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The Gateway of Understanding by Carl August Wickland M.D. - 1861 - 1945

 

 CHAPTER IX

 

IS THERE a God?

 

IS THERE a God? What shall I believe or not believe? How may I understand the meaning of existence?" These are paramount questions in the minds of many who feel intuitively that there must be a comprehensible interpretation of the enigma of life.

 

The Atheist denies there is an intelligent, causative factor in nature and life. His reasons for denial of an intelligent Cause in the manifest universe and its activities are largely based upon the apparent contradictions found in the story of a theological God and observance of the upheavals in the world and the many wrongs so manifest on every hand in mundane life.

 

Ruins of bygone ages prove to him that numberless races aspired and struggled to attain permanency, yet perished, leaving only ruins as mute evidence that decadence is the end. He is therefore convinced from superficial reasoning that there cannot be a guiding Intelligence and that nature and life are the result of mere chance. To him the Ship of the Universe is rudderless, without compass, chart or Captain, subject to the caprices and storms of blind force.

 

Agnosticism holds the theory that God is unknown and unknowable, that "first truths, substance, cause, especially the human soul and a First Cause, can neither be proved nor disproved, and must remain unknown and unknowable."

 

The average Agnostic believes that nothing pertaining to creation and life is knowable, and, accepting the foregoing theories dogmatically, avoids reasoning out problems for himself, meanwhile refusing to accept the evidence obtained by research of others in Nature's Arcana, which clearly indicates that much is knowable relating to the purpose


 

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of the phenomena of nature and life. In other words, "he will not enter himself, nor will he let others enter."

 

Many physical scientists who repudiate the illogical doctrines of orthodoxy become atheists and formulate the theory that mind and intelligence are only the resultant of the inter-action of cells—when cells cease to act man is no more.

 

In rejecting the old worn-out theory of orthodoxy, skeptical scientists reject with it an intelligent Designer, thus attempting to "throw away the baby with the bath water." Science is judging by cold intellect (Cain), and is pushing the intuitive faculty (Abel) into the background.

 

Fatalists of various degrees deny a future existence and are inclined to ignore the promptings of conscience, assuming the attitude that "We live today, tomorrow we die." Hence many live only for physical attractions, oftentimes becoming callous and indifferent to higher ideals of conduct and, for want of better understanding, do not hesitate to stoop to any wrong activity or crime.

 

When a clergyman, supposed to be especially protected by God, "goes wrong," deserts his wife and family to elope with a sixteen-year-old girl, and his congregation re-establishes him in his pulpit with full honors, ostracizing, however, not only the girl but her family as well, or when a minister of the gospel, as reported recently, murders his wife that he may marry a girl of nineteen, many declare there is no Divine Justice in the universe.

 

Disasters overtake the just as well as the unjust. Accidents, floods, epidemics or appalling physical cataclysms afflict believers in an all-wise Providence as well as "sinners"; an earthquake may shatter even the very structure wherein a reverent congregation is gathered in religious devotion. Such disasters shake the faith not only of skeptics but of the believers in a loving Father; they become despondent and conclude there is no God or Justice whatever, contending that otherwise such distress would not be permitted.

 

The trials of mortal existence and the apparent absence of a Guiding Intelligence in life are conducive, in the average mind, to rejection of the possibility of any supreme Being,


 

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purpose of life, existence of the soul or a future life after death. This seeming enigma is the source of much misery and sorrow, as well as evil, in the world today.

 

Dr. Frank N. Freeman, of the University of Chicago, speaking to the Conference on Research in Child Development in Chicago, declared, "There is no such thing as intelligence apart from training."

 

Dr. A. Douglas Singer, jointly with other authorities who assert that all metaphysical views must be completely surrendered for a more scientific conception of mind and that psychology must be properly placed in the scale of biologic evolution, states, "It does away altogether with any appeal to a separate will or soul."

 

Herbert Spencer asserted that he had no reason for hope of a continued existence. Many brilliant men of science hold the opinion that the grave ends all human efforts. The eminent Sir Arthur Keith asserted that as the light of a candle is blown out, so is life extinguished when the body dies. Even the brilliant Edison was reported as believing that mind is the result of cell activity and that when this activity ceases there is no longer any mind.'.

 

Many persons who are in distress from various causes read such theories given out by those who are considered authorities and, concluding that after all life is only a meaningless phantasm, are encouraged to attempt self-destruction, hoping that this will end everything.

 

If it were actually a fact that death ends all one would be inclined, in many instances, to say, "So mote it be." But research in normal and abnormal psychology proves facts to the contrary.

