Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Titus 2:13

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CHAPTER VII.

 

INFIDELISTIC FALSE VIEWS OF GOD.

 

ATHEISM. AN ATHEIST'S DIFFICULTIES WITH THE BIBLE. MATERIALISM. AGNOSTICISM. PANTHEISM. DEISM.

 

IN THE September, 1925, issue of The Herald Of The Epiphany (No. 32) we answered Mr. Clarence Darrow's objections to the Bible, urged by him against Mr. Wm. J. Bryan in their celebrated encounter at Dayton, Tenn., and sent a copy of our answer, accompanied with a letter, to Mr. Darrow. This led to several exchanges of letters, in one of which Mr. Darrow stated that if he would believe in a God, he would see no difficulty in adopting our explanations of his difficulties with the Bible. This led us to prepare for the following issue—No. 33—an article on the question, Is there a God? which we have made Chapter I in this volume. In that article we did not examine the claims of atheism as proofs of its position. Rather, we gave the constructive arguments in proof of its opposite—the existence of a personal God. Many of our readers, writing to us on this matter, said that they were blessed by that article. Our constructive chapter on God's existence and attributes should better prepare us for our present study on infidelistic false views of God. In this chapter we desire to take up the arguments that atheists use as a proof of their position; and trust to show how each one of them singly, and all of them collectively, fail completely to give such proof. Their position is that there is no God. This is implied in the name of their theory. Atheism is derived from the Greek word atheismos, which in turn is derived from the Greek privitive a (no) and the Greek noun theos (God), the ending ismos standing for theory, i.e., no-God theory.

 

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Atheists first come to our view in Greek history, and that in very isolated cases, e.g., Diagoras, Bion, Lucian, etc. The Greek considered atheism to be both an immoral and an irreligious thing, and therefore made infamous and banished atheists from their territory. There were also a few individual atheists among the Romans; but scarcely any since the Pagan Roman Empire merged into the Christian Roman Empire, until about the end of the seventeenth century, since which time atheism has been increasing. No nation, race, tribe or clan of atheists has ever existed; and we believe those are right who hold that atheism can only there exist where there is a lack in, or a perversion or degeneration of the human heart and mind. In the last 150 years atheism can be said to be increasing among a few philosophers, more scientists and a small number of the plain people. In America recently an atheistic society was incorporated, after at least one judge, on the ground that atheism was against public policy, refused it incorporation. This society is by lectures, correspondence, conversation, the press and organizations, seeking to spread its theory. It even asked President Hoover to dispense with the customary annual Thanksgiving proclamation, with which request he wisely declined to comply, knowing only too well that such a course, as well as the reason assigned for the omission, would be against public policy.

 

Among the few philosophers who have been atheists, we will cite two, with brief quotations of their views Feuerbach expresses himself on the subject as follows "There is no God; it is as clear as the sun and as evident as the day that there is no God, and still more, that there can be none; for if there were a God, then there must be one; He would be necessary. But now if there is no God, then there can be no God; therefore there is no God. There is no God, because there cannot be any." The rattle-brained pretense at reasoning in the above quotation has in it nothing akin to logic

 

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and is self-refutative as logic. In another philosopher's view, set forth in his book, Christianity and Humanism, the following occurs: "Because there is no God, there can be no [real] object of [religious] belief. Man has placed himself in the shape of the ideal after which he strives, as a religious object outside and above his own consciousness, and worships the God whom he has thus set up." Thus he seeks on the ground of self-delusion unto self-deification to account for man's belief in a God. A critic of this gentleman well remarked on his thought as follows: "Accordingly, the world is a great madhouse; by some unexplainable bewitchment man sees above himself his own shadow, and takes it to be his real creator."

