age. Most, with no illustrious exceptionnthat comes readily to mind, honestlynadmitted their error and warned othersnagainst taking their former path. Cowleynhas chosen, instead, to use all hisnskills to gild himself in retrospect.nSince he obviously has more to say, onenlooks forward to further volumes ofnBridge over the River WhynMortimer J. Adler: How to ThinknAbout God: A Guide for the 20thcenturynPagan; Macmillan; NewnYork.nby James V. SchallnJ. he first “How to” book by MortimernAdler I ever read was when I wasna freshman at the University of SantanClara, where some optimistic mysticnassigned How to Read a Book. At thentime, in skeptical youth, it seemednequivalent to a course a friend took atnLoyola University on “Liow to Use thenTelephone.” Until I read about how tonread, I had thought I had no problemsnwith reading. On the other hand, asnAdler pointed out in his book, I had notnbeen comprehending much either.nAdler’s next book was How to ThinknAbout War and Peace. Here, I knewnthere was some kind of problem, a problemnon which we are still thinking aboutn”How to.” And now we have How tonThink About God, about whom, ofncourse, I have tried to think, as a goodn(or, especially, bad) Christian is admonishednto do. In a sense, like the God ofnthe Apocalypse, I felt, in consideringnthese three Adler books, that the Firstnwas also contained in the Last and thenLast in the First, whereas War and Peacenwere obscure issues on which the purenphilosopher could not shed much light,nespecially if he thought God cared a whitnfor our lethal squabbles. Thus, “To ac-nFather Schall is with the Jesuit Communitynof Georgetown University.nclever examples of trompe I’oeil fromnthe former president of the NationalnInstitute of Arts and Letters and thenformer chancellor of the even morenaugust American Academy of Arts andnLetters—and the former literary analystnand political prognosticator of The NewnRepublic. Dnknowledge God’s omnipotence and omnisciencen… is not to be assured thatnGod is concerned with our conduct orncares what happens to us.” This is why,nthough he cannot exactly prove it. ProfessornAdler never hints that we oughtnnot to read a Kempis.nAnd so for all its rigors in a worldnlacking in grace and revelation, philosophynut sic turns out to be rather a dullnenterprise indeed. Not even the atheistsnbother, for the passionate attacks ofnthese latter “are never directed againstnthe God of the philosophers, but againstnthe God of religious faith.” We can onlynblame another when we “know” ournpersonal condition has a personal causenoutside ourselves. Atheism is necessarily,nin this sense, a morality of blamingnwhat is not oneself. Thus, the City ofnGod is not built for philosophers. Yet,non whether there even “be” a God, onnthat philosophers can diligently expendntheir energies building bridges over thenwhy of it all.nThe “particular” reason, I am temptednto suggest here, for the singular, concretenexistence of Mortimer Adler, philosophernand pagan, who belongs to thenclass “man” though still unique untonhimself, is, no doubt, that at least oncenin the history of this “possible,” nowexistingnuniverse, there could “exist”nin fact at least one philosopher, freednfrom the theological horizons, whoncould, if not “demonstrate,” at leastn”persuade” us with correct thought thatn”Yes, Virginia, there is a God” but non”mermaids.”nThis event, this particular cosmicnnnreason, in any case, has now occurrednwith the publishing of How to ThinknAbout God. As P. G. Wodehouse oncensaid, “improbability is not impossibility.”nFor those of us, however, broughtnup on Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas,nKant, Gilson, Pieper and Maritain, onnlogic and metaphysics, on analogy andntranscendence, this book is both a delightnand a refreshment. It is almost likendiscovering old friends whose existencenis more difficult to prove than even thatnof God. The human mind is made tonthink. This is, as Aristotle said, its ownnproper delight. Alas, we have lived inna world in which so very few know thisnparticular kind of “How to.” MortimernAdler, we cannot doubt, knows how tonthink. And he does not hesitate to paynthe reader the honor of carefully identifying,nexplaining, pointing to, abstracting,nreflecting, arguing, concluding,nrepeating, rethinking, concluding again.nThe essence of his book is to reject thentraditional “proofs” for the existencenof God, either as invalid (Anselm, Kant)nor as presupposing inadvertently theologyn(Aquinas). But Adler does not intendnto violate the Decree of Vatican I,nwhich held that God’s existence couldnbe demonstrated with certainty by humannreason itself. What Professor Adlerndenies is rather that any proof given sonfar has so proved God’s existence.nAfter a lifetime of reflection, MortimernAdler now thinks that he has suchna demonstration. He thinks by virtuenof rigorous argument that his “proof”nis rather “persuasive” at least, although,nas he says at the end of his proof, he hasn”reasonable grounds for affirming God’snexistence,” yet “each reader must decidenfor himself whether or not he is willingnto make a statement to the same effect.”nObviously, if after elaborate “proof” it isnstill a question of “willing,” then eithernthe proof is less than “proof” or we havena reader who “neither knows God nornseeks him.” Essentially, Adler’s demonstrationnis a revision of the old questionnof the “futurables” and the “possibles.”nOn the basis of the fact that this particularnand existing universe as a wholenM H H ^ a M H ^ ^ S ?nSeptember/October 1980n