Born: July 31, 1892
Died: January 16, 1986
Member Since: 1928
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.
Well greetings everybody. We're living today in a sick, sick, world and a world of extreme confusion. We have confusion in governments, and governments are being overthrown now at the rate of about one every month. You tune into the news, as you will this evening perhaps, and you will find civil wars, governments being toppled and overthrown, and others meeting to try to prevent a war - which they probably will not do. My Background Dual Challenge The Search for Wisdom Fundamental Proofs Does God Exist?
Now the world is filled with religions. In the Eastern, or Oriental world, we have Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Taoism, and Hinduism, and others. Then in the Arab world we have the religion of Islam, or the Moslem religion founded by Mohammed, and incidentally, not by Ali! And the largest religion of all however is Christianity. In the Western world it dominates rather largely. One peculiar thing, I wonder if you ever thought about it, why is it that in a certain country nearly everybody claims one religion? Of course always, there'll be a few others. It's not a hundred percent, but the overwhelming majority will have one of those religions.
Now religion is really the worship of God, or of the supernatural. And in many cases some of these religions are more properly perhaps, called philosophies, because some of them know nothing about any God and is merely a philosophy of living, and of meditation, and of things of that sort.
Well even in the Western world of Christianity we have a 'Babylon' of religious confusion. There are hundreds of different denominations and sects in what is called, the Christian religion. There are certain things that they seem to all, more or less, believe, but many differences in the more minor details. Well, in the Christian world, one church — the largest of all — has won almost general public acceptance of being the original Christian church founded by Jesus Christ.
Now if I ask for proof, and what is the proof, I would be told that that church itself is the proof. What is the authority that determines what is the right and the true religion, or the right and the true Church? What is the authority that determines which is the original continuation of the Church that Jesus Christ founded in 31 AD? Well that particular church will claim that the church is the authority. It will tell you that the Bible is not, in its own language, a sufficient guide to heaven, but the church is the authority.
My ancestors came to America from Britain with William Penn. And that was one hundred years before there was a United States, before the Declaration of Independence, and the founding of the United States. So I think you would say, that I'm really American. My family has been in this country for a long, long time. Also, perhaps, I'm British, because we came from there, two hundred years ago.
Well, be that as it may, I was brought up in Sunday school. And at age eighteen I dropped out of Sunday school, and my interest became centered on business. Now I had taken a course in self-analysis, and analysis of the various professions, and occupations, and means of earning a living. And I found a book in the public library, at that time, that would take one through a complete self-analysis to see where he would fit, and to prevent fitting the proverbial 'square peg in the round hole.'
In analyzing myself, it seemed that I fit in the advertising profession. I seemed to have a knack of writing, I loved writing, and I loved that kind of writing. And in those days there were no radio, no television. As a matter of fact television has only come since Word War II, I wonder if you realize that? I remember seeing a little bit of television at CBS in Hollywood. They were giving a little sample of it during the War, but the public wasn't going to get to see any of it until after the War was over. But it has certainly changed things since. Well in those days all advertising was newspaper, magazine, and direct mail. We didn't have radio or television.
And at age eighteen I consulted with an uncle of mine. He was the leading advertising man in Iowa. And I was born and raised in Iowa, which we Iowans, we Hawk-eyes, used to like to claim was the most American state of all the states. Anyway my uncle was the leading advertising man in the state, my father's younger brother, so I went to him and he sort of steered my life there for quite a while.
Now the question was, if I'm going to go into advertising, where do I get the preparation? I've written a booklet on, 'The Seven Laws of Success.' There are seven laws of success that I have thought of, and I have known many of this world's great and near-great, and I tell you, they have had to practice at least six of those seven laws to become great, and to become a success. And yet most people don't even know what one single one of those laws is, let alone practice it, or apply it, and that's why we have so many failures in the world.
Now I maintain that no one should ever be a failure. There are definite laws; there is a cause for every effect. And if anyone is poor and unsuccessful, you know some people — I've heard people brag; "Well we're just poor folks, and such-and-such is too rich for my blood." And they're bragging.
Well I tried to look at things objectively and as they are and I didn't want to be prejudiced one way or the other. But I went to my uncle and I said, "Now where am I going to get my preparation?" Because the first law of success, I will tell you now, is having the right goal. If you don't have a goal, if you're not aiming for something, you're never going to arrive there. You've got to know where you're going. But the second law is preparation for that goal. And most people have never had a goal in the first place, they've never had a purpose in life. And secondly they have not prepared for that particular purpose.
