MAN HIMSELF AS EVIDENCE (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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MAN HIMSELF AS EVIDENCE (C. 1958)

By Robert Horton Cameron, Mathematician

M.A., Ph.D., Cornell University. Research man at Princeton University and Princeton Institute for Advanced Study; thereafter on staff of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For past twenty years Professor of Mathematics, University of Minnesota. Was visiting mathematician at Institute of Numerical Analysis and National Bureau of Standards. Awarded Chauvenet prize by Mathematical Association of America. Specialist in mathematical analysis; in particular, periodic functions, integration in function space, measure theory.

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The very question propounded by the editor of this symposium is to me proof positive of the existence of God.

“Is there a God?” That question implies thought—ability to think. I cannot conceive of such ability without an enabling Power.

The Thinker in The Gates of Hell at the Musée Rodin

I am not an automaton, and my thinking goes far beyond anything that could be built into a modern mechanical brain. Logic could be built into an automaton, insofar as logic could be reduced to a system, but thought is different, for it involves the power to follow the rules or throw them away. Thought involves reasoning, judgment, appreciation of beauty, enjoy­ment of a symphony, and a sense of humor.

Logic can decide whether a mathematical argument is a proof, but thought can create the argument in the first place. It can invent new mathematical concepts and discover new theorems. Thought involves the possibility of self-analysis and self-criticism. A machine can be built to play chess, but it cannot chuckle over an opponent’s mistake, or regret a mistake of its own. Thought involves something that goes beyond a mechanism or mechanical rules. To me it indicates that a mechanistic philosophy is inadequate to explain man or mankind. I can think!

I also believe in God because He has given me emotions. Have I ruined my case when I say this? Am I admitting that there is no logic in my faith, and that I believe because I am afraid not to believe, or because I get an emotional ‘Tack” out of believing? Not at all! Our very emotional nature is an evidence of the Creator’s wisdom. What would our lives be like without emotions? How long would the race survive without the sex urge and the emotions connected with it? Why is it that infant mortality is lowest when babies are loved?

I believe in God because He has given me moral judgment. The race has an innate sense of right and wrong, as C. S. Lewis has so clearly brought out in his book The Case for Christianity. Though our ideas may differ, we argue for our “rights” and assume that fairness and justice are not meaning­less words to our adversaries.

My belief in God is also based on intelligent volition—on the human will, which has been explained as “the total con­scious process involved in effecting a decision.” Will is one of the three great divisions into which psychologists usually divide the powers of the mind (the others being cognition and feeling). I desire, I crave something; my intellect renders its decision; and my will carries it out.

In all these attributes and characteristics man is distinctly different from all other earth beings; they are profoundly related to the Hebrew-Christian doctrine of the image of God: “So God created man in His own image”— and the same statement repeated for emphasis: “In the image of God created He him.” (Genesis 1: 27) The Apostle Paul undoubt­edly had the same thing in mind when he preached to the Athenians on Mars’ Hill and quoted with approval what some of the Greek poets had written, namely that man is “the offspring of God”—or, properly, and in modern language, “of Divine lineage.” (Acts 17: 28, 29)

I can’t help quoting Scripture in this connection. Scientific evidences of the existence of God can only concur with what in my opinion the Bible states originally and authoritatively. A child knows nothing of his conception and birth; his information, at maturity, is obtained by revelation and observation—by what he is being told and what he himself sees and observes of life and its activities. In the same way man’s original creation by Divine Power is revealed to him by God himself in His Word. Man’s own activity lies in the field of observation, where he notes a variety of human attributes and characteristics, such as I have briefly surveyed, that cor­roborate, or rather underline, the authentic statements of Scripture concerning the creation of man by God, in God’s image.

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Scientists are “great” at experimenting. I am convinced of the existence of God by experimental evidence. This of course is something entirely personal. But for me the evidence is stronger and more convincing than any mathematical theorem could ever be. Thirty-two years ago, in a dormitory room at Cornell University, the experiment was made, and the God whom I joyfully found to exist gave me a new outlook, new motives, new joys (also new sorrows), and He means so much to me that I would give up my position, my scientific standing, and literally everything on earth that I have, rather than go back to my former state.

And the Chief Performer in that very personal, intimate, holy experiment was He who once upon a time asserted, with the solemnity and majesty of truth eternal: “I proceeded forth and came from God.” (John 8: 42)

Yes, there is a God.

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