What Do We Know?
By: Gordon C. OlsonKGEI Broadcast Series
What Do We Know About Our Inner Selves?
Ps. 8:4 - "What is Man, that thou art mindful of him?"
On this Faith of our Fathers broadcast it is now our intention to launch out upon a rather extended discussion of the various Christian doctrines that the Bible appears to support. We shall seek to present them in a progressive order so that there will be a mental harmony to the whole. God is a God of definiteness and order and as we ponder the Scriptures there comes forth a system of truth that truly satisfies the mind. We trust that our listeners will endeavor to listen from night to night so that the force of truth might be effective in kindling a living faith in the living God. The Gospel of Christ is the greatest news on earth - so myriads of our fathers thought, so we still think. It is our humble prayer that we may be a blessing to every one who listens.
We do not start with what the Bible says, since no doubt many of our listeners do not believe the Bible to be the Word of God. For a number of broadcasts we invite you, every one of you, to think together with us on the question, "What do we know?" Here we should all have conclusions in common, conclusions which no one should find it necessary to deny. Will you not stay with us and consider these evident and obvious things?
In the course of our inquiry on "What do we know?" we first direct our minds within our beings and ask,
What do we know about our inner selves?
Ps. 8:4 - "What is man, that thou art mindful of him," the Psalmist asked. [See Finney, 88D-Co, F-7,pp.1 to 10].
I. The starting point of all thinking is that we assert ourselves to be, to accept the fact that we have self-consciousness, that we recognize our personal identity, that we affirm that we are individuals. We admit and recognize in the words of Paul that "we live, and move, and have our being." This is something that we cannot reason upon. Like all native concepts we must accept the fact of our own existence directly, and not try to arrive at such a conclusion by any processes of deduction. Many philosophers have gone astray here. A group of theological students one morning were reasoning together as to whether there was such a thing as a fact or not. We do not hope in our discussion to answer the mysteries of such minds. When we cut ourselves away from the natural affirmations of our minds we become like a rudderless ship on the stormy sea. We believe there is a down-to-earth presentation of facts that will lead to a glorious and satisfying state of mind, but the beginning must be a common-sense approach to obvious truth. The acknowledgment that we are living beings and can depend upon our mental conclusions is the starting point. So let us go on.
II. We are conscious that there is within us the ability to think, to reason, to view facts and draw conclusions therefrom. We can sit still and entertain ourselves for hours without doing anything externally. This indicates that there is within us a process of thought, a succession of objects that go before our personality, a series of considerations that we are occupied with. We have an intellect and also an imagination, which must be a function of the thought process. We can picture events in our beings when they are not actually occurring at that moment. We can relive old experiences and events and add to them as a result of reflection.
One day over 300 years ago Galileo, the great scientist, watched a swinging lamp in a cathedral and began to meditate upon its motion. This thinking was the parent to the swinging pendulum and made the world's mechanical time-pieces possible. He learned that the rate of swing depended upon its length, and not upon the weight or force of the body nor the length of swing. Here was a mental conclusion, a putting together of observed facts and making a mental deduction therefrom.
Legend indicates that Isaac Newton was reclining in an orchard some 250 years ago, when the jolt of a falling apple set his mind to thinking about the peculiarity of falling objects, and led him to suggest the universal law of gravitation.
But above all in importance, the intellect and the imagination gives us the ability to perceive the existence of God and to recognize something of the greatness of the divine being.
III. But we are not mechanical robots, moving here and there and thinking this or that without some affectation within our beings. We recognize a feeling department of our beings or that we have a reaction within us that we call our emotions. We have experiences that are pleasant or distasteful. We have reactions to what we think about. We have the possibilities of a feeling of love and tenderness within us. Parents feel something remarkable toward their children. Children look upon their parents with veneration and respect. True romance as a genuine friendship with all its beauty may flourish. Above all we may feel a love for God with all its impelling motives. Yes we know that we not only can think, we can feel.
IV. But we are conscious of a directive within us. We recognize that we are the agents of our own actions. It is we that make decisions. We make our minds to take action. We have a feeling of authority in our own limited sphere. We recognize our ability to bring events into existence out of nothing. In short, we have that mysterious thing which we call free will, the rudder of the mind.
