“Whether There Is a God or Not” (1913)
DR. FRANK CRANE, c/o Globe, N. Y.
Will you please write in the Globe and say whether there is a God or not? A man told me that there isn’t any. I asked the teacher and she said she didn’t know, as some said there was and some said there wasn’t. Mamma says there is, but papa says he doesn’t know anything about such things. We boys had a debate about it and we thought we would ask you.
YES, my boy, there is a God. You cannot see or hear Him, but I will tell you how you can feel Him.
Did you ever lie, or cheat, or steal, or treat a smaller boy cruelly, or be a coward when you should have been brave? If so, you have felt a hurt inside your mind, a miserable feeling in your heart, as if you were sick at your stomach, or as if you had struck your finger with a hammer. It is God that so makes you hurt.
Have you ever wanted to do something mean, or nasty, and resisted the desire, put it away from you, and acted honestly and fair; and have you not noticed then a good feeling, a sense of inner pride and satisfaction and manhood? It is God that gives you this good feeling when you play the man.
Have you ever looked up at the sky at night and, remember ing what you have been told about the vast distances of the stars and that they are worlds like ours moving through space as fast as cannonballs, have you never had a feeling of wonder, of how great and majestic the universe is, and you but a tiny mite in it all? That feeling of wonder and awe comes from God. A very wise man, Carlyle, said that worship is to wonder; so that when you see anything that makes you wonder because of its greatness or beauty or mystery, you are really worshipping God, whether the object be the ocean, the mountain or a good man or woman.
It is not the police that protect our lives, my boy. Only a few wicked men come into conflict with the policemen. But there is something that holds every man back from cruelty and uncleanness, that stays the murderer’s arm and causes many a woman to drown herself rather than be vile. That something is God. He watches over us all and neither slumbers nor sleeps.
None of us understand why He allows so many people to do wrong, but we feel that there is something in every human breast that makes wrongdoing bring misery every time.
The most important thing for you to believe about God is that He is not your enemy, and He is not watching you like a detective to punish you, but that He is your friend, that He is loving and serving you every minute of your life.
Listen to your heart beating, as you lie awake in bed. All night while you are unconscious something is making your heart beat thus, and your lungs breathe, and attending to all the functions of’ your body. That is God. Nobody has ever yet found a better name.
It is God who rolls the stars in the heavens, who lifts the sun up in the morning, and guides the moon at night; who cause the wheat and corn, the trees and flowers to grow; who brings the birds back from the south in the spring; who makes the little lambs frolic and the kittens play; who makes children happy and grown people kind and patient.
Wherever you find LIFE and GOODNESS and GREATNESS you may know God is there.
So, my boy, whether your folks are Hebrew or Christian, Buddhist or Mahometan, even if they are “nothing at all,” you may rest assured that they will not object to your believing what I have here told you; and you may be sure also that to believe in God and to try and feel and follow Him will do more than anything else in the world to make you an honest, happy and brave man, to make those who love you glad because of you, and to make all the world respect and trust you.