 

We do not agree with those who hold that there can be no real atheists; for under the terrible effects of the fall on heart and mind even thorough-going atheists are possible and actual. But we do believe that there are very few real thinkers who are atheists, because atheism runs athwart normal human nature and the normal processes of thought and feeling, even under the limitation of the fall. Atheism as a matter of course denies a Divine revelation, thus the possibility of a real object to the religious feelings, and hence communion between man and God. With these goes the denial of a hereafter, while for all atheists virtue loses its strongest support and vice its greatest deterrent; and for many of them these lose their moral significance, since atheism is usually necessitarianism, and thus denies freedom of choice and moral responsibility. There can, of course, be no place for atonement in such a system. In a word, the fundamentals of religion—which is the best and highest activity of man—go by the board in atheism. In some atheism is a settled belief; in others a fixed doubt. Some atheists glory in their atheism; others are greatly saddened by their belief, and wish they could believe in a Supreme 'Being. We can in the present dispensation

 

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hope to do little to help a fixed atheist; for his belief is a prejudice in which his heart has first subdued his intellect and his intellect in turn has further hardened and blinded his heart; since neither such nor any other person can prove the non-existence of spirits. For such unfortunates in most cases we must wait until in the next Age faith gives way to sight. But the atheist who merely doubts God's existence and who is distressed by his doubts can be helped by the refutation of the considerations that cause his doubts. If this treatise falls into the hands of such an atheist, we may hope for his rescue; at any rate its exposure of atheism's fallacies will strengthen believers in God's reality. We will, therefore, examine the reasons that the more intelligent atheists give for their unbelief, remarking incidentally that in most cases it is indulgence in sin that primarily produces atheism, and in all of them it is illogical and shallow thinking.

 

The first reason that atheists usually give for their theory is that they cannot find God. Carneri puts it like this: "I do not find Him [God] either in the creation or in the government of the world." August Baur puts it as follows: "Neither in the use of the microscope, nor the telescope, the retort, nor the dissecting knife, has any investigator ever discovered a supersensuous [spirit] being." This is probably the strongest way of putting the first and main argument of atheism, and is calculated to deceive the unwary, as it has deceived some of them. To this we in the first place reply: All that an investigator can fairly say on this point is that he has not been able to find God by investigation. He cannot so speak for others; for many others claim that they have by their investigations found the supersensuous—God. Not only so, but these include the greatest philosophers and scientists who have lived, since in the seventeenth century atheism was reborn. The following list of names given by Dutoit-Haller and others, will prove this, Leibnitz,

 

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Wolf, Kant, Descartes, Amphere, Faraday, Fresnel, Brewster, De La Rive, Euler, Gauss, Wuertz, Chevreul, Biot, Justus von Liebig, Fehling, Morse, Kepler, Copernicus, Newton, Herschel, Alexander von Humbolt, Maedler, Gruner, Elie de Beaumont, Fraas, Pfoff, Favre, Linnaeus, Albrecht von Haller, Griesbach, Oswald Herr, Ehrenberg, Owen, Quatrefages, Isidore Geoffray St. Hilaire, Mivart, Agassiz, Le Creaux, Pasteur, Hyrtl, von Beneden, Claude Bernard, Romanes (for awhile an atheist, then after deeper study, a theist), Edison, Marconi, Bell, Millikan, and hosts of others. We are not of those who believe that great names prove truth, but we cite these philosophical and scientific investigators who by investigation have found God, to offset the claim of atheists who assert that they cannot find God by their investigations. Maedler, one of the greatest of scientists, says: "A true investigator of nature cannot be a denier of God. Whoever looks deeply into the workshop of God as do we, and has so much occasion to admire His omniscience and eternal order, must bow his knees in humility before the rulership of the holy God." Pasteur wrote similarly.