What do we know about our inner selves? We know that we have intellect, feeling or emotions, and free will.
What Do We Know About Our Bodies?
Ps. 139:14 - "I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
We have begun a process of investigation in which we should all agree. We are asking ourselves, "What do we know?" considering the main issues of life. If we consult our native intelligence, apart from any education which tends to move us away from common sense, we must admit that we do know of a certainty many things. We are all surprised as we crystallize our thinking how many forceful things we do know. We have looked within our own beings and have recognized certain things that are going on there. We have seen that we have the ability of thought and reason, and that this qualifies us to appreciate something of the existence of God. In our thought and perception, we have recognized something within us that produces an experience or an emotion. We have seen that we have a mysterious rudder of our lives that has the power to direct our activity -- we have a free will which we own and are responsible for.
We continue our search for what we know by leaving our inner man and looking at the wonders of our outer man. We are conscious that we live in a wonderful body. It is a delicate and complicated machine which assures us no end of wonderment. The Psalmist was evidently overwhelmed when he wrote, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
I. It is most astonishing that so wonderful a machine as our bodies are could be made of as simple and so cheap materials. Before inflation, it has been said that the total chemical value of the body is less than $ 1.00, now probably not more than twice this. The average human body has been said to possess the following elements, with the percentage of each: Oxygen 65, carbon 18, hydrogen 10, nitrogen 3, calcium 1.5, phosphorus 1, and lesser quantities of potassium .35, sulfur .25, sodium .15, chlorine .15, magnesium .05, iron .004, iodine .00004. etc. There also are minute quantities of fluorine and silicon, and probably some other elements. About 2/3rds of the body is water. The tissue and other structures are composed of cells, about 4 to 5,000,000 per cubic centimeter. What an incredible number of cells the body contains!
II. The skeleton forms the framework on which the body is built, which projects the important organs and to some extent holds them in place. Adults have 214 bones by the usual method of classification, varying in size from the largest and strongest bones in the upper legs to the smallest bones in the middle ear. The spine or backbone is composed of 33 vertebrae, usually (sometimes 34 or 32).
III. The skin is the outside protective material of the body, the seat of some of the sense perceptions like touch, heat and cold, and is an organ for throwing off some of the waste products of the body through the pores. The average man has about 14 sq. ft. of skin surface and about 2,500,000 pores. The body has about 400 muscles, mostly in pairs, which do the work, being supplied with energy by the blood. The large muscle in the back is the strongest, while the eye muscle is the swiftest, requiring about 1/10th of a second to wink the eye. The nervous system goes throughout the body from the brain, forming a complicated branching network, carrying messages back and forth. The time-honored five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching, with other sense that modern psychology has recognized, give us our contact with the outside world.
IV. The head and the brain are the center of all activities and directives. The various senses are interpreted by different parts of the brain with muscular control and the like. The head is covered with the thickest growth of hair, about 1000 hairs per sq. in. or about 120,000 hair roots on a head.
V. The eye is a most mysterious mechanism. The eyeball is a little camera of amazing smallness, which focuses itself automatically according to the distance of its view and has a movement to view in desired directions. We have not one but two miniature cameras, unified in the mind for a single picture, with skin enclosures for protection. The surface exposed is lubricated and washed by tears, which is said to be the most powerful germ-killer in the world. Not only must the lens of the eye be glass-clear, but its shape must be optically right. The eye's key structure is the light-sensitive screen at the back. It takes a continual moving picture without a change of plate, and signals its shifting exposure to the brain. It has been estimated that the human eye has about 137 million separate "seeing" elements with over a million nerve lines leading to the brain. The mind's interpretation and coloration of what is seen remains a complete mystery.
VI. What shall we say of the ear, which has an outer opening collecting sounds like a megaphone, and a drum, hammer, anvil and stirrup, which vibrate with the sounds thus collected, with nerve connection to the brain. What of the nose with its breathing and filtering mechanism? What of the mouth with its facilities and equipment? What of the tongue with its delicate sensitivity and tasting perception? What of the neck with its muscles and vocal cords which make speech possible? What of the chest and lungs which automatically make some 20 to 25 respirations per minute, passing upwards of 400 cu. ft. of air per day, extracting oxygen and exhaling the resulting products, the oxygen to be absorbed by the blood stream?
