Volume 25, December 2020
Caird's Philosophy of Religion
Objections to the Scientific Treatment of Religion, Relativity of Human Knowledge; Analysis of the Argument
In the view of Spencer, Hamilton, Mansel and others, while the province of science is the known, the province of religion is the unknown and the unknowable. Ever addition to the gradually increasing sphere of science reveals a wider sphere of nescience, the unknown and unknowable background of the infinite and the absolute. Since to think is to condition and since the infinite and the absolute is unconditioned, to think or know the infinite or the absolute is to think the unthinkable or know the unknowable though we are compelled to accept the existence of the infinite and the absolute. But this viewpoint is contradictory. It is self-contradictory to hold simultaneously that human knowledge is confined to the finite and that we can know of an existence beyond the finite and that all human knowledge is relative and yet that we can know of the existence of the absolute. Objections to the scientific study of religion based on arguments from intuitive character of religious knowledge and arguments from authoritative nature of religious knowledge are also addressed.