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God the Director of Forces
The Scotch philosopher Beattie once went into his garden and drew in the soft earth the letters C. W. B. He sowed these furrows with garden cresses, smoothed the earth and went away. These were the initials of his little boy, who had never been taught anything concerning God, although he had learned to read. “Ten days later,” says Beattie, “the child came running to me in amazement, and said, ‘My name has grown in the garden.'” “Well, what if it has?” said the philosopher. “That is nothing,” and turned away. But the child took his father by the hand, led him to the garden plat, and said, “What made those letters?” “I see very well,” the father replied, “that the initials of your name have grown up here in the garden. That is an accident;” and he turned away again. The child followed him, took him by the hand, brought him back to the spot, and said very earnestly, “Someone must have planted the seeds to make the letters.” “Do you really believe those letters cannot have been produced by chance?” said the father. “I believe somebody planted them,” said the son, who probably did not know what chance meant. “Very well,” said the father; “look at your hands and your feet; consider your eyes and all your members. Are they not skillfully arranged? How did your hand get its shape?” The boy replied: “Somebody must have made my hands for me.” “Who is that some one?” said the father. “I do not know,” said the child. “Do you feel certain that somebody planted those seeds, and sure that some one made your hands?” “Yes,” said the boy, with great earnestness. And then the father communicated to the child the name of the great Being by whom all things are made, and the boy never forgot the lesson, nor the circumstances which led to it.
Now I bring the materialist, or any one who doubts the validity of the argument from design to prove the existence of a God possessing intelligence, to this garden plat. I say, “Will you explain for me the letters C. W. B?” The materialist replies: “I will do so, and can do so very easily, for the letters are explained by the powers in the seeds.” “Let us hear your explanation in detail,” I reply. “Very well,” the materialist goes on to say: “there is a garden cress making the head of the letter C. Is not that garden cress accounted for by the seed from which it grows?” “Yes,” I say. And so he goes on through the fifty garden cresses that make up the letter. He accounts for each one of the cresses, and then infers that he has accounted for the letter. I stop him and say, that to account for each one of those garden cresses, is not at all to account for the arrangement of the cresses into the shape of the C. Why did they not arrange themselves as a W, or a B, or in any form, or in no form at all? Here is the distinction between the existence of the forces of matter and the direction of those forces.
— September, 1880 —