Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
A UNIVERSAL BELIEF GROUNDED IN THE MORAL AND RELIGIOUS CONSTITUTION OF MAN. CAUSE AND EFFECT. ORDER AND THE REIGN OF LAW IN THE UNIVERSE. DESIGN EVERYWHERE APPARENT. MAN'S MENTAL, MORAL AND RELIGIOUS NATURE. DEMONSTRATION FROM EXPERIENCE. IMPOSSIBILITY OF DISPROVING GOD'S EXISTENCE. A SCIENTIST'S GOD.
BELIEF in God's existence is practically universal. While a few individuals have appeared who deny God's existence, and while a few others claim to be in doubt as to His existence, i.e., that they do not know whether there is a God; yet these are so comparatively few as to warrant our statement that practically the entire human family believes that there is a Supreme Being—God. There has never been a nation found that does not believe in a God. This is true of the most as well as of the least cultured of the nations of all ages. Thus the belief in a Supreme Being is practically universal. The belief in God's existence may, therefore, be accepted as grounded in human nature—in the constitution of man—the few exceptions being explainable on the ground of mental aberration—perversion or degeneration— as the Scriptures teach: "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Ps. 14: 1).
We have just said that belief in a God is grounded in human nature—in man's constitution. This we see from the teachings of Psychology and Phrenology. Psychology teaches that it is a part of the soul's powers to believe in, venerate, worship and desire fellowship with God, just as it is a part of the soul's powers to love one's fellows and to desire fellowship with them. Phrenology goes a step further, even locating
the brain organs by which faith in, veneration for, and desire for fellowship with, God are exercised. It locates the faculty through which religious faith is exercised as just beyond the top of that part of the forehead which is above the eyes; and it locates the brain organ through which love and veneration for, and desire for fellowship with, God are exercised as in the middle of the top of the head. When the head is large or has "bumps" in these places, normal people readily believe in and venerate God. Where the head is small or has "valleys" in these places, people find it hard to believe in and venerate God. The average atheist has "valleys" in his skull in these places. Hundreds of thousands of heads have been examined, and from such examinations the above conclusions have been drawn. These "bumps" by exercising faith, etc., are enlarged, but by non-exercise they cease to grow. If they are exercised more than the other brain faculties, the skull there 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 skull. Cases are on record of certain persons who degenerated from an active and warm religious life into atheism and whose pertinent "bumps" not only grew cold, but even shrank. This has particularly been the case with those of mental temperaments who have degenerated from a warm, active, religious life into religious indifference and disbelief, other temperaments not showing such marked recession in these "bumps" on suffering a religious relapse, the reason being that their less active mentality caused less, and less powerful, impingements on these parts of the skull by the brain, and the lack of such impingements made less pronounced recessions in the pertinent parts of the skull.
These facts prove that man is constituted by his brain make-up to believe in, and venerate a Supreme Being. And from this we draw the conclusion that the
existence of God is a necessary 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 and qualities of man's brain 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 explain this constitution of the brain and its resultant moral and religious sense of obligation Godward, grounded as they are in man's nature. We repeat the thought, the existence of God is a necessary 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.
