The World Tomorrow

Why Do We Believe What We Believe?

by Herbert W Armstrong


Well greetings everybody! I wonder did you ever stop to think – why do people believe what they believe? Different religions believe whatever their religion is. The people in Thailand, practically all of them, believe in Buddhism. Now why do they all believe in Buddhism? Why is it nearly all Arabs believe in the Moslem religion? Why is it that nearly everybody in France is a Catholic – though most of them are just nominal Catholics and not really deep-down Catholics. But that’s what they would claim they are – but why? And how did you come to believe the things you believe?

Well most people never ask themselves that, in retrospect, how they came to believe what they do. Do you ever stop to think how you came to believe what you believe; how did it get into your mind? You’ve got absolute beliefs; you’ve got convictions, and you’re sure of it, but someone else is just as sure of the opposite – of something entirely different. Now how did you come to be so sure, and are you so sure after all, or do you just think you are?

Well, let me answer that question. Most people believe what they’ve been brought up to believe – especially in religion. They believe the religion that those people around them believe, and what they were taught to believe, and what their neighbors and everybody they know believes – what their peers believe and those around them.

Now there’s another reason why people believe what they do, and about other things than religion. They believe what they have repeatedly read, or what they have repeatedly heard, until they just accept it.

Advertising men know that people believe what they hear, or see, or read repeatedly. Now in advertising, we have to consider, broadly, two different categories of the things that we advertise, that are for sale – of course there’s services and there’s merchandise. But in the main your problem, and your merchandising problem, is either one of education, or it’s one of just repeating a name until they’ll buy that name.

For instance in cigarettes, most cigarette companies will advertise their particular brand. Now a lot of them are using advertising to try to show you that you ought to smoke, because the government makes them print something that cigarette smoking is dangerous. So now they’re trying to counter that so they can stay in business. And they’re going to tell you whatever they think they can get you to believe. And they know that if they repeat it often enough you’re going to believe it. You believe what you read.

You see, we learn that in our educational system. People start in school; they learn to read beginning the first grade in school at age six. They begin to get a little arithmetic and things like that at about age seven in the second grade. And pretty soon they’re able to read. And so education, from that time on, comes largely from books – from textbooks. And you’re expected to believe exactly what that textbook says; and if you don’t you’re going to, maybe, be flunked, or you’ll get a wrong mark on that particular question.

Well most people believe, then, what they’re raised up to believe. Or they believe what they have read, or what they have heard. And again most people believe what they want to believe; they believe what their peer group believes.

Kids, for instance, believe what other kids their own age believe that they associate or play around with, much more than they believe what the parents say – and you parents ought to realize that. To your child, even up into the teenagers, the other kids their own age have a lot more authority than you do – unless you’re very careful. Now maybe you’re going to be clever enough to convince them that you know more than the other kids do, and I hope you succeed in that. But otherwise just be careful.

Now there’s another thing: a lot of people believe what they want to believe even though they might know it’s not the truth – they believe it anyway. And a lot of people refuse to believe what they don’t want to believe; and even if you prove it to them they won’t accept it! And there’s an old saying that 'a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still,' and he certainly is, a man convinced against his will.

A Dual Challenge (PLAY FROM 05:16)

Well, how did I come to believe what I believe? Now I want to tell you a little bit about my own experience, because I was put through an experience.

About fifty years ago, I was given a great jolt – a mind-disturbing dual challenge. All of a sudden, to my dismay, I learned that my wife had taken up with what I regarded as 'religious fanaticism.'

Now I was in business; I was in the advertising business. And – as I say I have mentioned this in the past – that I had left church and Sunday school and religious interest after about age eighteen. I was reared in it. Of course I was reared to believe in God and to believe in Christ. I didn’t know much about God; I didn’t know much about Christ. But I just knew I believed in them. Why? I didn’t know, but it’s because I’d been taught it, I guess, and because everybody else did that I was with. But I didn’t know much about it.

Of course, I also believed that I was an immortal soul. And I believed that I would go to heaven or to hell when I died – depending on how good I was. And I had some beliefs like that.

But here my wife had now taken up with a religious fanaticism. And I had almost lost interest in religion – and this was a good many years after I was eighteen and, as a matter of fact, I was thirty-four. And my wife had taken up with the seventh-day Sabbath.

