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oréated the universe, but say the Atheists, before the universe existed there were no objects of knowledge. Therefore previous to creation no ornniscient being could have existed.
Ans. Omniscience is the knowledge of all actual or possible events and things. This knowledge may have resided, and Theists maintain that it actually did eternally, reside in the mind of God.
Obj. Ill. Theists maintain the immutability of God, and also that he governs the world. But, say the Atheists, we are conscious of freedom; but our freedom is inconsistent with the immutability of God as the governor of the world ; therefore there can be no immutable God that governs the world.
Ans. This is a mere begging of the question. To say that God's immutability and our free agency are inconsistent with each other is bare assertion
Again, Atheists allege that creation itself implies a change in God and is therefore inconsistent with his immutability.
Ans: Theists maintain the immutability of God in respect to hiš nature and his character, r Creation certainly implies no change in either of these, but only the exercise of his natural and moral attributes. If to this it be replied, that character is nothing else than the exercise of the natural attributes, and that before creation he could have had no moral character, and that the work of crea: tion was the formation of moral character and therefore implied a change; it may be answered, that character consists in design or in tention, and that God always designed or intended to create the uni: verse ; and therefore creation implies no formation or change of character in him.
Obj: IV. Theists maintain that God is a being of infinite natural and moral perfections.
To this Atheists objectiv 1
1. That the physical imperfections of the universe are entirely inconsistent with the existence of those natural and moral attributes which Theists ascribe to God. , ;
Ans. That is perfect which is entirely suited to the end for which it was designed. Theists maintain that the universe was made and is governed for the glory of God, in the promotion of virtue and happiness and that so far as we can see, it is in the best possible manner suited to that end:
2. To this Atheists object, that the actual existence of so much sin of moral evil, togethet with all the misery occasioned by it, is inconsistent with the existence either of infinite goodness, infinite knowledge, or infinite power; and that Theists may take which Horn of the trilemma they please : that one of three things must be true: either God did not foresee that these evils would exist, in which cuse he is not omniscient, or foreseeing it, he had not pow. er to prevent it, in which case he is not omnipotent, or, foreseeing it and being able to prevent it, he had not the goodness to do so. Whichever of these suppositions be true, it demonstrates that the Theist's God cannot exist.
Ans. This is again begging the question. Infinite goodness, knowledge and power, imply only that if a universe were made, it would be the best that was naturally possible. This objection assumes that a better universe, upon the whole, was a natural possibility, It assumes that a universe of moral beings could, under a moral government, administered in the wisest and best manner, be wholly restrained from sin: but this needs. proof, and never can be proved. - Moral agency implies freedom : freedom implies the power to resist every degree of motive that can be brought to bear upon minda That it would have been possible to prevent sin under a moral government, or had it been possible, that it would have been wise, so to alter the administration as wholly to exclude it, is a gratuitous assumption, and any argument or objection founded upon this assumption is of no weight: as certainly it is no impeachment of the natural or moral attributes of God, that moral and natural evils exist, if their existence was, upon the whole, the less of two evils, and preferable to such an arrangement as would have entirely excluded them, 11 2. The force of this objection lies in the fact that there are things in the universe, all the reasons for, and uses of which, we do not understand. Suppose we are unable to account for the existence of natural and moral evil in a universe like this, is this fact to set aside the world of evidence that the universe was made and is governed by a God? :« Certainly nothing is more unreasonable.
Obj. V. Atheists deny that there is sufficient evidence of design in the structure of the universe to warrant a rational belief in a designer.
Ans. 1. There are two ways in which design may be most strikingly manifested. One is where a single principle, property, or law, is so applied as to produee the greatest number of beneficial results. The application of the law of gravitation is an instance of this kind. The other is, when a most complicated and labored piece of mechanism is constructed for a single but highly important end. The human frame is an instance and illustration of this. Now the universe every where abounds with instances of these two extremes of art, and affords the highest possible evidence of design.
2. This objeetion, if allowed, sets aside the possibility of setdling any question by evidence, as it is founded in a virtual denial of all evidence.
Obj. VI. Atheists objeet that we can have no conception of such a being as the Theist's God. -* Ans. There is a difference between a real and an adequate conception. A conception may be real so far as it goes, without including a conception of all that belongs to its object. It is plain that we can form a real, though inadequate, conception of God. If we could form no coneeption of God we could believe nothing about him. But we can and do; therefore this objection is good for nothing.
Obj. VII. Theists maintain that God created the universe out of nothing. This Atheists maintain is naturally impossible. “Ex nihilo, nihil fut," is a favorite axiom of theirs, when contending gainst this doctrine of Theism.
Ans. 1. This is assumption.
2. The eternal existence of the matter of which the universe is formed, may be admitted without invalidating the proof of God's existence.
3. But that matter is not self-existent appears from the fact that if it is eternal it must have eternally existed, either in an elementary state or in a state of combination and consequently of change. If in an elementary state, it never could have passed into a state of combination. If in a state of combination and change its existence from eternity involves the doctrine of an infinite series, which is absurd ; as will be shown in its place.
Obj. VIII. We can as well conceive of the existence of the universe in its present state without a cause, as to conceive of the existence of God without a cause.
