It is the prevailing opinion that the doctrine of predestination is held only by the ignorant class of men, and that the mere elements of an education are sufficient to free one from the influence of such a baleful, absurd and unreasonable doctrine. If there is any just ground for this opinion, it can be shown that scientific truth is incompatible with the doctrine of decree, and also that no well educated person has ever believed the doctrine of predestination.
It is a well known axiom of logic that all truth harmonizes; now if it can be shown that scientific truth harmonizes with the doctrine of decree, then it must be conceded from the standpoint of science, that the doctrine of decree is true. It can not only be shown that science and decree are in perfect harmony, but it can be shown that decree is at the foundation of science, and that without decree, science could not exist.
If two times five were ten today, but might have been eight yesterday, might be twelve tomorrow, how could there be any possibility of the science of arithmetic? But two times five are ten today, two times five were ten yesterday, and two times five will be ten forever. It is this very fixedness of the relation of numbers that renders the science of arithmetic a possibility. This fixedness argues decree. So then it appears that arithmetic, the most common and elementary of all the sciences, is based upon decree, and that without decree it could not exist.
The elementary theorems of algebra; such as, the square of the sum of two quantities is equal to the square of the first plus twice the product of the first by the second, plus the square of the second; and the difference of the same powers of two quantities is always divisible by the difference of the quantities. The Binominal theorem, with its wonderful possibilities and applications, together with all the other data which form the science of algebra, are fixed and unchangeable. These things were also true before the science of algebra was evolved, they were true before there was a human mind to discover and state them.
The sum of all angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles, is an elementary proposition of geometry. How long has this proposition been true? When has it ever undergone a change? When will it ever change? It was true before Euclid, before Pythagoras, before Greece, Rome, Egypt or Babylon, before Adam, before the world. The six ratios of trigonometrical functionism which lie at the bottom of the science of trigonometry, are forever and unchangeably true. All the principles that go to make up the sciences of analytics and calculus, are no exception to the rule. So then in the ream of mathematics, from the most fundamental operation of arithmetic, to the most abstruse problem in the differential calculus, all depends upon the permanent fixedness of principles, and this fixedness is the result of decree.
Leaving the abstract domain of mathematics, and coming into the more concrete natural sciences, the same fixedness of principles confronts us. What seems to be more at random than a falling body? Yet a falling body is so completely under the control of law, that although its velocity changes with every instant of time, if its time of falling be known, its velocity for any second may be computed. If the distance fallen be known, the time of falling may be readily found. The laws of falling bodies might be stated here, but space does not justify it. The swinging of the pendulum, that lazily swings to and fro in the old clock on the wall, is most accurately regulated by law. If this were not so, how could it be utilized to regulate the motion of the clock? The laws of the pendulum are such, that if the length of the pendulum is known, the time of the vibration may be found, and vice versa.
The freezing and boiling points are marked on the thermometer; if water should freeze at one temperature today and another tomorrow, this could not be done. If water should boil at one degree of heat today and at another tomorrow, how completely would the common industries of life be thrown into utter confusion. Experiment has revealed the laws of freezing and boiling of liquids, also the fusing and solidifying points of metals. Each liquid has its respective boiling and freezing points, and these points remain constant under the same pressure.
The production, velocity, reflection, loudness and pitch of sound, are all controlled by law. If this were not so, there could be no science of music, either vocal or instrumental. The pitch of a tone of the violin or piano depends upon the length, diameter, tension, and the density of the material of the string. The pitch varies inversely as the length of the string; it varies inversely as the diameter; it varies directly as the square root of the tension, and inversely as the density of the material composing the string. These are the laws governing sound produced by the vibration of a string. The tones of an organ are produced by a vibrating current of air, and are controlled by laws similar to those governing sound produced by the vibrating string. Many more laws dominating in the realm of sound might be given, but these are sufficient to show that in every sound, from the murmur of the summer breeze to the roar of the terrific hurricane; from the pattering of a rain drop to the booming of the ocean billows; from the scream of the hawk to the song of the nightingale; from the solo voice to the full chorus or the great orchestra, law transmits, modulates and governs all.
Recent discoveries have ascertained that electricity, that most subtle, mysterious and wonderful of all nature’s forces, is controlled by law in all its operations. A number of these laws have been started, and may be found in any recent treatise on electricity.
Nowhere in the operations of nature is God’s power and presence so strikingly exemplified in little things as in chemical action. The law of definite weight, which lies at the foundation of the science of chemistry, is one of the most wonderful of all the laws of nature. The law stated is as follows: “When two elements unite with each other they always unite in a fixed definite ratio by weight.” As an illustration of this law, iron and sulphur unite to form iron-sulfide in this reaction twenty-one ounces of iron will always unite with just twelve ounces of sulphur. If we should try to make twenty-two ounces of iron unite with twelve ounces of sulphur, we would have one ounce of iron left; and if we were to try to make thirteen ounces of sulphur unite with twenty-one ounces of iron, we would have one ounce of sulphur left free. In the union of hydrogen and oxygen to form water, one atom of oxygen always invariably selects two atoms of hydrogen; this is not only true in the union of hydrogen and oxygen, but the same law holds true in all chemical combinations; each element has its displacing power; that is, one of its atoms always selects a certain number of atoms of the element with which it unites. Here we see law controlling the very atoms of matter and regulating with unerring accuracy chemical affinity and all chemical reaction. The law of conservation of matter exemplifies the truth of the scriptures which says that, “What the Lord does shall be forever, nothing can be put to it, and nothing can be taken from it.” This law stated is as follows: “The sum of the weights of the substances before the change is exactly equal to the sum of the weights of the new substances after the change.” This proves that in chemical changes, although new substances are formed, no matter has been created, and none has been destroyed. Is it not true indeed that God hath set his ordinances in the earth, that his decrees do not only govern the planets in their orbits, but places the atoms in a chemical compound? Where could there be a science of botany, or of zoology, if everything did not bring forth after its kind? The fundamental principle of both these sciences is found in the law that everything brings forth after its kind; this law was established from the beginning, and continues universally true. Even if the Darwinian theory of the origin of species should be true, this law would neither be contradicted nor violated thereby. All those lines of demarcation which divide the animal and vegetable kingdoms into sub-kingdoms, orders, genera and species, remain permanent, and these could not remain so without law. The data for these sciences depend upon law, and law depends upon decree.