The conclusions of these materialists are totally illogical. They reason only from the materialistic sense, or intellect. Again is illustrated the Bible statement (I Cor. 2:14), "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know

 

'However, following Mr. Edison's death the Associated Press reported: "A few days before Mr. Edison passed away he was sitting in his chair apparently enjoying a pleasant dream. Suddenly opening his eyes and gazing upward into space, his face illuminated with a smile, he said: 'It is very beautiful over there.' Had the great inventor climbed the heights which lead Into eternity and caught a glimpse beyond the veil which obstructs our earthly vision?"


 

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them because they are spiritually discerned"; such persons judge only from appearances.

 

Since the physical body ceases to function at death (so-called) it is therefore concluded that the individual also is dead and that is the end of the chapter. Clarence Darrow declared: "I am glad to take refuge in the one consolation that life does not amount to much, and I should worry!" He also says that man is a mere machine, yet he does not explain what operates the machine.

 

The physical form has its beginning from the union of two infinitesimal cells; through gestation an intricate, complex body is developed, built up by a multitude of different cells; each organ, in order to carry out its specific function, requires a different class of cells. What is it that carries on this building process?

 

It is unreasonable to suppose that the individual cells could know where to place themselves in the respective organs for which they are intended or that they could construct each organ in the proper place in the body and develop the organ and its function, all to culminate in a harmonious interaction of organs, a completed, wonderful, living, acting structure.

 

To make this claim is the same as saying that the individual bricks in a building, had they the faculty of cells, would know where to place themselves, thus resulting in a finished structure. We know how illogical that would be. It requires the architect and the artisan to place the material where it belongs. Always there is the material plus Intelligent Guidance.

 

A scientific journal recently reported the microscopic observations of Dr. Carl Caskey Speidel, University of Virginia anatomist; these findings revealed the growth of nerves in the living body and show that living nerves sprout from the spinal cord, going directly to the muscle or sense organ they are destined to connect with the central nervous system. The magazine commented upon this: "But out of his success there will arise, as is often the case in science, a still more difficult question—How does the nerve know how to travel unerringly to its destination? Thus the door is held open to some uncomprehended commanding purpose,


 

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which some will call a manifestation of some sort of god, to rule the course of the growth of living things."

 

How can a thinking mind escape from the realization that there is a living, organizing Something which carries on the process of body-building, constructs the organs in their respective places, each to carry on a particular function conjointly and harmoniously with every other organ and its function, all resulting in the wonderful human structure?

 

Foods of various kinds are placed in the stomach, something activates them, subdividing them into combinations to be carried through the circulation, finally to be absorbed by the functioning organ for which they are intended.

 

What is it that carries on this chemicalizing process? Let the sophist study anatomy, biology, physiology, organic chemistry and related subjects, always with the view in mind of perceiving that there is a Something Plus, which intelligently carries on the life functions. "Know God by inference."

 

In studying the egg and the chick we find at first no chick in the egg, yet, warm the egg for a sufficient length of time and we marvel at what emerges from the shell, a living creature, we may say, a machine full of mechanical contrivances, in number up to something like twenty-one, all conforming to one definite, combined activity. Again, what operates this internal machine shop? Did the yolk and the white create that chick, or was it organized by an involved Something, plus a directing Mind?

 

The biologist strives to prove that life originated in the ocean; beginning with the primary cell, life is declared to evolve, stage after stage, from non-vertebrates gradually to vertebrates, until it finally reaches the human stage only, however, to end in the grave!

 

Why do not the scientists, eager to uncover the origin of human existence, follow up with similar enthusiasm the question of what becomes of the ego after apparent death?

 

This is seemingly a conundrum. What is the use of biological research to determine origins, if life ends at the grave? Logically, from that standpoint, individual existence would be a cruel mockery.


 

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After all, what does the process of our physical evolution matter, or how we arrived here? We are now here and the question should be, WHY are we here?

 

Science speculates and endeavors to measure the limits of the universe. "End there is none to the universe of God," said Jean Paul Richter. It should be evident that the present state of the mind of man is too limited to fully comprehend the vastness of the universe and creation.

 

Science, delving into chemistry and physics, reveals processes of atomic inter­activity and fundamental laws of mechanics in the construction of atoms and their activity in the formation of various physical substances, demonstrating the inter­play of the invisible and objective nature.

 

To further illustrate the inter-play of visible and invisible, the three phases of material activity are solid, liquid and gaseous. Water is composed of H2O, that is,

two parts of Hydrogen, an explosive, and one part of Oxygen, which supports combustion, or fire, yet these two combine as water and will put out fire.

