Can You Get Along Without God?
Is God vital to human existence? Is life possible without him?
NEARLY two hundred years ago Napoleon Bonaparte asked the famous French astronomer Pierre Simon Laplace why he made no mention of God in his new book about the stars. Laplace replied: “I had no need of the hypothesis.” Although considering God unnecessary was then a rather radical thought in some circles, no longer is it viewed as such today.
Now it is not uncommon for many persons to think that they can get along without God. Although saying that they believe he exists, most persons do little or nothing to show that they recognize a need for him. They do not regularly pray to him. They do not seek to learn his will. Nor do they attempt to live their lives in harmony with the fine principles found in His Word the Bible. They may praise Bible teachings as fine ideals, but they do not adopt them to live by.
Some persons even boast that whatever they have, they have obtained by their own efforts, without any help from God. Are they correct in such a conclusion? Are we in no way indebted to or dependent upon God? Can we really get along without Him?
THE SOURCE OF LIFE
To begin with, who gave us life? Individually, of course, it was our parents. But who originated or created human life? To that Source we obviously are indebted. But could life have occurred by chance, and, therefore, not have had any intelligent source?
Recently this question was explored by the noted French philosopher Claude Tresmontant, who lectures on the philosophy of science at the famous Sorbonne in Paris. In an interview, he observed: “Only very few scientists now seriously think” that pure chance can be “put forward as an explanation of the emergence of even the simplest living organism.”
He then went on to explain why a chance combination of elements can no longer be taken seriously as an explanation for the origin of life. “We are now aware of the extraordinary complexity of the large molecules which enter into the composition of the living cell,” he said. “Calculations have been made to discover what likelihood there would be of hitting on the simplest of these large molecules through the operations of chance from an initial state of primitive chaos, and the conclusion is that the length of time and the amount of matter needed for the chance creation of a single molecule would be out of all proportion to the known age of our galaxy.”
So Tresmontant observed that “for matter to have been able, on its own,” to invent complex forms of life, “it must be gifted with great wisdom and incomparable genius.” If one attributes to chance what is radically contradictory to the laws of probability, one is, in effect, spelling chance with a capital letter, and using it as a synonym for God.
Clearly, it is not unintelligent chance but Almighty God who is the Source of life! With the Bible psalmists the reverential person acknowledges: “Jehovah is God. It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves.” “For with you is the source of life,” (Ps. 100:3; 36:9) Truly, we are indebted to God for giving us life, and we should gratefully thank Him for this marvelous gift.
SUSTAINER OF LIFE AND PROVIDER
But now that we are alive, do we need God? Are we in any way dependent upon him? An infant simply cannot get along without its earthly parents. It needs someone to feed it, clothe it and take care of its other necessities. Are humans similarly dependent upon God, their heavenly Father, or Life-giver?
Many persons do not think so. ‘What has God done for me?’ they may ask. True, they may labor hard to feed and clothe their families, perhaps working long hours to plant seed, and toiling beneath a hot sun to harvest the fruitage. Yet, who makes that seed develop into nutritious food that can give strength to their bodies and cause their children to grow? How is it that seed, plus a little water and soil, can produce such miraculous results? Is any human responsible?
No, but it is God’s doing! Long ago the Christian apostle Paul discussed this matter of growth, and said: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow.” (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) Although Paul was here discussing spiritual growth, the principle is equally true relative to the growth of literal seed. God sustains the miraculous processes that enable these to germinate and produce the many things that man needs.
The French astronomer Laplace haughtily assumed that, because he had discovered some of the laws responsible for the orderly and complex movements of the heavenly bodies, the hand of God was not involved. But who arranged, for example, that the earth should revolve on its axis at just the right speed (about 1,000 miles an hour at the equator) so that life on earth is bathed in ideal periods of sunlight and darkness? And who set the speed of earth’s orbit around the sun at some 66,600 miles per hour, which is just the right speed to hold the earth on a course at an ideal distance from the sun for terrestrial life to grow and prosper?
The magnificent law and order governing the universe rule out the possibility of these ideal circumstances occurring by chance. Jehovah God is the Creator and Designer of the star and planetary systems, As the Bible explains: “He is counting the number of the stars; all of them he calls by their names.” (Ps. 147:4; Isa. 40:25, 26) And the law and order that continue to govern the movement of the planets and stars testify that God still exists and is sustaining and enforcing these laws. Yes, man could not get along without Him; in fact, life would not continue on earth.
Just as an infant is dependent upon its parents for the necessities of life, so all humans are similarly dependent upon Jehovah God. The apostle Paul was correct in telling people that God gives “rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts to the full with food and good cheer.” (Acts 14:15-17) We should, therefore, credit God for these things and render him heartfelt thanks. For, as the Bible says, “he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things,” and “by him we have life and move and exist.”—Acts 17:25, 28.
