Chapter 1 – The Unknown God

Chapter I
W. John Murray
The Realm of Reality
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1922.

“Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.”
–Acts 17:23.

[9] When a noted scientist spoke of God as “The Unknowable,” either he had never read, or he quite overlooked, the declaration of Jesus that a knowledge of God is an essential necessity. A perception of God is as imperative to the soul as is the knowledge of mathematics in the ordinary affairs of life; for what mathematics is to the regulation of system and order in the outer world, divine metaphysics is to the maintenance of peace and power in the mental realm.

When Job’s comforters asked of him, “Canst thou by searching find out God?” “Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perception?” he answered, “Surely, I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.” A less courageous [10] soul would have concluded that the ways of the Infinite are past finding out and, like the great majority, Job would have contented himself with the belief that “there is a God,” and let it go at that.

The most common attitude of mind is that which admits the reality of God, but which, at the same time, declares Him to be incomprehensible. If God is, God can be known. Only that is unknown and unknowable which does not exist; for it is alone the non-existent which cannot be known. All discovery and all invention are based upon the conviction that, “if a North Pole exists, it can be discovered,” or, “if a truth exists, it can be understood.”

It has been said that Nature has no secrets which the bold spirit may not learn. The trouble is not with Nature that she does not more readily impart her information; but it is with man that he does not more strenuously wrest it from her. The trouble is not with God, that He does not more frequently make himself known to the children of men; it is that they do not seek after Him with sufficient intensity.

How else does man find out anything except by searching? “He that seeketh, findeth,” whether it be in the kingdom of heaven, in the depths of the earth, or on the other side of the mighty ocean.

If men would seek after the Christ Truth as Columbus sought after this continent they would surely find It; for it is not that Truth is undiscoverable, [11] but that they are not sufficiently intrepid and earnest in their search.

For one man who digs a well a million may drink of its waters, but “the water of Life,” which is the knowledge of God, is a something which no man can drink for us and quench our thirst. Another’s knowledge of mathematics avails me little; I must learn it for myself if I would be proficient. Another’s understanding of a foreign language helps me in so far as it enables me to acquire it also. In like manner it avails me nothing if saints and sages walk and talk with God if I am ignorant of His whereabouts, His character and His law. Something within tells me, as it told Job, that I must “converse with the Almighty.”

I am not satisfied to believe in the existence of God as I believe in the existence of Australia, or as a something afar off; neither am I content to believe that all I shall ever know of God is what I see of Him in nature. When the Bible tells me “Acquaint now thyself with God, and thereby be at peace,” I want to begin this acquaintance, if possible, for peace is the soul’s most sincere desire.

With all the gods that man has worshiped, and in which he has believed, there has always been reserved a place for that in which he believes, but which, so far, he has not discovered.

When Paul was led out to Mars Hill in order that the Greeks might hear something new, since it was their custom to give everything a hearing, [12] even though they rejected it afterward, he was impressed by the great number of altars erected and dedicated to the many gods of Greece. Bacchus, Venus, Pan and many others were distinguished by the inscriptions upon them, and upon one was inscribed “To the Unknown God,” and it was this inscription which particularly attracted Paul’s attention.

With all that the Greeks knew about the gods there was still room in their philosophy for the acceptance of something which they did not know. The very act of dedicating an altar to the Unknown God was, in itself, evidence of the fact that they did not consider that they possessed all knowledge. They are an object lesson to us in modesty, a rebuke to bigotry, and a revelation of the necessity of having always a place in the mind for the reception of a new and higher idea. If Paul had carefully prepared an oration to deliver on the famous hill of Areopagus, he did not deliver it, for the reason that he received an inspiration for a new one, as a result of his observations along the way.