Well, under his advice I determined that I would study, and he helped me in selecting the right books to study. And of course I immediately subscribed to 'Printer's Ink', and to 'Advertising and Selling,', the leading trade journals of the time in the advertising field. And I studied them diligently. And of course you get psychology in those, but they're not coming from college professors, they're coming from those who are out in the field, gaining it in actual experience. So I came up in that school.
Now give is really love, which is an out-going concern for the welfare of others. But it's love, first of all, to God our Maker, our Creator, in not only in worship, but in obedience, and in reliance, and trust, because He is the God who GIVES, and He is the GREAT GIVER. Very few people know that. They don't realize that all good things really come from God. And of course I hadn't learned that yet either at that time.
But, anyway I was disturbingly challenged. My wife, after nine years of happy marriage, had taken up with what, in my mind, was religious fanaticism. She had begun keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, of all things! Now to me that was about as far off as you could get. And you know the first thing that came to my mind, the first thought, was; "Well what will all my business associates and friends say - my wife being a religions fanatic?" I thought that was crazy.
Well, I had all the arguments, of course, and I said to my wife; "Well the Bible says, 'Thou shall observe Sunday.'" "Oh," she says, "Well if you show that to me, I'll go back to Sunday." She says; "Have you seen that?" I said, "Well no," I said, "you know I don't know anything about the Bible." And I didn't. I had said at that time; "Well I just can't understand the Bible."
But I could certainly understand what I read in 'Printer's Ink,' and 'Advertising and Selling,' and magazines and books of that sort. But I was just sure. She says; "Well how do you know the Bible says; 'Thou shall observe Sunday?'" I said, "Because all these churches observe Sunday, and they get their religion out of the Bible. So the Bible has to say that. All these churches can't be wrong? Of course they disagree on this, that, and the other thing, but outside of just one or two, they all agree on Sunday. They're pretty well agreed on that." And so I was certain that all these churches couldn't be wrong.
Well, about the same time another angered challenge was hurled at me. A sister-in-law just fresh out of college had, of course, imbibed the doctrine that is the foundation of most education today, the doctrine of evolution. And now I thought I knew a little something about evolution, although I'd never gone into any in-depth study of the subject. But she hurled at me and says; "Herbert Armstrong, you are just plain, downright ignorant!"
Now I was so conceited, I was quite cocky I think, and conceited in those days. I had a lot of self-confidence. Now later, I want to tell you right now, I had to get rid of that. And I had to replace that self-confidence with another kind of confidence that I call, 'faith', that's faith in God, confidence in Him, and not in self. But nevertheless at that time I had a lot of self-confidence. And that was an insult to me, that really was something I couldn't take, to be called, ignorant. And I was sure that evolution was not a fact. I didn't believe it, what little I knew about it. I thought I knew quite a little about it. But I was determined now to prove both my wife and sister-in-law were wrong.
So these challenges both focused on a sort of common starting point. It was only a starting point, of course, and that is Genesis in the Bible. Well of course, I'd never studied Genesis in the Bible.
In the Sunday school days I remember, I came up from babyhood almost, in a Sunday school class, as soon as I was old enough to attend one. And we never studied the usual lessons that were printed and given out, that all the other classes did. But we boys growing up, and young men up to the age of eighteen, we just continually, year in and year out, kept studying through the book of Proverbs. We rather liked that. And I did rather like the book of Proverbs, because there was a lot of wisdom; and I had always craved understanding. Now I never craved wisdom in the sense that Solomon does, and I learned I didn't have any wisdom. But I also learned, later on, that God had said:
"If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God...And God will give it." (James 1:5 paraphrased)
And so later I did. And in my life since, by asking God, He's given me enough wisdom that He prevented me from making any great, major mistakes. Usually my decisions have been correct. They've been wrong in a few cases, but not in a case that has really, to any great extent, hurt the work that I have been finally put in.
Well, first I started, not in the Bible at all, I started by getting all of the books on evolution. So I got the works of Darwin, and of Lyle, and of Haekle, and Huxley, and Spencer, and Vogt, and Chamberlain. And even back before that time, Lamark and his theory of use and disuse. And they discarded that and took up Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest. And I think they're more or less clinging to that still, although mutations and other theories have come along since. But also I studied a book by a scientist by the name of Moore. Now I liked Moore because he could take a lot of cracks at evolution, although, in general, he accepted it, in general, himself. But he knew a lot of things wrong with it.