VII. What shall we say of the heart, that pear shaped organ between the lungs, which for no definitely-known reason pumps away at about 72 beats per minute to send the blood on its long journey through the body? It requires about 45 seconds for the blood to absorb the oxygen and circulate completely through the body. The work performed automatically by the heart in one day is said to be equivalent to lifting 126,000 lbs. a distance of one foot, or the work a 150 lb. person would do in running up a flight of forty steps forty times, and yet no one knows why it keeps going.
VIII. What shall we say of the mysterious blood stream, consisting of cells and plasma, which is the essence of physical life? Can we conceive of the 25 million million red corpuscles which are greedy to pick up oxygen and distribute it? What of the 35,000 million white corpuscles that scavenge the body and pick up the impurities? These are the police force of our system. What shall we say of the untold miles of minute passageways (about ) that convey these living functions?
IX. Finally, what can we say of the elaborate digestive system that permeates the food passing through it with juices and acids to extract what is valuable and reject the rest, as little muscles force it along? Digested food is carried to the tissues by the blood and thus energy and life is sustained.
Are you utterly amazed. Are you forced to agree with the Psalmist, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made?"
What Do We Know About Our Surroundings?
Ps. 19:1 - "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork."
We now direct our minds away from our inner selves and our wonderful bodies to the great realm of nature surrounding us. What do we see here to kindle and overwhelm our amazement? Here too we have avenues of unending investigation. We may consult the minute world of the microscope to the vast universe where light-years become the unit of measurement, all with the same effect - tremendous! Let us think together on a few of these profound mysteries:
I. Every clear night since the autumn of 1949, the huge 200 in. telescope of Mt. Palomer in California has been scanning the universe with the biggest "eye" that man has ever made. Scientists there are studying the stuff of which the universe is made. Vast collections of stars so large as to dwarf our earth are studied, along with their clusters of organization and multiple systems in the wilderness of space where the light-year is a relatively small distance. It is believed that the vast universe that can be studied "are integrated parts of a still larger, all-inclusive structure - the whole universe." The great telescopes pushing deeper and deeper into the abyss of space have expanded man's concept of the cosmos more than a thousandfold. Mount Wilson's 100 in. telescope is able to photograph out to 500 million light years, where as the 200 in telescope has doubled the penetrating power, reaching to an estimated distance of 1000 million light-years. A light-year is the distance over which light can travel in year's time, or about 6 million million miles. Who can form the least concept of what a 1000 million times 6 million million miles would be like, which astronomers now think probably approaches the limit of the universe? "Stars vary in size, as we all know. One is so large that if it were our sun, the orbit of the earth would be millions of miles inside its surface." (M-147,p.16). Shall any say we are in a dull uninteresting universe? (See 56-As, R-10,10-52).
II. When we come to the tiny planet in this vast universe, the earth, on which we live, a mere 7918 miles in diameter, we find many great wonders, apart from which life on our planet would be impossible. A combination of peculiarities makes our form of life possible. For example, it has been pointed out that "the earth rotates on its axis in 24 hrs., or at the rate of about 1000 miles per hr. Suppose it turned at the rate of a hundred miles an hour. Why not? Our days and nights would then be ten times as long as now. The hot sun of summer would then burn up our vegetation each long day and every sprout would freeze in such a night. The sun the source of all life, has a surface temperature of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and our earth is just far enough away so that this "eternal fire" warms us just enough and not too much ... If the temperature on earth had changed so much as 50 deg. on the average for a single year, all vegetation would be dead and man with it, roasted or frozen. The earth travels around the sun at the rate of 18 miles each second. (The earth is about 92,900,000 miles mean distance from the sun). If the rate of revolution had been, say, six miles or 40 miles each second, we would be too far from or too close to the sun for our form of life to exist." (88Cr-A, M-147,pp.14-16).
