A Universal Belief
(1) Almost everywhere we go, we find that there is belief in a higher power (or powers) over mankind. True, there are some who deny their Creator’s existence. And there are a few others who claim that they do not know whether there is a Creator-God, thus they doubt that he exists. However, the vast majority of mankind do believe in some kind of higher being or beings, some kind of spirit being or beings above the plane of human, to which they give some kind of veneration. Those of mankind who don’t or who doubt that there is such a being or beings are few in comparison. Even in nations where atheistic governments have tried to suppress this belief, yet it continues to prevail. From the least educated even to the well-educated, the belief continues. Thus there is practically a universal belief in a Supreme Being (or superior beings). Therefore, we conclude that the belief in the existence of a Superior Being or beings is grounded in human nature, in the very the constitution of man. It has been demonstrated that the tendency of peoples is to give veneration to some being considered greater themselves, even though in most cases the manner of worship is done through superstition, and not according to knowledge of truth.
See our study on “Understanding Kingdom Mysteries“
(2) We have just said that belief in a God is grounded in human nature — in man’s constitution. There is observed in man an inherent desire to venerate a higher being than himself. Today the veneration qualities are rapidly being misdirected by political, educational, psychological and other leaders, with the result that the veneration has more and more become directed to fellow humans or human goals. The desire to venerate someone or something is seen in almost all of the human race. Therefore, even the most devout atheists often have replaced the desire to venerate a Superior Being with veneration of state, leaders, science, job, etc. Indeed, whatever a person puts first in his life does become his god, the contto whom he renders veneration through his devotion, his dedication to whatever this might be. Thus it must be recognized that it is a part of the soul’s powers to believe in, venerate, worship and desire to devote one’s life to someone or something that we consider to superior to us in some way, just as it is a part of the soul’s powers to love one’s fellows and to desire fellowship with them.
(3) Some have gone a step further, even claiming to have located the brain organs by which faith in, veneration for, and desire for fellowship with, a Superior Being are exercised. According to this theory, the more active this region of the brain, the more active one is the veneration of a higher being. It is claimed that if they are exercised more than the other brain faculties, the skull in the area becomes warmer than in other places, because the blood by such exercise is brought into more frequent and powerful contact — impingement — with that part of the brain.
(5) The above observations indicate that man is constituted by his human make-up to believe in, and to venerate a Superior Being. And from this we draw the conclusion that the existence of a Superior Being is a somewhat compulsory demand of human nature, just as man’s desire for food, water, property, the sublime, the beautiful, knowledge, companions, etc., imply the existence of these. Thus we infer God’s existence from the constitution of qualities of man’s human constitution and soul life. Those who deny God’s existence (atheists) or those who say they do not know that there is a God (agnostics), cannot fully explain this constitution of the brain and its resultant moral and religious sense of obligation to a higher power, grounded as they are in man’s nature. We repeat the thought, the existence of God, or a higher power, is a pressing postulate of man’s moral and religious constitution — it is grounded in human nature, for human nature is so made as to be adapted to moral and religious obligations Godward.
Cause and Effect
(6) Further proof of God’s existence lies in our universal experience that every event that has a beginning also has a cause. Because of this, we conclude that every event must have its cause. This has been the universal observation of mankind from all history. Therefore if we reason back from many events to as many causes, we must finally reach some first event, which also would imply a first cause, which would be causeless, hence without beginning — God. “He who built [made] all things is God.” — Hebrews 3:4.
(7) According to this reasoning, the origins of all things in our created universe had a beginning and are events that must have had causes. If there was absolutely nothing in the beginning, then there would still be nothing, for no thing comes from nothing. Thus there had to be “some” thing, or being, that never had a beginning to produce “some” thing. If we take trees as an example, we can ask ourselves: “What is their origin?” Our answer: “From seeds or branches taken from other trees.” But then we have ask: “Where did these seeds and other trees come from?” Again we answer: “From other trees,” which leads the question of where these other trees came from, with the same answer over and over. However, there had to be some time when their was a first tree. If we ask where did the first tree come, we could answer: “From the first seeds,” but then are left with the question of where the first seeds came from that caused the first tree. The point is that there has to be a first cause behind the origin of their firsts. Likewise with the origin of bushes, vegetables, grass — and all the rest of the vegetable kingdom. In each case we have to reason that there was, at some point in history, a time when there came to be the first seeds from which came first bushes, vegetables and grass. So we are left with the question: Where did the seeds come from that produced the first of all these?