 

In the second place, we answer this argument by the statement that no amount of human investigation, which by necessity of human limitations must be limited, could prove that there is no God; for only one who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent could be powerful, knowing and ubiquitous enough authoritatively to say in truth from knowledge of the realities of the case that God is nowhere and hence is non-existent. Hence, to be in a position to demonstrate God's non-existence, if it could be done, one must have superhuman powers, i.e., must himself be God (which after all would prove there is a God); hence no human can prove God's non-existence. Even if the microscope and the telescope, the retort and the knife, the X-ray and the still more powerful Millikan ray, do not make

 

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Him visible and tangible, their failure therein does not prove Him non-existent.

 

In the third place, the very thing that the atheist-investigator seeks to make visible is dealt with contrary to the nature of that thing; for the supersensuous, which a spirit of necessity is, is not grasped by sense. As well require of water that it be dry, of heat that it be cold, of ice that it be hot, of darkness that it be light, of light that it be darkness, of material that it be immaterial, as to expect to find the supersensuous, which among other things is invisible, to become visible to our material eyes (1 Tim. 6: 16).

 

Fourth, such an investigator is conducting his investigations by inadequate instruments. His instruments are material and are usable on material substances and will give splendid information thereon, but are entirely inadequate and inapplicable to make tangible the supersensuous. The scientist who would seek to work with tools inapplicable and inadequate to the materials in question would of course fail to produce results. If atheists cannot conceive anything except in terms of the material, that is their unfortunate lack; but such a lack does not imply that realities must become unrealities, just because they lack the ability to conceive of anything supersensuous. But if there are supersensuous beings, it follows that other than material instruments must be used in their discovery.

 

Our fifth argument is that the supersensuous can be sought only by the mind and heart, as the instruments that can come into touch with it. Reflection and the faith, hope, love and obedience that are built upon such reflection, are the instruments that manifest God, not material instruments like the microscope and the telescope, the retort and the knife, the X-ray and the Millikan ray. Nor are spirits the only things intangible to material instruments like the above. Ether cannot be reached by our senses through these. Yet what investigator denies its existence, so necessary to

 

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explain many things in nature, yet itself invisible and intangible? Even so the existence of God, though invisible and intangible to sense, is, and is much more, required to explain all nature and its details. It is the real scientist's and philosopher's reflection on the universe as a whole and in detail, with its wonderful laws and order and marks of intelligence and wisdom, and on man and his history, that convinces them of God's existence. So we say to the atheist, You are using the wrong instruments in your search for God. Use the right ones, if haply you might find Him.

 

Our sixth argument is that God is not only to be sought in the unusual, like miracles, fulfilled prophecies, etc., which the atheist insists he has not seen and hence denies their reality, but in the usual and ordinary workings of nature. In dealing with atheists, Christians have too frequently made mistakes on this point in pressing the extraordinary—like miracles, fulfillment of prophecy, etc.—as against atheism, thus arousing their opposition to greater heights, because of their rejection of such evidence, instead of meeting them where they cannot answer. We will do better to stress the ordinary and the usual in nature, in proof of God's existence, in dealing with such characters. The laws of nature imply a law-giver. The order of nature implies an orderer. Its infinite proofs of intelligence imply an intelligent maker. Its being the product of a succession of causes implies a first, and hence a causeless, eternal cause. Its wonderful and multitudinous designs imply a Designer. It is reflection on these things which convinces that there is a God and which disproves atheism. The atheist's position that the laws, order, etc., of nature make God unnecessary and disproves His existence, thus destroys his own position.

 

Our seventh argument against the atheist's argument that he cannot find God, is that he has sought God in the less findable place—the most unfindable place for the atheist. He has sought Him in miracles and other

 

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unusual things, and not finding any miracles and unusual things, except on the testimony of witnesses long since dead, he denies miracles and hence does not find God there. Let us, therefore, direct his attention away from these regions, as not conducive to his finding God there. Hence, in seeking Him and not finding Him in such realms, because to him these realms are non-existent, he has been making the mistake of not hunting for God in the place where, to the atheist, He is findable, i.e., in the right place for the atheist. Let him seek for "the footprints of the Creator" in nature and in human history and experience, not by material instruments, but by his mind and heart, i.e., by reflection, and by giving faith to the reasonable product of such reflection, which faith, in turn, will arouse his hope, love and obedience to go out to the God that these immaterial instruments will reveal to him. It is in this way that the scientists and philosophers above mentioned were convinced of God's existence and of His wisdom, power, justice and love (Rom. 1: 20). And the intelligent atheist in not imitating them has sought God in the wrong place as well as by wrong methods and wrong instruments.

