Copyright © Larry Johnson 2019
The more I reflect on those who claim that there is no God, the more I struggle to understand their position. In the following essay I will attempt to lay out some ideas to assist the reader in comprehending my view.
It was once said that to order our world as it is was akin to holding hundreds of words, each represented on a small strip of paper, then throwing them into the air and have them land in such an arrangement that they formed a comprehensible story. How could it so randomly occur that we have such complexity in creation? How did the human body accidentally happen upon such intricacy? A scientist by the name of Alan Sandage stated that he found it improbable that such order came out of chaos without some organizing principle[i]. Others have concurred in one way or another with this view[ii].
These are solid arguments, but so is that of cause and effect. This basic principle, exercised by scientists, is perhaps one of the most convincing. Imagine that I walk into a friend’s house, one who doesn’t believe in God, and after the usual pleasantries he poses the question as to why I accept the concept as true. Continuing adamantly, he affirms his support of the ‘Big Bang Theory’, a perfectly logical argument he insists. In all politeness I respond with enquiry as to what caused the ‘Big Bang Theory’. My friend answers that it was a molecule, or atom. ‘I’m not a scientist’ he states, ‘but it would have been something of the sort’. I probe further, asking how the atom or molecule developed. He states perhaps some ‘scientific occurrence’ and I respond in similar fashion to the previous interactions. We could have maintained the banter all night, exhausting ourselves into like frustration. However, my point is that something must have existed that didn’t need to be created in order to actuate the process. The Big Bang Theory is generally accepted as the causal factor, but what existed prior to the ‘Big Bang’ to initiate the event? It is interesting that some scientists, Albert Einstein being one, became somewhat frustrated after affirming the theory, as the confirmation only added weight to the aforementioned argument. It is also wonderous that some modern-day scientists are attempting to disprove the Big Bang Theory and speculate on other causes in the hope of discovering one that thwarts to notion of a God. Regardless of their findings, we will always have to have a first cause and the above reasoning still holds. Some scientists say we shouldn’t become caught up with the Big Bang Theory. It is no wonder.
Considering the issue from another point of view, I turn to the issue of accountability. During our sojourn on this fine earth we observe a wide spectrum of behaviours: good, bad, noble, dishonourable, loving, murderous, humble, arrogant, honesty, theft or deceit etc. Surely there must be some measure of accountability for these characteristics and actions. There must be some rules made by something other than ourselves, ingrained within our hearts and souls, that enlighten us as to the difference between these behaviours. Otherwise how do we know what is acceptable and what is not? It makes sense that a higher being than ourselves infused such judgement within us; and here, I believe, we come to the crux of the reluctance or obstinacy in not believing in God. For if we believe in God, in this higher being that has imposed the rules, it is incumbent upon us to obey them. There must be a humble recognition that this authority resides with a greater power.
The very fact that we discuss the difference between good and bad, noble and dishonourable, honesty or deceit etc. indicates that we are all seeking the righteous way to live. Without authoritative direction some may take it upon themselves to say theft is not necessarily a transgression, but others declare it not acceptable for any reason. The argument may be proposed that we have government to decide what is right and what is wrong: what is proper and what is not. Then again, who determines that their wisdom is superior to the many unknown individuals among the populous? Are these law makers competent to determine right or wrong? What is their motivation or portion of wisdom? We are cognisant that many elected officials do not demonstrate the required proficiency to occupy the positions they do; and in many cases achieve their success by untoward means. Who decides that their behaviour is acceptable in the quest to be elected, and then afterwards? Themselves? Is their behaviour satisfactory? They may say all is fair but we may disagree: so who is right? The thought may also be proffered as to the determination being decided by majority vote of the masses. Then again, is a consensus truly reliable in the judgement of right and wrong? If the majority votes for the culling of all unborn infants suspected of having a disability, or people over the age of seventy, would this make these actions morally correct? Undoubtedly some would read the preceding questions as ridiculous and nonsense. The author is a fool! I reply, do your research; open your ear and eyes; follow the direction western civilisation has been traversing for the last one hundred years and then ponder the forecast for another century.
No, there must be an objective authority to implement order within the world. So where do we seek this objective ruler? This authority would have to be clear in any declaration of what constitutes appropriate behaviour. We would have to look to a set of rules that in all logicality would provide an ordered society that was concerned for its members. In my view, as a basic starting point, we can direct ourselves to the Ten Commandments. The Commandments seem totally reasonable do they not? Don’t steal, don’t kill one another, worship only the one true God who created all of us and all that is good etc. In fact, I believe it is reasonable to assert that historically most of the laws of society can be traced back to the Commandments. Through hundreds of years they have been used as the benchmark; at least until the last half century when society decided there was no God, or that we have a God that wasn’t particularly concerned with what we did, consequently creating laws that contravened the Commandments.
Some may say that we cannot grasp this idea of a one, true God; that it all seems too far-fetched. But then is it reasonable to consider that we should be able to understand God? An all-powerful creator would be surrounded in such great mystery that it would be impossible for us to comprehend all but a small fragment of the essence. In itself, this would be a reasonable argument for belief in God. Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, in his book Introduction to Christianity[iii], explains this grasping for the understanding of God. Concisely, we reach out to the mystery and when attaining some conception, realise how far short of understanding we are. So, we reach out again and again to acquire further comprehension. The process continues and we apprehend a little more, within each of our capabilities, with all the time God reaching to us and guiding us on our way – His way.
The Ten Commandments are a beginning, but there is a divine personage who once walked upon the Earth. While there have been born many wise men that have provided sage advice, there is one above all; both divine and human in nature who surpasses all in wisdom. Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his book ‘The Life of Christ’ stated that “Jesus Christ was the only person pre-announced”[iv]. Fulton Sheen made comment that “it wasn’t only the Jews that expected the birth of a Great King, Wise Man and Saviour, but Plato and Socrates also spoke of the Logos [Word of God] and the Universal Wise Man yet to come. Confucius spoke of the Saint”[v]. Sheen also commented that Cicero recounted ancient sayings of the oracles and the Sibyls about a “King whom we must recognise to be saved,” that asked in expectation, “To what man and to what period of time do these predictions point?”[vi]
The teachings of Christ infused the character of society for epochs. Yes, there were still wars and conflicts throughout history; it will no doubt generally be the case. There is always some frenzied or wrathful individual dominating this or that country who wants more power or territory. However I write of the average person on the street or in the village. The knowledge of Jesus Christ would have been inescapable: and this is not to say that there was no evil, as human nature is consistent in any period of history. Notwithstanding, the populous at least knew whether what they were doing was right or wrong. There appears to have been less confusion about the matter and less debate. It wasn’t a case of what’s morally upright for you is not the same for me, as occurs in contemporary society. If you were of the inclination to be morally debased it was probable that you were aware of the fact.
[i] http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/quotes.html. Cited Willford, J.N. March 12, 1991. Sizing up the Cosmos: An Astronomers Quest. New York Times, p. B9.
[iii] Introduction to Christianity, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Copyright © 1968 by Kosel-Verlag GmbH, Munich. © 1969 by Burns and Oates, Ltd.
[iv] Life of Christ, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Copyright © 1958 by Fulton J. Sheen; Image Books/Doubleday, Chapter 1.