Now to me that was just about the very height of religious fanaticism. And I began to think: I had business associates. I had been making in the advertising business what would be an income today – or a salary equivalent of what today’s dollar will buy – of about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. And that was back when I was under thirty years of age – still in my twenties. And I don’t think you can say that that’s exactly the kind of an evidence of failure.

But now I was really disturbed. And about the same time a sister-in-law of mine, who was just fresh out of college and newly married to my wife’s brother, came to me and she had learned something in school. And I don’t know how it came, but I had studied so many things, and I had gotten books in the library, and I had bought books, and I had read and studied books, and I had not neglected education by any means. But my sister-in-law said to me, because she knew I didn’t believe in evolution, one time she said, "Herbert Armstrong, you are just downright ignorant!"

"Well," I said, "I don’t think I am."

Of course I was quite proud at that time.

And she says, "Anyone who has any knowledge and any sense at all knows evolution is true!"

"Well," I said, "I don’t know it."

And she says, "Well, you’re ignorant."

I said, "Hertha, I’m going to make you swallow those words." I said, "I have never gone into an in-depth study of evolution. I’ve read a great deal about it and, from what I have seen, I don’t believe in it, but, " I said, "Now I’ll go into it deeply. I’m not going to be called ignorant."

Yes, I was proud. So the next six months was a night-and-day study; and it happened to be a six month time when I had time on my hands. My wife used to say to me, about 1 am, “Herbert, when are you coming to bed?” Because I was studying; and often I was at the public library at nine o’clock, waiting for it to open its doors, in the morning. And I was still there when they closed the doors at ten o’clock at night. And then I’d go home and study until one – and I went in-depth.

Now it just happened that both evolution and this Sabbath question my wife had taken up with had a common starting point – the book of Genesis in the Bible, but I didn’t begin with the book of Genesis.

I began my study by getting the works of Darwin and the account of his trip around the world in the good ship 'Beagle,' and all of that. And then I got the writings of Haekel, and Huxley, and a modern one, Chamberlain, who was the Professor Emeritus in the University of Chicago, and others. I delved into what Lamarck had to say about use and disuse – which is a discarded theory and had come up before Darwin’s time – and Lyle, and all of the old evolutionists.

And then I began some of the study in the Bible. But I tell you, as I began to study the writings of these evolutionists, they were very, very convincing. Now you admit they have to be to have sold practically all higher education on the theory! It’s almost universally accepted. And it is considered that you’re ignorant if you don’t believe it. That’s what they had stuffed into the mind of my sister-in-law.

You see education ... I had an artist draw a picture for me when I first thought of 'The Plain Truth' magazine seven years before I was able to start publication of it! And that picture showed a bunch of kids, maybe about second grade, in a classroom in school, all sitting at their desks. And there was the teacher, and in every kid she was sticking a funnel right down in the top of his head and she had a pitcher, 'Ready-made Propaganda,' and she was just pouring it in. He was supposed to believe what the teacher was giving, whether it’s true or not.

Proving God Does Exist (PLAY FROM 11:40)

That’s our system of education; that’s another thing that’s wrong in the world. And I can tell you that fifty years from now it won’t be that way any longer.

But nevertheless they do have convincing arguments. And pretty soon my head was swimming. And I began to say, "Well now is there a God after all?"

I said, "Well I always believed in God." But I began to ask,"Why?" How did I ever come to believe in God?

Well I’m just brought up to believe in God. Well, had I ever seen it proved; had I ever really looked into it? No, I never had; I took it for granted!

Most people believe what they have read, or heard, and they carelessly take it for granted; they just assume it; they haven’t proved it. And I began to realize I have never proved whether there is a God. And I said, "Well now before I go into the Bible about the Sabbath, or anything like that, I want to know whether God exists, because if there isn’t any God then you’ve got to throw the Bible out."

So I studied it, but I did study the Bible along with it. To make a long story short, I proved, before that six months was over, that God does exist – that God is the first cause and the Creator of matter and of all of us, even of spirit bodies, spirit beings called angels, of everything that is. I came to learn who and what God is and not one religion in the world believes that or understands it! You know that just makes me stand aghast when I think of that. I proved that evolution was false!

Now we were living in Portland, Oregon at the time. And in Portland they have a very fine public library there; and they have a very fine science department – technology, science, and technical books. And they had a woman in charge of that department who was very highly educated.

