And Others Call It God

Both the atheist and the theist begin their quest for knowledge by making fundamental assumptions that influence how they interpret the world around them.

Let no man be so naive as to boast of no prior commitments. This reality is illustrated in the 1915 poem “Each In His Own Tongue” penned by William Herbert Carruth in 1915.

Each In His Own Tongue

FIRE-MIST and a planet,–
A crystal and a cell,–
A jelly-fish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave-men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty,
And a face turned from the clod,–
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.
A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high,–
And all over the upland and lowland
The charm of the goldenrod,–
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.
Like tides on a crescent sea-beach,
When the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings
Come welling and surging in,–
Come from the mystic ocean
Whose rim no foot has trod,–
Some of us call it longing,
And others call it God.
A picket frozen on duty,–
A mother starved for her brood,–
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight, hard pathways plod,–
Some call it Consecration,
And others call it God.


The poem emphasizes each individual’s perspective in seeking to make sense of the world. In a personal letter written later, the poet Carruth explains that it is Christ alone who can “interpret and satisfy.” The following is an excerpt from that letter as quoted in H.T. Kerr in his 1921 book, The Gospel in Modern Poetry:

World ruin it seems to the spoiler,
To the prophet a new age begun,
For the burden-bearer and toiler
Are taking their place in the sun.
So fear not, tho’ places totter
And the scheme of the Past is unmade;
The voice that stilled Galilee’s water,
Calms the tempest so: ‘Be not afraid’