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MY ANSWER to an Atheist!
By Herbert W. Armstrong
Three years ago, I published a letter from an atheist. Regardless of the spirit in which it was written, it posed fair questions. If a Christian is unable to answer these questions rationally and with proof, he has no basis for faith. At that time I devoted one whole article to the first installment of my reply.
Here is a condensation of his letter and of the article which appeared in the September, 1948 number, together with a continuation of my reply.
This is the letter, condensed:
"Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong,
"Dear Mr. Armstrong:
"I judge by you being a preacher you have a God, and as we have history of many gods and the wonders they have brought to the world including its creation, may I ask, Which one of these many gods do you claim for your God? and, Will you please describe your God in a manner such as you would describe anything else to convey an idea?
"But let me say, and history bears me out in this, of all the gods the Jew god or Jehovah, as he is sometimes called, has been the most fussy.
"Evidence contained in the English or King James translation of the Christian Bible makes the existence of the Jehovah god very questionable, but no less so than do the other translations.
"It appears that all the gods are in a mighty rush on their way out as human intellect increases; superstition, ignorance and fear must give way to intelligence in order that a human civilization may be brought into being.
"I shall let this suffice for the present and hope to hear from you soon.
"Respectfully, (signed) ".............., a seeker for truth"
I accept these as fair questions.
Yes, my friend, I have a God.
The gods of some nations have been carved by men's hands out of wood, stone, or other existing material. The gods of some religions and individuals have been carved out of human imaginations and faulty human reasonings. Some have worshipped the sun, or other inanimate objects of nature. All these gods are merely the created—most of them formed and fashioned by man, therefore inferior to man.
But He who did the creating—He who brought everything that exists into existence, including all else falsely called God—He who created all matter, force and energy, who created all natural laws and set them in motion, who created LIFE and endowed some of it with intelligence—He is GOD! He is superior to all else that is called "God." He, alone, is GOD!
CREATION is the proof of God.
But during the past two centuries especially there has developed among God-rejecting men in the occidental world the mental disease of theophobia. Two hundred years ago it appeared under the popular catch-phrases "deism" and "rationalism." Then it masqueraded itself under the appealing name "higher criticism." This pseudo scholarship employed, as it progressed, such attractive titles as "progress," "development," and "evolution." It has appealed to the intellectual vanity of a world groping in spiritual darkness in an era of widespread diffusion of knowledge.
The theory of evolution was therefore invented to provide the atheist's explanation of a creation without a Creator.
But this misguided "rationalism" failed utterly to account for the origins of things and of life; and today the more candid among geologists and biologists confess that they do not know how the development from single-celled "amoeba" to man took place—Lamark's theory of "use and disuse," Darwin's "natural selection," and other theories have now fallen by the wayside, and "mutations" cannot be explained or proved.
Amazing New Knowledge of Science
Now suppose we confine ourselves to facts!
What, then, has Science actually determined?
The discovery of radioactivity in the past half-century has proved that there has been no past eternity of matter! Radioactivity is described as a process of disintegration. The atomic age is opening up new fields to explore. Until about 30 years ago, it was supposed that the smallest particle of matter was the hydrogen atom. But since the discovery of radio-activity about 1896, the facts brought to light reveal a much smaller unit than the hydrogen atom—one only about 1/1845 its mass—actually a small particle of negative electricity, called an electron. Soon after Mme. Curie discovered the element radium, in 1898, it was discovered that radium, and the other radioactive elements as we know now, are continually giving off radiations at an enormous rate.
I have seen it myself, in the darkroom of an X-ray laboratory. A tiny portion of radium was placed on a mirror at the far end of a hollow tube, and I looked into this tube thru a magnifying glass at the other end. Under this magnification what I saw appeared as a large, vast dark sky, with thousands of shooting stars falling toward me from all directions. Actually what I saw was these emanations or tiny particles being emitted by the radium, greatly magnified.
Now notice carefully what this newly disclosed FACT of Science means:
Uranium is a radioactive element heavier than radium. It has an atomic weight of 238.5. In decomposing it gives off a helium atom, weight 4, repeated three times, and then the substance left is radium, atomic weight about 226.4. Radium, then, is simply the end product of uranium after it has lost three helium atoms. Then the disintegration continues in radium. And the final product of this process of radioactive disintegration is the element lead! Now of course this process requires great periods of time. The calculated "half-life" of radium is 2,500 years—uranium much longer.
Has Matter Always Existed?
