Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 30, 1950

"Choose Ye This Day"

Pat Hardeman, Tampa, Florida

The reader's attention is called to the first article in this series. In that article it was pointed out that the proper apologetic includes Biblical criticism, both lower and higher, the evidence for the existence of God, the field of Bible interpretation, and the refutation of contrary hypotheses in each of these fields. In this article the attempt will be made to summarize various theories by presenting several of them under the general heading of the "Naturalistic hypothesis" and to contrast that with the position of Christianity. This does not represent too much of a simplification of actual conditions since, as James Orr said in his day, "Christianity is met today not by piecemeal attacks on its doctrines or subjects springing simply from moral dislikes, but by a positively-conceived counter-view of the world claiming to rest on scientific grounds." As Orr says of this "modern view" of the world it "is characterized by a tendency to a materialistic and mechanical explanation of the phenomena of life and mind, by the rejection of teleological' considerations and, of course, by an utter abandonment of the idea of the entrance of the supernatural into human history and experience, and therefore of the conception of divine revelation." In contrast to this mechanistic view of the universe there is the Christian's view with supernatural revelation, miracles, and, in brief, the purpose of almighty God carried out in history.

The plan of this article is to show the superiority of the Christian's view, to show the good reasons of the hope that is within the Christian as contrasted with the many weaknesses of the naturalist's view. Further, I wish to show how the Christian's view solves all the problems of man's existence including happiness here and hope for the hereafter. Actually this method is a scientific method. In the realm of science when contrary hypotheses are presented, the scientist looks first at the evidence for both hypotheses, then attempts to discover how each hypothesis "works" in explaining the problems involved. The Christian's view of the world has as its major premise, or faith, the existence of the God who has revealed himself in the Bible, or the existence and revelation of God.

The first question is: what actual support is there for the Christian's major premise? The Christian's major premise has the very kind of support that is demanded of every true hypothesis. First, it harmonizes with all known facts. This is the same as to say it is rooted and grounded in history. The very laws by which the historicity of any event is established are the laws that establish the Christian's view. Let us summarize some of the proof for the Christian's view. The great and marvelous design that is exhibited everywhere in nature suggests the existence of the God who is the designer. "But," says someone, "the things that seem to show intelligence actually were produced by non-intelligent causes operating in evolution." In answer to this the reader is referred to my three articles on the reasonableness of belief in the existence of God which were published in the Guardian in the summer of 1949. Also there will be in this column articles at various times on this very point. Suffice it to say at present that evolutionists themselves are admitting as never before that even if evolution is true it does not exclude but rather demands a designer behind it. The Christian can also point with pride to the indications from physics of the temporaneity of the physical universe. There are but two realms in existence, the realms of matter and mind. Either both realms are eternal, or one existed from eternity and produced the other. But we know that the physical world is not eternal; there are evidences both for a beginning and an end of it. Either mind existed from eternity and produced nature, or nature came from nothing. The evidences are, supporting the Christian's view, that mind existed from eternity and is the creator and governor of the realm of nature. These last words are almost quotations from the writings of great scientists. It will be pointed out later that the naturalistic view, including evolution, runs contrary to the known laws of physics.

The law of causation which is the basis of the sciences postulates the necessity of a great first cause. Aristotle expressed it long ago: "If there be no first cause...there is no cause at all" (Book II, Metaphysics). Since we must accept causation, then, by the philosopher's reasoning, we must accept a first cause. In addition to the arguments from design, and physics, including causation, there is the argument from the existence of morality. This argument simply says there must be a moral cause for man's capacity to make moral distinctions. This moral cause is God. This receives confirmation from the known fact that when men reject the revelation of God as a basis for morality they inevitably set themselves adrift on the sea of moral uncertainty with no standard by which to distinguish right from wrong. These arguments, stated very briefly, are the "traditional" ones for the existence of a supreme being. But the greatest argument for the existence of God is the Bible. God's revelation in the Bible not only proves the existence of God in countless ways, as men might expect of a revelation from God, but it proves also in countless ways itself to be from God. All the proofs for the inspiration of the Bible to be found in the great works on evidences of Christianity are support for this part of the Christian's view. Archeology, prophecy, history, science and the influence of the Bible are proofs of its inspiration. Now these constitute only a partial list of the evidences in support of the Christian's hypothesis or faith or major premise i. e. that God has revealed himself in the Bible.

