Video – Conferences #103: Dr. Ford: Newman’s Personalist Argument for God

By November 30, 2010March 3rd, 2019Conferences, Newman-Scotus DC 2010

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Ave Maria!

The fourth talk of the Newman-Scotus Symposium is given by Rev. Dr. Ford and titled "Newman's Personalist Argument for Belief in God." He first covers Newman's aversion of philosophical proofs of God's existence since they are theoretical, not real and not personally engaging as is required for personal assent to faith. He underscores the difference by comparing those who are willing to die for the Pythagorean Theorem (nobody) vs those who are willing to die for the faith.

He bridges this difference with his proposal to argue from conscience. Which goes as follows, our ability to distinguish what is good and what is evil is as dependent on external things as any intellectual knowledge like the sight of a tree or a dog. So too with conscience. It must be coming from the external source which is God. Not the negative idea of sin but the positive of God's existence. This has many parallels in our modern problems where the loss of conscience in regard to sin has come hand in hand with loss of faith in God.

Given the double difficulty of being subjective and a supposition, why does Newman hold to this?


  1. It is simple.

  2. It is apologetically effective.


As an example Rev. Dr. Ford reads excerpts from the conversion testimony of Avery Dulles.

Fr. Ford uses the example of a person learning a foreign language. That there is a need for more than just data. They need a way to tie it all together. They must put the vocabulary and the grammar together.

Puts person on the spot. "Do you have a conscience?" They must either end the conversation and so admit they do not have one or to continue with a direct impetus to action leading to the ultimate action of a personal conversion to follow the voice of God within. It engages the entire person which appeals to those of the Evangelical, pietistic bent but also has an intellectual angle, appealing to the rationalist, Evidentialist bent. It is both real and personal.

Fr Ed points out the need to be able to give a quick answer to those who ask, "What does Scotus have to offer?" This he based on when he was put on the spot by Avery Dulles who sincerely wanted to know and this led to his own further studies in Scotus.

Sr. Dr. Mary Beth Ingham asks about the teaching of language analogy and how this relates to the more Anselmian proofs for God.


Another questioner asks the importance of conversion stories.

Fr. James McCurry asks Fr. Ford to explain how this relates to the illative sense in the assent to God. Fr. Ford expounds on the motives of credibility. That there is a need for more than just data. They need a way to tie it all together again the same that a person learning a foreign language must put the vocabulary and the grammar together.


Ave Maria!

For more of this Symposium https://airmaria.com/category/air-maria-shows/conferences/newman-scotus-symp-2010/

For the book that is the final fruit of this Symposium: https://academyoftheimmaculate.com/products/the-newman-scotus-reader-contexts-and-commonalities

Audio (MP3)

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