Will Heaven and Nature Sing for Gilligan's Professor? - by Dr. C. Matthew McMahonApologetics - A Reasoned Defense of the Christian Faith
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Would the Professor of Gilligan’s Island have enough evidence to believe that there is a God while stranded on the island?
What can men know about God without a Bible? This is not only an important question apologetically, but it is an exceedingly critical question when dealing with the masses of people all over the world that have never heard the Gospel, are dying by the thousands each day and going to hell. Many people fallaciously believe that if people are sincere in their beliefs, no matter how primitive those beliefs are, that they will go to heaven when they die. They think about the “innocent native” in the African jungle who never receives the opportunity to hear the Gospel, and they believe he will go to heaven even if he is worshipping an idol because he has never heard the Gospel of Christ. The Bible on the other hand does not teach this at all. It does teach that men who do not believe in Jesus Christ are hell-bound, no matter what part of the world they live in or if they have ever heard the Gospel or not. God commands all men everywhere to repent, not just those who hear the Gospel. It also teaches the natives of any kind are not innocent, but sinners in need of redemption.
But what about the native who has never heard the Gospel? What can he know about God? Well, if we lived in a perfect world, we could pick the perfect native to use as an example. But, unfortunately, its not a perfect world and I really do not know any natives. So as a consolation, I decided to use the Professor as my example. You remember the Professor right? He was one of the 7 castaways on Gilligan’s Island. He was a fairly competent man, ingenious in his own right, and could create just about any gadget he needed out of coconuts and bamboo. He is a 35 year old high school Professor, who holds 6 degrees in the fields of chemistry, botany, biology and geography. He has a B.A from USC, a B.S. from UCLA, an M.A. from SMU, and received his Ph.D from TCU at the age of 25. He also holds a master’s degree in psychology, and can speak fluent Marubi, Papuan, and Katubi, to name a few. Back home, he is the number one man on his chess team, and was the youngest Eagle Scout in the entire city. He has never been married. He wrote a book called, “Rust, the Real Red Menace,” and was writing another book “Fun with Ferns,” which was the reason for taking the 3 hour tour. During his first week on the island, he discovered 5 different mutations of ragweed. If anyone could set his mind to find out something about the Creator of the universe it would be the Professor. He fits my criteria quite well: he is unregenerate; he is on a desert island; and he does not have a Bible. What can the Professor know about God in these circumstances if he applied his fallen mind to the situation? Will heaven and nature sing for the Professor?
It is true that no matter how much the Professor applies his mind he may come up with the same conclusion that the African Native does, which is to worship an idol, a cow, a pig or a pile of coconuts. However, Romans 1 tells us that the Professor, even in the darkness of his mind, is without excuse and should be able to plainly see the power of the Creator through the things which have been made. Yet, the words of Jonathan Edwards must also be kept in mind, “The best reasoner in the world, endeavoring to find out the cause of things, by the things themselves, might be led into the grossest errors and contradictions, and find himself, at the end, in extreme want of an instructor…In ordinary articles of knowledge, our senses and experience furnish reason with ideas and principles to work on: continual conferences and debates give it exercise in such matters; and that improves its vigor and activity. But in respect to God, it can have no right idea nor axiom to set out with, till He is pleased to reveal it.” This statement, as true as it is, is not a statement that will negate Psalm 19:1ff and Rom. 1:18ff. God has created all things, His power is seen, and the Professor is able, without excuse, to know that God exists. Simply from the standpoint of “being” itself the Professor could come up with the same conclusion as the Ligonier apologists do mimicking Jonathan Edwards in the following statement, “We have an idea of being and we cannot have even an idea of nonbeing. “That there should be nothing at all is utterly impossible [as Edwards said].” Therefore we cannot think of being not being ever or anywhere…consequently, this eternal, infinite being must necessarily exist because we cannot think of it not existing; and the only ultimate proof of the existence of anything is that we cannot think of it not existing ever.” Given this, can the Professor’s deductions fit the Biblical picture of God, or will he end up trading the power of the Creator to worship beasts, animals and idols? How close will the Professor come to the mark? When we traverse this path, we are walking down the road of epistemology, which is the study of the mind and how the mind thinks and rationalizes. It is the science of what the Professor can “know.”