 

Water exhibits threefold phenomena: as liquid it evaporates and becomes invisible vapor; through contacting lower temperature it condenses back into liquid; a greater amount of coldness congeals it into a solid, ice. Thus by the interaction of varying temperatures these changes occur.

 

Likewise all material things may be reduced from visible to invisible substance. Attach a wire to a carbon element, another wire to a zinc element, place the two in a jar and add water and a little acid. These are all visible elements, yet by connecting to the other ends of the wires an electric light globe you will have light, or attach a motor and you will have power, energy, again revealing the inter­play of visible and invisible nature.

 

So through all avenues of research in the physical realm marvelous revelations are obtained of an invisible Source. We do not need to "believe" in the next life; we need only use our minds to observe the evidence on every side.

 

In contemplating the activities of the universe vast wonders are revealed. Dr. Robert A. Millikan sees in the universe God's fingerprints, and in the cosmic ray the operation


 

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of a force which continually renews the universe, a force to which he applies the word "Creator."

 

Dr. Albert Einstein, the noted German scientist and philosopher, propounder of the theory of relativity, according to a magazine article, "confesses to a profound reverence and awe when he contemplates the cosmic mystery. He does not believe that God is man made large, nor does he believe that there is any such thing as sin in the commonly accepted meaning of that word."

 

"But he has a point of view which he says is common to those who, like he, have attempted to plumb the sources of the universe and have ever been confronted with the secret of its origin. He names it the 'cosmic religious sense,' and it is the natural result of his research."

 

"Religion, he says, in effect, is the response to man's inherent needs. Among primitive people it developed into the 'religion of fear'—fear of hunger, of wild animals, of illness and death showing itself in deeds and sacrifices intended to secure the protective favor of an anthropomorphic, or man-like divinity."

 

"Next came the religion which has its source in the social feelings of human beings—in the longing for guidance, love, comfort by a Providence who protects, decides, rewards and punishes. This, he says, is the social or moral idea of God. But all religions, he holds, are mixed forms, though the moral element rules in the higher levels of social life. Common to these types is the anthropomorphic character of the idea of God."

 

"To these two forms Dr. Einstein adds a third, which exceptionally gifted individuals may attain, though traces of it are found in some who have never made researches in the universe, as the Psalmist David and the Prophets. And it is this that he calls the 'cosmic religious sense.'"

 

He says, "The religious geniuses of all times have been distinguished by this cosmic religious sense, which recognizes neither dogmas nor God made in man's image."

 

"For anyone who is pervaded with the sense of causal law in all that happens, who accepts in real earnest the assumption of causality, the idea of a Being who interferes with the sequence of events in the world is absolutely impossible.


 

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Neither the religion of fear nor the social-moral religion can have any hold on him."

 

"A God who rewards and punishes is for him unthinkable, because man acts in accordance with an inner and outer necessity, and would, in the eyes of God, be as little responsible as an inanimate object for the movements which it makes."

 

"The ethical behavior of man is better based on sympathy, education, and social relationships, and requires no support from religion. Man's plight would, indeed, be sad if he had to be kept in order through fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

 

"I assert," he concludes, "that the cosmic religious experience is the strongest and the noblest driving force behind scientific research."

 

Dr. Constantine Panunzio, of the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles, "represents a section of scientific thought that regards as futile any discussion of an unprovable hereafter 'where all tears will be wiped away,'" states the introduction to an article reporting an interview with Dr. Panunzio on social psychology and the political, economic and cultural conditions which are the cause of social evils prevalent in modern life. "He would increase the sum of happiness in this life, ameliorate much of its harshness through education rather than faith, and take chances on the life to come—if any."

 

Dr. Panunzio is quoted as saying: "Today, owing to what I feel to be the passing of the influence of dogmatic religion—the change from an age of faith to an age of facts—I believe scientific fact-finding will impress more persons than religious dogma."

 

"The idea that there is a cosmic religion above all creeds, with the idea that eternity is an extended here-and-now rather than endless time or timelessness— after death... carries with it the desire to minimize the necessity of suffering and sacrifice... and to find prompt, present happiness."

 

It is necessary that we realize the vastness of the human soul and mentally separate the limited from the unlimited. Through contact with the physical we recognize ourselves


 

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as sentient, conscious beings, discern our transient condition and realize the limitation of the earthly. The mind, freed from limitations through analytical thinking, perceives the relationship between the external and internal, the seen and the unseen and ultimately realizes the importance of the earth experience received through the physical form.