"The earth is tilted at an angle of 23 deg. This gives us our seasons. If it had not been tilted, the poles would be in eternal twilight. The water vapor from the ocean would move north and south, piling up continents of ice and leaving possibly a desert between the equator and the ice." (p.17).
"The moon is 240,000 miles away, and the tides twice a day are usually a gentle reminder of its presence. Tides in the ocean run as high as 60 ft. in some places, and even the crust of the earth is twice a day bent outward several inches by the moon's attraction ... If our moon was, say, 50,000 miles away instead of its present respectable distance, our tides would be so enormous that twice a day all the lowlands of all the continents would be submerged by a rush of water..." Life, of course, would be impossible. (p.18m).
What shall we say as to the amazing regularity of timing of the heavenly bodies as they go through their orbits. The speed of the earth in its orbit around the sun is extremely constant. "Its rotation on its axis is determined so accurately that a variation of a second in a century would upset astronomical calculations." Who can evaluate this? (p.146).
Scientists have long believed that "of all the planets, the earth is, so far as we now know, the only one whose relation to the sun makes our sort of life possible." (p.151).
We can only more hurriedly review a few other remarkable facts.
III. The pressure of the proper proportions of oxygen in the atmosphere to sustain life is a delicate adjustment. "Nitrogen exists to approximately 78% of the atmosphere, and oxygen is commonly placed at 21%... All the rest of the oxygen is locked up in the form of compounds in the crust of the earth and makes up 8/10ths of all the water in the world." Oxygen as the breath of life for all land animals and for man is utterly unobtainable except from the atmosphere, where it is found in the correct proportions. If 50% or more of the atmosphere were oxygen all combustible substances would be consumed almost explosively. If 10% or less, fire would not be possible.
IV. Another remarkable fact is that plant life absorbs that part of the atmosphere that man exhales and produces in return what he breathes in. Man and animals absorb oxygen from the atmosphere and throw off carbon dioxide. All vegetable life is dependent upon small quantities of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which, so to speak it breathes. The leaves have the power when in the sunlight to separate carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen, carbon is retained and oxygen given off. Plant life is therefore a counterpart to breathing creatures and not a competitor and thus both can live. It should also be said in passing that the presence of nitrogen in the atmosphere, neither too much nor too little, is necessary to breathing creatures, apart from which proper proportion, 78%, man and most animals would die. (p.24,296).
V. Life is a most mysterious thing and has been fathomed by no man. Man possesses life as we have seen. Plant life also possesses life and builds the mighty tree. Life has great force. A growing root can crack a rock. It has been said that "life pushes forward, building, repairing, extending, and creating the new and the better with an irresistible energy not found in inanimate things." (p.35,44m).
VI. What shall we say of all the curious instincts that we find in the animal world. Birds have honing instincts and fly great distances at specific times, only to return to the same place again. Various birds and land animals have visions that dwarfs man's. The honeybee is attracted to the flowers and has its organized peculiarities. Some creatures have a sense of smell which is amazing. The young salmon spends years at sea, then comes back up the same river and to the same spot where it was born to finish his destiny. Young eels cross thousands of miles of ocean from their breeding place in the deeps south of Bermuda to inhabit ponds and rivers everywhere, only to take their long journey back to their starting point to breed and die. Vegetation makes use of insects to carry its pollen from plant to plant. Birds have their own nesting peculiarities untaught. Ants have their own interesting regimentation.
VII. Nature has its own counterbalances and checks. The mosquito has its conqueror and in turn conquers. Insects limit plant growth which would otherwise become a menace. A species of cactus was once planted in Australia as a protective fence where there were no insect enemies to it. It thrived to be a great menace in an extensive area until proper insects were imported, which finally brought it under control. (p.78).
VIII. We must pass by the laws of genes and reproduction. These ultra-microscopic genes are the absolute keys to all human, animal, and vegetable characteristics. "If you start with a butterfly, you get a caterpillar," etc. through the long cycle until another beautiful butterfly emerges. (p.67m). Its markings are identified with its parent. Crossbreeding develops seemingly new creatures and variations, but if left to themselves will soon breed their way back to the original species. The carefully bred dog will revert back to its original type, and the like. "No oak tree ever bore chestnuts. No whale ever gave birth to a fish. The waving fields of wheat are, in every grain, wheat and corn is corn." (p.74).
