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Is There A God?

by Ernest O'Neill

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Einstein and Darwin answer "Yes"

Most of us feel the existence of God is just too big an issue for puny human beings like ourselves to try to decide. After all, we don't have the greatest minds in the world - there are other people more intelligent than we are. What do they think?... Einstein, for instance? Here are his own words: "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior Spirit who reveals Himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."1

Oh, but didn't Darwin long ago show how the order of the universe could be explained by evolution - apart from God? No, he didn't - here is the way Darwin concludes "The Origin of Species": "There is a grandeur in this view of life with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."2

Why does Huxley say "No"?

For Darwin, as for Einstein, evolution of an ordered universe was only feasible if some intelligent Mind designed the evolutionary program. But why then don't all the great intellectuals believe in the existence of God? Because other irrational presuppositions interfere with the mind's logical working. Here's the frank confession of the agnostic, Aldous Huxley: "I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves .... For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political."3

Are you being coldly intellectual?

Obviously, another factor besides reason can influence the human mind as it ponders whether there is a God or not - that factor is the will. Many of us who claim to be addressing a purely intellectual question in a coldly detached manner are very aware, as Huxley was, that this is no inconsequential question we are about to answer, but a question whose answer will affect every part of our lives. It becomes shockingly obvious that, if we conclude there is a God, we are logically bound to submit the control of our lives to His will, and most of us do not want to do that.

So, it is fair to note that intellectual giants of our era have come to the conclusion that there is a Supreme Being, and that emotional and volitional implications of the conclusion have prejudiced some of the intellectuals who deny the existence of a God.

Nevertheless, the overriding opinion down through the centuries has been that of an ancient engraving in Mesopotamia from 4000 B.C.: "A man must wholeheartedly obey the command of his god." Whether it is Plato in 400 B.C. or Mao Tse Tung talking to the U.S. Secretary of State in 1977, belief in the existence of a god is innate in man. However primitive the people, however remote the country, there is everywhere an unspoken assumption that God was responsible for the existence of the world, and worship and respect are shown him in some kind of ritualistic or sacrificial system.


Why is this belief in the existence of a Supreme Being who created the universe so general and natural in mankind? Because human beings, whether they are intellectuals like Einstein or primitive tribesmen, all have the same response when they see an object like a mountain or a planet - they immediately wonder: "Who put it there?" Indeed, they have to be brainwashed or taught not to ask that question. Otherwise, their minds will operate with the same kind of simple cause-and-effect reasoning that they use in everyday-life situations. In other words, people believe that the existence of a Creator is the most likely and most probable explanation for the existence of the universe.

For instance, what would your reaction be if you came out of your house one morning and found a solid gold Cadillac parked in your driveway? Would you go back into your house and say: "I wonder what explosion could have created that car outside?" People in many strife-torn countries could put you right on the question of whether explosions create or destroy. Or would you immediately think: "Now this Cadillac has obviously sprung forth by spontaneous generation from some decomposing substance!" Or would you conclude: "Obviously, this Cadillac has evolved from a Volkswagen Beetle!"

You know you wouldn't respond in any of those three ways. You'd simply say, "I wonder who left that there!" None of the other comments explains how the Cadillac originated. They are simple hypotheses of how something might have exploded once there was something to explode, or how spontaneous generation might have taken place once there was a substance to decompose, or how something might have evolved once there was something to evolve from, but none of these theories removes the need to answer the basic question: "Who or what is the original, first cause of the universe?"


But why do we even consider asking "Who" instead of simply "What"? If you were to come out of your bedroom door some morning and find a bone lying on the floor, your response would not be: "Hmmm, that cannibal brother of mine has been chewing up people again." It would simply be: "That dog again!" Similarly, if you found a piece of paper with a simultaneous equation on one side and a piece of "Paradise Lost" on the other, your response would not be: "Hmmm, that dog is leaving assignments around again!" You would simply say: "My brother has lost some of his homework."

In other words, the order and design of the universe look like the product of a mind that is not only intelligent, but personal. Can an inanimate object like a stone make an animate object like a flower? Can a dog make a man? Can an impersonal elan' vital make three-and -a-half billion persons, each one different, with minds and emotions that we still cannot reproduce with all our technology? If you find a watch while walking along the beach, you conclude there must be a watchmaker - someone who understands the intricacies and fine tolerances necessary to design a watch. Similarly, when you perceive the complex attitudes and responses of the various personalities around you, you naturally conclude that the Creator that made us must be at least as personal as we are. Thus, there are certain clues in the order and design of the universe that suggest the strong probability that there is a Creator who is a Person.


There is another marvellous fact about us human beings that strongly suggests that there is a Personal Mind behind our creation. Most of us would agree that the present state of the world demonstrates plainly that we humans find it easier to do wrong than to do right. Obviously, it is easier for us to lose our temper than to keep it; it is natural for us to stand up for our rights and get our own way, however this may affect other people. We're always fighting - internationally, nationally, socially; the bigger a city gets, the more of a jungle it becomes. Personally, we find it easier to criticize others than to praise them, to look after our own interests rather than theirs. Yet in spite of the fact that all these things come more easily to us, we still say they're wrong.

Why do we say that selfishness is wrong? Where does this sense of right and wrong come from? It's certainly a nuisance to us - it causes us guilt and often induces us to do things that are to our disadvantage. Why would a squabbling, arguing bunch of selfish creatures think that their squabbling, arguing and selfishness are wrong unless some Being, better than they are, created them with a sense of moral obligation - a conscience?

It is very difficult to call this sense an instinct, because it will often act as a judge between herd and self-preservation drives, as when one is faced with saving a drowning victim. It isn't simply what we're brought up to regard as good, because there is a universality about conscience that is inexplicable in terms of education alone; no tribe, however primitive, regards selfishness or cowardice as virtues. This moral sense is not just behavior that is convenient or that pays off, because it is often very inconvenient and costs us dearly. Why should we feel obliged to do what benefits our neighbour or what will preserve society when we find it easier to put our own interests before our neighbour's and society's?

The most plausible and probable explanation is that we are not in a closed system, but that there is a Personal Being who has higher aspirations for us than we naturally follow, and that our conscience is still receiving signals from outer space.

Is there a God? That seems the most likely explanation for the order and design of the universe, our own personalities, and the existence of conscience. Such circumstantial evidence does not prove the existence of God, but it makes faith in the empirical evidence of certain phenomena in the first century reasonable.


Or, return to previous page, What Is Reality?

  1. Bennett, Lincoln
    The Universe and Dr. Einstein
    New York, Wm. Sloane Associates, 1975
    p. 95 Return to text..
  2. Darwin, Charles
    The Origin of Species
    Chicago, Great Books of the Western World, 1952
    p. 243 Return to text.
  3. Huxley, Aldous
    Ends and Means
    London, Chatto and Windus, 1938
    pp. 270ff Return to text.