 

The above seven reasons certainly prove the fallacy of the first argument of atheism—they cannot find God. The series of mistakes that these seven points reveal, as made by atheists in the use of their first argument, proves them to be shallow thinkers.

 

The second argument that atheists use to prove God's non-existence is that there are so many useless and unmeaning things in the world, which, they argue, would not exist, if there were an allwise Creator who made the universe; for such a Creator could not, they reason, make unmeaning and useless things. They have enumerated as some of such things the following: ice at the poles, intense heat at the equator, the vast deserts and seas uninhabitable by man, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, the existence of the moon, the

 

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great vacant spaces in the universe and diffusion of light therein, the excessive heat of Mercury and cold of Neptune, the fifteen years of alternating day and night at Saturn's poles, the spleen, the glands, the appendix, the wings of the ostrich, the antlers of the deer, the appearance of wings on many insects that do not fly, and the functionless mammae on the breasts of most mammalian males. This list suffices.

 

To this we give a number of replies: First, why find in these few allegedly useless or unmeaning things an argument that there can be no wise Creator who would make them, when there are in the universe literally billions of meaningful and useful things arguing that there is a wise and beneficent Creator? Would it not be more sensible to hold to the latter thought by reasoning on the acceptableness of the decidedly more probable view than to that of the decidedly less probable view? Secondly, this argument assumes that the reasoner really knows that what he calls useless and unmeaning things are really such. How does he know that they do not have and will not yet be proven to have a meaning and use?

 

Thirdly, since the list was first made, beside the general uses that we find for all of them, the direct uses of some of them have been found. E.g., ice stored at the poles has been found to aid in the cooling of the arctic streams that relieve the intense heat of the equatorial regions, as in turn the intense heat of the equatorial regions warms various oceanic streams to the help of the temperate and sub-frigid zones. If the vast deserts and seas are not conducive to habitation, they help prevent the too wide distribution of the race, which is advantageous to man in social, commercial, economic, political and other ways. Earthquakes and volcanoes are now seen to be related to preparing the earth for the Millennium, as well as preparing for more land to appear from the ocean's depths, which will be needed for the dead who soon

 

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will return. Again, the polar ices are breaking up and thus helping to right the earth on its axis, a thing necessary to effect an Edenic climate for the earth shortly. In the meantime they also had their uses in accelerating the curse in certain respects so as to relieve man of worse features. "Cursed is the earth for thy sake," is a statement that proves that these unfavorable conditions will work an ultimate blessing for man, which shows that they are not so useless as our atheistic friends assume. But more on this phase of the thought when we consider atheism's fourth argument. Hurricanes at least clear the atmosphere and the oceans for man's and fishes' advantage. The moon benefits man by giving light at night and marks seasons and (lunar) months for him. The vacant spaces in the universe are needed for the safe play of laws like gravitation, to keep planets from bumping into one another and causing all sorts of catastrophes. The wings of the ostrich help its flight. The antlers of the deer are its defense. Even if there are some things whose direct use and meaning we do not yet know, modesty should teach us to remember that, after all, we know but little. Furthermore, as the number of things whose use and meaning are unknown is constantly decreasing, patience should move us to conclude that we will yet learn those not now known.