When all were assembled and attentive, Paul said: “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by and beheld your devotions I found an altar with this inscription: ’To the Unknown God.’ Whom, therefore, ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.” He then asserted God to be the One eternal Cause, as against the superstitious belief in many causes, represented by the many [13] gods in the religious worship of the Greeks. He declared this Cause to be at work everywhere in the universe, by assuring his hearers that “In Him we live, and move and have our being.” He assured them of man’s relation to this Great First Cause by reminding them of certain statements made by their own poets, which said, “For we are also His offspring.” He admonished them to seek the Lord, if haply ye might feel after Him and find Him, though He be not far away from every one of us.”

The proximity of God was Paul’s great declaration. If men sought after God outside of their own spiritual natures they were like men looking for their own spectacles when all the time they had them on their faces. Were Paul here today he might tell us, who, as Christians, feel that we believe in the one true, living God, that we are altogether too superstitious. He might offend our religious sense of things by telling us that God is not what we think He is. He might even ridicule some of the altars which we have dedicated to Him as the “Great Unknowable,” “The Inscrutable,” “The Mysterious.” He might even tell us that the Greeks were more consistent than we, for while they erected an altar to “The Unknown God,” they never felt that He was ”Unknowable.”

He might take exception to our belief in God as an anthropomorphic personality, and he might also explode the theory of three persons in one person as a sufficient explanation of the [14] Blessed Trinity. What a shock it would be to most of us to be told that we are altogether too superstitious, and then to have some of our most precious and time-worn theories about God and man, heaven and earth, exploded by the simple Truth about all of these.

It is said that when Paul concluded his oration on Mars Hill “some mocked, while others clave unto him.” Should it happen that some will mock our method of declaring God, others will accept what seems to them a rational definition of Deity. I know that certain theologians hold to the opinion that “A God defined is a God dethroned,” and that “Deity defies definition;” but when I have learned to my own satisfaction that theology is not the last word on sacred subjects I dare to differ with its dicta whenever these are not consistent with Truth.

If “To know God is Life eternal,” then there is no other way out of it than to know Him scientifically. Deity has been written and spoken of under many titles or synonyms. Prior to the time of Moses God was spoken of as Elohim; after that as Jehovah. To Plato God was known as Mind, or the home of Ideas; to Jesus as Spirit and Father, and to John as Love. From the pagan conception of many gods, these more or less after the likeness of men, and representative of different emotions, to the Jewish conception of one God comprising all these emotions, human thought gradually advanced to the conception of [15] God as a loving Father, the Universal Spirit, and Omnipresent Love. But, like the waves of the sea, the waves of thought receded from the shores of science until superstition again clothed God with human form, endowed Him with human attributes, and banished Him from the earth to a heaven, the whereabouts of which not even theology can explain.

Today, in the stress and storm of things, as never before, men and women are asking if there is a God. To them it seems inconceivable that a good God, who is supposed to be omnipresent and omnipotent, should permit such atrocities as have lately taken place in the objective world. With a conception in the mind of a man-like God, ruling this planet from the center of all the planets, looking upon all this evil and suffering, and yet permitting it to continue when He might, in exercise of His omnipotence, put an instantaneous stop to it all, it is difficult to understand the so-called goodness of God. It is these inconsistencies which drive men either away from God or compel them to seek other interpretations of His nature and law than those which are commonly projected.

As the mind of man evolves in the direction of spiritual consciousness, Calvin’s conception of God, and others like it, become obsolete by reason of their brutality. Just as the damning of unbaptized infants and the consigning of such to eternal torment has become a doctrine too horrible for acceptance, so shall some of our pleasant [16] theories in the light of advancing knowledge become too foolish for consideration.

The day will come when the unknown God, whom we ignorantly worship on the one hand, and fear on the other, shall be declared unto us. If today we worship God as a fickle personality observing all the unholy slaughter that has taken place in Europe, yet doing nothing to end it, the day will come when God shall be declared unto us as that immutable Principle of Being which beholds no evil and cannot look upon iniquity. (Hab.1:13.)

