Why You Can Look to the Future with Confidence
1-4. What does confidence have to do with whether a person will succeed or not? Why is it that a lot of people don’t feel very confident about the future?
HAVE you ever tried jumping over a bar in a high jump, or even over a fence or a wall? If the height was not too great, and you were confident that you could do it, you probably made the jump successfully. But if you were afraid you couldn’t make it, the jump may have failed, with unpleasant consequences for you.
2 That is the way it is with so many things. If you’re afraid to go into the water, for example, you’ll never learn to swim.
3 So, too, with getting the best out of your youth. Confidence can have a lot to do with this. You can’t really be happy or make good progress on the road of life without confidence in what lies ahead. But today, what is there to merit our confidence?
4 We could spend a lot of time talking about the reasons for not having confidence. Our planet Earth is getting more and more polluted, its wildlife is being killed off, and there are food shortages and other serious problems. These things may make you wonder if there is anything worth looking forward to. Some young people feel that, with the way things on earth are being ruined, there isn’t much of a future for them. And it may indeed appear so. Yet there are a lot of things that people don’t talk about so much but that give us reason to look forward to the future with confidence. Consider a few of these.
YOUR PLANETARY HOME
5-8. Name some of the factors that make life possible on the earth. How did this amazing combination of things come about?
5 It’s easy for us to take the earth for granted. Yet this planet we were born on and live on is truly an amazing piece of work. Like a spinning ball, the earth travels through millions of miles of space as it circles the sun, 93 million miles (about 150,000,000 kilometers) away. What would happen if the earth were in a different position? Well, if it were as far away from the sun as, say, the planets Pluto and Neptune, the earth would be like a big deep-freeze, far too cold to live on. And if it were a third of the distance closer to the sun, as is the planet Venus, the earth would become like an oven, for the temperature would become so high that even lakes and rivers would boil.
6 Or, even though its distance from the sun is ideal, what if the earth didn’t rotate on its axis as it does every twenty-four hours? Suppose, like Mercury, it rotated only a little more than once during its annual trip around the sun. Then nearly one half of the earth would be a frozen sub-zero waste, with the remainder a deserted furnace.
7 That isn’t all. Why is it that, at least in much of the earth, we can enjoy the freshness and flowers of spring, the warm, sunny days of summer, the crispness and color of autumn and the beauty of winter snow? These seasons result from the earth’s being tilted at an angle relative to its path around the sun. The seasons help to make most of this planet’s surface a very pleasant place to live. And they make it possible for a large part of the earth to produce food for man and animals.
8 There are hundreds of other factors that work together to make life on this planet possible. But what does all of this tell us? Ask yourself: How did this amazing combination of things come to be? Surely we must recognize that our planet Earth had a Designer. Yes, the many systems making life possible on earth are far, far more complicated than any spaceship that human scientists have designed and built. All the thought and work that earth’s complicated systems represent also tell us something else. Clearly, they tell us that the Designer of the earth is interested in making life pleasant and happy for those who live here. That includes you.
9-12. Even though a lot of damage has been done to the earth, what illustrates its ability to recover from harm?
9 True, a lot of people today are seriously damaging the earth by polluting it and misusing it. But that can be changed. And the damage can be reversed.
10 For example, consider what happened on the Pacific island of Krakatoa. It blew up in a huge volcanic explosion. If you had visited there right afterward, you would have seen that the whole island was just ashes. Nothing remained alive there—no people, no animals, no plants. But then what happened?
11 Without anyone’s help, the island began to recover. Within three years, some twenty-six kinds of plants began to flourish there again. Soon coconut trees, wild sugarcane and orchids were growing. And twenty-five years after the explosion, there were 263 species of animals on Krakatoa. The damage from the volcano disappeared. The gardenlike conditions of the island had returned.
12 The amazing way the island of Krakatoa recovered can be repeated all over the earth. And, as we will see later in this book, there is good reason to believe that it will.
AN AMAZING FOOD FACTORY
13-17. How is food produced from the earth? (Psalm 104:14) How does the variety of food that the earth produces contribute to one’s enjoyment of life? So, what kind of life did the Designer of all these things have in mind for us? (Isaiah 25:6; Psalm 67:6)
13 The next time you sit down to a meal, stop and think about this: No matter whether you are eating white rice or white potatoes, brown wheat or brown beans, yellow corn or yellow squash, black or red berries, they all come from plants with green leaves. Why? Because of the amazing process called photosynthesis.*
14 Such plants all have a green substance in their leaves called chlorophyll. When the sun’s light hits the leaves the chlorophyll goes to work producing complex chemical changes. In the plant’s cells water and carbon dioxide (which the plant takes from the air) are combined to form a simple sugar, the basis of all food. Using that sugar, green plants also make more complex things like carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vitamins. Speaking of the astounding production that results from photosynthesis, botanist Frits W. Went says:
“In terms of tonnage, its production makes man’s industries seem trifling. Every year the world’s steel mills turn out 350 million tons of steel, the world’s cement factories 325 million tons of cement. The world’s green plants, however, produce 150 billion tons of sugar every year.