 

Fourthly, there are many general uses and meanings of things, whose particular use and meaning we may not yet know. To call such things unmeaning is allowable, if we would thereby indicate that we do not know why they exist. To call them useless because we assume for them a use to which they do not fit is revelatory, not of their alleged uselessness, but of the wrong end applied to them as to their use, and of the ignorance and folly of him that attempts such inadequate experiments. We should at most not call them useless or unmeaning; rather we should say

 

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that to us they are unmeaning and useless, if they be so to us. This would be both wise and modest, and will save us humiliations that might otherwise be ours when their particular meaning and use become known, as has been the case with others. Surely our interests are advanced frequently by a thing whose direct use and meaning are hidden from us; for these things are a part of that variety in nature that is the spice of life. Frequently they form parts in the scheme of the sublime and beautiful in nature, so elevating to man's contemplation and enhancing to his happiness. Sometimes they serve as deterrents to the too bold, and as warnings to the too daring. Hence it is folly to say that there is anything in nature that is useless and unmeaning. At the rate that such things are losing their seeming uselessness and meaninglessness, it will not be many years before perhaps the only seemingly functionless thing in nature will be the mammae on the breast of most mammalian males. Will our atheistical friends then still hold to this as a proof of their theory, with billions of designful things in nature proving the opposite? If so would not their course remind us of a sightseer at the Tower of London who, looking at the case wherein are held the crowns, jewels and other golden implements in use at royalty's opening and closing of parliament, overlooks these in the contemplation of a fly speck on the glass of the case?

 

Fifthly, such things have frequently a morally and religiously elevating effect. Who that sees the marvelous abandon of the hurricane-tossed ocean's wave, that hears the thunder's roar, that sees the lightning's flash, that contemplates the desert's waste, that views the canyon's depth or height, where nothing can grow, that notes the moon's orderly phases and that beholds space's wastes, but is filled with awe, reverence and humility? Who that considers organs of his and other beings, whose uses he does not yet recognize, and that beholds other things in nature whose meaning

 

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and uses he does not understand, but can derive a needed and wholesome lesson in humility and meekness? And who is he that would underrate the value of such lessons? Would he not be manifesting a sad lack of real practicability? And is not he to be commended as wise and practical who will derive the above-indicated benefits from things whose direct uses and meanings he may not know? And is not such a mind and heart better prepared to learn the direct uses and meanings of such things than those otherwise disposed? Surely our five reasons undermine the second argument of atheism.

 

Atheism's third argument is that there cannot be a Creator, because there is so much imperfection in the world, while an all-wise Creator, it claims, would have made everything perfect. Certainly, our earth and its inhabitants, not to speak of other spheres of being, are imperfect. Who would call perfect the earth's extremes of heat and cold, the barrenness of its frigid zones and numerous deserts, its swamps and wildernesses, its earthquakes and volcanoes, its tidal waves and floods, its hurricanes and tornadoes, its droughts and cloudbursts, its blizzards and hail storms, its famines and pestilences, its miasmic airs and dismal fogs, its unequal soils and drainage, its resources and distributions, and its noxious germs, beasts and reptiles? These conditions all too plainly prove the claim of earth's imperfection. And what shall we say of man, whose physical, mental, moral and religious imperfections, large in number and most diverse in kind, confront us at every turn? Surely it must be conceded that the earth and its inhabitants are imperfect; but just so surely is it folly to conclude from these imperfections that there is no God—no all-wise Creator.

 

In the first place, creation is not a completed work; therefore it is unwise to base atheism's third argument on what is an incomplete work. Most atheists are evolutionists who seek, yet vainly, by evolution to get

 

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rid of the idea of a God, but whose theory, of necessity, implies that the earth and its inhabitants are not yet a completed creation, and therefore cannot be a perfect creation. Hence they should be among the last ones to claim that the imperfections in an incompleted creation prove God's non-existence. The Bible also teaches that the creative work on man and the earth is as yet incomplete. Hence it is unfair and illogical to charge an incompleted work with imperfection, much less its author with nonexistence because of such imperfections, since such is inevitably the condition of all incompleted works, and that without any fault thereby necessarily attaching to their authors. Thus the imperfections of God's incompleted work do not disprove His existence any more than the imperfections in an incompletely wrought piece of hide disprove the existence of the tanner. It proves the contrary.