From another standpoint we prove God's existence— from that of cause and effect. It is of universal experience that every event has a cause; therefore we reason that every event must have its cause; for we are forced to reason thus from our experience; for undoubtedly our experience is that every event has been produced by some cause. Therefore, reasoning back from many events to as many causes, we finally reach first events, which imply a first cause; and as such it must be causeless; hence is eternal. This first cause we call God, or as the Scriptures put it: "He that built [made] all things is God" (Heb. 3: 4). Therefore the origins of things are events that must have had causes. Take, for example, the origin of trees: We ask ourselves, Whence did their origin come? We answer, From seeds or branches. Whence came the origin of these? From other trees. Whence came the origin of these? From other seeds or branches. Whence came these? From other trees, we answer. Finally, in our reasoning, we come to the first kind of every tree, and ask ourselves, Whence came the origin of these? The answer must be, From the first seeds. Now we ask, Whence came the origin of
the first seeds from which came the first trees? Thus there was a cause back of the origin of their firsts. Let us in turn take up the origin of bushes, vegetables, grass—the rest of the vegetable kingdom, and our reasoning brings us to the origin of the first seeds from which came the first bushes, vegetables and grass. Whence came the origin of those seeds? If we take up creatures endowed with powers of locomotion: insects, fish, amphibians, fowl, reptiles and beasts, and apply the same kind of reasoning, we finally come to the first example of each species and are confronted with the same question, Whence came the origin of the first of each species? So with the race of mankind. Thus, reasoning from effect to cause, we reach the origin of the firsts of all kinds, and thus a multiplicity of origins of firsts confronts us. Whence came they? They could not have made themselves; for that would imply their existence before they existed. Who or what then made them? Our reasoning drives us to the conclusion that there is a first cause that is the cause of the origin of all firsts. If it is the first cause, it cannot be the effect of any other cause. It, therefore, must have been causeless and therefore eternal. We call this first cause, God; but materialists would call it an unconscious, blind force—matter. Which of these two views is right from the standpoint of reason, must be deduced from other considerations than from those of cause and effect.
Some have sought to evade this argument by claiming an infinite succession of causes, and thus they seek to deny a first cause. But this is sophistry; for an infinite series of second causes does not agree with the idea of cause, and cause is just what reason here demands. Those who assume an infinite series as against a first cause, really reject cause in its ultimate analysis; for the idea of cause, like every other idea, implies a first; but an infinite succession of causes would rest upon no cause, which is an absurdity. Hence there
can be no infinite series of causes. There must be a first cause. Our reason forces us to this conclusion, as we contemplate the universe of things in their origins. And those who resort to the supposition of an infinite series have been forced by different paths to an original ground of existence, variously terming it: matter, mind, or force, accordingly as their theories find most convenient. Taken off guard, those who deny a first cause are forced to admit it, as can be seen from an experience of Henry Ward Beecher and Robert Ingersoll. Strange to say, America's most eloquent preacher and most eloquent agnostic were friends and exchanged visits with one another. On the occasion of a certain visit that Mr. Ingersoll paid Mr. Beecher, the former greatly admired a finely executed globe that was in the latter's study. After a careful examination and unstinted admiration of the technique displayed in the carefully drawn continents, oceans, etc., of the globe, Mr. Ingersoll asked, "Who made it?" Quickly perceiving his opportunity, Mr. Beecher answered, "Nobody; it made itself!" Divining the intent of the remark, the noted agnostic, biting his lip, remained silent, and, crestfallen, shortly thereafter left Mr. Beecher's home.
Above we said that we cannot by the argument of cause and effect absolutely infer that the first cause is a personal God. Cause and effect alone considered, it must be conceded that it might be blind force. But other considerations that reason gives us prove that the first cause is not blind force, but a personal being—God. We will consider these in turn, remarking here that the conjoined force of all these arguments proves by reason that there is a God. We ask, then, is this first cause blind force or an intelligent being—God? Let us see what the facts manifest in the universe have to say to reason in this regard.
The order that we observe throughout nature is one point that proves that the first cause is not blind force,
but is an intelligent being who uses the forces of nature as means of expressing His will in His chosen order or things. Looking up on a clear night to the heavens, we see the suns of innumerable planetary systems, each revolving about its sun with each planet revolving on its axis and encircling its orbit, just as the planets of our solar system revolve on their axes and encircle their orbits—and with all of these planetary systems revolving about a common center— Alcyone, of the Pleiades, according to the latest scientific deductions. And every so often every planetary system in its various bodies reaches the same place in relation to every planet of every other planetary system—the precessional cycle. In each planet there is an order of day and night, seasons, years, etc., dependent on the size of each planet's orbit, its sun and its distance from its sun, 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 procession, we infer that the first cause is intelligent, hence is not blind force, though its uses for its order the operation of force.
