CHAPTER I

THE EXISTENCE OF GOD


SINCE man is "incurably religious," the evidence of which is seen in the fact that there are "gods many and lords many"—heathen gods—which statement is especially true of the Hebrew people, for they are a people with a "genius for religion," and since every shade of idea, ranging from atheism to the devout, sincere, orthodox position is found among them, it seems most appropriate to begin the study of the subject of Israel's God with an investigation of the problem of His existence and of His revelation to man.

I. NON-RELIGIOUS GROUPS

A. Atheistic

As to God's existence, comparatively few people entertain any doubts, since in the material world the evidence of design, which is stamped upon every form of existence as its "trade-mark," is overwhelming to the candid investigator and seeker after facts, truths, and principles. The truthfulness of this statement is verified in the chemical laboratory by the test-tube, in the biological laboratory by the high-powered microscope, and in the astronomical sphere by the telescope and the spectroscope.

Intelligent design is greatly in evidence in the facts that the mineral kingdom is the basis of the vegetable kingdom, out of which the latter arises and upon which it is dependent for its continued existence; that the animal kingdom is dependent upon both the vegetable and mineral kingdoms; and that the human kingdom is absolutely dependent upon the other three for its being. In this advancing series of kingdoms a clear design is seen to run upward which cannot possibly be interpreted as finding its goal and complete fulfillment in man, but which points infinitely far beyond and above him, as the ultimate and final goal. On the one hand, the student who studies the world about him at close range finds that in every organism—whether it be the uni-cellular amoeba or the most highly developed organism of man, every organ of whose anatomy is highly specialized and coordinated with its fellow-members to the nth (the last) degree to function for the benefit of the entire organism—design and purpose are the dominating factors. On the other hand, in studying the universe at distant range by means of modern astronomical instruments, the higher branches of mathematical science, and astronomical physics, one learns that it is an immense chronometer, by which every watch and clock which control modern business and social life are regulated. In every watch and clock there are numbers of wheels of different sizes and weights, some running in one direction while others run in the opposite, each running at a different rate of speed; but at the same time they are so formed, adjusted and placed that each contributes its part to the one common purpose, namely, that of keeping the correct time. No man in a rational, serious mood would for a moment deny intelligent design and purpose in the manufacturing of the watch and claim that the materials which enter into its construction came into existence, assumed their present form, and took their position in the mechanism by chance or evolutionary processes. Should one in a serious moment argue thus, no one would take him seriously but would have sufficient reason to doubt his sanity.

Since the Universe, consisting of our solar system of planets and satellites, together with the innumerable and inconceivably great solar systems, flung out into illimitable space, which move in their appointed orbits of different sizes and at different rates of speed and in innumerable ways ("wheels within wheels"), according to inviolable laws, forms one great chronometer, likewise no man in a serious, rational mood will deny the existence of a SUPREME INTELLIGENCE, Who has created and Who governs this great Universal Chronometer.¹

The recent astronomical discoveries have greatly enriched and enlarged man's conception of the vastness of the universe, so that he no longer speaks of distances in the great fields of universal space in terms of miles, as formerly; but now he speaks of these vast distances in terms of "light years." This enlarged conception of the material universe has likewise enlarged and enriched his conception of the Creator of the same, since the Creator and Controller is vastly greater than that which is created. Hence in another figure, one may think of the universe as one great Declaration, written in emblazoned letters, "GOD IS!" Psa. 19:1, 2: "The heavens are recounting the glory of God, and the expanse is making known the work of His hands" (Author's Tr.).


B. Freethinking

Within Judaism there is quite a growing class of people who, intellectually speaking, have cut loose their moorings from their ancestral faith, repudiating the idea of a personal God from Whom they draw their very existence and to Whom they owe allegiance and responsibility, and who conscientiously believe in the autonomy of the individual, and being thoroughly convinced that the human intellect is sufficient of itself to solve all the problems of existence. Thus in their thinking they become "a law unto themselves," possessing latent powers upon which they can draw to meet every emergency.