(8) The same reasoning applies to the animal kingdom. If we look at insects, fish, amphibians, birds, reptiles and beasts, our reasoning leads us to believe that behind all of these there had to be a time when there was a first of each, raising the question: “What is the origin of all of these firsts of each kind spoken of?” Did they make themselves? This could not be, for it would imply that they existed before their own existence. Logically we must conclude that there is a first cause that is the cause of the origin of all firsts. Our logic also must conclude that since this cause is the first cause of all causes, it cannot be the effect of any other cause. As such this cause would have to be causeless and therefore eternal. If there were no first cause that had no beginning, then there would have been a time when there absolutely nothing. What does nothing produce? Nothing! To many in the religious world this first cause is called God. Many materialists the first cause is an unconscious, blind force — matter or energy. They argue that some form of matter or energy has always existed, but still do not believe that such was an intelligent personage. Thus, these argue that such a first cause does not prove that the first cause was an intelligent creator. Therefore we will consider other points beyond just cause and effect to determine which of these two viewpoints is correct.
(9) However, there is yet another viewpoint held by some: that there is no first cause – that there is a infinite succession of causes. However, an infinite series of second causes does not agree with the idea of cause, as cause is just what reason here demands. One who believes in an infinite series instead of a first cause actually rejects the entire concept of cause. Why? Because cause, like every other idea, implies a first. An infinite series of causes would rest upon no cause, which is an absurdity. Therefore there can be no infinite series of causes. As we contemplate the universe of things in their origins, reason demands that we conclude that there is a first cause. Those who hold to the supposition of an infinite succession of causes ultimately have to come to an original ground of existence. According to their various theories, they have called this matter, mind or force.
(10) Those who hold that there is no first cause are often forced to admit that there is. This can be illustrated by an story told concerning Henry Ward Beecher and Robert Ingersoll. Beecher was in his lifetime one of America’s most eloquent preachers and Ingersoll was an agnostic. These two, however, were friends. On an occasion when Mr. Ingersoll paid a visit to Mr. Beecher, Mr. Ingersoll noticed with admiration a finely executed globe that was in Mr. Beecher’s study. Mr. Ingersoll carefully studied the globe and noticed its carefully drawn continents, oceans, etc. He then asked Mr. Beecher: “Who made it?” Mr. Beecher, realizing an opportunity, answered: “Nobody; it made itself!” Mr. Ingersoll, evidently realizing the intent of the answer, remained silent, and shortly thereafter departed from the home of Mr. Beecher.
(11) We stated earlier that one cannot by the argument of cause and effect alone totally infer that the first cause is a personal God. We do concede that cause and effect when considered alone, might be blind force. However, there are more considerations that need to be examined which give us proof that the first cause is not blind force, but a personal being — God. Following this lesson, we will consider each in turn. We remark here that it is the conjoined force of these arguments that prove by reason that there is a God.
The Reign of Order and Law
(12) We have stated that we realize that although reason demands that there be a first cause, we cannot be absolutely sure by the argument of cause and effect alone that this first cause is God. Using the argument of cause and effect alone, one could still argue that the first cause was blind force. But other factors that reason gives us prove that the first cause is not blind force, but a personal being — God. Thus we seek to know if the first cause shows any signs of intelligence or is it just a blind force with no intelligence?
(13) The order we detect throughout creation is one consideration that proves that the first cause is not blind force, but is an intelligent being who uses the powers of nature as means of proclaiming His will in His chosen arrangement of things. If we look up on a clear night, we are able to see innumerable stars, many of which no doubt have planetary systems as our own sun does. We know that in our planetary system each planet revolves on is axis and encircles its orbit around the sun. Thus it appears that all the billions of stars within our galaxy of stars are likewise encircling some central point. But our galaxy, called the Milky Way, as numerous as it with billions of stars is only one of many other thousands, perhaps millions of galaxies in the universe, each containing its own billions of stars. And all of these galaxies in turn appear to revolving around some central point somewhere in the universe.
(14) Coming back to the planetary level, we note that in each planet there is an order of day and night, seasons, years, etc., dependent on the size of each planet’s orbit, its star, the location of its axis, and its distance from its star, except in the cases of those planets that have canopies. For these planetary systems to observe such order, each in its relations to its own parts and to all other such systems, implies an intelligence in their cause such as blind force, of course, does not have. From this marvelous order in the universe as consisting of planetary systems all moving in orderly process, we infer that the first cause is intelligent, hence is not blind force, though it uses for its order the operation of force. Not only this, but the one planet that we do know that has intelligent life, the planet we call “Earth”, is exactly the right size and distance from it star so as to support life.
