Herbert W Armstrong Library
Sign In  |  MyHWA  |    
How Do We Know the Answers?
Plain Truth Magazine
May 1979
Volume: Vol XLIV, No.5
Issue: ISSN 0032-0420
QR Code
How Do We Know the Answers?
Herbert W Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: July 31, 1892
Died: January 16, 1986
Member Since: 1928
Ordained: 1931
Office: Apostle

Herbert W. Armstrong founded the Worldwide Church of God in the late 1930s, as well as Ambassador College in 1946, and was an early pioneer of radio and tele-evangelism, originally taking to the airwaves in the 1930s from Eugene, Oregon.

Personal from Herbert W Armstrong

   Today the whole world needs a voice to speak out, in positive authority, with the ANSWERS to humanity's problems. The Plain Truth is that voice. But how do we know the answers? News media, TV documentaries, and books report the news, describe the world's ills; WE make plain the meaning. The Plain Truth reveals the causes, gives you the solutions, tells how these problems will be solved.
   But how did we come to know?
   Today people are bewildered. They are told they must adjust to living in a world of evils, with no solutions! Unrest, discontent, protest, violence are escalating. The BIG question, now, is that of human survival!
   In all this moral and social decay, people vent their frustrations in politics. "Let's throw out the party in power," they cry. They vote for a candidate who does no better. People get behind movements—civil rights, black power, the New Left.
   Whittaker Chambers, writing in his book Witness, said two faiths were on trial. He said human societies, like human beings, live by faith and die when faith dies. He implied that this sick society needed a man whose faith in it—in this sick society—was so great that he would even give his life to defend it. He implied that he was that man. And he implied that the issue was a test of that faith against the equal faith of communism.
   All history is the chronicle of man replacing one unworkable and decadent system or culture with another, equally unworkable.
   In a United States presidential election, one man was quoted as saying, "Thank God, both candidates can't win."
   The Plain Truth dares to speak out above politics. It dares enlighten its readers of the causes, and the solutions that will come. It tells with positive assurance that a world of PEACE—a happy, prosperous, joyful WORLD TOMORROW—is just around the corner! Andthis is no wishful thinking!
   But how did we come to KNOW? We feel it ought to be made plain to our readers how we came to UNDERSTAND. In the development of its organization, worldwide operations, and UNDERSTANDING, this activity is indeed unique. I know of no one—of no organization—that ever approached these bewildering questions in the same manner.
   Often I have asked: How did you come to believe what you believe? Few, indeed, ever stop to inquire in retrospect HOW they came to believe the things they believe. Everyone has ideas, convictions, beliefs. And others hold entirely different beliefs. Yet each is certain, in his own mind, that he is right. What he probably does not realize is how these ideas found their way into his mind.
   Few realize that most of the things they believe were simply taken for granted—carelessly assumed without any proof whatsoever. They believe this or that because they have "always heard it"—they have read it—or been taught it. They simply accept it. It lodges in the mind. It may be totally untrue, but they BELIEVE IT and often would fight to uphold its supposed factuality. That careless method probably accounts for 90 to 98 percent of what is in the average mind.
   Then, secondly, people believe what they want to believe. They refuse to accept what they don't want to believe, right or wrong. Prejudice is a barrier to the entrance of fact, or truth, into the mind.
   One says: "My mind is made up—don't disturb me with the facts!" Then, too, most want to "belong." They go along with their group, their club, their party.
   The system of education in this world is primarily one of memory training. One is expected to accept without question, and to believe, whatever is stated in the textbook, or whatever is taught in class. When final exams come along, one is graded not on having investigated and proved or disproved what was taught, but on having memorized and recorded the teaching without question, true or false.
   When scientists met at a convention, they agreed in advance that nothing supernatural or miraculous was to be introduced or even considered. This would be straying outside their field. And sometimes their "field" shrinks into tunnel vision. This is refusal to consider what might be fact. This closes the mind to more than is allowed by prior agreement. It is, nevertheless, the "scientific method." But it is not the way to truth or fact.
   The educational system as established in this world perpetuates error in the guise of truth, and encourages continued pursuit of false values. Few realize this evil.
   To answer the question of this "Personal"—HOW we came to UNDERSTAND—requires at least a minimal personal history. For a series of unusual circumstances and incidents led to this knowledge in a manner entirely different from the usual way of taking for granted what one hears, reads, or finds others believing.
   My ancestors migrated to America from England with William Penn a hundred years before the United States became a nation. I was born and reared in Des Moines, Iowa, of upright and stable parents of solid Quaker ancestry. I had drifted away from religious interest by age 18. I had chosen journalism and advertising as a life profession.
   From a child I had had a passion for UNDERSTANDING. Always I wanted to know the "WHY" about things. When I was only five, my father asserted that I would become a "Philadelphia lawyer" when I grew up, because I was always asking "so many tomfool questions." I always had to ask "WHY?" about everything.
