Do You Believe in What You Cannot See?
WHEN someone says, ‘I believe only in what I can see,’ he is not speaking literally. Actually, we all believe in things that we cannot see.
For example, at school you may have performed an experiment designed to prove the existence of a magnetic field. It may go like this: Sprinkle iron filings on a sheet of paper. Then place the sheet over the magnet. When the sheet is vibrated, as if by magic the iron filings bunch up near the magnet’s poles and form into the pattern of the magnetic field. If you did that, could you actually see the magnetic field? No, but its effect on the iron filings is plain to see, giving you convincing proof that magnetism exists.
We accept without question other things that we cannot see. When we look at a beautiful painting or admire a fine sculpture, we do not doubt the existence of a painter or a sculptor. So when we contemplate a waterfall or gaze at a sunset, should we not be moved at least to consider the possibility that they are the work of a Great Artist or Sculptor?
Why Some Do Not Believe
Ironically, some people have stopped believing in God because of what they were taught in church. This was true of a Norwegian man who was told that God burns the wicked in a fiery hell. The man just could not understand what kind of God would torment people in that way, so he became an atheist.
Later, however, the man agreed to investigate the Bible, assisted by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was amazed to learn that the Bible does not teach that the wicked are tortured in a fiery hell. The Bible likens death to sleep. In the grave, we feel no pain; we are conscious of nothing at all. (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) The man also learned that those humans whom God judges to be incorrigibly wicked will remain in the grave forever. (Matthew 12:31, 32) The rest of the dead will be resurrected in God’s due time, with the prospect of obtaining everlasting life under Paradise conditions. (John 5:28, 29; 17:3) This explanation made sense. It harmonized with the Bible’s statement that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) This sincere man continued his study of God’s Word and, in time, came to love the God of the Bible.
Others reject the existence of a loving Creator because of the prevalence of distress and injustice. They agree with a Swedish man who once pointed to the heavens and asked: “How could there be an almighty, all-bountiful God up there when we have so much corruption and wickedness down here?” Because no one could answer his question, he too became an atheist. Later he began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He learned that God’s Word provides a satisfying answer to the age-old question, Why does God permit wickedness?*
This sincere man learned that the existence of wickedness does not in itself prove that God does not exist. To illustrate: A man may design a knife to be used to carve meat. A customer may purchase the knife and use it, not to carve meat, but to commit murder. The fact that the knife was misused in no way disproves the existence of its maker. Similarly, the fact that the earth has not been used in harmony with its intended purpose does not mean that it did not have a Creator.
The Bible teaches that God’s work is perfect. With him “there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) God gives good gifts to man, but some of the gifts have been misused, causing untold suffering. (James 1:17) God will bring an end to suffering, however. Thereafter, “the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, . . . and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:11, 29.
The Swedish man mentioned earlier was moved when he saw the suffering of fellow humans. Really, his tender concern for others confirms the existence of God. How so?
For most people, the only alternative to belief in God is belief in evolution. Evolutionists teach “survival of the fittest”—that humans and animals compete within their kinds for survival. The fittest live; the weakest die. That is the natural order of things, they say. But if it is “natural” for the weak to die in order to make room for the strong, how can we explain the fact that, like the Swedish man, some strong humans are moved at the sight of the suffering of their fellowman?
Getting to Know God
We cannot see God because he does not have a human form. Yet, God wants us to get to know him. One way we can become acquainted with him is by observing his extraordinary works—the “paintings” and “sculptures” of creation. At Romans 1:20, the Bible states: “[God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” Yes, just as studying a painting or a sculpture can help you gain insight into the personality of the artist, meditating on God’s marvelous works can help you become better acquainted with his personality.
Of course, we cannot answer all of life’s nagging questions merely by looking at God’s creative works. But we can find answers to such questions by searching God’s Word, the Bible. It was by reading the Bible with an open mind that the two men mentioned earlier came to the conclusion that God exists and that he cares about what happens to us.
For additional information on the reasons for God’s permitting wickedness, please see the book Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?, chapter 10, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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J. Hester and P. Scowen (AZ State Univ.), NASA