(15) Order is also observed in minute things as well as in the large things of the universe. Every blade of grass, every shrub, every bush, every tree, every flower, every insect, every creeping thing, every fish, every reptile, every fowl, every beast and every man is an example of the reign of law — order, and thus testifies to an intelligent first cause. Law reigns in things physical as well as in things moral. This implies an intelligent first cause as a law giver. The laws of gravity, attraction, repulsion, adhesion, centripetal and centrifugal forces, light, heat, motion, color, sound, etc., working harmoniously, display their activities in upholding the orderly course of nature, which prove an intelligent first cause as law executor. Moreover these laws balance one another and make harmony in the universe, which proves the first cause to be intelligently and marvelously efficient. They also work along the lines of mathematical formulas with utmost precision in such detail that the greatest human mathematicians are unable to work out all their problems. This implies reasoning powers in the intelligent first cause of unapproachable ability. Every science manifests the reign of law — order. Astronomy declares it, Chemistry exemplifies it, Botany illustrates it, Geology proves it, Zoology shows it and Physics demonstrates it. These declare by the order that they manifest that the first cause is an intelligent being; for it is utterly incomprehensible that blind force could have made the universe in its infinity of orderly arrangements, adjustments, movements, harmonies and workings.
(16) Those who deny that the first cause is an intelligent being who has marvelously ordered the universe in its vastness as well as in its minuteness are compelled to ascribe to matter and force powers that only a personal being could exercise; for many of them claim that originally matter came into existence by what has been called a “big bang,” that all matter exploded into existence from some infinitely small hot point. Others point to other kinds of theories. However, the bottom line of all these theories is that somehow matter formed and shaped itself into the nebula, was acted upon by some force or forces — that these forces working on the nebula started other forces into activity, which after an almost infinite number of changes gradually but blindly evolved the universe, yet which universe is so full of the evidence of wisdom higher than man’s. Yes, they even say that these forces finally produced mind — produced that which these forces themselves do not have! Apart from the utter unreasonableness of such views (for in ultimate analysis they mean that blind force working on matter produced the almost infinite marvels of intelligence that the universe displays), these views are forced to assume that the nebula was so prearranged as to call gravity and heat into activity, that is, there was an order in the nebula. Where could such an order come from which of itself already displays intelligence? This the materialist cannot answer; for he has reached the rock bottom of materialism. Twist as he may, he is forced by his original premises to assume that which implies order — law, and at the same time to attribute powers to matter that are personal, since they imply intelligence and volition. Reason refuses to accept such a proposition, and finds it a thousand fold more logical to accept the only other alternative — that the first cause is an intelligent being, yes, of such great intelligence as can be equaled by no other known intelligence, because no other known intelligence could have produced the almost infinite marvels of order — law — in the universe. Reason thus forces us to believe that the order that everywhere prevails in the universe originated in the mind of a most extraordinarily intelligent being. Thus reason forces us to the conclusion that there is an intelligent Creator.
Design in Creation
(17) All about us we see evidence of design in the physical world. By the word design we mean a prearranged fitness for certain future purposes. This prearranged fitness for future purposes is seen in nature all about us. We also see much beneficence evident in these designs. Since we do see these designs, we have proof that they must have had a designer, that is, an intelligence who conceived and made them for their foreordained ends. Not only would such an intelligent first cause simply need intelligence, but also wisdom, benevolence, volition and executiveness, and that of the highest order. Extensive indications of design are apparent (a) in inorganic substance (b) in organic substance and (c) in the relations of inorganic substances and organic substances to one another.
(18) One example of design is the filtration of rain water through the soil. During this procedure the earth does not lose one iota of its nutritive matter needed for vegetable growth — potash, silicic acid, ammonia, etc. On the contrary, the ground immediately absorbs more of these elements as they are contained in the rain, and thus increases its reserve of them for enlarged fertility. Furthermore, only such elements are entirely assimilated from the rain as are needed for vegetable growth. Thus the rain and the soil show adaptability to purpose — production of food for man and beast. Here is a foreordained adaptability to realize a future purpose in inorganic nature.