IX. And what shall we say to the laws of beauty and the gorgeous colors and designs that nature is bedecked with? It has been said that "beauty seems inherent in all nature. The beauty of the clouds, the rainbow, the blue sky, the exquisite delight that comes to one who looks at the stars, the rising moon, the setting sun, and the spectacular glory of mid-day is an inspirational thrill. Under the microscope the smallest animal and the tiniest flower are elaborately adorned by lines of beauty. The crystalline lines of the elements and compounds, from the snowflake to infinitely smaller forms, are so marvelously true that the artist can only imitate or combine them. Every leaf of every healthy tree is perfectly shaped, and the outline of every plant is fraught with individual character and the lines of true art. The flowers are shaped with grace and perfect adaptations. Their outlines are in true designs, the coloring is delightfully distributed and seldom, if ever, clashes." (88Cr-A, M-147,p.64).
The snow flake descends with its six-sided pattern, trillions upon trillions of them, with never two crystals exactly alike. Under a microscope exquisite patterns are observed.
X. Then what shall we say of the various rhythms and cycles that appear in nature. To quote again: "No living thing in a state of nature consciously measures time, but time measures all living things and masters their activities from birth to the end . . . Life cycles seem to have no relation to absolute time which we measure by the movements of the heavenly bodies. A microbe may reproduce its kind in an hour. Man in so many years. A mayfly can have no measurement of time beneath the water, but each generation flies its happy lifetime hour beneath the sun ...
"The fish of the sea have their time for spawning, but they only obey a law of nature and know not why. Seed time and harvest have their schedule and acres of wheat will ripen almost on the same day. Trees must live so many years to bear fruit, and their annual rings record their age...
"The birds have their time for flight south, and individually decide to join the local flock, and they depart almost to a day each year...The seventeen-year locusts in New England leave their burrows beneath the earth, where they have lived in darkness, with only slight changes in temperature, appear by the millions in May of their seventeenth year...almost to a day." (88Cr-A,M-147,p.83-86).
XI. And so we could go on and on in the considerations of the wonders about us on every hand. We are overwhelmed! We must agree with the Psalmist (19:1), "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork."
What Do We Know About God From Our Observations?
We have been greatly astonished as we have meditated on the untold wonders of our inner personalities, our bodies, and the world of nature surrounding us.
(1) We have realized something of the mysteries of ourselves, that we have a self-consciousness of our own existence and our personal identity. There is within us a strange power of thought and perception that enables us to ponder ideas and draw conclusions, and above all to have the ability of spiritual consciousness, a recognition of God. We also recognized that there was a feeling or emotional nature within us that could experience things and manifest strange powers. Further, that there was a directive within us, a something that gives us the power of self-assertiveness. We have a free will.
(2) We have seen that not only are we wonderful beings, but that we live in a most complicated material mechanism which we call our bodies. In the words of the Psalmist, each of us can say, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Although the chemical value of our bodies is almost nothing, the remarkable combination of things that we are so familiar with leads us to inexpressible wonderment. These multitude of details are blended into a unified whole of striking interdependence.
(3) Passing from the endless curiosities of our bodies we viewed afresh something of our discoverable surroundings and listened to astronomers tell us of their telescopic journeys through space which staggered our imagination. If a light year is entirely incomprehensible, what of a 1000 million of them peering into our great telescopic eye! What about the peculiarities of our world and the microscopic world right under our vision, with its almost equal figures in the direction of smallness?
I. We are all impatient to get on to the conclusion. Does it take a lot of faith to believe in a great and wise God as the designer and builder of all this? Would it not rather take a great faith to believe that all these coordinated and interrelated things merely happened by chance? That they sprang into being without a designing first cause? Would it not take a lot of faith to be an atheist? Yea, faith is simplified and relieved when we accept the most common law, enlarged to its due proportions - every effect must have an adequate cause. The effect being totally astonishing and utterly amazing to our minds, the cause of these effects must be still greater and none profound and further beyond our full comprehension.
