Why Believe in God?
DO YOU believe in God? Some persons who do, pride themselves as being “better” than those who do not. But suppose you, the one professing to believe in God, are asked to give reasons for your belief? Can you explain clearly why you believe in God?
Surprisingly, most persons who claim to be Christians cannot do this. Some adhere to a belief in God simply because their parents did or because they now happen to live where it is socially popular to do so. But that will not convince another person to believe in God, will it? Indeed, one of the reasons why many persons, even the children of some so-called Christians, become doubters of God is the inability of believers to explain convincingly their convictions. And, frankly, unless a person has been personally convinced to believe in God, he is not likely to hold that belief when under pressure.
A legitimate belief in God must be founded on facts that we intelligently determine to be true. But as an ancient writer said: “No man has seen God at any time.” (John 1:18) So to be convinced of his existence our belief must be based on other things observed and on our accumulated personal experience. Then with our powers of reason we can develop an unassailable belief in God.
WHAT CAUSED CREATION?
For example, what thoughts come to you when you observe the starry, seemingly endless heavens, or the many and varied forms of life on earth? Are you moved to reason on the source of these things? This is called reasoning from “effect” to “cause.” Reasoning on the existing “effect,” creation, makes it evident that there must be some “cause” behind it. But it might fairly be asked, ‘Why must that cause be God? Could it not be just blind chance?’
Well, consider what experience has shown you. A watch obviously has a cause or maker. And does not a carefully designed timepiece reveal something about the cause, that it is the product of an orderly mind that has the ability to design? It was made by an intelligent person.
Yet men set their timepieces on earth by the impressive heavenly bodies. Their regularity, also the vibrations of certain atoms on this earth, allow man today to adjust his clocks to within very tiny fractions of a second. Would not this superb design in creation also indicate intelligence? And have you ever known intelligence to exist apart from personality? So, you see, the law of cause and effect compels us to conclude that creation testifies to the existence of an Intelligent Person as its Maker—God.
Similarly, what about life itself? Have you ever known life to come from any source other than life? Those who question God’s existence generally try to evade this simple question. But they then are faced with other equally simple but baffling questions, like those that Hal Borland raises in the book The Enduring Pattern:
“Those who explain the origin of life as a chance combination of chemical elements which they admit could not happen under the conditions of today are falling back, perhaps unconsciously, on some force that brought about that chance combination. What was it? Those who believe that life appeared in the primordial seas from some remote place in outer space are admitting the existence of life elsewhere at that time. Where and how did that life come into being? Those who trace the germ of life to nucleic acid and say the substance of the genes can be duplicated, admit that they do not know whence the genes, or the nucleic acid, received their power of life or the patterns they dictate. Where lies that power, that pattern? If it is in the way those elusive elements combine, why do they combine that way? The questions are persistent and most difficult.”—(1959) page 244.
Based on what we know, reason obliges us to conclude that only a living Creator could produce life.
FROM WHERE DID CONSCIENCE COME?
Belief in God is also necessary to explain conscience in man. Why do we say that? A brief examination of the subject reveals the reason.
Wherever and whenever men have lived, there has been an inborn sense of right and wrong, also sometimes called moral law or natural law, to guide their actions. Testifying to this is the comment by Princeton University’s P. R. Coleman-Norton:
“We find that the law of nature [or, a sense of right and wrong] has three characteristics: (1) universality, because its precepts are always the same in all times and among all peoples; (2) necessity, because it is a demand upon man’s rational nature; (3) immutability, because it is independent of all human authority.”
However, some might argue that while one person, using his conscience, would call a certain practice entirely “right,” another person would call it grossly “wrong.” But inborn natural law consistently condemns the same basic wrongs in every society. Anthropologist M. F. Ashley Montagu observes:
“Murder is universally regarded as a crime, and if the murderer is caught and brought to justice the penalty is usually death. . . . Incest regulations are universal . . . private property is universally respected. Individual rights in property exist in all nonliterate societies, in property that is real, property that is movable, and property that is incorporeal.”—Anthropology and Human Nature (1957), pages 58, 63, 64.
Obviously what distinguishes murder from, say, self-defense will vary slightly between different groups, as will the exact relationship that is defined as “incest.” The precise laws governing theft in an agrarian society will differ from those in a technological one. But the root practices are invariably considered wrong. (Compare Romans 2:14, 15 in the Bible.) It is no wonder that R. W. Firth, formerly of the University of London, noted:
“In many respects the rules of primitive morality accord fairly closely with those observed in a sophisticated civilized society.”
In fact, “sophisticated civilized society” in our own twentieth century used the law of conscience to convict legally certain Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg after World War II. Though these pleaded they were merely obeying Nazi law and their own governmental superiors, it was ruled that the “higher natural law of justice” should have been followed. And, right now, in avowedly godless Red China, there, nevertheless, appears to be a strong sense of morality as the nation has acted to clean out such practices as prostitution.
From where did this universal natural law, moral law or law of the conscience come? Do you know of any law that does not have a lawmaker? Further, is it not reasonable that an outstandingly moral Person must be the Maker of a natural law that has worked for the obvious good and even preservation of all human society? That moral Person is God.