(19) Design is also manifest in many other ways. For instance, we have the two gases, oxygen and hydrogen, uniting in certain proportions to make water –so much needed for life. So, too, design is apparent in air, made by a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and argon — so much required for life. In hundreds, perhaps millions, of ways design is manifest in light, heat and all other forces of nature — in their blending to preserve the universe and to make it habitable. What wonders of design are manifest in the rotation of the earth on its axis to bring about day and night, with their purposes of growth, activity and rest, and in the path of its orbit in relation to the succession of seasons in themselves and variedly in the northern and southern hemispheres! Other facts of inorganic nature exhibit design: Why is driftwood emitted upon Greenland’s shores — so much in need of it, and not upon England’s and France’s shores where it is not needed? Why do planets closest to the sun not have moons, while those farther away, which need more light, have them? Why is iron, which is the most needed metal, the most abundant? Why do trade winds frequently keep clouds away from certain places on the earth where there is abundance of rain, and send them to yield rain in other regions that would otherwise would arid? Why do the warm ocean currents flow to the northern and southern sections of our sphere, while the cold ocean currents travel to the equatorial zones? In all these facts we see beneficent design. Thus, inorganic nature is brimming with design, and this argues an intelligent first cause of wisdom, benevolence, volition and executiveness.
(20) When we look at organic nature, we again find design everywhere. In the animal kingdom we find that organs are formed before there is any use for them. This is surely design — a predestined fitness for future purposes. We also see such even in the vegetable realm. For example, the leaf attached to the stamen of the lime blossom is useless until the pistil with the fruit breaks away from the bough, when its leafy wing carries it far away from the trunk on which it grew, to produce another growth. How did the eyes of fish come to be constructed in harmony with the laws of light refracting in water? How did the palm of the hand and sole of the foot come to have thicker skin than the rest of the body? How did the structure of the hand come to have such marvelous adaptability? How did the eye come to have the fitness to light and accordant vision? How did the stomach and liver come to be the most remarkable chemical laboratory on earth; the heart to exercise almost perpetual motion, as well as being a most marvelous pumping station; the blood to absorb oxygen for sustaining life, and to take up food elements and to distribute them throughout the body, and to replace depleted cells which it carries away; the kidneys to be the greatest filtration plant; the brain organs to think, perceive, remember, love, hate, etc., etc., etc.; the five senses to function for animal needs; the reproductive organs in male and female to be adapted to procreation and the bowels to the greatest sewer system in existence? How? Does not all of these in their formation argue design — a prearranged fitness for certain future ends? Surely, design is manifest everywhere in organic nature.
(21) And finally, when we look at the meeting ground between the organic and inorganic, we find additional manifestation of design. The lungs, for instance, are adapted to the air and the air to the lungs. Light is adapted to the eye and the eye to light. The ear is designed in harmony with to sound waves and sound waves to the ear. Scent is suited to the nose and the nose to scent. Taste is tailored for the nose and the nose for scent. And food is adapted to the stomach and stomach to food. The sun, day and night, seasons, water and climate, are tempered just right to accommodate animal and vegetable life and animal and vegetable to them — everywhere a predestinated fitness for future needs.
(22) Therefore, we are confronted everywhere with design, and everywhere it argues a designer who worked on the principle of adaptation of means to ends and prepared them before the need of them set in. This proves an intelligent first cause who is wise, powerful, benevolent, volitional and beneficent in His executiveness! Thus cause and effect combined with order and design, prove that there is a wise, powerful, benevolent, volitional and beneficent God; while the constitution of man’s brain mechanism necessitates — apart from perversion — his believing in and venerating God. The propositions are proven by reason, entirely apart from revelation. When rightly put, they have never been successfully assailed.
(23) The existence of God can also be seen in the intellectual, moral and religious qualities possessed by humanity. Humans are capable of reasoning on deep and abstruse questions. They are capable of inventing complex physical and mental objects. Humans are able to display high morality, goodness and self-denial. Generally speaking, mankind is possessed with a sense of obligation to do right. His tendency is toward a dependence on a higher power. Thus we find mankind is adapted to an intellectual, moral and religious life. These are facts of the internal life, and are as real as facts external to us. While many wish to ignore or claim that these qualities are not real, the facts cannot be denied, unless one denies the reality of human nature. Thus we find within man the existence of the intellectual, moral and religious sense, which cannot be denied. Man’s conduct is actuated by this threefold sense. These facts are as clear to man as are external phenomena. They are a part of man. They are as real to man as he himself is.