 

The celebrated Smaragdine Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus wonderfully elucidates the nature of God, the origin of the world, creation and divine illumination, the study of which affords a rich mental pabulum, exercising as it does the mental faculties, for it requires thinking and reasoning which, figuratively, liberate the mind and soul from the mere physical.

 

"It is true without falsehood, certain and absolute. That which is below is as that which is above, and that which is above is as that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of one thing, and as all things were from one, by the mediation of one, so all born things were from that one thing's adaptation."

 

"Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross very carefully and with ingenuity. It ascends from the earth into Heaven, then again descends into the earth and receives the force of above and below."

 

"Thus shalt thou have the glory of the entire world; then shall every darkness fly before thee."

 

"Below" is the shadow side of the Creator wherein mankind finds expression in nature, a necessary condition. "Below" is the seen, the external, the mortal phase of existence, the temporary.

 

"Above" refers to the unseen, the internal, the immortal phase of existence, the eternal.

 

God is both spirit and substance expressed in the external, at once both Creator and Creation.

 

In the dialog between Hermes and Intelligence these characters should not be understood as personalities but as principles, Hermes representing the Spirit of Understanding, or the Desire to Know, and Intelligence representing Wisdom.


 

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The dialog follows in part: Hermes to Intelligence:

"The opinions upon the universe and upon God are numerous and different, and I know not the truth. Enlighten me, O Master, for I can but believe thy revelation!"

 

Intelligence to Hermes:

"Learn, my son, what God and the Universe is—God, Eternity, the World, Time, and Generation. God causes Eternity, Eternity causes the World, the World causes Time, Time causes Generation. Good, Beauty, Happiness and Wisdom are the essence of God."

 

"The essence of Eternity is Identity, that of the World is Order, that of Time is change, that of Generation is Life and Death."

 

"The energies of God are intelligence and the soul, those of eternity are permanence and immortality, those of the world, composition and decomposition, those of time are increase and decrease, those of generation, quality."

 

"Eternity is in God, the world is in eternity. Time is in the world, generation is in time. Eternity remains fixed in God, the world moves in eternity, time is accomplished in the world, generation is produced in time. The power of God is eternity, the work of eternity is the world, which has not been created at one time, but which is ever being created by eternity; also will it never perish, for eternity is imperishable, and nothing is lost in the world because the world is enveloped by eternity."

 

Eternity is that in which manifestation takes place; it is not a thing, empty and vacant; it is formless, endless space, fixedness, permanence, changeless, forever the same.

 

In the eternal verities certain causes produce certain effects, exact laws of nature and of mind permit exact developments. In nature everything develops according to definite, innate, unwritten laws.

 

There is dissolution of the physical form yet the soul, or essence, which is invisible, persists after the form is dissolved. Visible things may be transformed into invisible. Life activity in nature causes appearances which again


 

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"The energies of generation are quality," declares Intelligence. There are certain spirit essences in everything—in plants, medicines, foods, animals, human beings—each has its particular and differing characteristic. Yet that characteristic is an invisible principle. This invisible essence is often sensed by sensitives when contacting the external form.

 

Without "qualities" life would be chaos. As in the arts the much-used "curve of beauty" is necessary to disclose innate form possibilities, so without an objective creation, a physical world, the invisible principles could not become apparent.

 

The manifest is revealing itself in an eternal void; all things evidence inherent, intelligent Principle, changeless, eternal.

 

Again quoting from the Smaragdine Tablet: Hermes:

"And what is the Wisdom of God?" Intelligence:

"Good, Beauty, Happiness, all Virtue and Eternity. In penetrating matter, eternity gives it immortality and permanence, for its generation depends upon eternity, and eternity depends upon God. Generation and Time are the two different Natures in Heaven. Immovable and incorruptible in Heaven, movable and perishable on earth. The soul of eternity is God, the soul of the world is eternity, the soul of the earth is Heaven."

 

"God is in intelligence, Intelligence is in the soul, the Soul is in matter, and all throughout Eternity. The Soul fills the universal body that contains all bodies; Intelligence and God fill the soul. Fill the internal and envelope the externals. The soul animates the universe; from without, that great and perfect animal, the world; from within, all living beings. There on high in Heaven she dwells in identity; here below on earth she transforms generations."

 

"Eternity sustains the world by necessity, by Providence,


 

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by nature; the explanation that can be given matters little. God acts in all the universe. This energy is a sovereign power to which nothing human or Divine can be compared. Believe not, Hermes, that nothing below or above is like God; thou wouldst be far from the truth. Nothing resembles to the dissimilar, the soul, the One; and believe not that another shares his power."