The Christian's Faith

The next point to be made in favor of the Christian's hypothesis is to show how it "works." That is, it solves the problems of man's existence and his happiness here and hereafter. Every man has a rational as well as a biological desire to live. Immortality was the dream that haunted the heathen philosophers who "knew not god." Indeed it haunts all men. Before, however, men believe in immortality they must be taught the view of the universe that allows immortality. Materialism for example is a view which, as long as men hold it, precludes their believing in immortality. I am aware of the attempts that have been made to harmonize modern materialism with immortality, but my conviction is the attempts have ended either in giving up materialism or in giving up immortality. Now before men can be taught the true view of the universe that allows miracles, including immortality, they must have some standard for determining truth. I believe it can be established that God's revelation to man is the standard for determining truth. As Jesus expresses it, "Thy word is truth". We think the truth when "we speak as the oracles of God." Edward Carnell in his book Introduction to Christian Apologetics (Erdman's, 1948) has pointed this out in a fine way. If men accept this standard of truth they are led to the view of the universe which includes immortality. If they reject this standard of truth, they must provide some other standard or declare there is no truth at all. Tragically radicals have sometimes taken this last alternative. The same way when men reject God's will as the standard of right and wrong they say, because of a failure to establish another standard that there is no such thing as right or wrong. This is ethical and moral anarchy just as above is intellectual chaos.

In addition to providing a standard of truth by which the view of the universe which includes immortality is framed, the Christian's view solves all the problems of human adjustment. Space forbids here giving quotations from eminent psychologists and psychiatrists who recognize that religion is the cure, the only cure, for man's frustrations. (Don't take this to mean that the writer approves the prevalent concept of religion leaning on psychiatry; because actually he believes that this concept evidences a lack of faith in the power of the Gospel of Christ.) Finally, the Christian's hypothesis "works" by providing the only adequate basis for knowledge. Naturalism says that man's rationality came originally from dirt. At the same time, the naturalist would laugh at you if you were to prove that Columbus discovered America by saying, "it rained yesterday." He would say you did not give a rational basis for the statement, Columbus discovered America. Remember, however, that he believes the rational (?) basis of all thought and knowledge is dirt. In other words man's rationality is the product of man's rational causes. The Christian believes, rationally, that rationality comes from a rational God. Which is the more reasonable?

The Materialists' Faith

Now let us consider the support for naturalistic hypothesis. Remember, this hypothesis says that nature is the "whole show." That is, there is no realm of the supernatural. It says further that the science which studies nature is adequate, because nature is adequate. On this hypothesis all events are determined by physical antecedents and experience is man's only teacher. (Actually if all events are physically determined there is no such thing as teaching, since teaching implies reaction on the part of a free will.)

Now by what proof is this hypothesis supported? As we investigate carefully we will see that evolution is used to account for the design in nature which the Christian uses to prove faith in God. Then the naturalistic hypothesis postulates the eternity of matter, or it ignores the beginning of things. If we let them pass in this ignoration, it will do them no good, because the next step in support of his hypothesis is the spontaneous generation of life. And if these steps were granted, we would still be confronted with their reliance on innumerable missing links as necessary steps in support of their view. (See especially Du-Bois Reymond's famous lecture on the Seven Enigmas of Evolution; also James Orr's God's Image in Man, Erdman's reprinted 1948.) Finally, in support of the naturalistic hypothesis it must be claimed that science is supreme in all areas of life, i.e. that there are no areas in human life where the laws of science do not reign. It is easily seen that every step in support of the naturalistic hypothesis, except the physical laws that he finds in nature (which are accounted for in the Christian's view of a great lawgiver), is taken contrary to what evidence man has. Contrast this support with the support outlined for the Christian's view.

The last question is, how does the naturalistic hypothesis "work"? Does it solve the basic problems of human existence and happiness here and hereafter? First, naturalism cuts across man's basic desire to live; it provides no basis for immortality; it rather contradicts immortality. As for truth, by the naturalistic hypothesis, the only truth on which one can depend is immediate sensation, which is not enough even for civilization. Further, naturalism provides no basis for a distinction between right and wrong. It engenders ethical anarchy. Further it would not be difficult to prove that many of the frustrations and maladjustments of mankind at present are due to naturalistic presuppositions of one kind or another. As for knowledge, naturalism gives no adequate account. The basis of all rational thought is non-rational; just as with naturalism the basis of all morality is amoral. In the light of evidences for these two views, and the way the one solves every problem and the other solves none, why will men halt between? "Choose ye this day" that view which has in it happiness for you here and eternal life hereafter.

The subject of article three will be the consequences of the theoretical acceptance of the Christian's view.