I. IS THERE A GOD?
No subject comes near this in the immensity of the issues involved. The conclusion we may come to is very practical in its influence, whether we consider the principles on which we regulate our present lives, or the hopes and cravings with which we instinctively contemplate the limitless future of time. Other themes exhaust themselves in the short life we now live, beginning in the feebleness of the cradle and ending in the decay of all our powers, and our inevitable disappearance in the silence and oblivion of the grave. This goes forward and links itself with the universe and the everlasting.
The man who says there is no God cuts himself away from the elevating power that comes with reverence for the eternal, and from the sunshine that comes into the darkness of human life with hope of a better state. He may not be aware of the injury that comes from his denial, nor in the moment of polemic heat can he be expected to admit it; but the effect works itself out with the slow, but inexorable, persistence and irresistible power of a law of nature.
In times of private crisis, that come to every man sooner or later -- in times of calamity, times of disease and solitude and weakness, and it may be desertion -- the quenching and desolating power of unbelief makes itself felt in the innermost soul.
In times of public turmoil it becomes a menace to the safety of society, as the leaders of the French Revolution found out over 100 years ago, and at last were led to say if there were no God it would be necessary to invent one.
What do we mean by God? It is impossible in a single sentence to express all the significance of the glorious idea, but for present purposes it may be said that by God we mean a conscious Being possessed of intelligence and organising energy sufficient to produce and sustain the system of nature as we see it, and of which we ourselves form a part. Is there such a Being? Or is the universe the chance evolution of fermenting
elements destitute of the power of intelligent contrivance for present ends, or of the capacity to form plans of beneficence for the future?
Three great lines of evidence converge upon a decisive answer in the affirmative to the first question. These are:
1. The intuitions of commonsense.
2. The necessity arising out of the inductions of science. And
3. Most powerful of all, the answer furnished by actual occurrences in the history of mankind.
CHAPTER 1: The Answer of Commonsense