In reply to this position it is sufficient to call attention to the fact that this boasted freedom is purely a creation of the pride of man, there being no objective reality corresponding to this subjective creation. This fact is apparent to everyone who thinks, being demonstrated by the fact that the freethinker is limited, notwithstanding his daring boastfulness, in the same way in which all men are limited. Notwithstanding the fact that many barriers which hitherto have been considered insurmountable have been overcome by the many discoveries of modern inventive genius, these barriers really have not been removed, but have been pushed a little farther back, and still say to man, "Thus far and no farther shalt thou go." Furthermore, it is a fact known to all that freethinkers, who have made their boast that they possess all of the powers of the universe within their own souls, and that they can live a certain number of years, which number is often placed at from three to four times the age which is now recognized as the limit of man's life, very frequently at the time of their boasting are overcome by the ills of life, as are others who make no such claims, and are dashed into eternity. The present age is highly pragmatic, demanding the clear, scientific demonstration of a theory before accepting the same as true. Hence since the freethinker has thus far given no evidence of "the latent powers within," but is subject to the accidents of life, a thinking public will never accept his unproved theories.


C. Agnostic

Again, an attitude which characterizes another group within the pale of Judaism may be called "Agnostic" which simply means one who does not know. Historically, Herbert Spencer was the one who coined this word from the material supplied by the Greek word meaning "know," prefixed by the negative particle, the combination of which words means "not know." Since his day the number taking this attitude has grown until at present a not inconsiderable number has assumed the same.

As a fundamental theory in an ideal system of philosophy it may satisfy a certain type of mind, but in a practical world in which men live it is utterly unable to meet the stress and strain of life as it is, and to satisfy the inquiring mind of an honest seeker after truth. Again, the agnostic cannot live a life in a practical world consistently with his philosophy, for the moment he attempts to put into practice his philosophy, he is automatically by the same bound hand and foot, being unable to enter into any of the affairs of life. Hence agnosticism, as an ideal philosophy divorced from practical life, may satisfy those who are super-sensitive and overly cautious in avoiding the errors of an over-confident, dogmatic, materialistic philosophy; but it can never relieve one of the moral and spiritual responsibility which is resting upon him, since he is a sentient, intelligent being in a real world.

II. RELIGIOUS GROUPS


A. Rationalistic

Rationalism, unfortunately, has invaded Judaism. The rationalist, concerning whom this section deals, is, as the term implies, one who is following human reason, or who believes that he is following reason. He is, figuratively speaking, worshipping at the shrine of modern scholarship.²

The latest pronouncements of the scientific world are for him final on all matters. Every statement of belief in all spheres of human thought must be stamped with the seal of the approval of "scholarship" before it is considered worthy of his acceptance. If scholarship sends forth its dictum that God is an impersonal, unknowable substance, to this tenet he willingly subscribes. If, on the other hand, it explains the world purely along materialistic lines, then that tenet becomes his dogma.

By such as are under the bondage of rationalism and tyrannical "scholarship" let it be noted that the voices of rationalism and scholarship are "legion," for they are many. The proof of the above statement is easily found by a rapid survey of the history of philosophy, which study will convince the unbiased mind that no two philosophers agree in general; but what one affirms the other denies, either in part or in toto. Furthermore, the theories and explanations of the scientific world as set forth in the standard text-books and periodicals of today contradict and reject the theories and explanations, in many instances, of the books and publications of a decade ago. The scientific world changes so very rapidly that the one who was then thoroughly familiar with scientific thought but who since then has been unable to pursue his studies is almost a total stranger in that field.

From these facts it is very clear that one cannot pin his faith in religious matters to the dicta of scholarship.

The cumulative experience of the race should teach one that, although the human mind is wonderful and has accomplished amazing things, it is finite and there are boundaries beyond which lie innumerable things which it can never comprehend.³ This statement being true, the finite mind can never fathom the problem connected with the existence of God, Who is infinite. Hence rationalism is a very insecure foundation upon which one may build for the future life.


