Divine Providence

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men.  (Benjamin Franklin 1787)

While many people would say that Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian and did not mean what he said in this passage, I honestly believe that he meant what he said.  He had observed the world around him and perceived the work of a divine providence.  Like Benjamin Franklin, I believe that divine providence is evident in human history and my favorite example is what an unknowing person might have considered an unmitigated disaster at the time that it happened.

In the late 1920’s, many thinking people knew that one of the greatest threats to human freedom was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  While many left-leaning intellectuals deceived themselves, Joseph Stalin was known by many observant people to be a dangerous tyrant and a threat to global peace.  With the popular message of communism to disguise his power hungry agenda, he was, at that time, the most dangerous man on the earth.

During the First World War, the early tanks were not tremendously effective.  They were slow, tended to break down and the inadequate ventilation meant that the inside was hot and filled with fuel exhaust.  While these early tanks were not very effective, a number of visionaries could see that tanks would be one of the most important weapons in the next European war.  The nation that had the best tanks would have a substantial advantage over their rivals for power.

Given the fact that Joseph Stalin and the USSR were the greatest threat to world peace in the late 1920’s and the fact that the tank was likely to be one of the most important weapons in the next war, what would most of post Red Scare America have thought if they knew that Soviet spies bought and shipped an advanced American tank and sent it to Moscow to be replicated?  Would they not have considered this an unmitigated disaster?  And yet I believe the sale of the Christie tank to the Soviet Union was one of the most obvious acts of divine providence in human history.  How could this be?

The T34 tank is thought by many experts to be the best tank developed during World War II and it was a direct descendant of the Christie tank.  To say that the T34 changed the course of World War II is an understatement to any scholar familiar with the conflict between Germany and the U.S.S.R..  When the Germans first encountered these advanced Russian tanks, they could not believe that people whom they considered to be so backwards had a weapon that was more advanced than anything they had on the battlefield.  The only way the Germans were able to destroy the T34s when they first encountered them was to use their radios and superior tactics.  Operation Barbarossa saw elements of the German army advance within 24 kilometres of Moscow.  If the Germans had such success against the Russians when the Russians had this crucial advantage, what would have happened if the Christie tank had never made it to Moscow?

Many Americans don’t realize this, but Nazi Germany was primarily defeated by the Russians.  While Canadians, Americans, British, French and other allied nations fought heroically, German losses in men and materiel on the Eastern Front dwarfed those on the Western Front.  Had Russia capitulated in 1941 or 1942, Germany would have won the war because without the Russians to bleed Germany dry, the Nazis would have inflicted a level of casualties on the western allies that were unacceptable to a democratically governed nation.

To me this is powerful confirmation of what Benjamin Franklin said in defense of public prayer two hundred years ago.  The theft of an advanced technology by representatives of one of the most murderous human beings in history ten years prior to the outbreak of war was instrumental in bringing about the defeat of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany with a minimum of casualties to the western nations.

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men.  (Benjamin Franklin 1787)

About Robert V

Former atheist currently living in Toronto.
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