15 Scientists know what happens, but they still can’t understand just how photosynthesis works. As one science writer says, researchers often refer to the process as “the black box.” Why? Because “they know what goes in and what comes out but are not sure about everything that goes on inside.” With all their chemical laboratories, men can never duplicate this amazing process.
16 Almost as remarkable is the tremendous variety of food the earth produces. Perhaps you especially like some certain food—let’s say strawberries. But what if everything—potatoes, rice, bread, apples, oranges—tasted like strawberries? You would soon get tired of that taste, wouldn’t you? Instead, with the different fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and berries that the earth’s food factory produces, there are thousands of different flavors for your taste buds to enjoy.
17 Again, what does all of this tell us? Very obviously, the One who originated this amazing food factory wants life on this earth to be very pleasurable. He is concerned about a happy future for us. The same Designer that made planet Earth such an ideal home has also seen to it that this home is stocked with everything needed for a splendid banquet for those living here. Later on in this book we will also see just how He proposes to make that banquet available to all who want to share in it.
LOOK AT YOURSELF!
18-23. What is there about our bodies that shows that we were meant to be far superior to the animals?
18 Finally, think a little about yourself. To think, of course, you have to use your brain—so why not start there? Naturally, you can’t see your brain, but what do you think it is like? When fully developed, the human brain looks like an oversized pinkish-gray walnut and weighs less than three pounds (1.3 kilos). But what tremendous ability is packed into that small area! A scientific report in the New York Times says:
“The constitution of the brain . . . is so complex that it makes the giant electronic computers mere child’s toys by comparison.”
19 Yes, the brain you possess and can use has been described as “the most complex piece of matter in the universe.” Now, if someone gave you a fine watch or an expensive camera or a valuable electronic calculator, you would certainly care for it and try to get the best use out of it, right? You should feel far more appreciation for your brain.
20 Think, too, of your body. Now, it’s true that a lion is stronger than you are, an elephant is certainly bigger, a dolphin can swim faster, a monkey can climb better, an eagle can soar in the heights with its own wings and you can’t. But none of these creatures combines in itself all the abilities that a man has. Lions and elephants can’t fly, dolphins can’t climb trees or mountains, nor can eagles swim. But humans can do all of these, either unaided or with their inventions. Yes, above all, humans are unique in their ability to make things, in endless variety.
21 One reason for this is your hands. No tool ever invented can do all the things you can with your hands—from heavy work in mechanics or carpentry, to activities that call for a delicate touch, as in playing an instrument, painting or drawing the design for a house.
22 Really, your hands are just one of the things that make your body so marvelous. No wonder that Dr. W. W. Akers, an engineer working with surgeons, said of the human body:
“The body is the ultimate in technological perfection. Almost any machine you can dream up—no matter how sophisticated—you can look into the body and find a better one.”
23 Clearly a Master Designer wanted humans to be far superior to the animals and to be able to enjoy the earth in the greatest way possible. This gives us reason to be confident that He is concerned about our enjoying a rewarding future.
YOU CAN MOVE AHEAD WITH CONFIDENCE
24-28. Why is it reasonable to believe that the earth had a Designer and Maker? (Romans 1:20) Where has he provided answers to our questions about life? (2 Timothy 3:16) How can we find out whether doing what the Bible says would really help us to face the future with confidence? (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-4)
24 We have seen that this planet and everything in it gives evidence of intelligence and design far superior to what is manifest in any home or building we have ever seen. You undoubtedly can agree with this simple statement found in the Bible: “Of course, every house is constructed by someone.” (Hebrews 3:4) Suppose you went out into a vast desert and found a house there but didn’t see anyone around. You wouldn’t think that the house made itself, would you? So, too, the earth obviously has a Designer and Maker, though unseen to us. Nobel Prize winner Max Planck said:
“There is no explanation of the universe apart from the assumption of a Supreme Creative Intelligence.”
25 The Bible tells us who this “Supreme Creative Intelligence” is that constructed our home, the earth. It tells us that he is the Maker of heaven and earth, Jehovah God.
26 This great Designer is obviously very powerful and wise. And just as clearly he has the best interests of all of us—you included—at heart. If you can learn what other humans know, then you can learn much, much more from Him as to how to get the best out of your youth.
27 That is where the Bible comes in. It tells of the Creator’s purposes for the earth and all mankind. It gives his answer to many questions humans have. It shows where their problems come from and how they will be solved. The Bible does not direct your hopes toward the present failing systems that have filled the earth with so much trouble and danger. It points to new systems that offer something far better.
28 Whether you have read the Bible to some extent or not, you may wonder if what it says can really solve your problems and answer your questions. You will never know unless you look carefully into it. In this book that you are now reading, we will see what the Bible has to say and the answers and guidance it gives. See for yourself how reasonable and realistic the Bible is. Yes, see for yourself how Jehovah God’s Word, the Bible, can help you to meet the challenge before you, and then move confidently ahead toward a happy and worthwhile future.
From photo, meaning “light,” and synthesis, meaning the “forming of a compound substance by combining simpler elements.”
[Picture on page 11]
Knowledge about the Creator of the earth provides basis for confidence as to the future