How far can the Professor have assurance that the true objective reality corresponds with his subjective conceptions of the divine nature? There are two extremes here: first, when dealing with an infinite God there is inadequacy due to His incomprehensibility. There is no doubt (whether unregenerate or regenerate) that there are aspects of God which we can never fully know. What we know about God we know imperfectly and incompletely. We cannot fully interpret His being – only God can do that. This means that knowledge of God is analogous; it is a true analogy, but an analogy nonetheless. This is where knowledge is broken down into two realities, Archetypal and Ectypal. Archetypal knowledge is God’s perfect interpretation of His own being. It is how God knows Himself. Ectypal knowledge is our interpretation of His interpretation of His Being. Ours is a composite knowledge where His is complete and perfect. As William Ames states correctly, “God, as he is in himself, cannot be understood by and save himself…He is seen darkly, not clearly, so far as we an our ways are concerned. Since things which pertain to God must be explained in a human way, a manner of speaking called anthropopathy is frequently used.” Ames is saying that when we use language about God it is an accommodation to us since God is infinitely other than we are. The finite human mind cannot fully comprehend the infinite being of God. It is impossible. However, though men cannot fully know Him, this does not mean we cannot know anything about Him if He reveals it to us. And, I am happy to say, that God has revealed Himself to us in both general and special revelation. And the same God of general revelation that the Professor can see, is the same God of the Bible.
How then do we explain God? It is true that though the Professor cannot fully comprehend Him (or anything else for that matter) he can still know him. This knowledge is accommodating in both general and special revelation. Because the Professor is not able to take in God’s complete essence in one act of comprehension, it is revealed through general and special revelation explained as manifold, that is to say, as if consisting of many attributes. Because this is so, when the Professor ultimately arrives to the point of opening a Bible, he will be aware that the affections ascribed to God in Scripture, such as love, hatred, and the like, either designate acts of the will or apply to God only figuratively. But this does not mean that everything is so wholly other that the Professor cannot reach a true depiction of the God of nature and of the Bible. He can certainly understand whatever God has revealed to him.
The second extreme is that all the knowledge the Professor has about God is illusionary. If this were the case, as some suppose, then nothing we could think of corresponds to the Divine Being. There is no point or benchmark for the truth. This would even mean our concept of the word “God” would be fallacious, nor would such a word even exist. We would not be able to communicate, and everything I have written so far should make no sense to you at all. But this is not the case since the laws of logic are true and real.
When the Professor begins his quest to understand if God exists, or whether he can know Him, he must begin with certain logical conclusions which cannot defy the laws of logic. He must first be thinking rightly before he can think rightly about God. This might sound simple and straightforward – of course people have to think in order to think about God. But this is not as easily dismissed or as simple as one would think. The laws of non-contradiction, identity, rational inference and the like cannot be dismissed out of pocket if one is going to rightly think. For example, no person, not even the Professor, no matter where he is, can think rightly if they believe the law of non-contradiction can be violated. Something cannot be both itself and something else at the same time and in the same relationship. I cannot be both a man and a rock at the same time and in the same relationship. If I could, then the laws of communication can undergo the same ridiculous transformation and I would cease to speak intelligibly about anything.
The Professor has certain ontological and epistemological conceptions which he knows must be understood. When I say “ontological” I am speaking about the “being” of something. In the order of knowing, ontologically, God precedes our Logic. He is the first and best of beings. The Professor knows that he cannot create himself, nor can things that degrade create or sustain life. He knows there must be, somewhere, necessary being that is the sustaining cause of all things. If something exists, says the Professor, something exists necessarily. But do you see what the Professor did? He had to use logic to understand God’s ontological being. So, in the order of knowing, logic precedes God. After the Professor comes to terms with this, then he is governed by the rules of logic which in turn lead him to rationally demonstratable places. Epistemologically (the way the Professor thinks) logic precedes God in his thinking. In other words, the Professor knows he cannot think about God without thinking. He then deems these the “principles of reality.” What logic really achieves is that it analyzes and evaluates human activity known as argument. Logic must be used in the interpretation of language, especially in thoughts of the Professor, else he would not be able to speak or communicate (and would ultimately become a Solopsist.).