Anyway, I thoroughly studied those things; and I found that, the first thing I knew, I was beginning to doubt whether there is any such thing as God, because I learned that evolution is simply an atheist's explanation of the presence of the creation which we see about us. And creation, and life and different kinds of life, and all that sort of thing, the presence of this creation without the pre-existence of the Creator. In other words, evolution says it all just happened by natural laws, and resident forces. And not by any mind that thought it out, and planned it and directed it at all, but it just came naturally that way.
In other words, your mind just came from nothing. And your mind is greater than anything you can conceive of. But they seem to think that your mind was designed and came about by something less than your mind. And I couldn't quite stomach that. I never could accept that.
But anyway, I was really shaken up quite a little for awhile. I said; "Well now I've always believed in God." And I began to realize that I'd just accepted it, because I'd been taught it, and my family always believed it. The church I'd been taken to believed that there is a God, and I just took it for granted.
Do you know I learned that nearly everybody just assumes that there either is a God, or some atheists assume that there isn't? But no proof; they've never investigated it. They have never gone in to find out for sure. I wanted to prove it, I wanted to know now. I was really shaken. But I was honest, and my mind was — well, it was open; yes, in a way I was prejudiced, and I wanted to come out to a certain end. And maybe I used a little inductive reasoning to the extent that I tried to prove my own point. But in many cases, instead of proving that, I proved just the opposite, and then I had to swallow that.
But the arguments of all of these authors of the theory of evolution are very convincing. And I was shaken, as I say. I wondered; "Is there a God?" Now I said, "I've got to know, but I'm not going to take it for granted any longer, I'm not going to just carelessly assume, because I'd been taught it. I want proof, I want to know."
Now I had the satisfaction of going to one who had been in evolution, and had done a great deal of graduate work in the University of Chicago, and at Columbia University, and other such universities with, I think, at least two PhD degrees, and who was thoroughly wedded to evolution. And I wrote a paper, it was not too long — you could have read it in, oh, between five and ten minutes — disproving evolution. Now this happened to be a woman. As a matter of fact she was, at that time, the manager, or head, of the science department of the Public Library in Portland, Oregon, but she was a very scholarly woman.
After I left that with her I came back the next day and I said; "Now what about it?" Well, she shook her head she said; "Mr. Armstrong, you have an uncanny knack of going right to the trunk of the tree, right to the center of the thing, and if you chop down the trunk all the branches fall down with it." She said; "I've got to admit, you have absolutely disproved evolution. And even though I know you've disproved it, I can't give it up. I'm so thoroughly steeped in it, I've believed it all my life, I've been educated in it, and I would just lose my bearings. I wouldn't know what to do if I tried to give it up. I've got to go on believing it, even though you have proved to me it's a lie, and it is not the truth."
Well I, at least had the satisfaction of having proved it. Now I did have the satisfaction too, of making the sister-in-law eat her words, so to speak, what she had said, when she called me so ignorant. And I did it with an article that I had written, and I know she didn't know what she was getting into when she started reading the article, and when she got through, she says, "Herbert Armstrong, that's a dirty trick! I didn't know what I was getting into!" I said, "But you do know now, that I was not ignorant, and evolution is not proved." Well, she had to admit it. But anyway, as I say, I think Moore, Professor Moore, helped me to understand that. While he was an evolutionist he could really point out a good many things that were wrong with it.
But, I finally came to the point where I had to, as they say, 'eat crow.' I had to admit my wife was right and I was wrong. And suffice it to say now that I proved the existence of God; I proved the fallacy of evolution. And next, all religions have their various sacred writings, you know. Now the Bible is merely the sacred writings of the Christian religion. But the other religions have their sacred writings, too. And I decided that I would delve into all of those. But I said I will take the Bible first, because that is the one believed in here. Now I made a thorough study of the Bible.
And again I'm not going to go into the details of it, because I do that in many, many of these programs and give you various phases of it; and I can't give it all to you in this one. But the result is I proved the absolute authority of the Bible as the revealed Word of God in its original writings.
Now I might explain to you that the Old Testament was, nearly all of it, written in the Hebrew language, some of it in the Aramaic. But all of the New Testament originally was written in the Greek language. There wasn't any English language in those days. I'm speaking in the English language, but I find wherever I go in the world now that English has become more or less of a world language and I can be understood.