(24) Since man has intellectual powers, we reason that the first cause who caused the first man would also have intelligence. since He could not give what He Himself did not possess. To make an intellect suggests the ownership of an intellect in the designer. With this idea the Bible agrees: “He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?” — Psalm 94:6.
(25) Additionally, since man has moral and religious qualities, this indicates to us that the maker of the first human also must have moral and religious powers. To make moral and religious powers indicates their possession in their maker. Therefore, we reason that since man possesses mental, moral and religious faculties, this proves that the First Cause would also have them.
(26) In the same manner we can conclude that the Creator is a wise, just and loving God, since mankind, being his creature, has faculties for wisdom, justice and love. Thus since these powers exist in us, we conclude from the standpoint of cause and effect that there is a God and that he is wise, just and loving.
The Religious Experience of Man
(27) Finally, we discuss the religious experiences of mankind. Admittedly, unless one has had a religious experience, this would be meaningless to such a person. However, no matter what religion or faith, the religious experiences of mankind do provide testimony of the existence of a higher being or beings. It does not matter what “god” these are worshiping. Their experience with their particular “god” or higher being does provide testimony of the existence of such beings.
(28) But the religious experience that most concerns us is that of the ones spoken of in the Bible as spirit-begotten children of God. (1 Peter 1:3,23; 1 John 4:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:16,17) To those who have experienced this begettal to a new life it is the most impressive and conclusive of all arguments on God’s existence. Such have been brought into direct contact with a higher being, not outwardly, but through the Spirit given them when they were begotten to a new life. These find in their experiences that for every step of faith in, and obedience to God that they take, they have fulfilled in them His promises connected with that step. Thus, as they exercise they find that in harmony with His promise in such cases enables them to hate and forsake sin and to love and to practice righteousness. As they exercise faith in Jesus as their Savior, they find the promised peace with God becoming theirs. As they exercised obedience in dedication, they received the promised begetting of the spirit to a new life. That they received it is evidence to them by their finding themselves to be in possession of new and enlarged powers — spiritual powers implanted in their minds and hearts, enabling them to understand and to appreciate spiritual things and to aspire to them as their life’s ambition — things to which they were incapable of understanding before such begettal. They find that every faithful effort to grow in spiritual grace, knowledge and fruitfulness in service is rewarded by such growth. In exercising the privilege of prayer in harmony with the Divinely arranged conditions, they have the most mind and heart satisfying evidence of God’s dealing with them in answers that they receive to such prayers. In harmony with His promise, they find Him working all things for their good. So intimate does their union and communion with Him become that they learn to be one with Him by the contact with Him that they constantly experience and realize. In all life’s affairs they clearly discern His activities toward them. So intimate does the relation become that they are constantly filled with the sense of His presence, favor and help. Thus they walk and talk with God and they live in Him. To them He is a living reality, as real as if He were visible. To them His constant dealing with them is the most impressive and conclusive evidence of His existence and of His main attributes — wisdom, power, justice and love. It is a misfortune to others that they do not have this experience — a misfortune due to their not having taken the steps necessary to its attainment. Their lack of faith, however, in these things does not make the experience unreal, vouchsafed those who exercise the necessary repentance, faith and obedience. To them the witness of the Spirit is the greatest and most conclusive proof of God’s existence
(29) Nevertheless, not all religious experience is truly of the Great God of the Bible. The Bible reveals that there is a rival god, a false would-be Supreme Being, who is deceiving the entire world. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) Often the experiences people are having with their worship of the rival god come close to imitating that of the begettal of the true Sons of God. Notwithstanding, even these experiences of those deceived ones still give evidence of, at least, superior beings higher than man.
(30) Additionally, even many who do not believe in any spirit beings that are superior to mankind often display a religious attitude toward fellow humans. This can be seen where the state is often worshiped in a similar vein as one would worship a Creator. This experience can be with the same euphoria as that of religious experiences; giving further evidence of the nature of humanity to worship or venerate something or someone.
