The search has been slow but very rewarding
and enlightening. Unlike what some might assume, most of the greatest men
and women of the past were neither agnostics nor atheists. Most of them
believed in God, and many made God the foundation to their lives.
Surprisingly, belief in God was not always the result of intricate and
time-consuming intellectual exercises, but it was, in many cases, the
result of an intuitive experience. In fact, one can perceive in the
writings of many great people a taking for granted of Gods existence and a
moving forward toward understanding His Great Mind.
To the great existential philosopher,
Kierkegaard, trying to prove Gods existence was "of all things most
ridiculous" (Kierkegaard, 1970, 93). Yet, He believed in God.
Kierkegaard believed that "the works of God are such that only God can
perform them" (Auden, 1966, 143). Isaac Newton,
centuries ago, saw Gods presence and grandeur in nature. He held that
humans may "come the knowledge of the Deity . . . by the frame of nature"
(Christiansen, 1984, 257). Rousseau saw God in "the
blackboard of nature," wherein he saw "harmony and proportion" (Burgelin,
1973, 414). Ralph Waldo Emerson saw in creation, a shadow of Him (Emerson,
Some great minds chose to block out any
interest in God but did not succeed forever. Heinrich Heine discovered God
at a late age. "In theology I must accuse myself of retrogression since I
returned to the old superstition - a personal God" (Pinney, 1963,
242-243). The great impressionist painter, Cezanne, stated that "once we
have attained a great age we find no other support or consolation than in
Religion" (Rewald, 1950, 101). The English poet, Robert Browning,
temporarily chose to follow Shelley's example
and adopted Atheism. Later, he too returned to the belief in God and
considered the existence of God "as certain beyond the need of proof"
(Britannica, 1974, 336).
Belief in God has been an ennobling,
energizing and inspiring experience for many great men and women of
genius. The great French painter, Eugene Delacroix, believed, that "Gods
inner presence, beyond a doubt, constitutes the inspiration of men of
genius" (Pack, 1972, 697). The great composer, Liszt, was convinced that
the Word of God "reveals itself in the creations of genius" (La Mara,
1968, 544). Michelangelo saw God as the source of his vigor and great
achievements. "There is not a thing on earth so low and base, as without
you I am and feel myself" (Creighton, 1980, 161). The great Russian
novelist, Tolstoy, believed that "life is life, only when it is the
carrying out of Gods purpose" (Crowell, 1927, 308). Bach concluded most of
his works with a brief "Soli Deo Gloria," (To God alone be the glory),
(Leaver, 1985, 29). This century, the scientific giant, Albert Einstein,
stated that the driving force behind his scientific search was "to know
how God created this world . . . I want to know His thoughts, the rest are
details" (Clarck, 1971, 18-19).
What is also surprising is the number of
great minds who adopted Christ as their Lord and Savior, and who lived
very devout Christian lives. Bach was a zealous Lutheran (Leaver, 1985,
13). Beethoven, ended his life as "a true Christian" (Kalischer, 1926,
391). Goethe, toward the end of his life, affirmed that his love for the
founder of Christianity, could not be taken from him. (Goethe, 1882, 208).
Hegel firmly believed that "the Son takes the sin of the world upon
Himself." Kepler rested on Christ's promise that
"Christians have awaiting them, faithful mansions in the house of the
Father" (Beer, 1975, 356). Rembrandt was most probably a Mennonite (Rosemberg,
1964, 181). Tolstoy was beyond any doubt a sincere and a practicing
Christian (Tolstoy, 1899). Dante based his faith "in Christ and the
witness of the Gospels" (Dante, 1989, 125-135). To Schubert his Savior was
"the glorious Christ" (Schubert, 1970, 115). Shakespeare ended his life
affirming his faith in "the saving power of Jesus Christ" (Rowe, 1985,
182). Finally, the 20th century's
greatest philosopher, Wittgenstein, expressed his faith in Christ
"as leading to salvation" (Wittgenstein, 1979, 4-5).
Some might wrongly suggest that the
luminaries quoted in this book are not from our scientifically
enlightened times and that belief in God would not be found in great minds
of 20th century. This assertion would be totally unfounded. The
20th century had many great minds that believed. The scientific
genius, Einstein; the philosophical giants, Wittgenstein, Bergson, De
Chardin and Weil; the musical giants, Stravinsky, Rossini, Sibelius and
Mascagni; the famed artist, Renoir; the great literary geniuses, T. S.
Eliot, Shaw, D. H. Lawrence, Pirandello, Deledda, Rilke and
Solzhenitsyn, are just some of the brilliant minds that lived in the 20th
century who held a firm belief in God.