Though the Professor engages his mind and utilizes the laws of logic to discover whether or not there is a Creator, something higher than himself, he will certainly not shut off the testimony of the “sense;” this ought not to be rejected. The Professor would not exclude the only tools he has to work with – these are the senses as well as his mind. His mind will then interpret the experiences of the input of those senses. (On a side note, though the Bible is a book of faith, it is certainly never devoid of the certainty and reality of the senses. For instance, Luke 24:39 says, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Jesus here appeals to sense e3xperiecne as well as the mind. And in 1 John 1:1 the apostle says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;” John speaks here of “handling” the Word. Physical sense experience is also a manner or road of acquiring the truth.) The Professor knows this innately (he was born with the tool to understand this) as a human being created in the world where sense experience is vital to survival. But he also knows that sense experience alone is not enough.
Since the Professor is using logic to think, he knows that any evidence he discovers about a Creator will be non-contradictory. Conclusions about God’s Being and His self-revelation must necessarily be non-contradictory, or they cannot be true. God could not lie to the Professor, nor is His essence at variance with the revelation He has given to the Professor (if there is one). His Word (if there is one) would be absolute truth. Therefore His Word would also be non-contradictory. If God exists, then God would provide the professor with whatever he needs to understand “the things that are made” and how those things reflect His invisible attributes and divine power. God provides for everything to the capacity of its nature. That is why the Professor can use logic to think about God. God created him in that way.
What are the three methods the Professor could use of determining what attributes belong to the divine Being, if there is one? First, he could analyze the idea of infinite and absolute perfection in natural theology. This is the argument Paul utilizes in Romans 1:18ff. We could ask this: can the Professor can know God in any way? Yes, but in a limited sense. Knowledge takes it beginning from sense. That is all the Professor has to work with; i.e. tools of sense. The professor would rationalize (if he is thinking properly) that the sensible effects of God do not equal His power. The Professor merely sees the effects of His power, i.e. the things that are made. Therefore the Professor can be lead by these things as a means to know whether “God” exists and what must necessarily belong to Him as the first cause. Here he is wrestling with the construct of “proportion.” Proportion can be understood in two ways: in one sense it means a certain relation of one quantity to another. I have five coconuts to make a coconut cream pie, or I have 10 coconuts to make 2 pies. One proportion is greater than the other. Secondly, in another sense, every relation to another is called “proportion.” In this sense there can be a proportion of the creature to God, in so far as He is related to Him as the effect of its cause (and as potency to act); and in this way the created intellect can be proportioned to know God. This is known by degrees. God knows all things perfectly, but the Professor can only know God in part. The professor knows God in some degree, but not fully. In order to see God, there must be some likeness of God on the part of the “seeing power” whereby the intellect is made capable of seeing God. If the Professor cannot reason, or think logically, then he would never be able to know anything about anything, which would include God.
Using logic and rational thought, and applying sense experience in the real world around him, can the Professor know whether God exists? First, the most manifest argument the Professor can utilize is from motion. (You might be asking yourself – are you kidding? This is in no way “most manifest!” But see where this goes…) What is motion? Motion is reduction from potency to act. Nothing can be reduced from potency to act except by something in a state of act – that is the state of motion. It is impossible that a thing be both mover and moved. It cannot be both, and the professor knows this from his experiments with throwing coconuts. Therefore whatever is moved must be moved by another. But the Professor runs into a conundrum – this cannot go on into infinity. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first Mover not moved by any other. This Mover would be the first cause of all things, but not caused Himself. He is contingent upon nothing, ontologically self-sufficient and has created all things which derive their existence from His sustaining power. The Professor could simply say, “If something exists, something exists necessarily.” The Professor now sustains the idea that something greater than the universe has to exist if the universe exists. He knows something cannot come from nothing (that would violate the laws of logic.) He also knows that since the world exists, since he exists, something must exist that has necessary being. There is a being, greater than the universe, greater than the Professor, who holds necessary being – in fact the Professor knows that this Creator (whoever “He” may be) sustains everything. The next question is the question of “who.”