II. That all the created wonders that we have reviewed could have happened by chance leads into such mathematical absurdities, that it is most incredible to think that any would embrace it. One mathematician has proposed the following simple problem: "Suppose you take ten pennies and mark them from 1 to 10. Put them in your pocket and give them a good shake. Now try to draw them out in sequence from 1 to 10, putting each coin back in your pocket after each draw. Your chance of drawing No. 1 is 1 to 10. Your chance of drawing 1 and 2 in succession would be 1 to 100. Your chance of drawing 1,2, and 3 in succession would be one in a thousand. Your chance of drawing 1,2,3, and 4 in succession would be one in 10,000 and so on, until your chance of drawing from No. 1 to No. 10 in succession would reach the unbelievable figure of one chance in 10 billion." (88 Cr-A, M-147,p.13.).
"The size of the earth, the distance from the sun, the temperature and the life-giving rays of the sun, the thickness of the earth's crust, the quantity of water, the amount of carbon dioxide, the volume of nitrogen, the emergence of man and his survival - all point to order out of chaos, to design and purpose, and to the fact that, according to the inexorable laws of mathematics, all these could not occur by chance simultaneously on one planet once in a billion times ... Is it possible to flaunt the evidence and take the one chance in a billion that we and all else are the result of chance?" (88Cr-A, M-147,p.99b).
III. The Psalmist bubbled over with enthusiasm as he meditated upon these great wonders:
Jeremiah expressed the most evident conclusions of many:
The Apostle Paul summed up the effects upon all men by these things which are "clearly seen" Ro. 1:19-20.
IV. Man should overwhelmingly recognize the existence of the Godhead and that the Godhead have personal functions and are not a blind force on the loose somewhere. God must be a personalized spiritual existence apart from the things that have been created. Just as we are conscious of our inner personal nature which we conclude is separate from our body and the world about us, so must God be spiritual in essence as distinguished from materialism. God is in the realm of personality as distinguished from pantheism. So Paul spoke, Acts 17:29.
V. As to the natural attributes of God, they must be unparalleled and incomprehensible God must at once be considered omnipotent or all powerful in the face of sheer immensity of the universe which we must account for. God is "upholding all things by the word of his power," wrote the writer to the Hebrews, 1:3. God must be considered omnipresent for his operations are everywhere present, nothing must escape his observation. So the Psalmist concluded, Ps. 139:7-10. Purpose seems fundamental in all things. There is an intricacy of wisdom and knowledge manifested in the design and relation of all the elements of creation that must lead mere mortals that must ascribe to God Omniscience, or that God is the center and fountain of all knowledge. Then there is a steadfastness to the whole scheme and constancy of things that breeds the concept that God is "the high and lofty One that inhabited eternity," Is. 57:15. When, for example, the earth is said to rotate upon its axis with such precision that a variation of one second in a century would throw astronomers off in their calculations, the idea eternity is ascribed to God. This Jesus felt moved to express, 1:17. So thought Abraham, Ge. 21:33. Moses, Ps. 90:1-2, Isaiah 9:6; 26:4.
VI. But there are also endless embodiments in our universe that ring loudly the thought that things are not arbitrary. The profound Creator is not exercising his might, knowledge and wisdom maliciously. There is a kindness and love manifested throughout the whole. All basic desires that have been created have their counterpart of fulfillment. All true needs have been provided for. For example, we need to eat to sustain our bodies. The goodness of God designed to make this a pleasant sensation to be created and also suitable edible food that would have a pleasant taste.
The faithfulness of God is attested to by everyone, as James so positively testified. Jas. 1:17 - the "no variableness" must relate to the constancy of God's goodness, since Scripture abundantly testifies that God experiences changes in thought and reactions. For example,
De. 9:19 - "Anger and hot displeasure, ...hearkened"
VII. We humbly call upon all to recognize and acknowledge what is everywhere evident, the existence of an "eternal power and Godhead." This is the simplest and common sense solution. Let us join in with the spirit of Isaiah who some 2700 years ago wrote, Is. 40:26. Let us join with the Apostle Paul in his great benediction, I Tim. 1:17.
