THE MOST VITAL QUESTION CONFRONTING US (C. 1958)

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Excerpted from The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Clover Monsma. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 1958

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By Oscar Leo Brauer, Physicist and Chemist

M.Sc, Ph.D., University of California. Professor of physics and chemistry, San Jose State College of California, since 1926. Specialist in organic chemistry, rate of reaction of cinchonine into cinchotoxin, soil analysis for phosphorus, etc.

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It is the belief of this writer that the origin of things is the most vital question confronting us. Any philosophy of life stands or falls according to its explanation of the be­ginning of things as we find them.

Let’s take a look at the planet we live on, Earth. No one in his right mind would deny its existence, nor that of the rest of the immense sidereal universe. So we’re dealing with an object that is unquestionably real.

The earth has an incomprehensibly large mass, namely 6,600 billion times billion tons¹. It is a question whether the human mind can comprehend one million, let alone a billion, or a billion times billion. The day laborer at the end of the day used to exclaim, “Another day another dollar, a million days a million dollars.” Little did he realize that a million days would be 2,742 years, with no vacations.

From whence came all this mass that we call Earth?

And then consider the masses of the other planets in our solar system. The sun, by far the largest member of this system, has a mass 330,000 times the 6,600 billion billion tons of the earth. In our galaxy there are at least a billion suns, the average mass of which is considerably greater than that of our sun. Leading astronomers tell us with the utmost assurance that there are at least one hundred thousand gal­axies similar to ours. In any event, there are an almost count­less number of immense celestial bodies. How many tons of mass is represented in all this? The mere thought is dizzying, stupefying. And how did all this mass, how did these un­numbered colossal heavenly bodies originate? There are only two possible answers: either they have existed from eternity, or they were created.

In the case of the first answer we are dealing with a false hypothesis. Among the fundamental properties or character­istics of things material are those of change, growth, and development. Natural science points definitely to a beginning of things. In the case of the second answer—creation—opin­ions all through the ages have differed widely. The theories, conceptions and belief s concerning the creational origin of the universe can readily be grouped under five heads:

First, there is mythology. That of course is purely the product of human imagination. Still, even mythology indi­cates that there is something in the human spirit that pulls man back to the aboriginal truth that extra-human, that Divine Power made the cosmos.

Second, there is tradition. That represents stories and ac­counts of the events of creation that have been handed down from one generation to another. Though these accounts are badly garbled, yet they frequently contain material that reminds one strongly of the Genesis report.

Third, there is philosophy. Keen thinkers among men adopt and work out hypotheses about the origin of things. If these hypotheses find response among many other thinkers, they become popular, and in halls of learning throughout the world they are accepted as the reliable results of scientific learning and investigation. Hosts of minor scholars and teachers follow.

Fourth, there are the physical and biological sciences. These deal with the hard facts of man and Nature as we know them. They investigate, dissect, compare—take their scalpels and high-power lenses down into the embryonic, most rudimentary forms of material existence; they measure and calculate, and with their delicate, complicated, huge instruments soar into vast, almost limitless heights; they study Nature’s history and laws and modes of operation; and in this and other ways seek to find out the factual truths about the origin of things.

Fifth, there is Special Divine Revelation. Another name for that is the Bible. Science can establish that a creative act at some time must have taken place, implying the existence of a Divine Intelligence and a Divine Power. Science can also establish that none but a Divine Intelligence could have been the Author of the tremendous, involved and intricate system of laws in the universe. But only the Bible can identify that Divine Intelligence and Power as the God most of us have learned to know about from early childhood—the God who has revealed himself uniquely and supremely in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Returning to our discussion of the immense size of the universe and the incalculable multitude and mass of stars and planets, and flunking of the multiplicity of laws that govern these stars and planets, as well as animate and in­animate creatures on earth—does it not seem passing strange that our communist fellowmen, constituting as they do a large segment of the human race, reject the idea that there is a God? Does it not seem equally strange that a large fraction of the educated people in the non-communist world practi­cally repudiate God by ignoring Him?

General recognition of God as Creator—and hence Sov­ereign—of the universe would mean, for one thing, an end to man’s inhumanity to man. It would mean a new spirit in man, a sensitive conscience, a purified judgment. It would mean love and righteousness.

Atheism means strife and war. As a scientist I will have none of it. I consider it illogical and false, as a theory. In its practical aspects I consider it disastrous.

¹ 2017: The current best estimate for Earth mass is M = (5.9722±0.0006)×1024 kg

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