However, many of us regard the issue between God as a creation of the human imagination and God as, in Mr Boulton's phrase, 'a cosmic Father Christmas', misleadingly simplistic. I doubt if many people over the age of eight think of God as a fatherly figure looking down on us from the sky and occasionally arbitrarily intervening in earthly affairs.
But the more promising development today is neither the naive realism of a Father Christmas theology, nor the total anti-
realism which sees religion as purely human projection, but (using a current epistemological concept), a critical realism which recognises that all our awareness, including our religious awareness, is structured by our concepts and takes culturally-determined forms.
In Christian terms this means that there is an ultimate transcendent Reality which is the source and ground of everything; that this Reality is benign in relation to human life; that the universal presence of this Reality is humanly reflected ('incarnated') in the lives of the world's great spiritual leaders; and that among these we have found Jesus to be our principal revelation of the Real and our principal guide for living. Such a critical realism takes religious experience much more seriously than does anti- realism, and at the same time goes beyond the image of a deity who is merely the human person writ large.
The writer is emeritus professor of the philosophy of religion at Claremont Graduate School, California.Reuse content