So whether humans choose to acknowledge it or not, they are indebted to God for life and are dependent upon him for the many physical necessities that make life possible. Yet, does the heavenly Father only provide food to feed the body and none to nourish the mind? Can humans get along without the spiritual provisions of Jehovah God?
LIVING WITHOUT GOD
Although probably the vast majority of earth’s population say they believe that God exists, by choice most of them live in ignorance of his spiritual provisions. They turn a deaf ear to the Holy Scriptures. They make little or no effort to learn about God’s provisions for recovering humankind from the deteriorating effects of sin and blessing them with perfect health and life in a righteous new system of things.
The circumstance of such persons is similar to that of the ancient Ephesians before they became Christians. The apostle Paul wrote to these: “You were at that particular time without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise, and you had no hope and were without God in the world. But now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ.”—Eph. 2:12, 13.
Before coming to a knowledge concerning God’s purposes those Ephesians were “without God.” They were living in ignorance of his spiritual provisions and had no genuine hope for life in lasting happiness. The prospect before them was of living out a short life-span and dying. Only after responding to the message of the Holy Scriptures did they enter a close relationship with God and enjoy the sure hope of everlasting life. This prospect was made possible by their acceptance of God’s provision of Jesus Christ, through whose sacrifice they were released from the condemnation resulting from inherited sin and brought near to God.—Eph. 1:7; Rom. 5:12.
It is, therefore, true that one can live temporarily without God’s spiritual provisions. Physical food alone will sustain a person for a while. But, in time, it is unavoidable that the effects of sin catch up with him and he dies. Man, even with his great advances in medical science, is unable to do anything to prevent this. How evident, then, that man needs God! He cannot get along indefinitely without knowing about Him and his provisions! Jesus Christ emphasized this fact when with his disciples, saying: “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.
RECOGNIZE YOUR NEED FOR GOD
However, apparently because they see so much wickedness and human suffering without discerning any intervention by God, many persons question whether there is a God, and conclude that, if there is, they can get along without him. It causes some even to become set in a course of wickedness, as noted by the Bible writer: “Because sentence against a bad work has not been executed speedily, that is why the heart of the sons of men has become fully set in them to do bad.”—Eccl. 8:11.
But just because God does not immediately rise up and uproot wickedness is no proof that He does not exist, or that one can get along without Him. It is jumping to a conclusion, perhaps one that a person selfishly wishes to believe. The inspired Bible psalmist notes: “The wicked one according to his superciliousness makes no search; all his ideas are: ‘There is no God.”’ (Ps. 10:4) Such a person who refuses to make an open-minded search of the evidence will never arrive at the truth. By continuing in his closed-minded, ungrateful course he will miss out on the grand blessings that Jehovah God has in store for all those who avail themselves of his provisions.
So be appreciative and thankful. Give God credit for the life you enjoy. Make known to Him your gratitude for the food you eat, the air you breathe, the beautiful scenery that delights your eye, the melodious sounds that please your ear, and His many other blessings. Begin now! For example, the next time you sit down to a meal, why not give Jehovah God heartfelt thanks for providing the food? It was He who made it grow.
However, you need more than just God’s physical provisions. Life is only temporary and empty without His spiritual food to nourish the mind and heart. (Matt. 4:4) Therefore, show your appreciation for this provision by setting aside time for regular Bible study. Do not put it off! Jehovah’s witnesses will be happy to assist you to obtain this valuable knowledge concerning God and his purposes. You cannot get along without it. Remember: Jesus said that it means everlasting life.
O how grand it will be when the redemptive power of Christ’s sacrifice is applied in behalf of all who appreciate their Grand Creator! Even dead loved ones will be brought forth from their tombs. Then, not just a few, but millions will realize the joy experienced by the parents of the twelve-year-old girl whom Jesus Christ resurrected, The Bible record says: “They were beside themselves with great ecstasy.” (Mark 5:42) Imagine the rejoicing on earth when Jesus’ sure promise is fulfilled: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out”! (John 5:28, 29) No human power can accomplish this. It can come about only through the power of the original Source of life, Jehovah God, who will use Jesus Christ to do the resurrecting. How obvious it is that we need God, that we cannot get along without Him.
If, now, like the Ephesian Christians of long ago, you accept God’s provision for recovering mankind from condemnation to sin and death, you will have the happy prospect of never, throughout all eternity, being without God. Rather, you will be a personal part of the glorious scene described in God’s Word the Bible:
“Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.”
Can you confidently trust that this is an authentic promise? Yes, indeed, for the Bible goes on to give the assurance: “And the one seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ Also, he says: ‘Write, because these words are faithful and true.’”—Rev. 21:3-5.