Existence of God
1. God being the first cause of all things, the starting point of all, the pivot upon which the edifice of creation reposes, is the subject to be considered before any other.
2. It is by elementary principle that one judges a cause by its effect, when one sees not the cause.
If a bird cleaving the air receives a deadly shot, one judges that a ball, sent by a skilful hand, struck it, although one may not have seen the marksman. Is it then always necessary to have seen a thing before knowing that it exists? In everything it is by observing effects that we arrive at the knowledge of causes.
3. Another principle, also elementary, and passed into an axiom by force of truth, is that all intelligent effect must have an intelligent cause.
If one inquired who was the inventor of such an ingenious piece of mechanism, the architect of such a monument, the sculptor of such a statue, or the painter of such a picture, what would one think of him who should reply that it was done without the help of anyone? When one sees a superior work of art or of industry, they say that that is probably the work of a man of genius, because it is evident that a high intelligence has presided at its conception. One judges, nevertheless, that a man has done it, because one knows that it is not above human capacity; but no one will say that it proceeded from the brain of an idiot or of an ignorant, and still less that it is the work of an animal, or the product of chance.
4. Everywhere one recognizes the presence of man by his works. The existence of the pre-diluvium man is proved not only by human fossils, but also, with as much certitude, by the presence in the soil of this epoch, of utensils made by man. A fragment of a vase, a carved stone, a weapon, a brick, will suffice to attest their presence. By the rudeness or by the perfection of the work one will recognize the degree of intelligence or of advancement of those who have accomplished it. If, then, finding yourself in a country inhabited exclusively by barbarians or savages, you should discover a statue worth of Phidias, you would not hesitate to say, that, savages being incapable of having made it, it must be the work of an intelligence superior to theirs.
5. In looking around one’s self upon the works of nature, observing the foresight, the wisdom, the harmony, which preside in all things, one recognizes that there is a power superior to the highest flights of human intelligence, since the greatest genius of the Earth would not know how to create a blade of grass. Since human intelligence cannot produce them, it proves that they are the product of an intelligence superior to that of humanity, unless we say that effects are without cause.
6. To this some oppose the following argument:
Works said to be produced by nature are the product of material forces, which are agitated mechanically by following the laws of attraction and repulsion. Particles of inert bodies are aggregated and disintegrated by the power of these laws. Plants are born, sprout, grow, and multiply always in the same manner, each one of its kind, by virtue of these same laws; each subject being like that from which it sprung. The growth, florescence, fructification, and coloring are subordinate to some material cause, such as heat, electricity, light, humidity, etc. It is the same with animals. Even stars are formed by attraction of particles, and move perpetually in their orbits by the effect of gravitation. This mechanical regularity in the employ of natural forces does not imply a free intelligence. Man moves his arms when he desires and as he desires, but he who would move them in the same manner from his birth to his death would be an automaton. Now, the organic forces of nature, considered as a whole, are, in some respects, automatic.
All that is true; but, these forces are effects which must have a cause, and no one has pretended that they constitute the divinity. They are material and mechanical; they are not intelligent of themselves, we all know, but they are set at work, distributed, and appropriated to the needs of everything by an intelligence, which is not that of man. The useful appropriation of these forces is an intelligent effect, which denotes an intelligent cause. A clock moves with an automatic regularity, and it is this regularity which constitutes its merit. The force which makes it act is material and not intelligent; but what would this clock be if an intelligence had not combined, calculated, and distributed the employment of this force in order to make it move with precision? Because we cannot see intelligence, and because it is not in the mechanism of the clock, is it rational to conclude that it does not exist? One judges it by its effects.
The existence of the clock attests the existence of the clockmaker; the ingenuity of its mechanism is a proof of the intelligence and knowledge of its maker. When ones sees one of these complicated clocks which mark the hour in order to give you the knowledge of which you have need, has it ever occurred to anyone to say, “There is a very intelligent clock?”
Thus, it is in the mechanism of the universe: God does not show himself, but he makes affirmation of himself in his works.
7. The existence of God is then an acquired fact, not only by revelation, but by the material evidence of facts. The most barbarian people had not had a revelation; yet they instinctively believe in a superhuman power. The savages themselves, do not escape logical consequences; they see things which are beyond human power, and they conclude that they are produced by a being superior to humanity. Are they not more rational than those who presume that such things were created by themselves?