The Knowledge of God: Part II (The Institutes for Kids)

An awareness of God is common to all

No human needs to be taught that there’s a God and that we’re his creatures. It’s in our guts. If you meet people five thousand miles in any direction, whether they live in a dark forest or a remote dessert or on a high mountain, they know there’s a God; they don’t need you to tell them about him.

That’s why wherever you go, you’ll find people who bow down to statues, visit temples, and pray. Whether they believe in one God or lots of gods, people can’t seem to shake “God”!

God stamped this feeling on all of us, and it can’t be wiped off.

So it’s pretty silly when someone tries to explain the stamp of God by saying, “There’s no stamp! This is what happened: a long time ago, some dude just made up the idea of God; probably to control people and get stuff from them!”

Now of course people have tried to use the stamp to scare, control, and take stuff from people. But it’d never work if people weren’t already convinced there was a God! These rotten thieves were at least smart; they tapped into something everyone’s already got.

Now some people totally deny God. “There ain’t no stamp on me!” they say. But such people usually start to grow something else: superstition. And superstition makes a person act pretty strange. They’re scared of the sound of a falling leaf! They knock on wood! They flip through a card deck think the cards are telling them things! If it’s not God out there, it’s open season. Explaining the stamp away just opens us up to a million far more zanier beliefs.

Humans can keep the feeling of God away with as much success as someone can keep a sealed sheep intestine filled with air under the water by first making sure it’s put down real deep.

The seed of religion is perverted by self-will

We can call this stamp of God-feeling “the seed of religion.” Everyone’s got it planted in them. This seed tells us that because there’s a God, a bunch of other things are true too: we’re his creatures, all good things come from him, we’ve failed to honour and thank him, and, we should only do what he wants.

But you and I don’t like that. We want to be our own boss. And because we’re selfish soil, the seed planted in us gets tainted. We can’t remove the seed, and because we’re selfish, it can’t produce what it should. Instead of producing whole-hearted holiness and a simple love toward God, we do just enough to get God off our back. We might even put on a big religious show, but really, we’re just doing this to keep our hearts far from him.

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