Eternity in Their Hearts

In my novel Gideon's Torch, there is a pivotal encounter between Attorney General Emily Gineen and pro-life pastor Daniel Seaton. The exchange brings into focus the self-evident nature of truth and the existence of God—the ultimate Truth. In the passage Emily visits Daniel, imprisoned for bombing an abortion clinic. While regretting the unintended consequences of his actions, Daniel expresses his conviction that “God does not make mistakes.... He has spoken. His word is Truth.” Emily replies: “What do you mean? It sounds so presumptuous.... How can you be so sure—how can you even know there is truth?” “First of all,” Daniel responds, “[you know] because you asked that question. Something in you causes you to ask it. We have a mind, a consciousness... there is something, some ultimate reality, and the mind and soul are restless for it.” Emily then protests: “But even if there is some ultimate reality, one can’t know it with certainty.” “Ah,” replies Daniel, “but that’s the search. Look at the order of the universe. Think about its physical realities.” Daniel then lifts his manacled arms high and lets them drop, the chains rattling. “Gravity is a physical law,” he says. “If there are known physical laws, why would we even suggest that there aren’t known moral laws? Certain behavior produces certain predictable consequences.... And if there are physical and moral laws, there has to be a Lawgiver. That’s what I mean by ultimate reality. It is God.” I won’t give away Emily’s response to this cogent argument for God’s existence. But note that Daniel does not marshal proofs for the existence of God. Rather, he presupposes that each individual has an awareness of the divine. In the same way, the Bible itself does not attempt to prove God’s existence. Rather, the Scriptures begin with one cardinal, indisputable truth: “In the beginning God....” A number of years ago, Don Richardson wrote a fascinating book entitled Eternity in Their Hearts. Richardson documented how primitive cultures, even in the most remote regions of the world, have a knowledge of an all-powerful supreme Being. Even atheistic indoctrination cannot erase that one indelible awareness from man’s consciousness. Consider Irina Ratushinskaya, the Russian poet. When Irina was growing up during the Soviet regime, her Communist teachers taught her there was no God. Irina had no reason to believe otherwise—no Christian influences, no tracts or missionaries. But through the process of a child’s simple understanding, God manifested himself to her. "There must be a God," she thought. "Otherwise they wouldn’t tell us over and over that there is no God." Irina eventually obtained a Bible and became a Christian. During this series we’ve examined important reasons to commend the Christian faith to our neighbors. But I daresay that none is more vital than to encourage the willingness to—in the words of the author of Hebrews—“believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” This commentary originally aired August 28, 1997. Would that others could see eternity in our hearts, and in our lives a reflection of the God who is.


Chuck Colson


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