Given that UK atheists have gone out and bought themselves a campaign, it’s high time I put this post together.
Simply put, I can think of no proof of God’s existence more solid than these buildings.
(I believe the photo shows No. 3, which I think is is the one to the left in the map)
Here is a description of the funeral of the man responsible.
Next day, Monday March 14th 1898 was the day of the funeral. It is said that nothing like it has been seen in Bristol before or since. Firms closed or gave their employees time off to witness the event and pay their respects; thousands of people lined the route of the procession; on Bristol cathedral and other churches flags flew at half mast and muffled peals were rung; in all the main streets they put up black shutters or drew their blinds. The city mourned.
Hundreds couldn’t get in to the service at Bethesda. Among those whose who did squeeze into the main area of the chapel and it’s galleries were many Anglican clergymen and free church ministers. After addresses… nearly a hundred carriages including the mayor’s state coach joined the procession across the river to the cemetery where a crowd of about seven thousand people had gathered at the main gates….
How did this man become so popular, so well known? How did he build such large buildings? How did he go from being an obscure pastor of a small church to a man welcome in the houses of presidents and princes?
The buildings above are the Muller orphanages in Bristol. They held 2000 orphans at one time. The orphans were fed, clothed and educated (in trades such as printing and milling – no chimney sweeps!) from 1836 onward.
The first of the buildings above was built in 1849, the last opened in 1870.
In all that time not one meal was missed, the orphans were always kept warm and well clothed. Dickens himself inspected the orphanages, assuring himself that any reports of mistreatment and hunger were false.
From 1836 when Muller (then an obscure pastor of a non-conformist church) declared his intentions to his death, over one-and-a-half million pounds were raised.
Once you figure in historical differences, this is actually somewhere between £100M and £2B.
In 2007, £1500000 0s 0d from 1870 was worth:
£102,891,382.71 using the retail price index £143,762,097.24 using the GDP deflator £854,346,560.84 using the average earnings £998,348,506.90 using the per capita GDP £1,947,541,355.22 using the share of GDP
So, up to $5 Billion NZD, depending on how you count it. At minimum, $250M.
Clearly, no trivial exercise and no chump change here.
How did Muller accomplish this? From an Amazon review of the book on my desk (see below for link).
George Mueller, one time playboy, cheat and troublemaker, finally discovered Jesus as a young adult. He was never one to follow what everyone else did, so when he embarked on a lifelong journey of reading and analysing the Bible to discover its truth for himself, it was only a matter of time before he discovered something that few people realise – the God of the Bible is real, and the promises written in the Bible are absolutely true.
So then, he reasoned, that if the Bible says the God not only listens to our prayers but also answers them (and the book sets out his rationale for thinking this), it makes sense that it could be demonstrated to non-believers as evidence for God… after all, if a non-believer were to be confronted by the most amazing in-your-face answers to prayer that couldn’t possibly be man-made, or by coincidence, then surely they would believe?
The book describes Muellers life, which he dedicated to doing just that: proving beyond any reasonable doubt that God listens, and that God answers prayers. He proved this in many ways, not least by providing a home and for the daily needs for thousands of orphans without ever raising money, never appealing for funds, never borrowing from the bank*, and never telling anyone that they were in need (even when people asked).
Over 50 years, God answered prayer after prayer. He never once let Mueller or the orphans down. Skeptics and non-believers could not then (or now) come up with any convincing explanation for this…
I wonder of those buses will be traveling around Bristol?
I know that a lot of Christians never develop the relationship with God that Muller did.
But I can assure you, that among those who do take that time, you will find stories along this vein – I could tell several, but none quite so spectacular as this.
God meets the needs of his people, and he is faithful.
So excuse me if I chuckle when you come to me and talk about an “absence of evidence”!
Quotation from George Muller – Delighted in God.
If you read no other book in 2009, read this one twice.
*one technical exception is described in the book from the later days of his ministry.