We know, therefore, that there has been no past eternity of matter!
The radioactive elements in existence today have not yet been in existence long enough to have run their course, and disintegrated into lead. To have ALWAYS existed, without any definite time of starting in the past, this "life" period of radioactive elements long ago would have run its course. All radioactive elements would have long ago disintegrated into lead. Since these elements exist only for a definite span of years, and all the radium, thorium, helium, and other radio-active elements in the world today have not yet existed that many years, there was a time, prior to the duration of this span in the past, when these elements DID NOT EXIST!
Here we have definite scientific proof that MATTER HAS NOT ALWAYS EXISTED. Here we have definite specific elements which once, in the long ago, did not yet exist Then there was a time, later, when these elements CAME INTO EXISTENCE.
Evolution postulates that all things have always come about GRADUALLY, through the slow-moving natural processes of the present. Try to imagine, if you can, something coming into existence out of nothing GRADUALLY! Can your mind entertain the idea?
I think not. No, I think if you are rational you will have to accept the fact of a special and necessarily instantaneous CREATION. And SOME POWER or SOME ONE had of necessity to do the creating. There is a cause for every effect. And in accepting that inevitable FACT, proved by the findings of Science, of the existence of that GREAT FIRST CAUSE, you have accepted the FACT of the existence and pre-existence of the Creator —GOD!
Where Did LIFE Come From?
But how about the presence of life?
How did life get here? Science has learned some things about that, too.
The wisest of the ancients did not know what Science makes available today. Thus it is demonstrated today that LIFE COMES ONLY FROM LIFE, and that each kind reproduces only after its hind (Gen. 1:25).
The works of Tyndall and Louis Pasteur, in the field of bacteria and protozoa, have finally demonstrated scientifically once and for all in these more minute fields what Redi first demonstrated with larger organisms.
All the advances of recent medical and surgical science in the treatment and prevention of germ diseases are based upon this great truth of the law of Biogenesis—that LIFE can come only from pre-existing LIFE.
No fact of science stands more conclusively proved today. Life CANNOT come from dead matter. THERE IS NOT ONE SHRED OF TRUTH FROM SCIENCE TO ACCOUNT FOR THE PRESENCE OF LIFE UPON THE EARTH BY ANY MEANS OTHER THAN A SPECIAL CREATION BY THE GREAT ORIGINAL FIRST CAUSE —GOD—WHO IS LIFE AND THE FOUNTAIN SOURCE OF ALL LIFE! It is now absolutely certain, according to all that can be KNOWN from Science—according to all that is rational—that it required A REAL CREATION to produce life from the not-living—organic from inorganic matter.
One cannot rationally deny the existence of my GOD, unless he can account for the origin of LIFE without a Creator who, Himself, is Life! The Creator, therefore, begins to be revealed, by Science and by reason, as a LIVING God —a God in whom is LIFE, and who alone has imparted life to all that have it!
I could go further, and show you that what Science has discovered about energy and its origin and the laws of conservation of energy, also proves conclusively that "the works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb. 4:3), that the material Creation is a completed work, which is not now going on!
Next, then, let's examine whether the Great FIRST CAUSE is a Being of intelligence, or merely some blind, dumb, unintelligent FORCE,
Is Anything Superior to Your Mind?
Look about you. You admit that the transmission of knowledge to your mind is limited to the channels of your five senses.
So now I ask you, do you know of anything that is superior to your mind? Look at the planets coursing thru the sky. Behold, in all its splendor, the entire cosmic universe, with its suns, its nebulae, and galaxies.
Yet they are inanimate. They have no mind, no intelligence. They cannot do what you can do—think, reason, plan, and carry out plans according to private volition and will.
The human mind can know, think, reason, plan, and carry its plans to execution. It can invent and produce instruments by which it may acquire knowledge of the vast universe, or of the minutest particle. Thru radar, man has now been able to send a signal to the moon and cause it to return. He can harness waterfalls and make them serve his needs, cause rivers to run backward, turn the forces of nature to serving human needs. And now he has learned how to break down the atom, and utilize a power so vast man may be able at last to annihilate all life from off the earth!
But there remains one thing no man ever has been or ever will be able to do. He cannot build, make, produce, or create anything that is superior to himself!
A man can take existing materials and out of them build a house. But it requires intelligence and power superior to the house to produce the house. An automobile is almost a living thing, but the intelligence and powers required to invent and produce it are superior to the thing produced.
