Pressing On

George Washington Carver named his laboratory God’s Little Workshop, and credited Divine inspiration for giving him the ideas of how to perform experiments. Though he never took any scientific textbooks into his laboratory, he was diligent to study as many scientific books as possible.

On November 19, 1924, Dr. George Washington Carver spoke to over 500 people at the Women’s Board of Domestic Missions in New York City’s Marble Collegiate Church:

God is going to reveal to us things He never revealed before if we put our hands in His. No books ever go into my laboratory. The thing I am to do and the way of doing it are revealed to me. I never have to grope for methods. The method is revealed to me the moment I am inspired to create something new. Without God to draw aside the curtain I would be helpless.


Locking the door to his laboratory, Dr. Carver confided:

Only alone can I draw close enough to God to discover His secrets. 30

On November 24, 1924, George W. Carver wrote the editor of the New York Times, correcting an editorial they ran entitled “Men of Science Never Talk that Way,” in which they attempted to discredit Carver, his race and Tuskegee Institute:

My dear Sir,

I have read with much interest your editorial pertaining to myself in the issue of November 20th. I regret exceedingly that such a gross misunderstanding should arise as to what was meant by “Divine inspiration.” Inspiration is never at variance with information; in fact, the more information one has, the greater will be the inspiration.

Paul, the great Scholar, says, Second Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Again he says in Galatians 1:12, “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Many, many other equally strong passages could be cited, but these two are sufficient to form a base around which to cluster my remarks. In the first verse, I have followed and am yet following the first word of study.

I am a graduate of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, located at Ames, Iowa, taking two degrees in Scientific Agriculture. Did considerable work in Simpson College, Indianola, along the lines of Art, Literature and Music.

In Chemistry, the following persons have been inspiration and guide for study:

Justin Von Liebig, Dr. Leroy J. Blinn, Dr. Ira Ramsen, Drs. L.L De Moninck, E. Dietz, Robert Mallet, William G. Valentin, J. Meritt Matthews, Edwin E. Slosson, M. Luckiesh, Harrison B. Howe, Charles Whiting Baker, Helen Abbott, Michael, Mad. Currie, Geo. J. Brush, Charles F. Chandler, G. Dragendorff, Frederick Hoffman, Josef Benson, Arthur C. Wright, M.W. O’Brine, Lucien Geschwind, Stillman, Wiley, Dana, Richards & Woodman, Harry Snyder, Coleman and Addyman, Meade Ostwald, Warrington, Winslow, and a number of others, all of which are in my own library with but a few exceptions.

In Botany, Loudon, Wood, Coulter, Stevens, Knight, Bailey, De Candole, Pammel, Bessey, Chapman, Gray, Goodale, Youkmans, Myers, Britton and Brown, Small, and others. These books are also in my library: Dietaries, Henry, Richards, Mrs. Potter Palmer, Miles, Wing, Fletcher Berry, Kellogg, Nilson, and others.

In addition to the above, I receive the leading scientific publications. I thoroughly understand that there are scientists to whom the world is merely the result of chemical forces or material electrons. I do not belong to this class. I fully agree with the Rt. Rev. Irving Peake Johnson, D.D., bishop of Colorado in a little pamphlet entitled “Religion and the Supernatural.” It is published and distributed by the Trinity Parish of your own city. I defy any one who has an open mind to read this leaflet through and then deny there is such a thing as Divine inspiration. In evolving new creations, I am wondering of what value a book would be to the creator if he is not a master of analytical work, both qualitative and quantitative. I can see readily his need for the book from which to get his analytical methods. The master analyst needs no book; he is at liberty to take apart and put together substances, compatible or noncompatible to suit his own particular taste or fancy.

While in your beautiful city, I was struck with the large number of Taros and Yautias displayed in many of your markets; they are edible roots imported to this country largely from Trinidad, Puerto Rico, China, Dutch Guiana and Peru. Just as soon as I saw these luscious roots, I marveled at the wonderful possibilities for their expansion. Dozens of things came to me while standing there looking at them. I would follow the same or similar lines I have pursued in developing products from the white potato. I know of no one who has ever worked with these roots in this way. I know of no book from which I can get this information, yet I will have no trouble in doing it.

