EDITOR’S NOTE: Frank Pack was born in 1916 and died in 1998 at age 82. We do not know when this article was written, but brother Pack described an evil in his day that has greatly intensified and threatens to eradicate Christianity in ours.
Upon many a college campus there has been one great question in the minds of intellectual students: “Has life any meaning and any purpose at all?” This question is so important to these young people because, having been fed upon a thoroughgoing disbelief not only in Christ and the church, but in the very existence of God, they have come to wonder whether life is worth living. A modern paganism has arisen to control the intellectual world, with its philosophy and moral principles destined to destroy the last vestige of faith in God and make our civilization totally atheistic and materialistic.
Believing devoutly that science could reveal all things regarding life, modern youth has worshiped before its shrine. True, science can do at least two things. First, it can describe the world quantitatively in mathematical terms, and, second, it can show the universe a sequence of cause and effect. But the quantitative and sequential description of the world does not give us the real meaning of it, the goals toward which we should strive, and the values for which a man must live and die. That is brought about only by the word of God.
Five hundred years before the time of Christ, Buddha, the great Oriental philosopher, looked upon life, and everywhere he found suffering and sorrow. To him, existence seemed to be only pain, and evil held the world in its eternal grip. Therefore, he concluded that life was futile, and the end and purpose of it all was to realize Nirvana, which is simply nothingness. Buddha gave his answer in exhorting men to escape from the world and its suffering. The Buddhistic philosophy, directly opposed to that of Christ, has become very popular in our day. Pessimists arise to declare with Byron:
Count the joys thine hours have seen
Count o’er thy days from anguish free
And know, whatever thou hast been
‘Tis something better not to be.
Life is defined as empty, with nothing at its center, having more pain than pleasure and more sorrow than joy. Like the bubble that momentarily glides upon the surface of the eddying stream, we as individuals are momentarily present on the currents of Time. Just as that bubble, empty at its center, suddenly bursts and vanishes, so our lives, without any purpose, as haphazardly vanish from the tide of Time. Such philosophy has resulted in the widespread disillusionment and restlessness among the youth of today.
“Nothing is constant, there are no principles by which one can live, there is no God, man lives by bread alone, and, having lived, dies to become a part of the senseless clod.” So we are told. Such a dreary outlook is eloquently voiced by the great philosopher and materialist, Bertrand Russell, in these words: “All the loneliness of humanity is concentrated amid hostile forces upon the individual soul, which must struggle alone, with what courage it can command, against the whole universe, which cares nothing for its hopes and fears.”
Such intellectuals as Clarence Darrow thought that “no life is of much value, and that every death is little loss” to the world. If atheism does these things to men like Russell and Darrow, men of brains, our leading thinkers, what might happen to the average man turned out into life with no god but himself?
Are you amazed that many young people, disillusioned, dare throw their lot with every radical “ism” and become the prey of every crack brain philosopher desiring to destroy the home, the church, the state, and the institutions of business and culture? Now, more than ever, the church of Christ must face these problems and answer these questions in the light of God’s word. How full of meaning are these words of our Lord in our day of atheism and irreligion! “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
It would be a mistake to think that if God were ruled entirely out of man’s thinking, nothing would happen but closed churches and perishing preachers. God is the source of all Truth, the Creator of the beautiful, and the Giver of all good. Every natural law that operates in our world, discovered by man, is part of the Truth of God. Likewise, every spiritual and moral principle is from above. God is the Maker of all the beauties of nature, from the grandeur of the mountain crags to the delicate sweetness of the flower. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psa. 19:1 ASV). All goodness is from God, for “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17).
Who is so deluded as to think that if God were put out of man’s thinking, the principles of righteousness, such as those expressed in the Sermon on the Mount or those contained in Romans 12, would remain in force among men, respected and reverenced as the rules of right living? The man is certainly a shallow thinker who imagines that when he has destroyed God in his world, “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery” will continue to be respected. For mankind in general, the real binding effects of these great moral principles rest in the fact that they carry a “thus saith the Lord.” Take that away and chaos will reign supreme.
After all, what right does one have to make my laws of living if he is only equal in authority to me? Upon what grounds could he demand my obedience? He is likewise finite. To claim to find the ultimate principles of righteousness is to claim superiority to the rest of humanity and, therefore, to make oneself a god.
As Christians, we know there is no higher law than God’s. Destroy that, and you destroy with it all standards of right, all principles of Truth, the philosophies of men will find themselves helpless, and civilization will be brought to spiritual and moral anarchy. When God is destroyed in men’s thinking, the commandments are gone, morals are gone, respect for the rights of others are gone, and the real incentive to follow after righteousness is taken away.
But if the atheist takes the one God away from man, he must give him something to take God’s place. When God is taken out of the human heart, there is a huge vacuum left, for there is nothing that can really satisfy the human heart but God. That is why so often, in hours of need and in moments of approaching death so many professed disbelievers strive to find some faith to carry them through. Voltaire expressed it this way: “If there is no God, we shall have to invent one to keep our sanity.” Destroy the one God, and man will turn to worship nature, to glory in the state, to offer sacrifice at the altars of wisdom, for man must worship. God has made us to seek after Him and to glorify Him, to live by “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” and there is no rest for our souls until we find it in Him.
If man could have been satisfied with material things; if “bread and circuses” could have fulfilled his longings, the course of the world’s history would have been vastly different. But he has always hungered and thirsted after that which was beyond mere meat and drink. He has sought for the intangible and spiritual things of life. He has desired the freedom to think and to know God. The longing of the human heart was so beautifully expressed by the Psalmist when he said, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God… My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” (Psa. 42:1-3 ASV).
Atheism desires to destroy all religion in the heart of man, to annihilate the moral life, and to take away man’s recognition of his right to worship the one true God. Faith in God must be restored to a world gone mad in materialism and the selfish pursuit of happiness. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). His teachings, His church, His way is the answer we must present to this world. For “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).