   About age 16 I became fired with ambition to attain status in the business world. I began to haunt the philosophy, biography, and business administration sections of the Des Moines public library after school hours, in extracurricular study. From then on I spent evenings in study while other young men were seeking pleasures.
   Early business training was in newspapers and magazines. By age 22, bulwarked by a broad-based education for that age, I became the "idea man" in the editorial department of America's largest-circulation trade journal. This assignment required continuous travel over the United States, interviewing retail merchants, industrial executives, Chamber of Commerce secretaries. I was searching out ideas successfully used in business, beside experiences in community development, social conditions and problems. This material provided most of the contents of the magazine.
   During this period I pioneered in conducting surveys, based on the law-of-average principle, obtaining, analyzing, and classifying facts on business and social conditions, problems and opinions from hundreds of people of all classes.
   Later, during the seven years I conducted my own business in Chicago, and subsequently on the West Coast, those surveys were continued professionally. They were conducted by personal interviews, supplemented by thousands of written questionnaires distributed by mail. In conducting the personal interviews, college graduates, specially trained for this type of questioning, were employed. These surveys were a pioneering forerunner of the public-opinion and fact-finding samplings so widely used today, such as the Gallup and Lou Harris polls.
   Meanwhile, in addition, my business had involved constant close personal contacts with chief executives of major corporations in the Midwest and the East, and also with top officers of hundreds of banks of all sizes—from small-town banks to the largest banks in New York, Chicago, and other major cities. During the seven years in Chicago I attended the ABA (American Bankers' Association) national conventions besides many state bankers' conventions.
   In these years devoted to fact-finding, I was being made painfully aware of the troubles, the conditions and problems of modern civilization. I came to know PEOPLE—of all classes and levels. I was collecting and classifying the FACTS.
   They revealed the "WHAT"—but not the "WHY."
   It became distressingly evident we are living in a very sick world. It had been a shocking disillusionment to learn that the "successful" were seldom happy. Their bank accounts were full, but their lives were empty. I developed a passion to understand why.
   Not only were the common people of affluent America filled with unrest, discontent and general unhappiness, but vast populations of earth's billions of human beings were existing in the depths of wretchedness and disease, ignorance and poverty, filth and squalor. But WHY?
   WHY all this unrest, discontent, misery and suffering in the world? WHY wars? WHY no peace? It made me THINK! It ought to make everybody think!
   Nobody had the answers. Science had never produced them. Business, commerce and industry were seeking increased profits, not solutions to humanity's ills. Religion had failed utterly to make this a better world. Governments, committed to bettering the lot of their peoples, had never found the way. Education was not turning out future leaders with either UNDERSTANDING or skills in ending strife, confusion, and suffering.
   Then, in the autumn of 1926, at 34 years of age, I was shocked and dismayed when my wife accepted a doctrine that was new and strange to me, and therefore seemed like extremist religion. I had always striven for sound balance, in thought, and in ways of life. She said she found this doctrine in the Bible. Although I had long since allowed all religious interest to become dormant, as a child I had been reared in the traditional Christian faith. And what she claimed to have found, I knew, was certainly contrary to my childhood instruction. Therefore, I assumed, it had to be contrary to biblical teaching.
   But arguments failed to dissuade her. Since we both believed marriage was "until death do us part," divorce offered no happy solution. Unable to settle the dispute any other way, I entered upon an intensive study of the Bible and other source materials on the particular subject.
   But I was aware that, in general, science and "enlightened" education had virtually relegated that "book nobody knows," as adman Bruce Barton had called it, to the limbo of long-dead, forgotten superstition and medieval ignorance. Evolution was the current educational and scientific concept through which all knowledge and truth was received.
   At the outset I had to face the question, "Does God exist?"
   In the dormant recesses of my mind, I had assumed the existence of God from childhood teaching. But this assumption seldom if ever came to the mental surface of active belief. Now I realized it was an assumption, taken for granted without question or proof, because I had heard it, read it, been taught it as a child.
   Before I could give credence to that now-questioned book supposed to be His revelation to man, I had to know whether "He" existed. This involved new and in-depth research into the question of "evolution vs. special creation." Was evolution proven fact or assumed theory? How had most men in science and education come to believe it?