The Professor now wants to know about this Creator. He should! Whoever this Creator is, He should be given all praise and adoration because He has Created all things. If that means that the universe was created by 5 molecules of water, the Professor will be obliged to bow down and worship them. So far, without a Bible, the Professor has successfully come to the logical conclusion, given the state of motion, the laws of logic which are self evident, and the state of the current universe, that a Creator exists who is not the universe (that rules out molecules!). But what is this Creator like? The Professor knows that the Creator’s being is simple. Why does He know this? The Creator not have a body. Why would the Professor come to this conclusion? Of necessity the Creator is “pure act,” and not potential in any way. (As a note for the reader, corporeal acts are attributed to God in Scripture on account of His actions and this is owing to certain likeness; not because he actually has feathers as Psalm 90 says, or repents, as Genesis 6 states.) The Professor does not draw near to the Creator by corporeal steps, since He is everywhere, but by the affections of his mind, and in the same way withdraws from Him. Thus, to draw near or to withdraw signifies merely spiritual affections based on the likeness of local motion. The Professor must distinguish between the Creator’s affectus and His effectus (those things that reside intrinsically in the Creator, to those things which are deemed as if they are actions by the Creator.) The Professor would know it is impossible for matter to exist in the Creator since His being is actus purus, is without potency. Hence it is impossible for Him to be comprised of matter and form. The Professor would have to conclude He is pure spirit. But the Professor also knows his imperfect state of being as a human, and that the Creator is not imperfect in any way. He knows as men are evil, the standard to view evil is based on the perfections of the Creator. Thus he knows the Creator will be angry at His imperfection and with his inconsistent moral behavior. But how can this Creator become something else? How can He move from being unmoved as pure actus, to being moved to anger by the Professor’s evil works? Judgment is bound to the evil actions of anything imperfect, so how is the Creator able to change in this manner? Anger and the like are attributed to the Creator on account of a likeness of effect. Thus, because to punish is properly the act of an angry and just man on account of some affect, the Creator’s punishment is metaphorically spoken of as His anger. This diversity (or seeming change) lies in the Professor’s way of thinking, and not in any diversity in the Creator’s reality. Here the Professor turns to contemplate the being and essence of the Creator.
Are essence and being the same in the Creator? Or are they divided? In the Creator there is no accidental quality but subsisting truth. Being is either caused by exterior agents or itself. It cannot be both. The thing whose being differs from its essence is caused by another. Since the Creator is the first efficient cause of all things, therefore it is impossible that in the Creator His being should differ from His essence. His essence does not differ from His being, therefore His essence is His being. When the Professor thinks about the nature of the Creator he must do so in stages or successively because he is a finite being bound to motion. Thus, those attributes of God which are said to be communicated to creatures apply by analogy, not in the same mode nor with the same meaning as they are said to exist in God. The Creator would then have to be altogether simple in the Professor’s mind. Why? There is neither composition or quantitive parts in the Creator since He does not have a body; nor composition of form and matter; nor does His nature differ from the His suppositum; nor his essence from His being; neither is there in Him composition of genus and difference nor of subject and accident, as Aquinas would say. There are no parts to speak of at all except in terms of the whole. Every composite is posterior to its component parts, and is dependent on them, but the Creator is the first and best of beings. Composites have a cause, the Creator does not. In every composite there is potency and act. Since the Creator is form and being in and of Himself, He cannot be composite in any way. Composition is of the formal reason of a being originated and dependent since nothing can be composed of itself, but whatever is composed must be composed of another. If God is perfectly unified (which the Professor does not know at this point but conjectures), then He must be altogether simple. Simplicity also gives way to unity. Division is prior to unity, not absolutely, but according to our apprehension. This is the conclusion he must come to about the Creator, which he must now, at this point, call “God.” Maybe he heard the term used loosely by Gilligan, or Mary Ann. In any case, he uses the term as one which signifies the simplicity of the being of the Creator and rightfully deems this Creator, to whom He owes his existence and being, God.
