Where Shall Man Look for Guidance?
DOES man need guidance? He most certainly does. This is very obvious from the confusion, strife and violence that now fill the earth. For many years certain men of science, by making a study of the animals, have been seeking needed guidance on how man should live. And they say that what they have learned helps them to understand men better.
Konrad Lorenz, a noted authority on animal behavior, for example, has made and published some very interesting findings regarding the social habits of certain geese. These habits, he points out, seem to resemble human traits. According to him, there is a striving for supremacy among living creatures and “this always applies when you put five boys [or] five cockerels [or] five canary birds [or] five cichlid fish” together. He looks to the insight that natural science provides to help man to overcome his tendency to wage wars. He claims that “the problems of behavior, motivations, and the like” can be solved only by such kind of learning.
Is this true? Is that the place to look for guidance? Concerning such efforts to understand man and provide guidance for him by studying animals, noted American author Arthur Koestler observes: “Speaking in all humility, it seems to be of doubtful value to attempt a diagnosis of man entirely based on the analogies with animal behavior. . . . By the nature of things they do not go far enough, because they stop short of those exclusively human characteristics—such as language—which are of necessity excluded from the analogy, although they are of decisive importance in determining the behavior of our species.”—New York Times Magazine, October 19, 1969.
Author Koestler’s points are well made. And, interestingly, his conclusions are similar to what the Bible says. On the one hand, the Bible shows that certain things definitely can be learned by observing animals. It tells the lazy one to go to the ant and note its wisdom in storing up food for the winter. But, on the other hand, the Bible stresses the fact that animals, moved by instinct, are without understanding and reason. Thus the psalmist counsels: “Do not make yourselves like a horse or mule without understanding, whose spiritedness is to be curbed even by bridle or halter before they will come near to you.” Yes, you cannot give reasons to a horse or a mule as to why he should do this or that. Other methods must be used.—Ps. 32:9; Prov. 6:6-8; 2 Pet. 2:12.
How can man learn to solve the problems of human behavior by studying animals, when man’s problems involve his higher and more complex faculties? Man alone of earth’s creatures has reasoning ability and imagination. Only he has the power of conceptual thinking, of abstract thought. He uniquely has a moral sense that gives him an awareness of right and wrong. And none but man has the instinct of worshiping a higher power. As anthropologist Loren Eiseley once so well observed, evolutionists, in their zeal to find physical similarities between man and beast, have ignored the vast and weightier difference between the brains of men and of animals.
Neither can we look to mere man himself. The wisdom of imperfect man is contradictory. How many different philosophies there are! In apostolic times the wise men of Greece largely belonged to two radically opposed schools, the Stoics and the Epicureans; yet both claimed to be wise. Up till the present time philosophers have continued to disagree radically with one another.
The same applies to political ideologies. To whom will one look for guidance? In the United States there are Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Communists, Conservatives, and various militants. Who is to say which party or group is the best for the people, not to say anything about getting others to agree with it? And what about the even greater and more numerous differences in religion?
Why all this confusion? The Bible answers: “The wise ones have become ashamed. . . . They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?” Yes, “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” Man, by reason of his original transgression, is imperfect, weak, selfish. In fact, his inclination “is bad from his youth up.” Because of this the Creator of man, Jehovah God, has provided his Word to be a light and a lamp to man’s pathway, and to equip him completely for all good works.—Jer. 8:9; 10:23; Gen. 8:21; Ps. 119:105; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
This is what we should expect from a wise and loving Creator, and that he does exist is apparent from creation all about us. Has he not made abundant provision for all our material needs? Then should we not expect that he will supply our need for guidance? Those who study his Word with open minds and honest hearts and who look to him for guidance will be rewarded with enlightenment. More than 1,400,000 persons throughout the world have found this to be true. As a result they are living at peace with one another and enjoy contentment and peace of mind. They appreciate the value of the rules and principles of God’s Word.—Rom. 1:20; Phil. 4:19.
It is the Bible that instructs us to love Jehovah God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. It also sets out the command of Jesus to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ What a different world this will be when all on earth obey these commands and the earth is “filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea”!—Isa. 11:9; Mark 12:29-31; John 13:34, 35.