If this is not inspiration and information from a source greater than myself, or greater than any one has wrought up to the present time, kindly tell me what it is. “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32. Science is simply the truth about anything. Yours very truly,

Geo. W. Carver 31

On January 15, 1925, George wrote to the Rev. Lyman Ward, founder of an industrial school in Camp Hill, Alabama:

My dear Bro. Ward,

Many, many thanks for your letter of Jan. 4th. How it lifted up my very soul, and made me to feel that after all God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. I did indeed feel very badly for a while, not that the cynical criticism was directed at me, but rather at the religion of Jesus Christ. Dear Bro. I know that my Redeemer liveth.

I believe through the providence of the Almighty it was a good thing. Since the criticism was made I have had dozens of books, papers, periodicals, magazines, personal letters from individuals in all walks of life. Copies of letters to the editor of the Times are bearing me out in my assertion.

One of the prettiest little books comes from Ex. Govt. Osborne of Mich. His thesis on Divine Concord and so many, many dear letters like yours. I cannot think of filling 1/5 of the applications that are coming in for talks.

You may be interested to know that the greater part of my work now is among white colleges. I leave this week for N.C. where I will speak at the state univ. state college and two or three other colleges. Pray for me please that every thing said and done will be to His glory. I am not interested in science or any thing else that leaves God out of it.

Most sincerely your,

Geo. W. Carver 32

On March 24, 1925, George W. Carver wrote to Robert Johnson, an employee of Chesley Enterprises of Ontario:

My dear Brother Johnson,

How very interesting your letter is. I quite agree with you if God did not prompt your letters, you could not write those that really touch the heart as those of yours do.

Of course I can not write such soul-stirring letters as yours, but I will do the best I can. I am so glad you like my motto. I try to live in that way and the Lord has, and is yet, blessing me so abundantly. Nothing could be more beautiful than your motto Others. Living for others is really the Christ life after all. Oh, the satisfaction, happiness and joy one gets out of it.

I am so interested in the way you manage your saving account. God does indeed arrange it so that it never is quite depleted, unless there is some great emergency, then some soon comes in.

Brother Johnson, I expect to stick to the path, I have no notion of wavering,

regardless of how some may sneer. I know that my redeemer lives. Thank God I love humanity; complexion doesn’t interest me one single bit. I am not rich in this world’s goods, but thank God,

like yourself, I have enough to live comfortably.

I have the assurance that God will take care of me. He blesses me with the ability to earn a living, and gives me wisdom and understanding enough to lay a little by from time to time for the proverbial “rainy day.”

No, I am not for sale. God has given me what He has in trust to make of it a contribution to the world far greater than money can for myself. Yes my friend, I think I understood you. My letter to you probably was not as clear as it should have been.

I believe that science (truth) if it will take what you have had revealed to you. Search and continue to search. I am sure they will find a world of truth in it.

Less than 150 miles from where I live is one of the unexplained wonders of the country in what is known as “Blue Spring.” The pool is about fifty feet in diameter, nearly round. One way you look at it, the water is as blue as indigo. Another way it is as clear as crystal, and you can see down, down, down. In the center is a spot fully four feet in diameter that boils up just as if a huge fire was under it; the water is not hot, not even warmer than other rivers or branch water; in fact, it is a little cooler than the average water. Hundreds of people far and near have examined it.

Large sums of money have been offered to any one who would dive down and find out where the water comes from. Some have tried it so they say, and have gone down a hundred feet or more and had to stop because the water threw them back with its force. No one knows where the water comes from. No difference how much it rains or how dry it gets, this little pool of boiling water is not affected in the least.

Your scripture references, I believe, can well be applied to this case. What I meant was that on the ocean waters journey back to fresh water again, it loses its salt some where, and I believe, in fact, it looks feasible to me that this salt water might travel some distance from the ocean before depositing its salt. If the vein was tapped after the salt had been deposited, a salt mine of dry salt would be the result, if before it gave up its salt, a salt well would be the result.

It seems to me that you have opened a most interesting and valuable line of investigation ….

Most sincerely yours.

Geo. W. Carver 33

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