After the simplicity of God is founded, the Professor moves onto the next logical step which is to consider His perfection. The first Being must be the most actual and therefore most perfect. Whatever in God is essential and absolute is God himself which is most perfect. The Professor then knows that that which is not made is improperly called “prefect” It is a term of acquiescence rather than positive term of description. But he will use it nonetheless. The perfection of everything that God is, is in Him perfectly. Perfect act is only found in the efficient cause. If He is not perfect, then he is not God. He must contain the whole and complete perfection of being. The Professor could not come to any other conclusion than that God exists not in any single mode but embraces all being in Himself absolutely, without limitation, and uniformly. If He is perfect, and holds all perfection in every form, then He is the highest good. This would make God, the Perfect being, most desirable above all other things. The Professor knows that a thing is good only insofar as its being constitutes. And the supreme Good does not add to good any absolute thing, but only a relation. The Professor’s knowledge is based on a relationship. Thus it is not necessary that there should be composition in the supreme good, but only that other things are deficient in comparison with it. The Professor then realizes that essential goodness belongs to God alone. Everything is called good according to its perfection. If God were composite in any way, He would not be perfectly good and unworthy of praise and worship, which The Perfect Being should have. (Though the Professor is still considering the “who” of God, he does begin to contemplate the need to worship this Creator.)
If God is wholly simple and perfect, then it stands to reason that He is infinite in His being and perfections; He is not limited. The Professor understands, now, that infinity must of necessity belong to the first Principle cause of all things. The Professor knows he is not infinite; he is merely a created being, finite in every way. A thing is called finite because it is not infinite. God is His own subsistence and therefore cannot be acted upon or received in anything. Quantity is seen in the form of thing, not the matter of a thing. (i.e. in the makeup of a thing, not its parts.). God is then distinguished from all other beings because He alone is infinite – He is not made up of parts but fully whole. The Professor now understands the magnitude, to some extent, of the being of the Creator.
But if God is infinite, would this mean that the Being of God is in things? How does the Professor escape Pantheism? To an extent, the Professor knows that the being of God is the sustaining power of the universe. In all things God is giving them power and operation. But God cannot be properly said to be “in” something since he is infinite, though His effectiveness may surround and permeate something. God is said to be “in” a thing in two ways: in one way after the manner of the efficient cause (all things created); and as object of operation (as with the soul which the Professor has not contemplated as of yet). When the sun shines in through the window of a house, it is properly said to be “in” the house. Ginger will open the shutters of her bungalow and “let the sun in” during the day. But the sun does not properly come into the house in its essence and being, but in it’s affect. The rays permeate the window, and the soothing feeling of warmth fills the grass hut. God then, not having a body, is everywhere properly as spirit, but is not everything itself. There is a Creator-creature distinction which the Professor cannot escape. The only way to escape it is to deny it and to violate the law of non-contradiction. The Professor knows he cannot be himself, and God at the same time and in the same relationship.
The Professor then contemplates the constancy of God. If God is perfect, and the first cause, with no potentiality in Him at all, then He must of necessity be immutable (never changing). God is pure act without any potentiality. Everything which is changed is in some way potency. So, it is impossible for God to be in any way potential. He is altogether simple, hence, He cannot be moved. Anything that moves acquires something by the move; thus, since He cannot acquire anything He did not have before, or needs, He is immutable. This is an exceedingly important concept that the Professor understands. Since God is immutable, there are certain facts which the Professor can arrive at in deter mining His nature. He is everywhere He will be. Movement in no way belongs to Him. Movement about Him in our own minds is as a metaphor. God is said to approach the Professor or to recede from him when he receives the influx of His goodness, or falls away from Him. But this does not argue for movement in God, but in the Professor. So what does the Professor conclude on immutability? Paraphrasing Aquinas, in every creature there is a potency to change either as regard substantial being as in the case of corruptible bodies, or as regards being in place only, as in the case of celestial bodies, or as regard of the order to their end, and the application of their powers to divers objects. Universally, all creatures generally are mutable by the power of the Creator, in whose power is their being and non-being. Hence, since God is in none of these ways mutable, it belongs to Him alone to be altogether immutable.
If God is simple, perfect, infinite, and immutable, then He must of necessity be eternal. The Professor cannot comprehend the true nature of eternity, so he must describe it in term s of negativity: eternity lacks beginning and end. Eternity lacks succession. Time is simply the numbering of movement as “before and after.” For something which lacks movement, and which is always the same, there is no before and after. God must be His own eternity. It is not that God resides in eternity, but that eternity is dependent as a realti0nship to His being. No other being other than God is as its own being. Then the Professor measures time against eternity. Time and eternity are not the same. Eternity is the measure of permanent being and time is the measure of movement. Eternity equals the simultaneous whole, where time equals the measure of movement. (A note bene to the reader: Augustine said, “To be moved through time, is to be moved by affections.” Interesting?) Thus, since God is in no way moved or measured by movement, He is altogether immutable in His being. If God is immutable then He is a static absolute in every respect of the word.