Now remember they didn't have printing until — when was it? About four hundred years ago, or so. But before that all writing had to be done by hand. And there are thousands and thousands of copies that have been so carefully copied. And if one of them is different, and the other, we'll say, nine hundred and ninety-nine are all together; you can pretty well prove it. But you prove any one passage pretty well by how it compares with others. Because I found, I looked at all of the supposed contradictions in the Bible, and you know they all just dissolved and melted. And there was no contradiction at all when I analyzed it carefully.
But there are the so-called contradictions; don't let it fool you. Write in any contradiction and we'll give you an explanation, without any charge, and be very happy to do it. However you can understand the exact truth of the Bible, let me just say that, even though we have different English translations.
Now the result of that is that I finally proved, before I even got to the others, I proved the absolute authenticity and the divine authority of the Bible. Now that became my authority. And I couldn't accept the authority of some one church as claiming it is the number one church. I had to go by what had been proved to me to be the exact inspired Word of the Living God. I proved that God lives, that God is the Creator, and that He's the great designer, the Creator.
One atheist said, "Well there are all kinds of gods in the world; and this and that and the other." And he said to me, "Now which God do you believe?" The result is I wound up making him admit that God exists. And I told him what God I believed in. And he says, "Well I will never accept that God of yours, even though you make me believe that He does exist." Well of course he could live with that if he wants to.
Next, 'Creation Without a Creator?' And next sub-heading, 'Amazing New Knowledge of Science.' And the next is a question, 'Has Matter Always Existed?' I found that science proves matter has not always existed. There was a time when it came into existence. And the next sub-heading, 'When Matter Did Not Exist'. And then, 'Where Did LIFE Come From?' And then next, 'Life Only FROM Life'; and that is a scientific law.
And next, 'Is Anything Superior to Your Mind?' Yes I'll tell you there is, and that's the mind of God. But I don't know of anything else superior to my mind. Now maybe the mind of angels is superior. But you see angels are invisible to us; and we don't know too much about them except for what's revealed in the Bible.
Then, 'The Supreme Intelligence.' and 'Suppose You Were Creator' is another section. What could you do with your mind; could you match anything like what has been created? And that's a proof that the mind that did the creating is certainly superior to your mind. You couldn't have done it.
Then, 'The Miracle of Living Food' and 'Man's Intelligence Versus God's' and 'Causes of Diseases'.
And then follows another section on seven proofs that God exists, seven scientific proofs. Now if you have never proved it, you should. Don't go on just assuming that either God does, or does not, exist. But get the proof, be sure you know that you have a solid foundation under you. And I'm glad to offer you this booklet. No charge, just: 'Does God Exist?'
Until next time, goodbye.
My BackgroundWell, I have not found a reason, so far, to accept that, but I want to tell you a little more about that. Now, I was born of substantial parents with an ancestry, a Quaker ancestry. That is the — it's usually called, the Friends Church, but most people, I think, call them Quakers.
Dual ChallengeNow, as I say, I left church and interest in religion, about age eighteen. But I was very disturbingly challenged. I'd been successful in business. Success today is measured very largely in, what do you have or what did you get. We're in the 'GET' principle, as I've said so many times. There're the two principles of life: one is 'GET' and the other is 'GIVE'.
The Search for WisdomNow it just happened to come at a time when I had a lot of time on my hands. In fact practically all of the time. I had one advertising client, a fairly large one, at that time. We were up in the Pacific Northwest at this time in Portland, Oregon. And I had one advertising client and I had to write one ad a week. It was a pretty good-sized ad and a good-sized client. But it only took me thirty minutes, or an hour, to rap that ad out. And I had the rest of the time free.
Fundamental ProofsSo, my first object was to prove or disprove, whichever, the existence of God. Now it was a thorough, in-depth study and research. And that first stage of it lasted for six months from the autumn of 1927 until the spring of 1928. Well, suffice it to say now, without going into a lot of detail - because I'd keep you here all night, and all day tomorrow, and the next two or three days, if I'd go into the detail of everything I went through, and I won't bore you with that. But suffice it to say now, that I wound up proving the existence of God to my own mind, absolute proof and I proved the fallacy of evolution.
Does God Exist?Incidentally let me just say that I have a booklet here: 'Does God Exist?' I'd like to send that to you, and there's no charge at all. And there are two sections of it. One is — let me just read a little of it to you; 'Can the existence of God be scientifically proved? Where did the first LIFE come from? Can we know whether God possesses MIND power?' Then some of the sub-headings, 'I Questioned God's Existence', and secondly; 'Don't Assume - KNOW!', be sure. Next; 'I found PROOF!' Then next; 'Which God?'