Insight on the News
“Limits to Growth”
● At the first of five global conferences on “Limits to Growth,” a former president of the European Common Market, Sicco Mansholt, warned 300 scientists, scholars and other leaders of disasters looming up before mankind. He asserted that growing hunger, freshwater shortages and nuclear wastes could trigger major political instability and catastrophe. The answer, he said, lies in a political and economic “new order.” “To master supernational problems we need supernational institutions and power,” Mansholt declared.
But what are the prospects for “supernational institutions and power” arising in the world? “There appear to be no world leaders with vision enough to do the job,” he observed.
Many world leaders recognize the need for supernational authority and that it is not likely to come from among their fellow humans. The truly realistic answer to the need for supernational authority is found in the Bible: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin.” That supernational kingdom will indeed “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Dan. 2:44; Rev. 11:18.
Who Did the Thinking?
● The wonders of creation continue to amaze scientists. A previously misunderstood feature of certain climbing vines is one example. “Farmers have long known that if you put a pole near a bean plant, the bean will find the pole and grow up it,” explains researcher Dr. Donald R. Strong, Jr. But no one ever stopped to find out how or why. In 1925, he says, one observer noted that a vine pursued a stake that was moved daily and concluded that this proved that the vines must “think.” Do they?
Well, most plants are “phototropic,” that is, they grow toward light. But now scientists believe that certain vines are “skototropic”—growing toward darkness, toward a tree trunk to climb. However, once the vine reaches the tree, remarkably it becomes phototropic again like any other plant. Is “thinking” involved? By whom?
Pointing toward the real source, the noted scientific historian Loren Eiseley offers some food for thought. Writing in “Audubon” magazine, he marvels at the instinctive perception found in certain animal creations. Though “an evolutionist,” he admits being reluctantly drawn to “the dreadful otherness of the Biblical challenge [at Isaiah 55:8], ‘Your ways are not my ways.’” He says: “I had come to feel at last that the human version of evolutionary events was perhaps too simplistic for belief.” Thus the evidence of “thinking” found in creation compels us to acknowledge the One whose “invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made.”—Rom. 1:20.
● Pope Paul VI recently made a rare criticism of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. He complained that it had foiled attempts at European unity, which had “known their time of glory” before the Reformation.
However, history shows that it was a “time of glory” for none but the Roman Church, whose political power was then at its zenith. On the other hand, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Barbara Tuchman writes in the December issue of “Atlantic” that the period was “unquestionably . . . ‘a bad time for humanity.’” She noted that it was a time “variously called out of joint, in moral disarray, of sinking values, of perpetual strife, . . . of bad government.”
So, when Pope Paul spoke of that past “time of glory,” he no doubt had in mind the Church’s political progress toward a united “Holy Roman Empire” under her control. Yet this time of political glory found the Church herself, as Barbara Tuchman says, “undoubtedly at a low point in prestige, credibility, and (what people minded most) spirituality; hence [came] heresy and ultimately the Reformation.” Thus the Church’s attempt to gain worldly glory had brought her down to the world’s level, the sure result of violating Christ’s principle: “Mine is not a kingdom of this world . . . my kingdom is not of this kind.”—John 18:36, Catholic “Jerusalem Bible.”