Now that the Professor feels comfortable from his logical outworking of both his ideas about the first cause and ultimate Creator of all things, he also begins to infer God’s characteristics from his observation of His works around him and his experiences with God through nature. Everything which is raised up to what exceeds its nature must be prepared by some disposition above its nature. Therefore, one intellect may see God more than another. The Professor may know more about God than Gilligan. Gilligan may know more than Mary Ann, and so on. However, the Professor knows God cannot be fully known. This moves him to consider God’s incomprehensibility.
Comprehension of a thing is two-fold: strictly speaking, as one comprehending a thing. This is ascribed to God alone which is opposed to non-attainment. And then the division of parts, or apprehension. This is what the Professor understands and knows. He can say, “I see the lagoon is clear today.” He does not fully comprehend every aspect of the lagoon; only the Creator can know this. But he can apprehend something about the lagoon and know it is true. In the same way the Professor cannot comprehend God fully, who is infinitely greater than a lagoon, but he can know certain aspects about the Creator as we have already seen.
While the Professor has been walking along the lagoon’s beach, contemplating the God of creation, Gilligan stumbles upon him and hands him a Bible he found which washed up in an old trunk on the other side of the Island. Interested in the book, the Professor takes what he has deducted and rationalized about the Creator, and tests it against the Bible which claims to be God’s revelation of Himself to men. Here, the Professor studies the didactic statements of supernatural revelation found in the Bible Gilligan hands him, and specifically in Jesus Christ in that revelation.
Initially, the Professor reads through the entire Bible to have a cursory understanding of the book and its claims. By doing this, he ensures he will, at the very least, hold an apprehension of the basic tenants that the Bible teaches. He then decides to systematize his thoughts about the Creator, and check his own logic against the truth of the book he is holding. He investigates the attributes which the Bible predicates to God.
First, he finds that the Bible speaks of God’s self-existence. God holds the ground of His existence in Himself. John 5:26 says, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;” He finds that God is simple and that He is not made up of parts. Deuteronomy 6:4 states, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” In John 4:24 he finds Jesus Christ stating that “God is a Spirit…” In Deuteronomy 4:15-16 it reads, “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female.” In Exodus 20:4 it says, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…” In 1 Timothy 1:17 he finds Paul saying, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” He knows composition of God in our apprehension of Him does not argue the necessity that He is so in any way. Secondly, then, he knows the Bible says God is immutable: that He is devoid of all change. Exodus 3:14 says, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM.” Psalm 102:26-27 states, “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” He also finds this same idea in Hebrews. 1:11-12. Malachi 3:6 asserts, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” In James 1:17 he finds, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” He then realizes that immutability does not argue immobility, but actus purus – pure action – which is God’s pursuit of His own glory. The door swings in both directions here. God is immutable, which means He is unchanging in His being, but He also interacts with men, which means He is relational. The Professor then realizes that since he is a human being, and can only apprehend ideas about God and not comprehend them, Scripture must needs describe God in anthropomorphic language. Nevertheless, no matter how far this anthropomorphism is carried, the Bible very positively denies any change in God’s being. There is change round about Him, there is change in relations of men to God, but there is no change in God. Thirdly, this leads the Professor to consider God’s eternal nature. The infinity of God in relation to time is called eternity. God as eternal is that perfection whereby He is elevated above all temporal limits and all succession of moments, and possesses the whole of His existence in one indivisible present. He find this truth in Psalm 90:2, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” And also in Psalm 102:12, “But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.” And considers Ephesians 3:21 as well, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” And so, fourthly, if He is eternal, immutable and simple, He is also perfect. Now the Professor understands all these perfections in a qualitative sense. He sees this in Job 11:7-9, “Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.” And in Psalm 145:3, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” And in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” But the Professor also knows God is infinite – free from all limitations. This theological concept is a mesh of His perfection, eternality, and immensity (or omnipresence). And he also deduces His unity which means He is free from any parts or composition. This is deduced from His simplicity, essence and subsistence. The Professor realizes that without the Bible he knew many things about the Creator, and yet, even in all he knew, it was still not enough to be saved from his sins.
