The Source and Sustainer of Life
1. What questions arise when considering whether to make Jehovah one’s God?
HAVING arranged the way for men and women to get free from sin and imperfection, can Jehovah God thereafter keep them alive? Is there real assurance that a person who makes Jehovah his God can live an endless life in health and happiness?
2. Does God, who created the universe, also have the ability to keep it operating forever?
2 Because of God’s ability to create he would certainly have the ability to sustain the earth itself. If necessary, he could constantly renew the power of the sun. As for the earth, he has made it a self-sustaining “spaceship,” “recycling” its wastes and ever renewing its face. Forests and streams, if left to themselves, in a short time refresh themselves and erase any damage caused by ruinous works of man.
3, 4. (a) Do King Solomon’s words at Ecclesiastes 1:4 contradict the idea that humans can live forever? Explain. (b) How does Solomon’s conclusion, together with the words of Jesus, show that our life, even in this calamitous world, need not be a vain or hopeless one?
3 What about humans on earth? King Solomon, a great observer of life, said: “A generation is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4; 1 Corinthians 7:31) Solomon was not saying that it would always be this way with human generations. He was talking about the vanity of life as it is in the present system of things, with “king” death ruling. If you read the book of Ecclesiastes, you will note that Solomon was giving wise counsel as to living during this time. He was basically saying that we should not put our hope in the present world system, its material things and its ways.
4 After describing mankind’s present condition, Solomon reports the results of his investigation, saying: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) And Jesus, the one greater than Solomon, explained: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
5, 6. (a) Why is it possible for a person to live forever? (b) What is it about the human makeup that proves there is a living Creator with a good purpose toward us?
5 Will it not be a fine thing when you can associate with loved friends and relatives, knowing you will not have to endure the sadness of losing them? Can this be possible?
6 It is not only possible—it is altogether sure, because “Jehovah is in truth God. He is the living God and the King to time indefinite.” (Jeremiah 10:10) Moses, in prayer, spoke of God’s eternal existence, saying: “Even from time indefinite to time indefinite you are God.” (Psalm 90:2) God, living forever, can begin life and keep it going forever. The fact that mankind exists with the qualities of imagination, appreciation of beauty, kindness, love and other emotions, proves that man has a living Creator and that He has a good purpose toward humankind. In a world operated by chance, or by blind forces, emotion would have no place. No, life must have a living source.
“SPONTANEOUS LIFE” A FALLACY
7, 8. How did Louis Pasteur prove that life cannot come of itself from inanimate material?
7 In 1864 Louis Pasteur, the renowned scientist to whom medicine and surgery owe much, said in a lecture at the Sorbonne, a famous Paris college:
8 “Gentlemen, I would point to that [sterile] liquid and say to you, I have taken my drop of water from the immensity of creation, and I have taken it full of the elements fitted for the development of inferior beings. And I wait, I watch, I question it, begging it to recommence for me the beautiful spectacle of the first creation. But it is dumb—dumb ever since these experiments were begun several years ago; it is dumb because I have kept it from the only thing which man cannot produce—from the germs which feed in the air—from life, for life is a germ and a germ is life. Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this simple experiment.”
9. How do scientists and other practical persons today show their faith in Pasteur’s discovery?
9 That statement was made more than a hundred years ago, and it is true today. Never have scientists been able to cause life to arise spontaneously out of material that was not already living. In fact, doctors, dentists, surgeons and scientists rely on—have faith in—Pasteur’s experiment. They sterilize their hospital and surgical instruments; they pasteurize milk and sterilize water, so that germs may not be there to cause infection or spoilage. Of what use would such processes be if life could originate in a sterile medium? How long would the world keep on spending millions of dollars on the process if it were found to be ineffective and unreliable?
10. (a) How does the Bible point us to the source of life? (b) What is a person doing who asks, ‘Who created God?’
