offer to his Creator but the sacrifice of his will. For will is naturally presupposing intellect, and love is based on the intellectual knowledge of good.
Whoever sees things only the way he chooses to see them, doesn't acknowledge truth, but only some alleged rights of the own I.
And whoever only confesses belief in God in so far as he thinks he can use God for his own shortsighted interests and egoistic striving, doesn't serve God but himself.

{{According to Ludwig Feuerbach, the element of will in religion is so strong and predominant that intellectual conviction fades in comparison. The will instinctively seeks its own satisfaction, and even tries to make God subservient to its egoism.
"Wer kann es leugnen, dasz der menschliche Egoïsmus das Grundprinzip der Religion und Theologie ist? Denn, wenn die Anbetungs- und Verehrungswürdigkeit, folglich die göttliche Würde eines Wesens einzig abhängt von der Beziehung desselben auf das Wohl des Menschen, wenn nur ein dem Menschen wohltätiges, nützliches Wesen ein göttliches ist, so liegt ja der Grund von der Gottheit eines Wesens einzig im Egoïsmus des Menschen, welcher alles nur auf sich bezieht und nach dieser Beziehung schätzt."}}

But if a religious man can't offer to his Creator anything else but an intellectual confession, he's very guilty of neglect of duty. As a matter of fact, knowledge of good should regularly stimulate to love, because love is the natural crown and perfection of knowledge. Saint Thomas puts it this way:
"There are two things in man by which he can adhere to God: his intellect and his will. Indeed, with his lower functions he may adhere to beings of a lesser order, but not to God. However, intellectual devotion receives its perfection in surrender of the will, since will settles down in what the intellect perceives. So the highest form of surrender to God is lying in the devotion of love. That's why it's the first thing God's law prescibes."
Although intellectual knowledge of divine right is the base of religious life, its perfection is active love.
When the intellect is reflecting upon truth, it attracts the things, and imposes its own restrictions on them. But when the will assimilates the beloved object, it is able to rise above its own restrictions and to offer and give away itself and the whole person in a noble dedication, honouring both the giver and the receiver.
Therefore, religious selfdenial and religious dedication to the Lord and Master of all things existing, are essentially deeds of due return of love, by which the will makes all man subservient to divine right. Out of gratitude for the great benefaction of creation, a religious man will consider it a task of honour to guide and control himself and all he does in such a way that it becomes a free and unsought hommage of Him whose abundant gifts of love made reasonable creature a wonderful unity of strength and beauty.
A stiff and apathetic religion of the intellect alone, while will doesn't participate, must stay beneath the norms of human duty and lacks the merits of a performance that's freely undertaken by sacrificing a personal property.

It's clear that if we stick to the strict sense of the words, it's only will that can consciously and freely put itself into service of God's plan.
Indeed, the beings that are not free, like dead materials, plants and animals, are serving God. But they can't do otherwise. They are serving Him through the irresistible striving of a blind longing of nature or a sensory instinct, in which we can see the visible expressions of the purposes God is intending with these creatures. The same holds for all human faculties besides will. It even holds for our intellect, because even there an independent initiative is missing and truth has a coercive character in everything. There's no freedom of action nor any freedom of choice in the efficacy of human intellect and in the lower functions of animal life.
Freedom of motion, freedom of style, free thought, free word, don't derive their optional character from the circumstance intellect is indifferent about truth or the strength of the body is indifferent about its object or entire human life about its natural purpose, but they thank their freedom to free will, which at any moment is aiming at a specific immediate goal for every faculty and for every conscious deed.
Intellect debates and judges.
But will chooses.
We can't strictly say the intellect is striving, choosing, reigning, surrendering or sacrificing. It's the entire person that's doing so through its will.
In fact, the intellect has its own object and purpose, but not its own act of striving. The object of knowledge as such hasn't the character of something the intellect can independently strive after. Saint Thomas says: "Truth isn't a specific objective, like good". But the angelic doctor doesn't deny every faculty has its own good and object: "Every faculty has its object, which is its good". He only denies that every faculty is independently striving after its own object: "However, not every faculty is directing itself to its purpose or its good in so far it's good". Only the will does so, because its object is good as such. But the will doesn't find in itself the good that's its object. After all, human will is only one function of the whole person. Hence Saint Thomas says "the objects and perfections of all further faculties besides the will are comprised within the object of the will as separate partial objects". The intellectual faculty of striving intends to perfect the entire person, hence the objects of all distinct human faculties and conscious acts fall under the domain of influence of the will.

Religion should be a loving compensation of the immeasurable benefaction of God, who called man and cosmos into existence out of a loving liberality we can't understand.
Therefore relgion essentially is a conscious and free submission of our spirit to God's glory. Religion is in the first place an inner servitude of will, which makes man consciously and freely surrender to God's right and testify both in judgement and in external action he has the right spiritual understanding of the Almighty who deserves all honour and glory.
A loving surrender of our will to God can make every neutral action religious. It's the decisive element in the whole religious conviction and in all religious practices. Love is the principle that causes all honorable and meritorious deeds.
To find truth, we have to love it. Saint John says:
"How could you ever be able to believe, who try to make other people honor you but don't seek the honor coming from God almighty?"
Prayer and ritual slaughter only have religious value if they are visualisations of an inner sacrifice of will. Saint Thomas says:
"Visible worship is a symbol of true sacrifice which is within a man's spirit in so far as he's offering himself to God."
If a man doesn't truly sacrifice himself out of love, his participation in a religious rite lacks the high destination and deep meaning it should have.
From a religious point of view, it's perfectly indifferent whether or not a man calls God with his lips, if his heart is clinging to creatures. The wine he offers as a libation, the lamb he leads to the shambles, don't pay more homage to God than the wine he drinks or the lamb that stays alive, unless it's man who's making wine and lamb real sacrifices by offering his royal power over the things of visible nature. Saint Thomas says:
"The visible oblations man offers to God have not been instituted because God needs them, but in order that man know he should place himself and all that belongs to him at the disposal of Him who is the final end, creator, preserver and lord of all things."

(second part of meijer3art2)