SCHOLARLY WITNESSES AND A FEW OBSERVATIONS (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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SCHOLARLY WITNESSES AND A FEW OBSERVATIONS

By Merlin Grant Smith, Mathematician and Astronomer

A.M., Ph.D., University of Illinois. Formerly on teaching staff of Northwestern University; Professor, mathematics and astronomy, Greenville College; President of Spring Arbor Jr. College; since 1933 President of Roberts Wesleyan College and Professor of Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy. Hon. LL.D., Greenville College, D.Sc, Seattle Pacific College. Specialist in differential equations and boundary problems in one dimension.

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The answer to the question of the existence of God is intimately bound up with man’s accountability to his fellow men and to his God, if there be one. Great care should be observed therefore in deciding the answer. If there is a God, then He is not only our Creator but also our Sovereign, and we should inform ourselves about the conduct He desires, both with reference to Himself and to our fellow human beings.

It is significant that many of the greatest scholars in comparatively recent times have acknowledged the existence of God, either directly or indirectly. Let me quote a few of them.

Sir James Jeans has said, “Our universe seems to be more like a great thought than a great machine. I would say as a speculation, not as a scientific fact, that the universe is a creation of some great universal Mind underlying and co­ordinating all our minds. . . . Scientific thought seems to be moving in that direction.”

Immanuel Kant wrote, “Two things fill me with constantly increasing admiration and awe the longer and more earnestly I reflect upon them—the starry heavens without and the moral law within.”

Dr. Alexis Carrel, a Nobel prize winner, says, “Despite its stupendous immensity, the world of matter is

The Thinker in The Gates of Hell at the Musée Rodin

too narrow for man. Like his economic and social environment, it does not fit him. With the aid of mathematical abstractions his mind apprehends electrons and stars. He is made on the scale of the terrestrial mountains, oceans and rivers. But he belongs to another world; a world which, although enclosed within himself, stretches beyond space and time.”

George Romanes, a scholarly biologist, observed that in the animal world each different species reacts differently in its environment due to the kind of life it possesses. As a result of observing the kind of conduct that characterizes the men and women who claim to have committed themselves to Christ, he concluded that they possess a different kind of life. As a result he became an ardent Christian, concluding that God alone could perform such a miracle in human life.

And concluding with William James—this great American philosopher and psychologist put it this way: “We and God have business with each other, and in that business our highest destiny is fulfilled.”

It is a commonplace to say that where there is an effect there must be a cause. Scientists are continually seeking causes, and behind the causes a first cause. In some cases causes may be readily found; in other instances painstaking scholarly research may be required to eliminate apparent causes and determine real ones. This latter method, by way of illustration, has been widely applied in medicine. Typhoid fever has been almost completely eliminated. Great strides have been made in preventing or curing respiratory infections. Life expectancy has been greatly extended during the last quarter of a century. Other studies are being made in the field of biology to improve the functioning of plants and animals. There have been many unpredicted achievements in chemis­try by the discovery of new laws and their application. Atomic particles have gained a hitherto undreamed of importance in the field of potential energy. The discoveries in astronomy, made possible through the use of new mechani­cal aids and new atomic information, cause our minds to reel at the magnitude of the physical universe, the endless actions and reactions that are being observed.

All this and a great deal more is due to the constant scien­tific search for causes under and behind the observed effects. Cause and effect are inseparable. Effect and cause are intrin­sically one. We as human beings and the world around us are an aggregate of effects, and under and behind that aggregate of effects lies the invisible, primordial Cause, which I call God.

Besides the ‘law” of cause and effect, we speak of other laws. All Nature functions according to fixed laws. New laws are being discovered right along. There are the subatomic laws, and the laws governing the interdependence of extra-galactic heavenly bodies. To discover them has required the combined efforts of many very scholarly men. But we are simply discovering those laws. They are as ancient as the universe itself. Shall we accept the theory that they are of material origin? The multitude of them, the harmony of them, the very nature of them, make that completely impos­sible. These laws are of higher origin than the universe in which they operate. There is, to my ordinary, common-sense mind, but one plausible answer, and that is that these laws demand belief in a Lawgiver, which I again call God.

And in my view this God is not some indescript, volatile, ethereal being; much less one of the imaginary concoctions that have sprung from over-stimulated minds in many ages and places; but rather the God of the Bible, believed in and described by prophets and apostles, and acknowledged by the great “main line” of the Christian Church. The Bible is God’s communication, God’s letter, to man. In it the state­ment is made that man was made in God’s image. Man’s being God’s image made him capable of receiving God’s revelation of himself as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. God could talk with man. Man could even talk with God. And the first great thing that God told man was that it was He who had made him and the marvelous, limitless universe around him.

Besides all this, there is the testimony of millions of men, simple or learned, scientists included, all through the ages, that they have actually experienced the presence of God in their souls. What shall we do with that testimony? Discard it? Ignore it? The “joy that is unspeakable and full of glory” that multitudes have experienced, shall we file it away, out of sight? The faith of the martyrs and the missionaries that made them brave loneliness, hardship, persecution, death-shall we grit our teeth, brazen it out, tell ourselves that it was all a mistake?

As for me, I believe “that God is (exists), and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

The first four words of the inspired Scriptures are: “In the beginning—God!” I would make them the introductory words—the basic theme—of my own personal philosophy of life.

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