   I knew, then, WHY most believe what they do, and HOW they came to believe it! I went to "the trunk of the tree" of the evolutionary hypothesis. I read Lamarck, Darwin, Haeckel, Huxley, Spencer, Vogt. I checked thoroughly many works by learned Ph.D.s—mostly for, a very few against, the theory. When I got to the trunk of the tree—the one supposed fact that could constitute proof—it was easily chopped down. And all the supporting branch arguments, hypotheses and explanations fell down with it.
   By laws of science, by logic, by reason, by many PROOFS too numerous for elaboration here, I proved to my satisfaction, irrefutably and conclusively, that the living God exists. No longer was this careless assumption, taken for granted on hearsay. Nor was it, for that matter, what I necessarily wanted to believe—for it was leading directly into that which I definitely did not want to believe.
   The research continued—virtually night and day—often until 1 or 2 A.M. I found incontrovertible PROOF of the inspiration and authority of the Maker's Instruction Book to the humanity which is the product of His manufacture.
   To my mortification and chagrin, I discovered my wife had been correct. I was not, now, taking carelessly for granted what I had heard, read or been taught. I was not "going along" with my crowd, club, group. I was not accepting only what I wanted to believe or rejecting that against which I was prejudiced. I was getting proven FACT in a humiliating and unwanted manner. But I had an analytical mind, trained in examination and logic.
   My shocked disillusionment ran much deeper. Many of the teachings of traditional Christianity I remembered from boyhood now proved to be diametrically contrary to the biblical record.
   But now I made two positive discoveries.
   I began to UNDERSTAND WHY the scholars of higher education and of science, almost en masse, disbelieved in God and rejected the authority of revelation—at least one of the reasons why. They ASSUMED that the Bible taught what traditional Christianity was teaching—and these teachings were contrary to their trained scientific thought. Of course, other factors entered into their rejection. They had carelessly ASSUMED what they were taught in the educational process. They were accepting what they wanted to believe, refusing to believe what they didn't. There was the factor of prejudice. There was the factor of "belonging"—going along with their supposed intellectual associates. There was the appeal to intellectual vanity. There was the FEAR of what their scientific and educational colleagues would say.
   And now I myself faced that disturbing question.
   If I accepted the Bible and its WAY OF LIFE, for I discovered that was precisely what it is—the Maker's instruction in the right WAY OF LIFE— what would my former business colleagues think?
   My life's one burning ambition had been to attain status in their eyes—to be considered "important" by these executives whom I considered important. It meant giving up my life's ambition! It meant giving up everything I had considered desirable and important, everything to which I had attached value.
   But now I began to realize I had previously had a false sense of values. I began to see how most of humanity is pursuing false values which never satisfy.
   Vanity was wounded. But I began to realize vanity is a false value.
   I had to make a decision. It was the most difficult, the most painful decision of my life. I saw, now, how wrong I had been. And to admit one is wrong is perhaps the most difficult thing in life. Vanity is SELF—and SELF doesn't want to die.
   It was humiliating. It was painful. But my mind had been opened. My choice was to accept what I now knew to be TRUE or deliberately reject it and try to bolster up arguments and reasonings I knew to be false to deceive others. That I couldn't do either.
   I made the painful decision.
   But the other really great positive discovery was this: In this "book nobody knows"—this book rejected through prejudice and willful ignorance—I found, at last, the answers to the really big and haunting questions of man's unhappy state in this world!
   I found the CAUSES of humanity's ills! I found the reason why religion has not solved those ills. I learned how our human problems are going to be solved! I found truth that made sense!
   I found what neither science, nor education, nor religion, nor government, nor sociology can give you: THE ANSWERS to all these fast-escalating problems. That is why The Plain Truth speaks out today with a positive voice of AUTHORITY in a world so woefully needing this positive ASSURANCE.
   We did not come to believe what we believe in the usual manner. And everything about this great world-wide Work of true education is as different as the manner in which we were led into true UNDERSTANDING.
   My study and research into truth, started in the autumn of 1926, has never ceased. Like it or not—and at the time, / didn't—I had found the AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE I was bound to accept. It was the FOUNDATION of true knowledge. We have built on that foundation. We are still building. We are still eliminating error wherever found.
   And now, more than 50 years later, this knowledge and TRUE WAY is being heard or read by millions worldwide. Untold thousands of human lives have been changed, enriched, made more useful and happy.
   The Plain Truth recognizes that the great MISSING DIMENSION in education is the knowledge of the true meaning of life; knowledge of the true values that pay off in your own life; knowledge of THE WAY that brings you REWARDS and not troubles, unhappiness, pain, suffering, frustrations.
   It is our purpose to publish those BASICS of right knowledge—and if we cannot find that knowledge in the fields of science, modern education, human philosophy, sociology, psychology or other popularly recognized sources, but we do find that practical, workable knowledge in the one book most seem to be prejudiced against, we are going to disseminate it without apology.

