Insight on the News
What Kind of God?
● “Twenty-five years ago this June,” observes the Catholic Jesuit magazine “America, Americans piously inserted the phrase ‘under God’ into the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.” In reflecting on the reason for this move, “America” says that “most who supported the change in wording (and there were few who did not) frankly admitted that the inclusion of God was a political, not a religious, act.” In those days of fervent anti-Communism, notes the article, “the Catholic War Veterans of Wayne County, Mich., resolved that letting God into the Pledge would give ‘additional meaning to the spiritual defense of our nation.’ God . . . was being recalled to active duty.”
The significance of this was expressed by one religious writer of the time who said that, by putting God into the pledge, America was “adopting a God of war who appears as a nationalistic deity directing bombs and bullets into the hearts of our enemies.” Observes “America”: “Quite simply, the nation was afraid of the future, and it tried to meet this fear by having its children parrot in singsong fashion just how good it actually was. The Pledge was to be a spiritual boot [military training] camp for babes.”
Do you want your children to learn about a nationalistic “God of war” or, rather, about the “God of peace” as revealed in the Bible? (Phil. 4:9) “America” draws this conclusion: “The phrase ‘under God’ is the concrete symbol of what was, 25 years ago, and may still be, the established American religion: worship of the state. We ought to drop it.”—June 9, 1979, pp. 469, 470.
Hiding the Light
● “I would be shy about talking to others about my faith,” said a member of the Lutheran Church in America, responding to a recent survey of attitudes on this subject. “Talking about religion and faith is really the pastor’s job,” said another. Only 11.1 percent said that they would talk about their faith to nonchurch families “eagerly” if asked to do so by their pastor. About 16 percent said that they would do it with misgivings, and 44 percent said that they would not do it at all.
Instead of sharing their faith, as a form of “everyday evangelism,” over 90 percent of the church members preferred praying for others or offering to help friends who were having difficulties. Among the reasons offered for their reticence in speaking about their faith were: “I don’t feel I could explain my faith to others,” or, “I’d feel I was imposing my beliefs on others.”
How does such a timid, lukewarm approach to faith compare with the dynamic urgings of Jesus Christ? He told those who follow him: “You are the light of the world. . . . let your light shine before men.”—Matt. 5:14-16.
Life in Space?
● Scientists have long speculated that there may be millions of intelligent civilizations on other planets circling distant stars. Now some of them are not so certain. Back in 1966 Soviet astronomer Dr. Iosif S. Shklovsky coauthored a book entitled “Intelligent Life in the Universe.” But since then Dr. Shklovsky has apparently had second thoughts, and last year he wrote in a Soviet journal: “It looks as though our sun, that strange and solitary star surrounded by a family of planets, is most likely a rare exception in the stellar world.”
And more recently, the New York “Times” reported on a computer analysis of hypothetical stars and planets conducted by astronomer Michael H. Hart. “His conclusion is that, far from being common, civilized life must be exceedingly rare and the one we have on earth may even be unique,” observes the “Times.” Hart also pointed out that if our own earth were even 5 percent closer to the sun or 1 percent farther from it, temperature extremes hostile to life could develop. Additionally, Hart believes that the fact that no sign of extraterrestrial life has ever been discovered is significant.
In the Bible, the Creator indicates that, at least now, the earth may be unique as a planet hosting living creatures. His Word says: “As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.”—Ps. 115:16.