Section 3


Chapter 1

Laying my cards on the table

This is not going to be a chapter on philosophy of religion in most of the usual senses of the term. First, I am not going to do what used to be called "Natural Theology," or "Theodicy," and give arguments for the existence of God, and so on (I already did that in the first part), nor am I going to do a kind of comparative religion, picking out the common elements in religions throughout the world, nor do I want to attempt (God forbid!) what Kant did and develop a "religion within the limits of reason alone," as if what religion had to offer could be encompassed within the meager knowledge philosophy has. Nor am I really interested in showing à la William James that there is a psychological need for religion, as if that need somehow made it true. Finally, or perhaps in summary, I would find it distasteful to make some kind of Husserlian epoché from what I believe and talk in a disinterested and detached way about this matter; I am not disinterested and detached, and to pretend that I am is, for me, not only stupid but dishonest.

I want to touch on a good deal of this; but I guess what you could say is that what I want to do here is give a kind of apologia pro fide mea, not with any real idea of justifying myself, or to "make converts," but to show why I think religion--and to some extent, the religion I believe--is something a reasonable person might have. It is something you would expect to find in human beings, it isn't simply wishful thinking but has a factual basis, and philosophy points beyond itself in hope to something it can't know. I also want to show why, though I think that all religions have a common core, one of them isn't reporting myths but facts that actually happened about God's intervention in this world. I have made no secret in the pages that preceded this that I am a committed Catholic, and so it should be obvious that I think that this religion is Christianity (and the Judaism that preceded it); and that the Catholic version of Christianity is its most complete expression. Perhaps one of the things I am trying to do in this chapter is bolster my own faith by writing this down.

At any rate, I want, as the title says, to lay my cards on the table at the outset, so that when I say what I think is the case, you can take it with however many grains of salt you wish.

You're not going to miss some key step in the logic of this book if you skip this section. I didn't put this discussion at the end because the subject belongs here in a treatment of conduct, and I didn't think I could just leave out the philosophy of religion, and yet this is the only way I could bring myself to treat it. So if you aren't interested in my pensées (I've referred to a lot of people, so I might as well drag Pascal in), then I'll see you in the next part.