Tomorrow is the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s now immortal Gettysburg Address. Just four months before that, a terrible carnage had taken place on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The loss of life on both sides was so terrible that it was decided to dedicate the battlefield as a national monument and a cemetery.
Lincoln’s address was very brief; I had to memorize it as a child in school. But it is as eloquent and elegant as it is short. It ends by saying that it is the hope of our people “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” “Under God.”
The Madalyn Murray O’Hares and the ACLUs among us would like to remove those words from the address, and remove them also from all public inscriptions and utterances in our land. They claim that any reference to God is a violation of the rights of the atheists among us. But we, who do believe in God and who constitute the vast majority of our people, also have rights. And one of them is to use our intelligence to reason from effect to cause—from this great universe to a maker of the universe. Every ten-year-old child knows that a bicycle doesn’t just happen. Someone is required to make it. If that is true of bicycles, what about those who make the bicycles, and the computers, and the planes that fly from country to country? What about our eyes that see; our ears that hear; our digestive and respiratory and circulatory and reproductive systems?
Some months ago there was a debate in one of our national newsmagazines between a Protestant minister and an atheist. When asked why he didn’t believe in God, the atheist replied that he had no evidence that there is a God. It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry when you hear that. I wonder what evidence he WOULD admit? As the old Chinese proverb goes, “None is so blind as he who will not see.” It is analogous to the whale in the North Atlantic who claims not to believe in the ocean because he has no evidence of it.
In any case, let us remember the words of Lincoln, and let us give thanks that we can still enjoy and profit by “this nation, under God.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.