Though the Professor knows all this about God, and confirms it all in the Bible, there is still a vast measure of God’s incomprehensible nature to deal with. This is God’s interpretation of Himself. It is clearly incomprehensible to the Professor. He finds scratched in the back cover of the Bible, “Finitum non posit capax infinitum” and re members his Latin, “The finite cannot contain the infinite.” A complete logical definition of God is impossible since God cannot be subsumed under some higher genus. The professor knows that human beings work from the self revelation of God both in natural theology generally, and in Scripture specially, to understand Him. Man knows only by analogy.
In all this the Professor becomes deeply acquainted with the Creator not only as God, but as the Bible so deems Him, as the Savior. He knows he could never have come to understand God as Savior except it be for the Bible in his hand, for the natural realm does not allow the finite mind to be specific on such issues. He would not even known that God is one nature in three persons if it were not for the Bible (contrary to Edwards’ thought). His natural revelation only leads the soul so far. But in the Bible the Professor becomes intimately acquainted with the names of God (El Elohim – (2248 uses) Gen. 1:1; 14:19-20; Numbers 24:16; Isa. 14:14; Adonai – (305 uses) – Gen 18:12; Psalm 110:1; Isaiah 49:14; Mal. 1:6; Shaddai – (48 uses) Gen 17:1; Job 8:3; Psalm 68:15; 91:1; Joel 1:15; Yahweh – (5790 uses) – Gen 2:4; Deut 6:4; Isa. 40:2, 3, 5, 7; Hag. 1:2-3; by the works ascribed to Him in Efficacy (His working power); His decrees, Eph. 1:11; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 46:10; 1 Cor. 2:7; Acts 4:28; 15:8; His creative power, the efficacy of God whereby in the beginning out of nothing he made the world to be altogether good, 1 Tim. 4:4; Psalm 19:1; Gen 1:1-31; Psa. 33:6; Heb. 11:3; Col. 1:16; Acts 17:24; Exod. 20:11; His providence – that efficacy whereby he provides for existing creatures in all things in accordance with the counsel of His will. Neh. 9:6; Psa. 145:14-16; Heb. 1:3; Dan. 4:34-35; Psa. 135:6; Acts 17:25-28; Job 34:1-41:34; Matt. 6:26-32; 10:29-31; Prov. 15:3; I Chr. 16:9; Psa. 104:24; 145;17; and by the worship they direct to be paid to him, Rom. 1:20; Psa. 19:1-4a; 50:6; 86:8-10; 89:5-7; 95:1-6; 97:6; 104:1-35; 145:9-12; Acts 14:17; Deut. 6:4-5; Deut. 4:15-20; 12:32; Matt. 4:9-10; 15:9; Acts 17:23-25; Exod. 20:4-6, John 4:23-24; Col. 2:18-23. Then most importantly of all, the Professor is humbled that God sent a Redeemer to save Him. It is the manifestation of God in Christ, John 1:1, 14; I John 5:20; Phil. 2:6; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:14, 16-17; 4:15; Luke 1:27, 31, 35; Gal. 4:4; see Matt. 1:18, 20-21; Matt. 16:16; Col. 2:9; Rom. 9:5; I Tim. 3:16; Rom. 1:3-4; I Tim. 2:5; Psa. 45:7; John 3:34; see Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18; Heb. 1:8-9; Col 2:3; Col 1:19; Heb. 7:26; John 1:14; Acts 10:38; Heb. 7:22; 12:24; Heb. 5:4-5; John 5:22, 27; Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:36.
Well, the story ends on a happy note. The Professor is converted, and evangelizes the other castaways through many tedious hours of explanation. They come to the same conclusions as he does, and ultimately begin evangelizing the neighboring natives. Soon thereafter, their story becomes more popular than Robinson Crusoe, and yes, they do ultimately get off that Island only to return three years later in a missionary endeavor to plant the first Reformed Presbyterian Church in the area.