What Do We Know About Our Relations?
(Our Need for Moral Government)
Ge. 4:9 -- "Am I my brother's keeper?"
In the process of growth from childhood to maturity there has been an endless discovery of the mysteries within and without our beings. Within we have explored ourselves and have come to the certainty of our own consciousness. The basis our whole life is the acceptance of the fact that we exist as personal beings, that we have a mysterious thing called life and are this mysterious thing. Life does not have to be proved; it is something that we cannot deny in our native intelligence. There are forces clamoring within us for acceptance. There is the realm of thought life, the thrill of mental occupancy. We can think about a whole world of things and begin to ask why? Our minds are not satisfied to be just a registry of facts. These facts have a relation to each other and call for conclusions to be drawn. We look off into space and inquire, There must be an answer to it all. There must be a realm of existence above the material. There must be relationships above what we see. We are conscious that we are capable of these mysterious relationships in a profound way.
Then we find that we are reactive beings. What we think upon and do affects us. We are not satisfied with an endless dullness within us; we must have a succession of experiences, we must have reactions. We are emotional or have a feeling department of our beings which clamors for the warmth and pleasures of life. There are satisfactions to be achieved.
Then we perceive that there is a locomotion within our beings, an energy that presses to explode into activity. We clamor to assert ourselves, to manifest our identity. We simply must do things. It is impossible to do nothing as long as we have life. The intelligence must be occupied, experiences must be achieved. The static state is impossible while there is life. We call this urgency of our natures our free wills or that ability to make choice and impel action. We are moral beings and recognize that just as we are free to choose between alternatives, we are responsible for our actions. We cannot choose everything because we perceive that we are not alone in the universe. We perceive in our smallness that there must be a great being above us. He must be considered when we decide upon out thoughts and actions. Then there are a great multitude of beings like ourselves. Certainly this places a limitation upon our choices. Their happiness is as important as our own. What we do affects them; what they do affects us. We are a mass of related beings and most obviously must limit each other's freedom. It is imperative that there be regulation so that the rights of all will be guaranteed. Regulation there must be, but what kind will suffice? Upon what principles can moral beings be regulated? What do we know about our relations, therefore? What conclusions are inescapable in the whole constitution of things?
I. We have concluded that we need regulating. As soon as we postulate more than one being, restrictions are imposed, limitations upon our activity are necessary if the happiness of all moral beings are to be realized.
II. We have perceived a difference in our constitutions from that of tangible objects about us. We have a higher form of life than other animated beings around us. We have life as distinguished from the inanimate material objects about us. A stone must be pushed, entering the realm of force, while we activate ourselves. The animal world are moved by instinct and lack the contemplative feature that is so strong within our personalities. Under normal intelligence we think about what we are going to do before we do it, and then think upon what we have done after we have done it. To be pushed around and impelled to action, without reasons being given, is opposed to our inner assertiveness. We then conclude that there must be a difference in the kinds of regulation that must prevail in our vast universe. the stone and purely material object needs nothing but force. The realms of creation that possess life less than man's do not need to be reasoned with. They need the compulsion of instinct or inner forces embodied within their beings.
II. There is, then, the vast realm of cause and effect in regulations that must be imposed. No long discussion is needed here since we are primarily concerned with man in our quest for truth. We have amazed ourselves with the findings of astronomers, particularly as our 200 in telescope sweeps the heavens and makes its shaft of vision. As to the rotation of the earth on its axis, an error of one second in a century has not been found. The great heavenly objects sweep through space under profound control. There is an incomprehensible precision of forces being exerted to keep things intact. Think of the calamity of the collision of two vast heavenly bodies in the great light-years of space! Think of our system of planets going about our sun with such endless balance and precision! What if control were relaxed for even a brief period of time? There must be regulation, the continuation of sufficient causes to provide the effects which we see. The physical world, then, is under the realm of cause and effect, which has no difficulty except that adequate causes must be exerted. It is the realm of definiteness. Results can always be predicated. There is a certainty about the whole operation. It is not a may or may not but a will be. If a certain result is desired, simply provide the force or the energy to produce it. This is the law of the physical universe. It is also the law of the animate creation less than man. If certain actions are necessary and desirable, simply provide the motivating instinct or inclination to achieve them. But when we come to moral and accountable beings like men, the law of cause and effect cannot reign. If it does, man cannot be held mysteriously accountable. Another procedure entirely must be embarked upon in man's regulation.
