Insight on the News
● Recently Vermont Royster, a Pulitzer Prizewinning editorial writer, considered the extent of human knowledge in his “Wall Street Journal” column “Thinking Things Over.” “In little more than half a century we have made prodigious leaps in our knowledge about the infinitesimal particles that make up the physical world and about the powerful forces that govern the infinite space in which this world floats as a tiny speck,” he wrote. “Yet here is a curious thing. In the contemplation of man himself, of his dilemmas, of his place in the universe, we are little further along than when time began. We are still left with questions of who we are and why we are and where we are going.”
Royster suggested that men need to go beyond cold science to find answers to such questions because “for all that growing knowledge we are left with the ancient cry from the Book of Job: ‘Where is wisdom to be found? And where is the place of understanding?’” The answers to those questions are found in that same book of Job, just a few verses later. It says: “Look! The fear of Jehovah—that is wisdom, and to turn away from bad is understanding.”—Job 28:12, 20, 28.
● A pediatric neurologist with the University of Chicago may have found clues to why small children learn so quickly and can readily acquire additional languages. Using an electron microscope, Dr. Peter Huttenlocher found that babies between the ages of one and two have about 50 percent more synapses, or brain cell interconnections in their frontal cortex (“thinking area”) than adults do. After peaking at two years of age, synaptic density steadily drops until age 16, where it remains about the same until old age. The report in “Brain Research” says this may explain why babies’ brains are more “plastic” and recover better from injury.
No doubt parents could take greater advantage of this God-given early learning capacity. For example, Professor Archil Alkhazishvili of the Soviet Union’s Georgian Academy of Sciences says that children can be taught to read from infancy, noting that his own two daughters began to read at two years of age and had “swallowed” many of the classics by age seven. According to his comments in the Soviet digest “Sputnik,” parents should “hang pictures showing letters, words and phrases on the wall.” These will attract the child’s attention and parents can casually read them aloud. “The child will involuntarily remember them,” says “Sputnik,” asserting that “such latent teaching is far more effective than intentional.”
Such findings are in agreement with the thrust of Biblical counsel on the value of early training, such as in the case of Timothy, of whom it was said: “From infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise.”—2 Tim. 3:15; Prov. 22:6.
“Night Descended in 1914”
● In its issue of August 4, 1979, “The Economist” of London made some editorial observations on the world-shaking events of 65 years earlier: “The events set in motion on August 4, 1914—two-thirds of a century, two generations of man and a whole leap of imagination ago—destroyed a moral-cum-political order, broke up an international balance of power, ended Europe’s role as the world’s maker of events and killed, in the proceedings, several dozen million people. . . . in 1914 the world lost a coherence which it has not managed to recapture since.”
Describing the period since 1914, “The Economist” says that “this has been a time of extraordinary disorder and violence, both across national frontiers and within them. . . . This quality of the past two thirds of a century stands out in clear contrast to the period immediately before it,” which period the article calls “the ‘belle epoque’ on which night descended in 1914.”
Once again respected contemporary observers identify a major historical turning point with World War I and events beginning in 1914. What is more striking is the fact that, on the basis of centuries-old prophecies, Bible students as early as 1876 stated that the period Jesus called the “times of the Gentiles” would end then, with startling consequences for mankind.—Luke 21:24, “Authorized Version.”