I finally wrote, and I didn’t waste too many pages on it, I had just come right down…I always had a tendency to want to get to the trunk of the tree. If the trunk of the tree is false, every branch on it is false. You chop down the trunk of the tree and you’re chopping down every branch with it, aren’t you? And I disproved evolution.

I took this paper to this woman and asked her if she would read it. I came back a couple of days later and she says, "Yes, I read it." And she says, "I have to admit you were right." She says, "You have proved - you have an uncanny knack of getting right down to the one crux of the thing – the trunk of the tree." And she says, "I’ve never seen it presented that way before."

"But," she says, "Mr. Armstrong, I have to go on believing it. You don’t understand. I have been in higher education all my life. I have done graduate work for higher PhD degrees, and other degrees, at the University of Chicago, and at Columbia University, and at other great universities, and I have been in science, and among scientists who believe evolution, all my life – and it’s part of me! To take that out of my mind would be like taking both of my arms and cutting them off!" She says, "You brought this to me too late. I can’t give it up, even though I admit you prove I am wrong."

You know it’s too bad that anyone can get to that kind of a position.

Now I proved, then, after that, the authority and the divine inspiration of the Bible; and once I had that proved I had solid ground to stand on!

Now something else happened along: I found, to my great and shocked surprise, that no religion – of course I don’t know that any but the Christian religion claim they get their religion out of the Bible – but no religion, and no Christian sect and denomination but the one Christ called, ‘the little flock,’ that was the Church He founded in 31 AD, and no other Church really got their religion out of this book; they simply didn’t. It was not derived from the Bible, but rather it was derived from man, and they tried to make it sort of read into the Bible, and make people believe that they got it out of the Bible – but they didn’t.

Just What Is A Soul? (PLAY FROM 16:28)

Now for example, I looked at Romans, Romans 6:23:

"For the wages of sin [now, 'wages,' is what you get paid for what you do. The wages of sin – and what you do is sin – the wages you get paid for it, it says here] is death." (Romans 6:23)

And I looked at that and I said, "Why that can’t be." I said, "I’ve been taught all my life that the wages of sin is eternal life, not death – just the opposite! Of course it’s eternal life in hellfire, but you’ll be roasting and roasting and roasting forever and ever, but never burn up! You’ll just be burning, burning – all aflame and burning, but never burn up!"

You know I’ve thought since if you’ve got something that’ll produce burning – light or heat – and without any fuel going on and just of itself keep burning forever, you can become a multi-millionaire overnight. You ever stop to think of that?

Now of course if a soul is immortal, spirit can’t burn anyway. You need to know a little bit of chemistry. Now our educators know some of those things, but they don’t put them together.

Burning is simply the uniting of the oxygen in the air with the product being consumed – whether it’s paper, or whether it’s, say, wood, or whatever – something has to spark it and set it off. It’s the same principle as your automobile; you have to have a spark plug to set the spark off in the first place. You have to have a carburetor; you have to have a fuel tank.

And do you know you’re made that way yourself? We all have a fuel tank – that’s our stomach. And you have a carburetor – and that’s your lungs. And the blood flows right through the carburetor and it oxidizes with the air there, just like the fuel in an automobile flows though the carburetor and is mixed with the air there, and fired. And that causes the energy that makes the car go and turns the engine. It’s just that simple. Of course people never stop to think of a lot of those things.

But then I noticed the second part of this sentence.

"But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Now that hit me, also. I said, "Well I’ve already got eternal life – I’m an immortal soul. Why do I need to go to God and get it as a gift and have Him give it to me? I already have it; I was born with it."

So I began to look. Now I learned about that time, if I didn’t already know – I might’ve already known that much – but I was in the libraries where I had access to every kind of book. I went to the Bible concordances. That’ll give you a word, and show you every place that word is used in the Bible, and you can just turn to it in a minute – anything you can find it.

So I looked up the word, 'soul,' and I found the word, 'soul,' used twice back here in the book of Ezekiel. And in the eighteenth chapter – Ezekiel 18:4:

"The soul that sinneth, IT SHALL DIE!" (Ezekiel 18:4)

Now I’d been taught just the opposite of that! You see the church I was raised in was a highly respected church! But they weren’t preaching what this says! This says a soul will die!

Now I looked clear over here on the next page and I find it again in verse 20.

