Sunrise Magazine Online

The Greater Faith

By Alphonse Bihr

From the very earliest times man has lived in two worlds: one, the world which he can perceive with his senses, and the other, the world of the unseen. As a creator man has learned to conquer the physical world in the short space of time represented by recorded history. He is the master of all he surveys except the elements of Nature during a state of turbulence. He is at home on land, on and under the sea, and in the air. All other forms of life he has made subservient to himself. Yet, with all the mastery of his surroundings man has not yet learned to master himself. His own kind is his greatest enemy. Were it not for this enemy man could now face the future unafraid.

The world of the unseen may be termed the world of faith. It is largely through faith that man has learned to conquer the material world. Faith has been defined as the evidence of things not seen. In this age which tends toward the deification of materialism it behooves us to consider seriously the importance of the unseen world, the world of faith.

Usually we associate faith with religion. But faith is also an important ingredient in all phases of human endeavor. Without faith we cannot take a single step. The scientist depends on faith to prove his theories. The explorer dare not falter in his faith if he is to reach his objective. Business men need faith in each other to conclude important transactions. The doctor needs the faith of his patient as much as his own knowledge and skill to effect a cure. But nowhere is faith needed as much as in our daily struggle with life. Wise men on the threshold of important undertakings commune with their God to gain the spiritual strength needed for the task ahead.

There are times in the lives of all of us when the world seems to collapse over our heads. The little boat in which we cross the sea of life is buffeted about mercilessly by the furious storms of our existence.

Our faith is shaken to its foundation roots. We are even mystified by our very being. Why do we have to live and be conscious of all the pain and anguish to which we are subjected? The newspapers report daily the suicides of men and women who have lost the sustaining power of faith, to whom life became unbearable.

Primitive man, in his helpless ignorance, believed that evil spirits brought about his misfortunes. His world was peopled with conscious personalities who affected his daily life for good or ill. In his mind these spirits could be influenced by resorting to magic as practised by the sorcerers and witch doctors of the tribe. His faith was based on the magic powers of material things and the performance of certain rituals. It is not difficult to see remnants of these primitive beliefs in some of our religious practices today. We still attribute magic powers to material objects such as medals or relics when worn on the body. Our daily lives are still filled with fears and superstitions which govern our actions. We fear oncoming illness or the advent of misfortune. Even the great Emerson whose wisdom enabled him to write the inspiring essay on "Self-Reliance" admitted that there was hardly a day in his life when he did not have to overcome some fear, be it ever so little.

To walk through life with undaunted courage calls for a faith which knows no bounds; a faith which chases into oblivion the ogre of fear and anxiety which clutches at our mind and heart and darkens some of our conscious hours. When fear dominates our mind we are no longer in control of events; we are no longer able to steer the ship of life in the desired direction toward the haven of achievement, happiness and peace. Our self-respect and ambition to achieve diminish in direct ratio to the intensity of fear in our heart. The human derelicts we find in every community, particularly in the larger cities, are people who have lost faith in their ability to cope with life's problems. Their self-respect has disappeared with their faith.

To repair to our accustomed place of worship and bow our heads before our God, imploring His aid and guidance, is the source of strength for the believer in a personal God. George Washington, in his hour of despair at Valley Forge, humbled himself before his Maker. Every act of worship is a re-affirmation of faith in God.

Too often however prayer degenerates into routine without deeper meaning. The slightest doubt in the efficacy of our prayer will weaken our faith. We need an unfailing source of strength to sustain us. In our day of scientific advances the faith of our fathers has suffered immeasurably. The weakening of our faith is reflected in a lower level of our public and private morals.

Faith has been defined as "the assent of the mind to the truth of a proposition or statement for which there is not complete evidence." Most of our great discoveries were a result of faith in a theory held by the discoverer, the theory having been based on known premises or premises believed to be true. Columbus, believing that the world is round, was convinced that he could reach the eastern coast of Asia by sailing west from Spain. The great inventions of our age all had their genesis in the faith of the inventor in certain principles which he believed to be true. The Wright Brothers would never have succeeded in building a machine that could fly had they not believed in their ability to imitate the flight of the birds. The biblical adage that "faith moves mountains" is literally true. The power of faith is beyond question.

But the reasoning mind comes into difficulties when it cannot accept the articles of faith presented by organized religion. It must find another foundation for its faith, a foundation based on reason on which it can build a faith free from superstition and supernatural phenomena.

Most of us live in a limited world, circumscribed by our immediate surroundings. Our universe is limited to ourselves and those things only which affect our daily lives. We take for granted the marvels of nature and see not the creative impulse laboring silently and inexorably before our very eyes. To experience the ecstasies of understanding we must free our mind from its mundane ties and exclusive membership in the human race. We must become corporeal members of the cosmos and the conscious instruments of the Almighty Spirit which animates it. Thus inspired we are freed from the crutches of supernatural beliefs. Our faith has its foundation in the knowledge that within us resides the Power which has brought us into being and which is our very life. To confirm our faith let us review the beginning of life on earth.