Ans. We cannot conceive of the existence of any event without a cause ; but the universe in its present state we know to be a stupendous series of events. God's existence is no event at all, as he never began to be. The difference then of the two suppositions in question, is as the supposition that myriads of events occur without any cause, and that God's existence which is no event is without a
Obj. IX. But here they object more definitely, and say that if the universe is an exquisitely constructed machine, the mind that could create it must be still more wonderful and exquisite in its structure, and that we may as well suppose the eternal self-existence of the universe as to suppose the eternal self-existence of a being who could create it.
Ans. The universe we know to be continually changing and that therefore it cannot by any possibility have been eternally self-existent, for in that case either those changes have been eternally going en or they have not. If they have, then they must have occurred in an eternal series of dependent events, which is absurd and impossible. If these changes have not been eternally occurring the universe must have existed from eternity in a changeless state. In this case no change could by any possibility have taken place but by the action of some power not inherent in the universe itself; and this power must have been God. We certainly know, therefore, that the universe is not eternally self-existent. But we conceive of God, as possessing an eternal necessary self-existencê, amel as, therefore, unchangeable. The difficulty in the two conceptions in question, does not lie in supposing an eternal, necessary, self-ex. istence to be impossible or unreasonable ; because this supposition is not inconsistent with any first truth. It is not supposing that any event occurs without a cause; for eternal self-existence is no event; as it never begins to be. But the difficulty lies in supposing that events and things that begin to be really occur without any cause. This we cannot by any possibility conceive. Here we are brought back then to the same conclusion, that the difference in the two suppositions in question is as the supposition that myriads of events occur without a cause, and that what is no event exists without la
Obj. X. To the affirmation of Theists that with the facts of the universe before us, we necessarily have the idea of a first cause, or of a God; they object, and say that as a matter of faet they have no such ideas
Ans. They also affirm that they have no idea of eausality, and do not believe in the reality of it. But who does not know that this is an affirmation in the face of stubborn facts, and that they really have the idea of causality, and cannot doubt it nor act in consistency with the denial of it in any case whatever. These are the principal objections of Atheists to Theism, with brief and what are supposed to be their appropriate answers. 1,
FOURTH. Point out some of the difficulties of Atheism.
I. Difficulty. One of the fundamental and fatal difficulties of Atheism is that it is founded upon the denial of a first truth
1. Causality, or that every event must have a cause, is certainly a first truth. It cannot be, and never was, seriously doubted; and professed doubters uniformly recognize it in all their actions.
2. It cannot be denied without admitting it. The denial implies a denier ; the denial is the effect of which the denier is the cause.
3. It cannot be doubted without assuming its truth, as the doubt is an effect of which the doubter is the cause.
4. The denier knows that he states á falsehood in the denial : for if he did not believe in causality he would not and could not attempt the denials
5. If he did not believe in causality, he would not attempt to say, do, or think any thing whatever, any more than he would attempt to fly, or make a universe, or create a God:
6. That causality is a matter of universal belief, and every where and necessarily regarded as a first truth, is evident from the fact that nearly every sentence in every language is construetedu
upon the admission of this truth. What are the nominative case, the verb, and the objective ease, but the cause and the effect ?
1.7. No mind can conceive of causality as being untrue, and if it could, the very conception itself would be both an instance, and a proof of the truth of it, as the conception would be of itself an effect of which the conceiver would be the cause.
8. Theism is based upon this first truth, and is as certain as the foundation upon which it rests. The whole argument for the ex. istence of God is either a single irresistible inference from the ex istence of the universe, or a series of irresistible inferences standing one upon another, and having for their foundation the certain and iminutable truth of causality, or that every event must have a
The conclusion is as certain as the premises The premise every body knows to be true, and if any one denies the truth of the inference, viz., that there is a God, it must be the denial of his heart and not of his intellect. But as Atheism is founded in a de nial of this first truth it must be a tissue of absurdity..
II. Difficulty. Another difficulty of Atheism is, that it is fundamentally inconsistent with itself. To the doctrine that God created the universe out of nothing, Atheists object, “ ex nihilo nihil fit." But in accounting for the existence of the universe as it is, they aseribe all events to chance. Now chance is either nothing or something, If nothing, to ascribe the existence of the universe to it, is to contradict their favorite maxim just quoted. If something adequate to the production of such effects, then they admit causality, and ehance is only another name for God.
III. Difficulty. One of the main pillars of Atheism is the doctrine of an infinite series ; and that the present universe is one of an eternal series of changes through which matter has been eternally passing by its own inherent properties, laws, or affinities.
But to this it may be answered:
1. That it both admits and denies causality. It admits it in maintaining that the changes, and even the structure of the universe, are caused by the inherent properties of matter. It denies it by assigning no sufficient or adequate cause. For an inadequate cause is the same as no cause.
2. The properties and laws of matter cannot account for the existence of matter.
3. If the self-existence of matter be admitted, the properties and laws of matter cannot account for the locations of matter, and consequently for the movements and events of the universe.
4. Were not the locations of matter such as they are, the events of the universe would not be what they are. (See locations of the planetary system.)
5. The structure and location of the organs and parts of the human body, evince incomparably more design and skill, than do the inherent laws and properties of matter.
6. Supposing the universe to have been created out of nothing, the evidence of the divine existence exhibited in the locations of