10 Consequently, all evidence points to a source of life that is itself alive. The Bible says of Jehovah God: “With you is the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) Someone may ask, ‘If life must exist to beget life, who created God?’ But this is merely pushing the answer farther away—a form of evasion in facing up to the question. Inconsistently, such persons seem to have no trouble believing that inanimate matter always existed.
AN INFINITE CREATOR
11 Surely we could not expect that the Creator of the vast universe would be thoroughly understood by his creatures. (Romans 11:34) Nevertheless, there is at least the conception of “infinity” in science and mathematics. We can imagine infinite space, and as far as astronomers can tell, the universe may be infinite, boundless. The farther their telescopes enable them to see, the more galaxies they behold.
12 Then, going in the other direction, into the infinitesimally small, physicists still cannot find the ultimate particle. When the atom was discovered, it appeared simple: The atom was the indivisible particle, scientists thought. Experiments with the atom, however, have shown their theory to be a fallacy. The list of particles, or supposed particles, making up the atom has grown quite long, and the end is not yet.
13. If we accept God’s words at Deuteronomy 32:40, what can we believe about our own existence?
13 Can we not, then, conceive of a God who had no beginning—who existed forever? This is what he declares of himself. (Deuteronomy 32:40; Romans 16:26) If we accept this claim from God, we can believe that he could infuse life into persons who obey him, and could sustain that life forever.
EARTH’S CYCLES FOR MAN’S BENEFIT
14. When we see deterioration and death all around us, what question naturally arises as to our own life?
14 Some persons ask: ‘What about the fact that all living things tend to deteriorate?—that the cells and tissues break down, so that old age sets in, culminating in death? Would not this always continue to take place with human life?’ Let us see.
15. What would be the situation on earth if nothing decayed, broke down, or changed in its composition?
15 All physical things on earth tend to break down with age. Rocks crumble. Wood decays. Think, though, what the situation would be if there were no effect of weather on rocks, wood, and other material, and if there were no decay of organic matter. That would mean that the earth would be sterile. Few, if any, chemical reactions could take place. Our digestive systems could not function properly, because they operate by chemical and bacterial action, breaking down and changing the composition of food. Little work could be done, because few things could be altered in structure. Even now certain plastics that are not easily decomposed are causing a waste-disposal problem.
16. (a) What changes in matter are essential for life to exist on earth? (b) In what way is man different from animals with regard to the reason that humans die?
16 For earthly life to continue, then, there must be changes in organic and inorganic matter. Cycles of birth and death were originally purposed for every living thing on earth, with the exception of mankind. Why except mankind? Because man was made in God’s image and likeness. Only humans, not animals, can be called God’s “sons” and “daughters.” Not of animals, but of man, it is said that ‘death entered in through sin.’—Genesis 1:27; Romans 5:12.
17, 18. What are some of the cycles essential to the continuance of life on earth?
17 Consider some of these cycles. There is plant life that provides food for all animal life, and, in fact, is the basis for all earthly life. Plants can do something that animals cannot—they manufacture their own food by the use of sunlight. This process is called “photosynthesis.” Animal life must therefore depend on plant life. Plants must grow, supply food and die. Then, through the marvel of seed germination, another crop is produced.
18 In the sea the “food chain” maintains life on various levels; the tiny vegetable phytoplankton are food for the animal zooplankton, which, in turn, feed the larger fish, including some that serve as food for man. Then bacterial action converts dead matter into food for the phytoplankton, and the cycle begins all over again.
19, 20. Explain how, even though cells and tissues break down, a human could live forever.
19 In the process, individual animals die, to be replaced by offspring, thus preserving the species. What, then, is the hope for continued individual human existence? Is there a difference in this respect between man and animals?
20 Yes, there is. For, while cells and tissues in living bodies suffer wear, and some cells die, life tends to reverse the “running-down” process. Living things make highly organized, complex compounds out of more simple ones. If the life-force could be kept operating at full efficiency, worn tissues would continually be replaced or repaired. Old age would not set in, and the person would never die. Only the Creator can accomplish this in humans. He promises everlasting life to obedient men and women. All the earth’s cycles—among them the birth and death of plant and animal life—are actually arranged primarily for mankind’s ultimate benefit.