The Supreme Intelligence
To suggest to you, my doubting friend, that anything you could invent, make, build, or bring into being could be superior in intelligence and ability to you and your mind would certainly insult your intelligence!
Now let me ask you candidly, do you honestly believe that any power or force of less intelligence than your mind produced YOU?
If you do not believe in my God, then you have only the alternative of believing that something less than your intelligence produced YOU—that dumb, purposeless UNINTELLIGENCE brought into being your intelligence! The only rational possibility is to acknowledge that the very presence of the human mind is PROOF that the Great First Cause is also the SUPREME INTELLIGENCE, infinitely superior to the abilities of mortal man!
Suppose YOU Were Creator?
Suppose that you could add to your powers of reasoning, planning, designing, the actual CREATIVE power, so that you could project your will anywhere to produce and bring into being whatever your mind should plan and desire. Then, suppose you undertake the designing, creating, fashioning, shaping, and setting in motion a limitless cosmic universe—with suns and nebulae and galaxies in all their splendor, each of these vast units being of such intricate and complex construction as the existing universe. On some of these planets you would plan and produce all the forms of life that exist on this planet—and I don't mean re-produce, for there would be no present universe to copy. There would be worlds within a world, down to the minutest infinitesimal particles of matter and chemical action such as we know by the aid of microscopes have been produced in this earth.
Do you think your mind would be equal to the task?
Just stop and think. Is it rational, then, to believe that any power or force lacking even human intelligence could have planned, designed, created, formed, fashioned, shaped, put together and set in motion the awesome universe we behold?
The Great First Cause who created matter, then, stands revealed as the SUPREME INTELLIGENCE and ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE!
The Miracle of Living Food
But again I say, look about you! Here are human beings on this earth, composed of 16 elements of matter—living, organic matter. These 16 living elements must be supplied and replenished thru food, water, and air.
No man with all his ingenuity and science and laboratory facilities CAN PRODUCE FOOD! That is, he cannot take plain inorganic matter and turn it into the living substance we call food. But some Power, Force, Intelligence, or Being did in some way, at some time, start the process going—a process far too wonderful for any man to devise or produce.
And so it is that out of the ground grows grass, and green leafy vegetables, and all other vegetables, and vines, and trees yielding fruits—each with its seed in itself, each thru this seed reproducing after its kind—and it is very good!
But when a marvelous little grain of wheat is planted in the ground, a plant develops and sprouts above the ground, and in some manner too wonderful for any human mind to understand or imitate, the elements drunk in thru die roots from the ground are utilized by the life germ in the seed of wheat, and new grains of wheat appear.
During this process, the inorganic iron and other elements dissolved in the ground, drunk into the roots and carried up into the new grain of wheat, have been actually converted into organic matter which can be assimilated as food.
And this same marvelous process takes place in the growth out of the ground of all grains, vegetables, fruits and foods. When we eat animal meat we are merely consuming, second-hand, the vegetation which the animal ate.
MAN, with all his vaunted science, his technical laboratory facilities, with all his inventive genius, lacks the intelligence and the powers to produce a grain of wheat, or to convert inorganic matter into food. Then is it rational to say that forces or powers exist, of NO intelligence, which have been able to produce this living miracle of food? Did not a far GREATER Intelligence than man design, create, and supply man with all of this?
Man's Intelligence vs. God's
But now let's COMPARE the wisdom and intelligence of man with that of the God who brought these marvels into being, and keeps them functioning.
The grain of wheat GOD causes to grow out of the ground is a perfect food. But, like other perfect gifts from God, man fails to value the priceless perfection of the all-wise God, and, undertaking to improve on God's handiwork, perverts, pollutes, and defiles it! Every bit of God's perfection man's hand has ever touched, it would seem, he has besmirched, fouled up and polluted!
And the poor, defenseless grain of wheat is no exception! Into flour mills of human devising go the millions of bushels of precious wheat. And there the supposedly intelligent human takes it apart, removes the 12 alkaline-reacting mineral elements, and, at huge profits to greedy millers, turns out for human consumption sacks of white flour composed of the four acid-reacting carbohydrate elements with poison bleach added!
Out of this the human population makes white bread, biscuits, doughnuts, pastries, puddings, macaroni, spaghetti, gravies, etc., etc., mixing the flour often with white "refined" sugar and greases or fats—a combination guaranteed to wreck any stomach in time! Yes, the sugar refiners do the same thing to sugar, and nearly all foods on the market for human consumption today have gone thru man's factories, suffered from man's processes, until they have been devitalized, depleted of their health-giving requirements, and turned from foods into slow-acting poisons! And these foodless foods with which man has tampered in lust for profits have produced in human bodies a whole series of diseases our forefathers of a few generations ago never heard of!