But order is 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 vegetable, every plant, every blossom, every fruit, 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 proves 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 and 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 almost infinity of orderly arrangements, adjustments, movements, harmonies and workings.
Those who deny that the first cause in 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 they claim that originally matter existed as nebula and was acted upon by gravity and heat— force—that these two things (gravity and heat) working on the nebula started other forces into activity, which after an almost infinite number of changes gradually but blindly evolved the universe, so full of the evidence of a wisdom higher than man's. Yea, they even say that these forces finally in man 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), this view is forced to assume that the nebula was so arranged as to call gravity and
heat into activity, i.e., that there was order in the nebula. Whence came that order which of itself already betrays 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, yea, 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.
This conclusion is strengthened by the presence of design in the universe; for there are innumerable objects in nature that in their constitution betray design. There are things in nature that prove a prearranged fitness for certain future purposes. We are using the word design here in the sense of prearranged fitness for future purposes. These designs among other things are beneficent. If such designs exist in nature, they prove that they must have had a designer, i.e., one who planned and made them for their intended ends. This would argue that the intelligent first cause in addition to having intelligence has wisdom, benevolence, volition and executiveness, and that of the highest order. Vast evidences of design are apparent (1) in inorganic nature, (2) in organic nature and (3) in the relations of inorganic nature and organic nature to one another. Notice, e.g., design in the filtration of rain water through the soil. During this process the earth does not lose one particle of its nutritive matter needed
for vegetable growth—potash, silicic acid, ammonia, etc. On the contrary, the soil immediately absorbs more of these elements as they are contained in the rain, and thus increases its store of them for enlarged fertility. Furthermore, only such elements are entirely absorbed 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 predestinated adaptability to realize a future purpose in inorganic nature. Design is also manifest in the two gases, oxygen and hydrogen, combining in certain proportions to form water—so much needed for life. So, too, is design apparent in air, made by a combination of oxygen, nitrogen and argon—so much needed for life. In hundreds 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 marvels of design are manifest in the rotation of the earth on its axis to produce day and night, with their purposes of growth, activity and rest, and in the circuit 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 display design: Why is driftwood cast 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 have the planets nearest the sun no moons, while those further away, which need more light, have them? Why is iron, which is the most needed metal, the most abundant? Why do the trade winds frequently keep clouds away from certain parts of the earth where there is abundance of rain, and send them to yield rain in other parts that would otherwise be arid? Why do the warm ocean currents flow to the northern and southern portions of our sphere, while the cold ocean currents flow to the equatorial regions? In all these facts we see beneficent design. Thus, inorganic nature is replete with design, and this argues
an intelligent first cause of wisdom, benevolence, volition and executiveness.
If we look at organic nature, design everywhere confronts us. Why is it that the organs of the animal creation are all formed before there is any use for them? Is not this design—a predestinated fitness for future purposes? This is observed even in the vegetable kingdom. For instance, 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 came the eyes of fish to be constructed in harmony with the laws of light refracting in water? How came the palm of the hand and the sole of the foot to have thicker skin than the rest of the body? How came the structure of the hand to have such marvelous adaptability? How came the eye to have the fitness to light and accordant vision? How came the stomach and liver 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 be the greatest sewer system in existence? How? Do not all of these in their formation argue design—a prearranged fitness for certain future ends? Surely, design is manifest everywhere in organic nature.
So, too, is the presence of design manifest in the meeting ground between organic and inorganic nature. The lungs 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 adapted to sound and sound to the ear; scent is adapted to the nose and the nose to scent; taste is adapted to the tongue and the tongue to taste; and food to the stomach and the stomach to food. The sun, day and night, seasons, water and climate, are adapted to animal and vegetable life and animal and vegetable life to them—everywhere a predestinated fitness for future ends. Thus, design everywhere confronts us, and it everywhere 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. These propositions are proven by reason, entirely apart from revelation. When rightly put, they have never been successfully assailed.