III. Man can only be regulated by a moral government, the principles and procedures of which differ completely from the law of cause and effect which hurls planets through space and sends the bird on its homeward journey. It is a difficult regulation that requires endless analyses. It is a domain of motive instead of a domain of force. It is an appeal to the intelligence instead of a coercion of resistance. It always has the danger of lacking success. It has a may or may not about it. It is like a magnetic force being exerted to pull an object along. There is no direct connection, no force being exerted so that the object might strike an obstruction and stay behind as the magnet moves on. Just so there is a course of action needful in the regulation of moral beings. It is in the realm of principles, not blind and energizing force. The great Ruler of the universe provides the great magnetic directive to those actions which are right and proper, all beings considered. His method of procedure is to grant blessings and rewards upon the observance of right and proper action, and to hold out the warning of unhappiness and judgments for lack of compliance. But it is we ourselves that comply or refuse to comply. It is we alone that have the power of obedience to right and proper motives, rejecting those that are unworthy and improper. Or, conversely, to assert our wills and be disobedient to the obvious dictates of reason and blind ourselves to the wholesome directives of God. We know, then, that we need a moral government to guarantee the happiness of all. We are our "brother's keeper". Cain meant to be illusive, but instead spoke a truth.
What Do We Know About Our Obligations?
Acts 5:29 - "We ought to obey God," and fulfill our duties to God and man is God's moral government.
We all agree that we must have a government that is suited to our constitutions, that will not wipe out our free actions, and yet will direct us into that way of life that is the unfolding of happiness to God and man. It is the order now to inquire as to the foundation of our obligation and develop the idea of oughtness.
I. We ought to obey God because we recognize that we need some being greater than ourselves to arbitrate between us. We need someone who can look down upon us from another level of being, who can view our actions impartially. If such a moral governor can be found, we are duty-bound to obey for the good that will result among ourselves. If we look merely to one another, how can strict impartiality prevail?
II. We ought to yield obedience to a righteous moral government because we feel the need of such restraint and regulation. In short, apart from some profound motivating influence to kindle our intelligence toward right action and to prevent a fear of the course that must result from wrong action, none would be inspired to proper path ways. Moral government provides the force of influence that we know we need.
III. We ought to yield obedience to a righteous moral government because the happiness and well-being of our fellowman is just as important as our own. Who can escape this conclusion? Is it right that we prefer our own happiness and pursue it to the detriment of others on our same level? This is an assertion of common sense which cannot be denied. The idea of oughtness, therefore, is founded in the idea of rightness to consider the well-being of our fellowmen.
IV. But further we ought to yield obedience to moral government because of one feeling of dependence. We view our complicated bodies and personalities as a purchaser would view an expensive machine that he has brought with his life's savings. He fears that he may abuse it and thus render it worthless, and therefore looks to someone to give him information on how to operate it aright. In the maze of complicated controls he looks to someone who knows more than he. He has thus a feeling of dependence and a disposition to lean on someone else. Man apart from the consideration of the rights of others has this feeling of dependence, that impels him to submit to a higher government and direction.
V. But we ascend the ladder of oughtness by affirming, that we have compelling evidence of the existence of a Being in the universe who is capable to exercise over us a righteous and efficient moral government. If we had no evidence of the existence of God, the before-mentioned needs would impel us to look through the universe for a governor of suitable capacity and character to reign over us. We are prepared, then, from our human needs to submit to such a governor if he can be found. We now assert that we have every evidence to believe that such a governor does exist. This multiplies our obligation. We conclude that we must not only submit to a principle of procedure, but now wonderfully enough we can submit to a person worthy of every veneration and trust. The great God is able to exert a righteous moral government by virtue of his capacities.
We have seen that the marvels of our inner being demands the recognition of a Creator greater than ourselves.