Scientists are generally agreed that life on our earth appeared millions of years ago when the earth was sufficiently cooled and atmospheric conditions were favorable. The first protoplasm must have appeared spontaneously in the shallow waters of the primeval sea. Apparently no visible hand created the first single cells which are the bricks in the structures of all living matter. But most certainly the transformation of inorganic matter into the highly complicated organic molecules and subsequently into living cells must have had the intervention of an Intelligence, even though invisible.

Materialists claim that all this came about by chance alone, although they fail to explain the existence of the thinking nucleus in each cell. Neither can they explain the fact that no single cell ever died a natural death. The cells composing our body came to us in a direct living line from the first single cells appearing on the earth. Even if we were to admit that life appeared without the intervention of a Creative Mind, what followed during the early evolutionary period precludes any possibility of pure chance being the only factor.

The prerequisite to any human accomplishment is thought. Nothing has ever been in the flesh before having first been in the mind. Thought precedes action. There is a well-established law in psychology which states that a thought persistently held in mind tends to materialize itself. The reasonable mind just cannot conceive that the marvels of creation have come into being without a Mind causing them. There is an essential unity throughout all of nature. Though each living being has an individuality of its own, a uniqueness which differentiates it from all others, even from members of its own species, yet there is a unity among all. Animate or inanimate, individual beings or things are all made of the same stuff. The same life that animates a living being also furnishes the energy which drives the electrons around their courses within the atom. A review of the stages of the evolutionary process proceeding from a single cell furnishes convincing proof of the existence of a Creative Mind. Our own mind and consciousness are sufficient evidence that there must be a Parent Mind, of which ours is a manifestation.

If, during the first stages of the appearance of organic life, the individual cells had remained as separate units there would never have come into existence the variety of species inhabiting the earth today. From the very beginning life followed the universal principle of co-operation. The individual cells formed into groups to insure survival. We may liken these groups to communities of cells. Within each community subdivisions of cells assumed special functions for the benefit of the group. These subdivisions became specialists in their particular functions of taking care of the requirements of the community as a whole. In due time a living organism came into being adapting itself to its surroundings. It developed sense organs to perceive the world in which it lived. Other parts became protective and defense mechanisms in a dangerous world. Is it possible that it developed eyes to see and ears to hear without a Mind willing these things? It could not have been a finite conscious mind such as ours. It must have been a far greater Mind which encompasses the entire universe. Not a mind with a separate existence but a Mind indwelling in the material out of which life sprang. Consciousness of the living being became the ultimate manifestation of the Creative Mind. There is no other rational explanation of the appearance of life.

We cannot accept the supernatural beliefs handed down to us, neither does the denial of the existence of a Creative Mind satisfy us. We must therefore let our reason guide us in our belief that the Creative Mind, which we may call God, is within us and in all things we can perceive with our senses. This conviction inspires us with a faith far surpassing in strength the faith based on the supernatural. A faith which turns every act of ours into an act of worship and which bestows upon us "the peace that passeth all understanding."

It is impossible to worship an impersonal God in the accepted sense of that word. Many will claim that the denial of a personal God is tantamount to atheism. Nothing is farther from the truth. Worship is communion with the Power which gave us life and which sustains us. The concept of God as a Universal Power precludes the worship of a personal Deity. It becomes revolting to us to bow our heads before the altar of a personalized God of whose existence there is no evidence. Religious ritual must be left to those who are unable to free themselves from the mental shackles of supernatural beliefs.

As believers in an impersonal Universal Intelligence, worship takes on a nobler form. No longer do we consider ourselves as worms crawling before a mystic power. We realize that within us breathes the Power which gave us life, the Almighty Power which moves and is the universe. The admiration of a delicate flower, a poising butterfly, the grandeur of a towering mountain range or the awe inspired by the starlit sky, each becomes a wordless prayer. The partaking of food becomes a sacramental rite, because we are taking life within ourselves. Whatever we see or touch becomes alive with the almighty power of God. If we take up a handful of earth, instead of plain dirt we hold billions of living organisms which transform organic material out of which life has passed into food for future plant life. We hold in our hand a phase of the life cycle. All of nature becomes a wonderland instead of being a vale of tears. We feel the Almighty Power surging through our veins and thus face life unafraid and with self-assurance.

We see God in our fellow man as well as in the lowliest living being. The kinship with all forms of life widens our angle of vision immeasurably. We now begin to understand the ancient struggle between good and evil as a tool of the Almighty in the process toward perfection. The recognition of God as the Creative Element in the entire universe is a revelation which frees our spirit from the shackles of superstition and supernatural beliefs. From this recognition flow love and understanding as a natural consequence. Every act of ours becomes an act of worship.

We need a greater faith which is unassailable by any forces outside of ourselves. Such a faith is attainable when we realize that its source is within us at all times; that what we call our soul is in reality a segment of the Life-giving Force we call God, "in whom we live and have our being." The attainment of this conviction and the holding of it in our consciousness is the highest achievement in human life. Such a faith cannot be shaken by doubts or theological differences of opinion. It is the faith which moves mountains.

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God is in this grey, pensive rain;
It is his mystic inmost mood;
He has some old, sweet thought to brood,
Too curious for joy or pain.
Keep your heart hushed. You'll get no gain
Of anxious prayers and strivings crude;
God is too busy with the rain.
??? Kenneth Morris