The Form and Substance of God
Obviously, sense experience is a necessary but insufficient condition for the apprehension of God. The principles are far more important, specifically, those principles that cannot not be true, such as "being is," "we can know that being is," "therefore truth is," etc. After all, even dogs and atheists have senses. What they lack is the ability to perceive the whole and to know the principles.
There is form and substance. For God, I suppose that being is the first form, since he is "beyond being." But for us, being is substance, and thought is form: word + spirit, or infinite and absolute, container and contained, ♀ and ♂.
Beauty is always a form; therefore, in the final analysis -- or synthesis -- we could say that beauty is the form of God (bearing in mind that virtue, i.e., loving what is worthy of love, is beauty of soul).
Here again, in the perception of beauty, the senses are obviously necessary but insufficient. Two people can look at, or listen to, the identical form, and one will apprehend the beauty while the other won't. This hardly means that beauty is subjective, much less that "perception is reality." Rather, we must make ourselves adequate to the demands of the form. But how many atheists make themselves adequate to the forms of religion? That's a silly question. By definition, none, any more than Cousin Dupree is adequate to the beauty of having a job.
How can you "prove" to someone that the form exists? You can't. Either they can see it, or they can't. And if they can't, then they have to first want to learn how. And in order to do that, they must become deeply humble, admit their deficiency, and deliver themselves into the hands of a master -- of someone who does see the form. Furthermore, just as when one begins a real fitness regimen, the atheist will have to learn to tolerate pain in places he didn't know he had places.
In the end, since the form is a self-revelation of God, or God's witness to himself, one must "participate in God." You know the old story: "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me" (Eckhart). So, "how you see yourself" makes a big difference with regard to how you hear God (and voice vista).
Now, if you can actually see the form, then you don't trouble yourself with "proving" that it exists. Let's take the example of a beautiful melody. The melody is made up of individual notes. If I hear the beauty in the melody, I am hardly going to waste my time trying to prove that the notes exist, much less that the beauty of the form can be located in them. No, it is the totality of the form that must first be apprehended; this form confers the beauty upon the notes, like a gift from above.
It is just so with religion, which begins -- not ends -- with the form. The form is "given" to us in revelation; or, to turn it around, revelation is any instance of God revealing his form. Form is what is revealed in revelation (although by definition, there is always more or less of the substance in the form; one could say that God is the form, but the form is not God, the latter being the definition of idolatry. There are also spiritual practices that focus on the "substance," e.g., tantric yoga, aimed at raising the shakti, but that's another story).
Consider the first words of Genesis, which tell us that God's initial -- and perpetual -- act is to bring form to the formless. In so doing, the form is "good," which of course it must be. Or, consider the first words of John, which parallel Genesis, and in-form us that in the beginning -- or at the Origin -- is the Word, or form, which is with God, the substance of all. For When He prepared the heavens, I was there. When He drew a circle on the face of the deep and assigned to the sea its limit, I was there. When He marked out the foundations of the earth, I was there (adapted from Proverbs 8:27-29).
Oh yes, I was -- I AM -- there, before the beginning. For where else could I be and still be? And those who hate me love death.
Who loves death? Oh, you know, those theillogical academonic knuckleheads whose "first move in [their] search for an 'understanding' of [religious] texts is to dissect their form into sources, psychological motivations, and the sociological effects of milieu, even before the form has been really contemplated and read for its meaning as form" (Balthasar).
Because buddy, there's one thing even a doctrinairehead atheist can know about revelation: and that is that one "can never again recapture the living totality of form once it has been dissected and sawed into pieces, no matter how informative the conclusions which this anatomy may bring to light." For "anatomy can only be practiced on a dead body, since it is opposed to the movements of life and seeks to pass from the whole to its parts and elements" (Balthasar).
You could say that atheism is form without substance or substance without form, which is why it is so ugly and therefore beneath the dignity of the human station. But if you can't even see the human station.... well, let's just say you'll never arrive there.
So "we can 'go behind' [the] form only at risk of losing both image and Spirit conjointly" (Balthasar). We end up with bits and scraps that are taken as more real than the reality they are designed to serve. This demystification of the Essence always comes at the expense of a remystification of Existence, and a kind of mystagogic earth-religion: attack God, and you wound -- and eventually murder -- man. Thus, a sacrificial cult is born, the very inverse of the cult that puts an end once and for all to such sacrifices.
For if man is the Image and Likeness, then he too is a beautiful whole -- at least in potential. But not according to the metaphysical Darwinists, who break apart our wholeness and insist that man is subordinate to his "selfish genes," or to the archaic environment, or to various selective pressures.
Just the other day, I read a leading evolutionary psychologist who assures us that goodness and virtue do not exist, and that wherever they appear to exist, one can be sure that they reveal some underlying genetic advantage, no matter how "selfless" the act. This made me wonder: what's he getting out of saying that? What genetic advantage does it confer? For one thing, it confers tenure, along with the esteem of his equally benighted peers. It's like asking what Al Gore gets out of perpetuating the global warming hoax, aside from 100 million dollars and counting.