EVIDENCE OF GOD IN THE BIBLE
The Bible, too, is proof that God exists. How is that?
Much of the Bible contains detailed prophecies or predictions. If there is no God, how can these be explained? A case in point: How could the Bible have foretold hundreds of years in advance where Jesus would be born? (Mic. 5:2; Matt. 2:1-6) His family line? (Gen. 22:15-18; 49:10; 2 Sam. 7:8-16; Matt. 1:1, 2, 6) When he would appear as Messiah? (Dan. 9:24-27) Certainly Jesus himself could do very little to control these factors. Yet these and hundreds of other prophecies of this nature in the Bible came true. How could this be—unless there is a farseeing God? No man has such ability to peer into the future.
Further, what the Bible does for people who actually apply its principles proves there is a God. A contrast helps us to understand this.
Currently, there is a multitude of problems facing the human race. Few men are even optimistic about any lasting solution. One scientist concluded in the very conservative journal named “Science”:
“We may have even less than a 50-50 chance of living until 1980 . . . The shortness of the time is due to the exponential and multiplying character of our problems.”
Does not what you yourself read in the daily newspaper regarding such things as racial problems, the arms buildup, crime, and family disruptions, confirm this scientist’s studies?
By contrast, over a million and a half of Jehovah’s witnesses in more than 200 lands and islands attempt to apply the principles of the Bible to these same problems as they touch their own lives. With what results? Well, consider some examples:
In race relations, do you see genuine improvement among the nations of the world? Most people readily say ‘no’; there are strong racial hatreds on every continent. But we read statements like this one concerning Jehovah’s witnesses:
“I am struck with their genuine high regard for the people of all races. Unlike some who pay lip service to the doctrine of racial brotherhood, the Witnesses welcome all to their society—even to places of outstanding leadership—without reference to color or feature.”—G. Norman Eddy in Journal of Bible and Religion.
Have men been able in thousands of years of effort to stop war? And now are there not more weapons stockpiled than ever in the past? The answers are obvious. But recognizing the words in the Bible at Isaiah 2:2-4 as a command from God, Jehovah’s witnesses have ‘beaten their swords into plowshares.’ Nationalistic barriers do not cause them to hate and kill. The Sacramento (California) Union editorialized in 1965:
“Suffice it to say that if all the world lived by the creed of the Jehovah[’s] Witnesses there would be an end of bloodshed and hatred, and love would reign as king.”
Moreover, while crime rises in ever so many parts of the world, Jehovah’s witnesses’ law-abiding conduct is well known. The Piscataway (New Jersey) Chronicle observes:
“We know from having had personal contact with the JW’s when they were here [for a convention] in 1950 that they bend over backward to observe all laws of the township as faithfully as possible.”
Divorce and juvenile delinquency rates climb daily. But well-behaved families are characteristic of the Witnesses. The book Christians of the Copperbelt tells about Witness families in parts of Africa:
“Watchtower parents do more to help young people in their homes . . . The Watchtower families we learnt to know seem to be exceptionally well-adjusted and happy together.”
Yes, Jehovah’s witnesses have found a workable solution to all these problems and many others. But no human experts have come up with a real solution. The Witnesses’ success is possible only because they follow the Bible. The Bible, therefore, must come from a source higher than the most brilliant man. That source is God.
BELIEF GIVES LIFE PURPOSE
Truth-loving persons will find, as have Jehovah’s witnesses, another persuasive argument that serves to convince them that there is a God. What is that?
Only a belief in God allows for human life to have a satisfying purpose.
But, you might reason, ‘How can that be? Has not God been responsible for death and suffering? What “satisfying purpose” does that give life?’
Well, did you know that the Bible does not teach that God is responsible for suffering and death? Quite the contrary, in its opening book the Bible shows that man has brought suffering and death on himself. Further, the Bible shows that rather than allow present wicked conditions like these to continue, God will shortly end them and restore paradise to this earth. Most of those who have died will be brought back to life by a resurrection. But, only a belief in God makes such a heart-cheering understanding possible.—Gen. 3:3, 17-19; Eccl. 7:29; John 5:28, 29; Rev. 21:3, 4.
On the other hand, suppose you do not believe in God? Can you see a purpose behind the thousands of years of wickedness and offer any satisfying explanation for it? Suppose your child’s grandmother or a youthful schoolmate dies. Can you convincingly explain to your child why death exists at all?
Those who have considered the contrast between belief and nonbelief in God may conclude as did a writer in the Chicago Tribune who said:
“Most non-God views of the world with man as just a biological accident adrift in an empty void seem cold, futile, and absurd.”
How reasonable, therefore, to accept belief in God! Life then can have purpose!
Of course, there are other questions that you may wonder about concerning God or conditions on this earth. Why not consider what Jehovah’s witnesses point out in the Bible by way of explanation? Ask Jehovah’s witnesses to explain personally what belief in God can do for you. If you cannot locate any of Jehovah’s witnesses in your community, write to The Watchtower and we will arrange to have someone contact you. There is no charge for this service.
[Picture on page 36]
A watch has an intelligent maker. Would not the heavenly bodies by which the watch is set also have a Maker?