To the man who believes that God sees all the evil that is at present being enacted in this world, and permits it for some wise and inscrutable purpose of His own, it will come in the nature of a shock to have it declared unto him that God knows nothing at all about it. When He, Whom we have ignorantly worshiped as a person, in an anthropomorphic sense, is perceived as the ever changeless Principle of all Reality, we shall see that it is no more possible for God to see the evil that so disturbs the world than it is for the principle of mathematics to see, and be moved by, the tears of children at school, or the throbbing brains of expert accountants.

If the word Principle, for Deity, seems cold and abstract, it is so only because we have not become familiar with it; yet, after we accustom ourselves to it we marvel that it has not been used before. We can understand how God can be [17] everywhere in His entirety and omniscience and yet not know iniquity, when we think of the principle of mathematics being everywhere in its entirety–in the school room, counting room, at home, on trains, or on the streets–and yet not conscious of the struggles of the children of men to solve their mathematical difficulties.

If the principle of mathematics seems cold and heartless to those who are experiencing difficulties, the fault is not with the principle of mathematics. On the contrary it is most beneficent, for it places its whole, undivided and omnipresent self at the disposal of all who understand it and use it intelligently. The beauty and strength and usefulness of the principle of mathematics lie not in its knowledge of our mistakes, but in its support of our correct solutions. It neither chides nor rebukes us for our errors, and it is for this reason that we may turn to it again and again after each successive mistake, and find it tirelessly ready to answer every intelligent demand we may make upon it.

When the unknown God Whom we ignorantly worship, and Whom we dread to meet because we believe that He “remembereth our iniquities” and will condemn us for them, is understood as the Principle of eternal Love, we shall know that a sin forsaken is a sin forgiven. God can no more be angry than the principle of mathematics can be angry. When we stop making mathematical mistakes, we will find the principle of mathematics our most efficient helper; when we [18] stop making moral mistakes, commonly called sins, we will find the Principle of Being not a bending reed, but a staff upon which to lean. Until we can view the unknown God from the standpoint of Principle, our forward movements are likely to be interfered with by the belief that God remembers our past.

The individual’s most anxious inquiry is: Can God forget the mistakes of the past? To such an one it must be comforting to know that the hitherto unknown God is the understandable Principle of Life which “forgiveth all our iniquities and healeth all our diseases,” when he applies this Principle and works in harmony with it. The principle of mathematics says to the man who has had no mathematical advantages, or has failed to make use of them, “Learn of me, and I will smooth out all your mathematical difficulties;” and in like manner the Principle of Being says, “Though thy sins be as scarlet, they shall be made whiter than snow.”

When we can understand that God is that omnipresent Principle of Life in which we live and move and have our being, we can, in the measure of our understanding, utilize this Principle, for there is a sense in which man utilizes God, even as God utilizes man. May it not be true that God never utilizes man except as man utilizes God? Every breath we draw, every movement we make, every good deed we perform is a conscious or unconscious using of Divine energy; [19] and this being the case we shall one day use it more consciously, more constructively, more intelligently. Just as we apply the principle of mathematics to the solution of our mathematical problems, we shall apply the Principle of Truth to those moral and physical mistakes which we call sin and sickness. These shall be overcome, not so much by resisting evil as by knowing that God is all in all. By knowing that there is no error in the principle of mathematics, and by obeying its rules, the tendency to err is minimized and finally overcome; by knowing that in the Principle of Being there is neither sin nor sickness, and by applying the rules of right thinking to these mistakes, the tendency to indulge in the one and suffer from the other grows beautifully less.

As the unknown God is made known to us as the Principle of Being from which we sprang, and in which we exist, it becomes closer to us than our nearest friend. It is a covert from the storm, and an ever-present help in time of trouble. To be able to look away from our mistakes and to meditate for one brief moment on that omnipresent Principle in Which there are no mistakes, and to Whom mistakes are unknown, is for us to become refreshed and invigorated. It is to realize that the “tabernacle of God is with men, and that He dwells with them, and that they are His people, and that God Himself is with them, and is their God.” To know God as the Divine Principle of Love is to know that this [20] Principle, when understood and applied, “shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away,” with our former misconceptions of God.

Chapter 2

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The Realm of Reality
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