 

In the second place, an objection to the Creator's existence based on imperfection in His work, proves no more than that the Creator might be imperfect, and not that He is non-existent, providing His creative work on earth and man were completed and were thereafter found to be imperfect; for the fact that He creates at all implies that He exists; for an imperfection in His completed work might imply inability to perfect it, or a shortsightedness in planning a work that He would fail or be unwilling to bring to completeness, or a lack of perseverance or ability to bring it to completion. In any case, only the imperfection and not the non-existence of the Creator might be inferred from a completed work that lacks perfection. But such a charge cannot be brought fairly and logically against the author of an incompleted work on which he is still active. Hence atheism's pertinent conclusion is false, illogical and unwise.

 

Atheism's fourth argument is that there are many harmful things in nature bringing suffering on man and beast; therefore there can be no Creator; otherwise

 

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He would put them aside. It must again be conceded to the atheist that there are harmful things in creation bringing suffering on man and beast. Many of the imperfections in nature noted under the preceding point bring suffering on man and beast. Frequently beasts, reptiles, fish and fowls war on one another and on man, while in turn man frequently wars on his fellows and on beasts, fish, fowl and reptiles, causing suffering right and left. Sickness, sorrow, pain and death are on all hands. Calamities, pestilences, famines and hostilities play havoc among men. Losses, disappointments, lacks, faults, failings, poverty and a more or less infertile earth make for much suffering. Insanity, error, wickedness and selfishness add to this bitter draught that man drains, and often to the dregs. It must be allowed that there is an abundance of harmful things in the earth. And poor atheists, burdened with more or less of these, think that they disprove God's existence! But, again, we claim for good and sufficient reasons that such harmful things do not prove that there is no God. These reasons we now proceed to give.

 

In the first place, none of these things imply God's nonexistence. They might impinge against the thought of His goodness and mercy, provided they cannot be shown to be instrumental in effecting ultimately more of good than they inflict of evil; but by no means do they imply that He does not exist, any more than the presence of the sick in a hospital implies that curative agencies do not exist, or any more than the presence of criminals in a country implies that civil officers do not there exist, or any more than the pains of a bad child undergoing chastisement from his father prove that he has no father.

 

In the second place, the good results effected by harmful things on some characters prove that they are wisely designed, at least for such characters; and hence, instead of implying God's non-existence, they

 

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are in line with both His existence and goodness. Often we see character good—the very highest form of goodness—as well as material good produced by the adverse environment in which some people find themselves. Mercy and sympathy are developed in some by the presence of suffering in the world. Unselfish service is woven into some characters by their beholding others in affliction. Generosity frequently rises to its highest flights amid calamities. The qualities of forbearance, longsuffering and forgiveness, have their sphere of operation in the experience of enduring wrong or they cannot be exercised and developed. Courage and tact naturally come into play amid the dangers incidental to harmful conditions. Friendships formed in the furnace of affliction are usually the most unselfish and abiding. Thus the sufferings of the present refine and ennoble some characters as nothing else can. Not only so, but some of man's highest physical and mental improvements are due to the conditions of suffering that surround him. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Our comfortable homes, with their many improvements and accessories, and a multitude of other useful things, have been developed in the need arising from the harmful conditions about man. Much of learning, of civilization, of progress in the arts, sciences and inventions, is due to the presence of these harmful things about us. They are, therefore, not unmixed evils to those who use them for their moral, mental and physical improvement. Hence from them atheism cannot even infer that God is malevolent, much less non-existent.