21. (a) What evidence do we have that, even with imperfection, human life was once much longer than it is in our time? (b) Why is man’s life-span shorter now than in the earliest periods of mankind’s history?
21 The Bible record reveals that humans were made to live much longer than animals. The early offspring of Adam, being near to perfection, lived as long as 969 years. This illustrates the fact that cell-replacement continued for all those years, and the cells of the central nervous system (which scientists say can be repaired but not replaced) were maintained in healthy repair during centuries of living. (Genesis 5:27; see also verses 5-31; 9:29.) The short-lived generations of today are, of course, far removed from that time, with sin and imperfection multiplying during the thousands of years since. The human race has deteriorated, but God can infuse power into those who look to him, so that they may live to time indefinite.—Isaiah 40:29-31.
“THE BREAD OF LIFE”
22, 23. (a) Why do animals die? (b) How has God constructed humans with a far superior organism? (c) Of all earth’s creatures, what unique quality do humans possess? (d) What is required on man’s part to keep living to time indefinite?
22 Now, long before man appeared on the earth, animals were dying, as is attested to by fossil discoveries. They were created with a limited life-span. But humankind was created, though from the same elements, of a much finer nature, a higher order.
23 Of humans, not of animals, it is said that God put ‘time indefinite into their heart.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Only humans have a sense of the past and of the future. Only humans possess a capacity for spirituality, that is, to take in knowledge of God, to partake of his spiritual qualities and moral excellence. (Hebrews 12:9) Since God provided this spiritual capacity for humankind, it must be filled, satisfied, for the human to function properly—to keep on living. Jesus said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.”—Matthew 5:3.
24. How did Jesus, a perfect man, explain what kept his life sustained?
24 Jesus Christ, even though he was a perfect man on earth, depended on God for sustained life. He said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his [God’s] work.” He further said: “I live because of the Father.” (John 4:34; 6:57) He spoke of himself, saying: “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness and yet died. . . . If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever.”—John 6:48-51.
25. What did Jesus mean by his words at John 6:48-51?
25 Of course, Jesus Christ did not mean that men would eat his literal body of flesh. But by exercising faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ and by “eating” the spiritual food that God provides by means of Christ, one can live forever. When? In the “new earth,” under Christ’s Kingdom rule. Then he as High Priest, along with his associate kings and underpriests,a will apply his atoning sacrifice fully to obedient ones on earth. As a result, their bodies will be healed. Then, continuing to do God’s will, they will live forever.—John 3:16.
26. (a) Is it reasonable to suppose that God would let his Son suffer and die so that people might live better only temporarily? (b) What offer, on what terms, does Jehovah hold out to all persons?
26 Jehovah sent his only-begotten Son to earth at the greatest cost to himself. He would never let his Son suffer and die to provide a better life for merely a short period of time. He says to all: “Turn away from what is bad and do what is good, and so reside to time indefinite. For Jehovah is a lover of justice, and he will not leave his loyal ones. To time indefinite they will certainly be guarded.” (Psalm 37:27, 28) Yes, Jehovah is the sustaining Source of life and the grand Guardian of life forever for all who continue in obedience to him.
a See Chapters 12 and 15. Also see The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, published by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 117 Adams St., Brooklyn, New York 11201.
[Diagram/Picture on page 82]
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Plants take in carbon dioxide, give off oxygen
Animals and humans take in oxygen, give off carbon dioxide
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Lightning combines nitrogen with oxygen. Rain brings this to earth
Green plants provide food for animals and humans
Bacteria act on decaying plants and animal manure, release nitrogen back into air. Other bacteria produce plant food
Bacteria take nitrogen from the air for plants’ use
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Hospitals sterilize surgical instruments. Why? Because life (infection-causing bacteria) cannot originate in a sterile medium