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die!” (Ezekiel 18:20)

Well then I got to looking back here into Genesis – as I say, that was the starting point for both the evolution and the Sabbath question – and I looked back here and I found that God said, in Genesis 2:15:

"And the [Eternal] God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it. And the [Eternal] God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die!" (Genesis 2:15-17)

Now that was God saying, ‘YOU WILL DIE!’ Now was that man a 'soul?' Well in this same chapter in verse seven it says…

"The [Eternal] God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7)

Man is a soul! And He says that soul will die!

Well I’ll tell you, you can see my head was swimming. I looked at evolution and what they were saying; it made this all look ridiculous. It made God look ridiculous. And finally I found out that they are ridiculous – and that God is true.

Well, then I looked up this matter of 'soul.' I just had to run this down – just to show you a little bit of how I started out at that time. I realized I’d taken it for granted: DID God exist; IS the Bible true? I had to know; I wanted proof. This is the way I was going at it.

Created After The God Kind (PLAY FROM 22:12)

Now take in Genesis one beginning with verse twenty.

"And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature.” (Genesis 1:20)

Now I found that that word, 'creature,' in English, was originally written in the Hebrew language by Moses. Moses wrote it, but he didn’t - there wasn’t any English language at that time. He wrote in the Hebrew language. And Moses wrote - well we’d better take it in English…

"Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving [Moses wrote, 'nephesh,' but translators had changed it into the English word, 'creature.' And then the next verse], God created great whales, and every living creature [and it says, the original of it that Moses wrote, was 'nephesh'] that moveth in the waters bring forth abundantly, after his kind, every winged fowl after his kind [and so - and then again in verse 24] and God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature [again it was, 'nephesh,' I found Moses wrote the word, 'nephesh – the living nephesh.'] after his kind, cattle, and the creeping thing, and the beasts of the earth after his kind: and it was so – [all after their kind]!" (Genesis 20-21;24)

Now when we come to man, over here in Genesis 2:7, " became a living nephesh." (Genesis 2:7)

But why did they change it and call it 'soul?' They call it 'soul,' when it comes to man, and Moses wrote the same thing. Man is the same thing as an animal, so far as that part of it is concerned.

Now the great difference is expressed in other words. There’s a great difference between man and animal, and that’s mostly the spirit that is in man, and these scriptures right here don’t explain that – other scriptures do in the Bible.

Now it took me a little while to learn some of these things. I give these things to you; and you don’t have to work around through all the years and all the hours – multiple hundreds of hours – of study that I did.

Now I’d like you to read this; let’s read right on – verse 25:

"And God made the beasts of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was GOOD. And God said, Let us, make man in our image". (Genesis 1:25-26)

See God is more than one Person, but one God!

Now in John 1:1, you read that there ..."was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). And there are two Beings, and yet each of them is God!

But we find later, in other scriptures, that God is a Family! And the One we think of as God the Father, the One that Jesus Christ prayed to when He was on earth, is the Father of that family, and we, if we are converted are His begotten children. And we are to go on and become BORN OF HIM! And when we’re born of Him, we'll be like He is. And we’ll be no longer flesh and blood. We’ll be no longer human; we will be divine. We will be very God.

And I don’t know any religion that believes that. But this Bible does. That’s where I got it; I didn’t make that up in my own imagination by any matter or means.

So you see God made the cattle after the cattle kind, animals after their kind; then He made man after the God kind. Man was made after the God kind.

And we find later - you see that "God [had] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." (Genesis 1:26) Man was made to look like God – only man is made out of matter and God is composed of Spirit! There’s the great difference.

Now, God has a head; He has arms and He has legs and He has hands and He has feet – and He has ten fingers and He has ten toes! He has a nose; He has a mouth; He has eyes. It's all mentioned in the Bible – all of those things, just like a human being!

Man did not descend from animals. Man was made after the image of God. And man was made to have a very special relationship with God. Man may be born of God as God is God, and in the God Family – even as Jesus Christ is now very God – by a resurrection from the dead.

I’d like to go on from there and show you man’s ultimate goal – the ultimate purpose for which we were put on earth. No religion on earth can tell you, no government can tell you, no…science can’t tell you, education can’t tell you. What you are, why you are and how you came to be here, and why - how did humanity come to be on this earth? Science gets all confused trying to work that out, but they don’t know the answer.