B. Orthodox

The word orthodox is of Greek origin and means literally "thinking straight." When applied to the Jew it refers to that great mass of Hebrews who believes in the God of Israel and in the Tenach as His revelation. Likewise, the orthodox Jew confidently believes in the Talmud as an authoritative revelation of God which inherently was contained in the statutes, ordinances, and commandments referred to in Exodus 24:12. A further characteristic which especially distinguishes him is that he holds very tenaciously to the customs and manners which have been handed down to him through the centuries.

The cardinal doctrines around which all things religious center, for him, is Israel's Great Confession, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One." His God is the God Who made the heavens and the earth. Who chose the Hebrew people to be a people for His own possession, having called Abraham, the great ancestor of the race, and his descendants, to be a channel of blessing to the entire world. He, furthermore, believes that eventually his God will regather the nation and restore it to its own land and send the Messiah, Who shall reign from sea to sea, subjecting the Gentile nations unto Israel. In all of these fundamental tenets he is correct, generally speaking. As to his understanding of the Great Confession the reader will find a full discussion of it in Chapter IV of this book. Since the limits of this work prohibit an extensive investigation of the proofs of the existence of God, the reader is referred to any standard text-book on evidences for the many and indisputable proofs of a Supreme Being.

According to the testimony of the Old Testament, man had, from the beginning of the race, a knowledge of the true God. "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork" (Ps. 19:1). Although he had this knowledge, which God revealed to him, he, not glorifying God and not being thankful, refused to retain God in his knowledge. Therefore, God gave him up to a reprobate mind to practice all ungodliness and unrighteousness.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made,
even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: 21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

24 Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: 25 for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due.

28 And even as they refused to have God in
their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: 32 who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them (Rom. 1:18-32).

Footnotes:

¹ According to the latest scientific research concerning the great pyramid at Gizeh, its builders were far advanced in the knowledge of the physical sciences and astronomy, since many of the fundamental and basic principles of the same, which have only in comparatively recent years been discovered by modern science, took on permanent form in stone in that structure.


² The reader is not to infer that the author is opposed to learning and scholarship, because he delights in the acquisition of knowledge:
principles, truths, and facts. For many years he has practically devoted his entire time to his search for knowledge and education. The thing which he condemns in modern scholarship is its rabid dogmatism, speculation, and ostracism of all who do not subscribe to its theories and speculation. Furthermore, after having studied the situation from various angles, he is thoroughly convinced that there is no conflict between real scholarship and the Bible. The latter, having been subjected to the most terrific attacks by enemies who concentrated all of their intellectual powers against it for its destruction, survives today and will continue to survive in the future. The work of faithful, scholarly archaeologists is constantly confirming it.

The rationalistic criticism against the Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, is, as one noted critic well said, "nine-tenths purely subjective."

Frequently the statement is made that all scholars are agreed on certain propositions. Especially are such statements the current coin in circles where the Bible is looked upon as purely a human book.

This statement denies scholarship to all of those who believe that the Bible is inspired of God. When the facts are known, it is evident that there is a very large group of men who, in native ability, keen discriminating and analytical powers, and scholastic attainments, equal any of the scholars who hold to the rationalist position.

In the same circles the believing scholars are often spoken of as "traditionalists." If this term is applied to one because he believes those narratives and events which have been established by historical testimony and archaeology, to be a traditionalist is the proper thing. If, however, it is used to mean those who blindly hold to certain positions handed down from former generations without any investigations, it is improper and unethical to apply it to the large group of men referred to in the last paragraph. They have "by their works" proved that they refuse to accept as true things formerly believed and that they are diligent seekers after facts.

³ As examples of such things note the following expressions: the soul, spirit, immortality, life, the processes of digestion and assimilation of foods in their sustaining life of the organism, electricity, and epistemology. With these expressions philosophers and scholars have grappled throughout the centuries and at present they know practically nothing more than when they began the study of the same.