The Great Issue—What Is It?
WHAT is the great issue facing each one of us? Is it rising sea levels and freak weather caused by global warming? Is it depletion of the ozone layer, leading to dangerous exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays? Is it a population explosion, which compounds other global problems, such as poverty and crime? Or is it the prospect of the annihilation of untold millions in a nuclear war, with any holocaust survivors eventually dying in agony from cold, starvation, or radiation?
After discussing these and other issues, in 1989 the journal Scientific American concluded: “The possibility of nuclear war undoubtedly represents the gravest potential danger to . . . survival.” Is nuclear war, then, the great issue facing us?
The Great Issue
With the change in the political climate since 1989, nuclear war may seem less likely. Even so, as long as nuclear weapons exist, they will pose a serious threat to mankind. However, information in the 1990 Britannica Book of the Year points to another critical matter. According to this reference work, over 230 million of earth’s inhabitants are atheists. Other sources show that additional millions are influenced by Eastern philosophies that allow for the view that there is no Creator. Moreover, while hundreds of millions do believe in a Creator, their ideas about him differ radically. And in many cases, their actions bring great reproach upon the One they claim to worship.—2 Peter 2:1, 2.
If God exists—and he most certainly does—then surely the major issue today must involve him. Why did he create mankind? What is our responsibility toward him? How will he react to the way man is ruining the earth? And how will he respond to the challenge implied by the refusal of so many to believe in him or submit to his will? In fact, the great issue facing each one of us is whether we accept or reject the sovereignty of God, “whose name alone is JEHOVAH.”—Psalm 83:18, King James Version.
The Origin of the Universe
Of course, to those who do not believe in God, our responsibility toward him is a nonissue. But anyone who looks honestly at the design and the beauty of our earthly home is compelled to admit that there must be a great Designer. It is true that in trying to explain the natural wonders around us, most scientists leave God out of the picture. Many say, for example, that the universe grew to its present size from a tiny point much smaller than the head of a pin, that it all happened “naturally,” by chance, without the need of a Creator. However, after explaining a popular new theory on how the universe got started, physicist Hanbury Brown, in his book The Wisdom of Science, admits: “To most people, I guess, that would seem to be more like a conjuring trick than an explanation.” Professor Brown concludes that “the origin and purpose of the world” are “great mysteries” that science seems unable to solve.
Scientists have demonstrated that matter and energy are closely related and that matter can be converted into energy and energy into matter. As seen in nuclear explosions, a small amount of matter represents a huge amount of energy. Where, then, is the source of all the energy represented by the 100,000 million stars in our galaxy, as well as the more than 1,000 million galaxies that make up the visible universe?
The Bible says: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.” Who is that One? The Bible records the answer: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory.”—Isaiah 40:26; 42:5, 8.
Speculation that the earth along with the rest of the universe originated by chance takes away the glory that is due the Creator, Jehovah God. (Revelation 4:11) It also removes a strong motive to act responsibly toward the earth. If humans were aware that they are answerable to God for what they do to his creation, possibly they would be more careful in such matters as pollution, destruction of the ozone layer, and global warming.
The Origin of Life
Consider also the question: How did life get started? People have been taught that life came about without any intervention by God. But this contradicts a well-established scientific principle. At one time it was believed that beetles came from cow dung, worms from rotten flesh, and mice from mud. Even during the last century, scientists taught that microorganisms come from lifeless matter. But ideas like these were disproved by Redi, Pasteur, and other scientists. The World Book Encyclopedia (1990 edition) states: “After Pasteur’s experiments, most biologists accepted the idea that all life comes from existing life.”
Nevertheless, scientists theorize that things were different in the distant past. They say that the first one-celled organisms arose by chance from a lifeless mixture that they call a primeval soup, which contained the chemicals needed for life. “Chance, and chance alone, did it all, from the primeval soup to man,” declares Christian de Duve in A Guided Tour of the Living Cell.
Speaking of God, the Bible says: “With you is the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) This statement is truly in harmony with what has been observed—that life can only come from preexisting life. Since, however, mainstream science prefers to view one of God’s most precious gifts, life, as something that just happened, many people feel no responsibility toward God for how they use their lives. Thus, they break God’s laws, oppressing one another, stealing from one another, murdering one another, and spending considerable money, time, and ingenuity in designing murderous weapons that kill and devastate with terrifying efficiency.
Settling the Issue
Besides atheists and modernists, countless others deny God’s sovereignty. A vast number today claim to believe in God, and more than 1,700 million call themselves Christians. For centuries the churches of Christendom have publicly praised God in their services. But where do most of those 1,700 million people really stand on the matter of God’s sovereignty?
Both individuals and nations have demonstrated their disregard for it by going against God’s specific commands. Nations claiming to be Christian have perpetrated godless acts of violence, including the two worst wars of human history—and “Christian” clergymen on both sides blessed those wars! By such hypocrisy, they have greatly misrepresented God. As the Bible states: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works.”—Titus 1:16.
Nevertheless, God “cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13) The time must come when he will resolve all aspects of this issue of sovereignty in harmony with his own stated purpose: “They will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 38:23) But why has he taken so long? How will the issue finally be resolved? And how can you make right decisions in this most important matter?
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Cover background: U.S. Naval Observatory photo
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Background: U.S. Naval Observatory photo