It seems to me – and I take it that my thought is natural, as I have only been born once – that an infinitely wise and good God would naturally create good people, and if he has not, certainly the fault is his.
On July 2, 1881, President James A. Garfield was assassinated by one Charles J. Guiteau. The God of the Christians knew, when he created Charles Guiteau, that he would assassinate President Garfield. Why did he create him? Did he want Garfield assassinated? Will somebody be kind enough to show the “design” in this transaction?
Is it possible to see “design” in earthquakes, in volcanoes, in pestilence, in famine, in ruthless and relentless war? Can we find “design” in the fact that every animal lives upon some other – that every drop of every sea is a battlefield where the strong devour the weak? Over the precipice of cruelty rolls a perpetual Niagara of blood. Is there “design” in this? Why should a good God people a world with men capable of burning their fellow men – capable of burning the greatest and best? Why does a good God permit these things?
It is said of Christ that he was infinitely kind and generous, infinitely merciful, because when on earth he cured the sick, the lame and blind. Has he not as much power now as he had then? If he was and is the God of all worlds, why does he not now give back to the widow her son? Why does he withhold light from the eyes of the blind? And why does one who had the power miraculously to feed thousands, now allow millions to die for want of food? Did Christ only have pity when he was part human? Are we indebted for his kindness to the flesh that clothed his spirit? Where is he now? Where has he been through all the centuries of slavery and crime?
If this universe was “designed,” then all that happens was “designed.” If a man constructs an engine, the boiler of which explodes, we say either that he did not know the strength of his materials, or that he was reckless of human life. If an infinite being should construct a weak or imperfect machine, he must be held accountable for all that happens. He cannot be permitted to say that he did not know the strength of the materials. He is directly and absolutely responsible. So, if this world was designed by a being of infinite power and wisdom, he is responsible for the result of that design.
There is no evidence that God has ever interfered in the affairs of man. The hand of earth is stretched uselessly toward heaven. From the clouds there comes no help. In vain the shipwrecked cry to God. In vain the imprisoned ask for liberty and light – the world moves on, and the heavens are deaf and dumb and blind. The frost freezes, the fire burns, slander smites, the wrong triumphs, the good suffer, and prayer dies upon the lips of faith.
Whether or not there exists an infinite God, my position is this: I do not know. But there are so many objections to the personal-God theory, that it is impossible for me to accept it. I prefer to say that the universe is all the God there is. I prefer to make no “being” responsible. I prefer to say: If the naked are clothed, man must clothe them; if the hungry are fed, man must feed them. I prefer to rely upon human endeavor, upon human intelligence, upon the heart and brain of man.