 

Still, from another standpoint the presence of suffering even unto death in the world is not an unmixed evil, and therefore does not justify atheism's conclusion now under examination. Consider what would be the result, if suffering and death would not be the portion of the wicked and selfish. Could it be otherwise

 

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than worse than conditions now are? If in such a short span of life now allotted to man, many of our kind develop such cunning as to be able to overreach their fellows, to the great detriment of the latter, what would conditions be, if these lived millenniums or forever? If in a few years some can become multimillionaires and even billionaires, sometimes to the great detriment of the masses, what would they do in the way of acquiring during millenniums or forever? Consider the exploiting and enslaving effect of this on the less acquiring members of the human family. If conquerors like Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, etc., could go on for ages in their course, what intolerable conditions would this mean to most of the rest of mankind! If the tyrannous, the murderous, the thievish, the adulterous, the covetous, the slanderous, the rebellious, the unduly ambitious, the fraudulent, etc., could go on indefinitely in their wrong— doing, to what intolerable existence would the rest of mankind come! At what a desperate disadvantage would the young, the inexperienced and especially the upright be, under such conditions! They would be a thousandfold worse off than the young, the inexperienced and the upright now are. Accordingly, it is a blessing for the rest of mankind that the wicked and selfish do suffer and die in a comparatively brief time. The two above reasons—(1) that the good and enterprising are bettered by their experience with evil, and (2) that the wicked and selfish are the more quickly cut down by evil—show that sufferings and death have a ministry of good in them; and thus they neither militate against God's goodness nor His existence, despite atheism's claims.

 

We present a fourth reason refutative of atheism's fourth argument—that harmful things in the world disprove God's existence: It is the ultimate Divine design in the permission of evil, so far as the wicked and selfish are concerned. Above we showed the ennobling effects of the experience with evil on the good. Now

 

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we would show it as to the wicked and selfish. While atheism scoffs at the Biblical teaching of man's fall from perfection into sin and suffering conditions resulting in death, it must concede the fact that man is now in a condition in which he does experience evils of all kinds culminating in death, regardless of how he entered this condition. All benevolent hearts lament, even as all clear heads perceive the fact. Atheism acknowledges the fact of the present evil conditions; but has no real solution as to how it came about, as to why it is continued, as to what will cure it, and how the cure will come about. Such being his perplexed condition, would it not be wise for him to give an attentive hearing to the solution that clarifies to the satisfaction of head and heart this whole problem of evil? We now proceed to explain the Biblical solution of the problem: Evil is permitted to the wicked and selfish to teach them by experience what they would learn in no other way—that sin is bad in its nature and terrible in its effects, and therefore should be hated and forsaken. To this brief statement we would add a few particulars. The experience with evil is one (the first) part of God's creative process in bringing the race to perfection and happiness. A subsequent experience with righteousness will be the other part of His creative process to bring the race to perfection and happiness. He set out to create a race of free moral agents, who, intelligently appreciating sin from an experience of its nature and effects, and who, intelligently appreciating righteousness from an experience of its nature and effects, would as a result of these two experiences as their teachers, hate and have nothing to do with sin and love and practice righteousness. Foreseeing that inexperienced Adam, though perfect in faculty, but untried in evil, would under temptation fall into sin, God determined to permit it, but did not force it, seeing that by Adam's forfeiture of life and perfection he would be unable to transmit these to

 

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his descendants, but on the contrary would transmit to them what he had—death and imperfection. Thus the race was without its fault—simply by the law of heredity—brought under an experience with evil, in which it would learn by experience as a teacher the hatefulness of sin and the desirableness of avoiding it under all circumstances.