Nonexistence of God Impossible to Prove
(31) We now offer one final evidence in favor of God’s existence — a negative one: atheism is incapable of proving that God does not exist. For one to prove atheism, one must himself be God — which would prove there is a God. The following considerations will prove this proposition: Before one can truly say that there is no God in the world, he must know and thoroughly understand every being, thing, principle, work, force, etc., past and present, in the universe; for if one of these should escape his knowledge and understanding, that one might be God; or to put it in other words, he himself must know everything — be omniscient. Before one can authoritatively say that there is no God, he must be everywhere in the universe, and that from all eternity to all eternity, and be cognizant of everything everywhere and at the same time; in other words, he must be omnipresent and eternal as well as omniscient. To be able to say conclusively that there is no God one must be omnipotent; for thus only could he be guaranteed as being proof against an omnipotent being who might desire to hide its existence from others by limiting the scope of his knowledge so as to make him never discover the former’s existence. In order to declare absolutely that there is no God one must also be a spirit; for only spirits can see spirits; and since those who are not spirits are sure that they have not seen a spirit being, which God is, they can never with certainty affirm that there is no God. Thus to be able to prove that there is no God, one must himself be an eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent spirit being, i.e., must be himself God, and thus after all there would be one. Thus, it is impossible to disprove God’s existence. Atheism, therefore, is incapable of proof; while theism-that there is a God who is separate from the universe and who created and sustains it — as we have shown, is a proven thing. Truly, reason itself, apart from revelation, shows that the Bible is right in at least two of its pertinent statements: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no Yahweh'” (Psalm 14:1); and “The fear reverence of Yahweh is the beginning foundation of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). A Scientist’s God
(32) We wish now to call attention to a pertinent interview on “A Scientist’s God” in the Oct. 24, 1925, Collier’s — The National Weekly — by Dr. Robert Andrew Millikan, Nobel prize recipient and founder of the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Millikan was a distinguished scientist who received honorary degrees and awards from throughout he world. His statements are still of great benefit to us today:
(33) “I cannot explain why I am alive rather than dead. Physiologists can tell me a great deal about the mechanical and the chemical processes of my body, but they cannot say why I am alive. But would it not be utterly absurd for me to deny I am alive? Our scientific knowledge compared with what we knew a hundred years ago is very great, but compared with what there is to be known it is trivial. The map of the earth used to have on it many great, blank spaces marked ‘unexplored.’ Now there are very few of them. The map of science is still a great blank sheet with only here and there a dot to show what has been charted, and the more we investigate the more we see how far we are from any real comprehension of it all and the clearer we see that in the very admission of our ignorance and finiteness we recognize the existence of a Something, a Power, a Being in whom and because of whom we live and move and have our being-a Creator by whatever name we may call Him. I am not much concerned as to whether I agree precisely with you in my conception of that Creator or not, for ‘Canst thou by searching find out God?’ Both your conception and mine must in the nature of the case by vague and indefinite.
(34) “Least of all am I disposed to quarrel with the man who spiritualizes nature and says that God is to him the soul of the universe, for spirit, personality and all these abstract conceptions which go with it, like love, duty and beauty, exist for you and for me just as much as do iron, wood and water. They are in every way as real for us as are the physical things which we handle. No man, therefore, can picture nature as devoid of these attributes which are a part of your experience and mine, and which you and I know are in nature. If you, then, in your conception identify God with nature, you must perforce attribute to Him consciousness and personality or, better, superconsciousness and superpersonality. You cannot possibly synthesize nature and leave out its most outstanding attributes. Nor can you get these potentialities out of nature, no matter how far back you go in time. In other words, materialism, as commonly understood, is an altogether absurd and an utterly irrational philosophy, and is indeed so regarded by most thoughtful men.
(35) “Without attempting, then, to go farther in defining what in the nature of the case is undefinable, let me reassert my conviction that although you may not believe in some particular conception of God which I may try to give expression to, and although it unquestionably true that many of our conceptions are sometimes childishly anthropomorphic, everyone who is sufficiently in possession of his faculties to recognize his own inability to comprehend the problem of existence bows his head in the presence of the Nature, if you will-the God, I prefer to say-who is behind it all and whose attributes are partially revealed to us in it all, so that it pains me as much as it did Kelvin ‘to hear crudely atheistic views expressed by men who have never known the deeper side of existence.’ Let me, then, henceforth use the word God to describe that which is behind the mystery of existence and that which gives meaning to it. I thing you will not misunderstand me, then, when I say that I have never known a thing man who did not believe in God.