 

"To which other will you attribute life, immortality, changes? What would it do else? God is not idle, otherwise all would be repose, for God fills all. Inertia exists not in the world, nor anywhere, neither in the Creator, nor in the creation—it is an empty word. It is necessary that all things should become forever and everywhere, for the Creator is all, has no particular abode. He creates not one thing or another, but all things. His creative power dwells not in the beings he has created, they remain dependent on Him. Were God to separate himself from his work life would be withdrawn, and all would be at an end; for He is at once the Creator and the Creation."

 

"All is living, Life is One, and God is Life. Life is the union of Spirit and Soul; Death is the rupture of what was united. Man calls transformation Death, because the material body is decomposed, and life ceases to be visible or apparent; but my dear Hermes, you may understand that the world itself is transformed continually. Each day some part of it disappears without its ever decomposing. These revolutions and these disappearances are the passions (or phases) of the world. Revolution is a return; disappearance is a renewal. The world contains every form, they are not outside of it, it transforms itself in them."

 

"But if every form is in the world, what must be the form of the Creator? He cannot be without form, and if he had but one form, he would be inferior to the world. What then shall we say of Him that we may not say anything imperfect? For one cannot think of God as incomplete. He has a form which is His own; which does not appear to the eyes of the body, but which is in all bodies. Be not astonished that He has an incorporeal form. So it is with the form of a discourse, or the margin of a manuscript which borders the lines, and is even and equal."

 

"Reflect upon a word which is bold and true. Just as a


 

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man cannot live without life, so God cannot live without doing good. The life and the movement of God is to move and make live. Some words have a particular sense; reflect then upon what I shall tell you."

 

"All is in God, not as something placed in a place, for the place is corporeal and immovable, and things which are in a place have no movement. God is in the incorporeal, otherwise than in appearance. Understand that He contains all; understand that nothing is so rapid, so vast, so strong, as the incorporeal; it surpasses everything in capacity, in celerity, in power."

 

"Perceive this in yourself—order your soul to go to India, and it is there, and it is there quicker than your order. Order it to go to the ocean, and it is there at once, not by moving from one place to another, but on the instant. Order it to mount to Heaven, and to do so it requires no wings; nothing will stop it, neither fire nor sun, nor ether, nor whirl-winds, nor the bodies of the stars—it will traverse all and will fly beyond all bodies."

 

"Do you desire to pass this limit and to contemplate what is outside of the world? If there is anything, you can do so. See what power, what quickness you possess, and think you that what you can do, God cannot? Conceive of God as having in Himself all thoughts, the whole world. If you cannot equal and compare yourself to God, you cannot comprehend Him. Like comprehends like. Enlarge yourself to an immense size; outpass all bodies; traverse all times, become eternity, and you will conceive and understand God. Nothing can prevent you from supposing yourself immortal and all-knowing, Arts, Sciences, the habits of all animals."

 

"Lift yourself above all heights; descend below all depths, collect in yourself every sensation of all created things, of water, of fire, of the dry and the wet. Suppose that you are everywhere at the same time, on Earth, in the Sea, in Heaven; that you have never been born; that you are still in embryo; that you are young, old, dead, beyond death; comprehend all things at once, time, place, things, quantities, qualities, and you will comprehend God."

 

"But if you shut up your soul in the body and if you humble yourself and say: 'I understand nothing, I can do


 

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nothing; I neither know what I am, nor what I shall be,' what are you in common with God? If you are bad and attached to a body, what can you understand of great and good things?"

 

"Not to recognize the Divine is the perfection of evil, but to be able to perceive, to desire it, and to hope for it, is the means of reaching it by a direct and easy road. By following it, you will see it everywhere; in the places and in the hour where you least expect it; in wakefulness and in sleep; at Bea, in traveling, by night and by day, in speaking and in keeping silence; for there is not anything but what is the image of God."

 

"God is not invisible; there is nothing more apparent than God. If he has created all things, it is that we may see Him in and through all things. This is the good of God; this is His virtue, to appear in all; nothing is invisible, even amongst the incorporeal."

 

"Intelligence is seen in thought; God in creation. This is what I had to reveal to you, oh, Trismegistus! Look for it in yourself and you will not lose your way."

 

It is impossible to think of God as being outside of eternity; eternity is unlimited and God is unlimited. "God is to the soul what the soul is to the body," said Plutarch. While God, time and eternity are incomprehensible to mortal man they have, according to enlightened spirits, a different aspect in the spirit world, and fuller understanding of the original Source is attained in the next life.

 

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