When David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork,” he spoke the very glory and embodiment of the science of astronomy. The chief glory of this science is the law of universal gravitation: “Every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle with a force that varies directly as the product of the mass, and inversely as he square of the distance between them.” This great law not only lies at the bottom of the science of astronomy, but it upholds, balances and sustains the universe. It is by this law that God hung the earth upon nothing; this law is the word of God’s power by which he upholds all his universe; this law is “the bands of Orion that cannot be loosed, and the sweet influence of the Pleiades that cannot be stayed.” Job 38:31. This law first broke up the chaotic mass of nebula that once filled the space now occupied by the solar system, and molded it into sun, moons and planets. This law gathered fragments into worlds, worlds into systems, and systems into a universe. It guides the huge planet that sweeps through the regions of space, and balances the mote that floats in the sunbeam; it suspends the water dust that composes the clouds in mid air, and chains the mighty ocean to his destined bed. Then what is this permanent, powerful, instantaneous, universal law, but the presence, power and decree of the Almighty God, the Creator, upholder and disposer of this universe?
Kepler’s laws of planetary motion might be mentioned in connection with the science of astronomy, as further exemplifying God’s decrees in the heavens, but it appears entirely unnecessary to do so; enough has been cited to convince the pious that science is in harmony with decree, that it depends upon decree, and that without decree science could not exist. Now where is the disputer of this world? Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? The man who has not seen predestination in science, has not seen the soul of science. The man who would charge the belief of predestination to ignorance, is himself ignorant both of the knowledge of God and in those things of nature wherein he professes to be learned.
Someone may say that it is true that law reigns in those things which have been referred to, but man is an intelligence, and is not subject to such mechanical laws. To this objection I answer, first, that logic and psychology are recognized sciences, not natural sciences, but called mental sciences; sciences of mind, and not of matter. Since fixed and uniform operations as established by natural law, must furnish data for natural science, fixed operations established by law, must furnish data for mental sciences. Second, that the Scripture ascribes the operations of the mind to law. Does not the inspired writer say, “I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind?” Rom.7:23. Here he speaks of the law of the mind and the law in his members; so that to deny that the mind and emotions of the human constitution are operated by law, is to deny the written word of God; also to ignore those conscious mental phenomena which every man is subject to.
To the above objections I would answer in the third place, that the wickedness and depravity of the human constitution are as universal, permanent and perpetual, as any of the laws or operations of nature. Where is there a single exception? Where was there ever a single exception in the development of the human family? Induction is one of the chief methods of scientific investigation and reasoning; it is the process of reasoning from particular examples to general laws. Most of the theorems of mathematics have been discovered and proved by the method of induction. The principle of reasoning is, that if a certain thing is found to hold good in a number of cases, it is assumed that it will hold good for the next case, and then that it will hold good for any case. Thus a general truth is discovered and proved from particular examples. Try the method of induction in the case of the depravity of the human family. It can be shown by example that this man is a sinner, and that man is a sinner, and that the third man, and the fourth man, and the fifth man each is a sinner, and then it is a truth exemplified among all people in all places and at all times, that all men are and have been sinners. There can be found no exception; then the general truth may be announced upon the authority of logical induction, that universal depravity is true; and no theorem in mathematics, and no recognized law in natural science has ever been discovered and proved by a more valid process of reasoning. The scientist would not hesitate to announce a law upon the result of such an investigation as this. Then, from a scientific standpoint, there must be a law governing, not only the physical reproduction, but the moral nature of man.
The man who attributes the natural depravity of the human family to the transgression of the first man, aside from decree, is a fatalist, and holds a position that science condemns. Men who hold that God created the first man holy, and that he fell either apart from the purpose of God, or contrary to that purpose, and that as a result of that haphazard fall, his posterity is necessarily sinners, have not seen very far either into the biblical or the scientific side of the subject. Is not the hand of God as directly employed in the formation of the child from the embryo to the birth as it was in the formation of the first man from the dust of the earth? Does he not form the child today as strictly according to his will as he formed the first man? Does he not form every germ of life that comes into existence today, whether it be a plant, animal or man? Does he not develop into an individual every germ that reaches that state, no matter what kind of life it be? Is not his hand as actively and as particularly engaged in the formation of the chick in the shell as in the formation of men or angels? How else could he be the Creator, upholder and disposer of all things?
Although science bears witness to the doctrine of predestination, yet it can never reveal God; it honors God and proclaims his glory, but it is the man who hath an ear to hear that receives its testimony. Science proclaims the reign of law throughout the universe, and law proclaims decree. The voice of science joins the voice of inspiration in the sublime proclamation that, “all his works praise him.”
Only a few of the laws of the different sciences have been cited; time would fail me to tell of all of them. Nowhere are we encompassed with a greater cloud of witnesses to the reign of law, than in the sciences. I do not know whether there is any spiritual comfort in what I have written or not, but I do confess that I like to see the doctrine that is dear to my heart established even by natural evidences.
H. M. Curry.