(36) “How little we know about the ultimate nature of things is strikingly shown by the changes in our conceptions which have come about within the past thirty years. When I started my graduate work in 1893 we were very sure that the physical foundations of the world were built with some seventy unchangeable, indestructible elements. Also we made a sharp distinction between matter-physics and ether-physics. We believed in the conservation of energy, the conservation of mass, and the conservation of momentum, and we knew exactly how, with the aid of these principles, the universe managed to keep going. But we are much less certain about this now than we were then. In 1895 the X-ray came in as an absolutely new phenomenon and then came radio-activity, which has shown us that ‘the elements’ are not at all ultimate things, that atoms are continually undergoing change, and are not indestructible. It appears now that the laws no longer hold in the interaction of electrons within atoms. Einstein has concluded that mass and energy are interchangeable terms and we all now agree that the former distinctions between material, electrical and ethereal phenomena must be discarded. And so I am very chary about declaring that our present scientific conceptions and hypotheses are going to last forever, and I am a good deal more chary about making dogmatic denials or affirmations in the field or religion-a field which by general assent lies outside the region in which intellectual knowledge is possible.
(37) “This much I can say with definiteness — namely, that there is no scientific basis for the denial of religion — nor is there in my judgment any excuse for a conflict between science and religion, for their fields are entirely different. Men who know very little of science and men who know very little of religion do indeed get to quarreling, and the onlookers imagine that there is a conflict between science and religion, whereas the conflict is only between two different species of ignorance. The first important quarrel of this sort arose over the advancing by Copernicus of his theory that the earth, instead of being a flat plane and the center of the universe, was actually only one of a number of little planets, rotating once a day upon its axis and circling once a year about the sun. Copernicus was a priest — the canon of a cathedral — and he was primarily a religious rather than a scientific man. He knew that the foundations of real religion are not laid where scientific discoveries of any kind can disturb them. He was persecuted, not because he went against the teachings of religion but because under his theory man was not the center of the universe and this was most displeasing news to a number of egoists….
(38) “We firmly believed for many years that the sun was merely a white-hot body gradually cooling off. Now we know that if it were merely that it would have cooled off long ago, and we are searching for the source of its continuous supply of heat and are inclined to the belief that it is due to some form of subatomic change. Our discoveries in this realm are as revolutionary as were those of Copernicus, but no one thinks of them as anti-religious. The impossibility of real science and real religion ever conflicting becomes evident when one examines the purpose of science and the purpose of religion. The purpose of science is to develop without prejudice or preconception of any kind a knowledge of the facts, the laws and the processes of nature. The even more important task of religion, on the other hand, is to develop the consciences, the ideals and the aspirations of mankind.
(39) “Many of our great scientists have actually been men of profound religious convictions and life…. ‘I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.’ And again: ‘If you think strongly enough, you will be forced by science to the belief in God, which is the foundation of all religion. You will find it not antagonistic but helpful to religion.’ Take other great scientific leaders — Sir Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk-Maxwell, Louis Pasteur. All these men were not only religious men, but they were also faithful members of their communions. For the most important thing in the world is a belief in moral and spiritual values — a belief that there is a significance and a meaning to existence — a belief that we are going somewhere! These men could scarcely have been so great had they been lacking in this belief….
(40) Science has transformed our world in the past century. It has produced the nuclear bombs, television, satellite communications, computers, sent men to the moon and space craft to faraway places. Man has traveled at speeds which would might have been considered inconceivable in the nineteenth century. But to what end? Without the moral background of religion, without the spirit of service which is the essence of religion, mankind’s new powers will only be the means of his destruction.
Much of the above was adapted from the book: Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. I, GOD, by P. S. L Johnson.
Last updated October 23, 2009.
There is a God-all Nature speaks,
Thro’ earth, and air, and seas, and skies:
See! from the clouds His glory breaks,
When the first beams of morning rise.
The rising sun, serenely bright,
O’er the wide world’s extended frame
Inscribes, in characters of light,
His mighty Maker’s glorious name.
You curious minds, who roam abroad,
And trace creation’s wonders o’er,
Confess the footsteps of your God,
And bow before Him, and adore.
There is an eye that never sleeps
Beneath the wing of night;
There is an ear that never shuts
When sink the beams of light.
There is an arm that never tires
When human strength gives way;
There is a love that never fails
When earthly loves decay.
O weary souls with cares oppressed,
Trust in His loving might
Whose eye is over all your ways
Through all your weary night;
Whose ear is open to your cry;
Whose grace is full and free;
Whose comfort is forever nigh,
Whate’er your sorrows be.
Draw near to Him in prayer and praise;
Rely on His sure word;
Acknowledge Him in all your ways
Your faithful, loving Lord.