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The Unknown God — Chapter II, by Alfred Noyes

Agnostics may justifiably insist (and they are at one with all the greatest religious thinkers in their insistence) on the strict limitations of the intellect of man in his approach to the Supreme Power, even though they are forced to allow a thousand indefinite forms of consciousness, incomplete apprehensions, and “thoughts that break through language and escape.” But it was nothing less than arrogant effrontery on the part of nineteenth century “agnosticism” to assert or imply that the Supreme Being, the Creator of all things, was incapable of entering into any intelligible relationship with that creation, “stooping to man that man might rise to God.” This relationship was not merely Christian hypothesis. It was one of the master-keys of the world’s philosophy; and it did bridge an otherwise unbridgeable gulf in the universe, a gulf of the kind that science and philosophy abhor.


Alfred Noyes (1880–1958) was an English poet, best known for his ballads The Highwayman and The Barrel-Organ. Widely anthologized for his verse work, Noyes is also a famous apologist for Roman Catholicism. After converting in 1927, he wrote a number of books tracing his path from agnosticism to Catholicism. The most widely read of these titles, The Unknown God, is his intellectual autobiography, which was hailed by Catholics and non-Catholics alike as a penetrating critique of modern agnostic thought.

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Agnostics may justifiably insist (and they are at one with all the greatest religious thinkers in their insistence) on the strict limitations of the intellect of man in his approach to the Supreme Power, even though they are forced to allow a thousand indefinite forms of consciousness, incomplete apprehensions, and “thoughts that break through language and escape.” But it was nothing less than arrogant effrontery on the part of nineteenth century “agnosticism” to assert or imply that the Supreme Being, the Creator of all things, was incapable of entering into any intelligible relationship with that creation, “stooping to man that man might rise to God.” This relationship was not merely Christian hypothesis. It was one of the master-keys of the world’s philosophy; and it did bridge an otherwise unbridgeable gulf in the universe, a gulf of the kind that science and philosophy abhor.


Alfred Noyes (1880–1958) was an English poet, best known for his ballads The Highwayman and The Barrel-Organ. Widely anthologized for his verse work, Noyes is also a famous apologist for Roman Catholicism. After converting in 1927, he wrote a number of books tracing his path from agnosticism to Catholicism. The most widely read of these titles, The Unknown God, is his intellectual autobiography, which was hailed by Catholics and non-Catholics alike as a penetrating critique of modern agnostic thought.

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