The existence of man's intellectual, moral and religious nature proves the existence of God. We find man capable of reasoning on deep and abstruse questions. We find him capable of inventing physical and mental objects. He is capable of acts of high morality, goodness and self-denial. He is endowed with the sense of obligation to right. He feels his dependence on a higher power. Therefore he is adapted to an intellectual, moral and religious life. These are facts of the inner life, and are as real as facts external to us. These facts cannot be denied, unless one denies the reality of human nature. Thus, we cannot deny the fact of the existence of the intellectual, moral and religious sense, and that man is actuated in his conduct by this threefold sense. These are facts at least as clear to him as external phenomena; for they are a part of himself—they are therefore as real as himself.
From the fact that man has intellectual powers, we conclude that the first cause who caused the first man also has intelligence; for He could not give what He did not have; for to make an intellect implies the possession of an intellect in the maker, on the Biblically announced principle, "He that made the eye, shall He not see?" Further, from the fact that man possesses moral and religious powers we infer that the maker of the first man must have moral and religious powers; for to make moral and religious powers implies their possession in their maker. Hence, man possessing mental, moral and religious faculties proves that the First Cause has them. Hence, we infer a wise, just and loving God as Creator, from the fact that man, a creature of His, has faculties for wisdom, justice and love. The existence of these powers in us implies from the standpoint of cause and effect that there is a God and that He is wise, just and loving.
We now present a sixth evidence of God's existence: the experience of those who come into harmony with Him— God's Spirit-begotten children. This argument is not conclusive to those who have not had this experience. To them at most it can have no more weight than what is grounded on the testimony of others. But to those who have this experience it is the most impressive and conclusive of all arguments on God's existence; for it brings one into direct touch with God as a being; not, it is true, by outward sense, but by the inner sense of the Spirit given them when begotten of the Spirit. They find by experience that at every step of faith in, and obedience toward God that they take, they have fulfilled to them His promises connected with that step. Thus, as they exercise repentance toward God, they find that He in harmony with His promise in such cases enables them to hate and to 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 unto consecration, they received the promised begetting of the Spirit. That they received it is evidenced to them by their finding themselves to be in possession of new and enlarged powers—spiritual powers implanted in their hearts and minds, enabling them to understand and to appreciate spiritual things and to aspire to them as their life's ambition—things of which they were incapable 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 the 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; but their lack of experience in these things does not make unreal this experience, vouchsafed those who exercise the necessary repentance, faith and obedience; for to them the witness of the Spirit is the greatest and most conclusive proof of God's existence.
We now offer our seventh and final proof—a negative one—for God's existence: the impossibility of disproving His existence; for atheism is incapable of proof, for 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 our seven points show, 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 hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Ps. 14: 1); and "The fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning [foundation] of knowledge" (Prov. 1: 7).
After finishing the above there came to our attention a pertinent interview on "A Scientist's God" in the Oct. 24, 1925, Collier's—The National Weekly—by Dr. Millikan, who is one of the greatest living scientists—one of the few scientists who have been awarded the Noble Prize for outstanding scientific work. We take pleasure in quoting a large part of his interview:
"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 be vague and indefinite.
"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, super consciousness and super personality. 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.
"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 is 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 think you will not misunderstand me, then, when I say that I have never known a thinking man who did not believe in God.
"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 electromagnetic 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 of religion—a field which by general assent lies outside the region in which intellectual knowledge is possible.
"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. …
"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.
"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. …
It is not beyond belief that we may some time be able to do in our laboratories what the sun is doing in its laboratory. Then it is conceivable that science could, if given the chance, transform this world within a generation. But to what end? Without the moral background of religion, without the spirit of service which is the essence of religion, our new powers will only be the means of our destruction.
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.
Ye 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 thy ways
Through all thy weary night;
Whose ear is open to thy cry;
Whose grace is full and free;
Whose comfort is forever nigh,
Whate'er thy sorrows be.
Draw near to Him in prayer and praise;
Rely on His sure word;
Acknowledge Him in all thy ways
Thy faithful, loving Lord.