Back To Top

Plain Truth MagazineMay 1979Vol XLIV, No.5ISSN 0032-0420
|  Fundamental Doctrines of the Church of God  |  Comments or Suggestions?  |  FAQ  |   Holy Day Information   |   Site Map   |   Donations   |
|  Sabbath & Holy Day Services   |   Weekly Bible Study Services   |   Video Groups   |   2016 Feast of Tabernacles   |
Follow Us: HWALibrary - Mobile Site
Copyright © 2016 Herbert W Armstrong Library
Important Notice

Please Note:

The address and phone number for the Worldwide Church of God given for material are no longer valid for obtaining the material offered in booklets, magazines, telecast and radio broadcast.

HWALibrary.com has all material offered on this site 100% free. You do not need to call or mail your requests, simply do a search for the material offered on our site.

The Worldwide Church of God dissolved after Mr. Armstrong's death in January 1986.

Visit our FAQ page for instructions on downloading audio and video files.

Sabbath Services

Sabbath Services:

Hello, and welcome to our Sabbath and Holy Day service tab. The services provided are selected from the recorded library of this website HWALibrary.com.

Services are posted every Sabbath or Holy Day. Our service consists of 3 hymns, a Sermonette, a hymn, the Sermon and a final hymn.

Continue to the Sabbath Service page.

Bible Study Services

Bible Study:

Hello, and welcome to our Bible Study service tab. The services provided are selected from the recorded library of this website HWALibrary.com.

Bible Study services are posted each Wednesday. Our service consists of an opening hymn, a Bible Study and a final hymn.

Continue to the Bible Study Service page.