 

By becoming Adam's substitute in death and righteousness, Jesus became the possessor of a needed asset—life and righteousness—for the race, equal to the things that were forfeited by Adam and that involved the race into the experience of evil. This asset He will use as the indispensable thing to bring the race—dead and living—out of the experience of evil and into an experience with righteousness. As through the physical, mental, moral and religious degradation wrought by the experience of evil, prevailing through Adam's sin and death, the race will learn the exceeding hatefulness of sin; so through the contrasted physical, mental, moral and religious elevation that will be wrought by the experience with righteousness, brought about by Christ's death and righteousness, when all the evils and sufferings of the present time will cease to be and their opposites will be made to prevail, man will learn the loveableness of righteousness. Then the race, so educated in head and heart by the best of teachers— experience—as to sin and righteousness, will be given crucial tests to demonstrate whether it will permit moral law freely to control it, so that God may get what, in undertaking the creation of the race, He designed to bring into existence—a race of free moral agents who, intelligently appreciating sin and righteousness, will hate and avoid the former and love and practice the latter. These crucial tests will manifest the heart's attitude of each toward sin and righteousness, and will be followed by the eternal annihilation of those who will break down under them, as thus proven to be unwilling to let moral law control them,

 

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and by the everlasting preservation in blessedness and goodness of those who faithfully stand the trial, as willing to be controlled by moral law. We may hope that these two experiences will determine the bulk of the race against sin and for righteousness, with the result that when the creative process is finished God will obtain what He started out to create—a race of free moral agents who intelligently appreciating sin and righteousness, will hate and avoid the former and love and practice the latter. So viewed, present evils are a part of the creative process for the human family. This is the Bible solution of the problem of the permission of evil; and, so viewed, it destroys utterly the force of atheism's fourth argument: that the evils prevalent in the earth disprove God's existence. On the contrary, viewed as above, they imply God's existence and His benevolent and practical design in permitting them to prevail temporarily and thereafter in destroying them eternally.

 

It is atheism's fourth argument—weak as it is—that appeals to shallow thinkers more than its other three arguments. We believe that our four answers to it take all of its force away and that our reasons against atheism's other three arguments make them powerless. And by this the theory's arguments are overthrown. But there are many other things that might be said against it. Some of these we will briefly point out. The impossibility of its proof by a finite being tells against it. Its leaving uncultivated some of the highest and noblest faculties of the human brain— spirituality, hope and veneration—tells against it. Its removing the main support—reverence for God and respect for man as God's highest earthly creature—from others of man's highest faculties: conscientiousness, benevolence, firmness and continuity, also counts heavily against it. Its being against public policy and individual good, its encouraging in some pride and arrogance, in others gloom and despair, also counts

 

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against it. It robs life of its greatest joys, blessings, experiences and attainments, and shuts the door of hope to a blessed hereafter. It cuts off from fellowship with God and the godlike. It blinds the mind against the noblest and most elevating truths; binds the hands against engaging in the most elevating service—drawing others to God; and shackles the feet from running the ways of life. Its hollowness is unrelieved; its shallowness is unhidden; its fruitlessness is undeniable; its unwisdom is undesirable; its falsity is unrivaled; its inducements are unpersuasive; and its victims are of all men the most unenviable.

 

As an illustration of an atheist's difficulties with the Bible we will here review those of Mr. Clarence Darrow, a professed atheist. One of the most extraordinary scenes in religious controversy was enacted on the Court House lawn at Dayton, Tenn., July 20, 1925, when Mr. Clarence Darrow, one of the leading trial lawyers of America, questioned the late Mr. William Jennings Bryan in an attempt to prove the Bible erroneous. Some of Mr. Bryan's answers seem not to have been convincing, though we greatly admire the strength of his confidence in the Bible. Mr. Darrow brought forward the usual skeptical objections to various Biblical matters—objections that seem strong to those only who are not well informed on such points. Frequently Mr. Darrow's difficulties were not clearly put, because the answers given him took his attention away from his points. Mr. Darrow, or any other inquiring man, should receive polite and correct information in connection with his difficulties on the Bible. We regret that Mr. Bryan, though a brilliant orator and a devout Christian whom we greatly admire, failed to answer convincingly on some of them. We sympathize deeply with Mr. Darrow and others like him, who have difficulties with the Scriptures, but who do not usually receive from Christian apologists the kindly, patient and intelligent answers

 

 

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