Result: today every eighth person drops dead before his time with heart failure, another eighth with cancer; every year 400,000 innocent little children dig their own graves with their little spoons thru being fed polluted foods; the population suffers rheumatisms, arthritis, diabetes, kidney diseases, anemia, colds, fevers, pneumonia, and thousands of other diseases. We respond to the toothbrush and tooth-paste ads and frantically brush our teeth, but our teeth keep decaying and we lose them beginning at an early age because of lack of calcium and fluorine in our diet.
Today Americans are undernourished overeaters. We cram down too much bulk, yet starve our bodies of essential minerals and vitamins. It would seem man is not very intelligent, after all!
Then, too, the God who created this earth and all vegetation told us to let our land lie idle every seventh year. But man is too greedy to do that. And so our land is worn out and depleted, and such natural and good foods as carrots, beets, and turnips are lacking in the necessary mineral elements and vitamins! And other companies get rich selling vitamin pills thru drugstores!
WHOSE INTELLIGENCE IS THE HIGHER
—that of the GOD who provided every perfect need for every living thing— or that of greedy, gullible, God-rejecting humans who in the interests of bigger profits and more luxuries for themselves have ROBBED the very foods God created and gave us of their health and body building values ?
"There Was No Watchmaker"
I needed an accurate watch with a very plain dial for timing broadcasts. The only kind that filled the need was a railroad watch. I have one—the very finest railroad watch made, a 23-jewel watch.
But it does not keep perfect time. Once or twice a week I have to adjust it a second or two. If I want to be sure it is accurate to the second, I set it by the master clock of my city, or any city, which is always found at the Western Union. But even this clock does not keep perfect time. Once or twice a week it must be adjusted a second or two by the master clock of the nation, by telegraph, from Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C. There at the Naval Observatory is the Master Clock of the U.S.A. But this great master clock of the nation is not perfect, either. It, too, must be adjusted and corrected occasionally.
Yes, it is corrected by the MASTER CLOCK OF THE UNIVERSE—Up in the skies—by astronomers! Up there in the heavens is the great Master Clock that NEVER makes a mistake—is always ON TIME—never off a fraction of a second —the heavenly bodies coursing thru the skies!
Now you, sir—my doubting friend! If I show you my fine Hamilton-built, Ball-factory precisioned 23-jewel railroad watch and tell you that it was not made in these factories after all—in fact, it was not designed, planned, put together, by any watchmakers at all— that it just sort of HAPPENED—that the iron ores just, brought themselves up out of the ground, refined themselves, formed and shaped themselves into the delicate little cogs and wheels and other pieces; the silicon just came of its own accord out of the earth and turned itself into the glass crystal; the gold case just refined itself, shaped itself; the cogs and wheels and scores of little parts just assembled themselves together in that case, wound themselves up, and started themselves to running and keeping most perfect time—well, if I should try to tell you anything like that, you'd tell me I'm crazy or a fool, would you not? Certainly!
You know that the presence of that watch is RATIONAL AND POSITIVE PROOF of the existence of a watchmaker, or watchmakers, who thought it all out, planned it, formed it, shaped it, put it together, and started it running.
But then you, Mr. Skeptic—you look up into the great vast sky at that MASTER Clock of the universe, which never misses a second—the perfect watch by which we must constantly set all our imperfect man-made watches—and you tell me, "That all just HAPPENED! There was no Great Watchmaker! No Master MIND thought out and planned that vast universe, brought it into being, set each star and planet in its own set place, and started the myriad heavenly bodies coursing thru space, each in its prescribed orbit, in its orderly precision. No, it just fashioned itself, put itself together, wound itself up, and started itself running. There was no Intelligence —no planning—NO CREATION—NO GOD!"
Do you say that to me?
If you can, I answer that I do not respect your intelligence. And the God I acknowledge replies to you, "None but the FOOL hath said in his heart, There is no God!'"
If you can look about you, and observe how intelligently PLANNED and executed is everything in nature, and in plant and animal life—everything we see except the bungling, botching, polluting of God's beautiful handiwork by the clumsy hand of God-ignoring and rejecting MAN—and then say you doubt the existence of an all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator GOD, then I do not have much faith either in your rational processes or your sincerity as a seeker of the TRUTH!