Can Human Accomplishments Ward Off Catastrophe?
“It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”—JEREMIAH 10:23.
1, 2. What are some of mankind’s accomplishments in this 20th century?
IN OUR 20th century, mankind has accomplished amazing things. Great strides have been made in education, in science, and in technical fields. Today many reap the benefits of this in their daily lives. In various lands there are modern conveniences such as indoor electric lighting, plumbing, and helpful appliances. Also, medical science is helping to control certain diseases, such as smallpox, that were once scourges.
2 Communication and transportation, too, have advanced greatly. With telephones, automobiles, trains, and airplanes we communicate or get places faster than our ancestors ever imagined. Today, events that happen on the other side of the earth can be transmitted to us immediately by space satellites.
Vital Things Not Accomplished
3, 4. What vital things have humans not accomplished, as accurately foretold in Bible prophecy?
3 Yet, an ever-present threat of nuclear catastrophe hovers over mankind, and there are absolutely vital things that humans have not been able to accomplish. For example, has the advance in education seen a similar advance in the educating of people to be more honest, truthful, and moral? In the United States, tax losses from cheating come to over 100 billion dollars annually. In another country, in one large city alone, 17,000 police officers reportedly were dismissed for corruption in seven years. Such dishonesty brings to mind the Bible prophecy at 2 Timothy chapter 3 where it foretells that in these “last days” people would be ‘lovers of themselves, lovers of money, disloyal, without love of goodness.’
4 Then there is immorality of a sexual kind. Adultery and fornication have become so common that in many places it is unusual to see moral families portrayed in movies, television programs, stage plays, or novels. And immorality contributes to the fact that each year, worldwide, about 55 million women have abortions! This is the destruction of a population greater than that of Argentina, or Canada, or France, or Poland, or 145 other nations—every year! So while one branch of medical science hails advances that save the lives of some children, another branch murders millions of the unborn. Just as the Bible foretold, in these “last days” many people are “without self-control” and have “no natural affection.”—2 Timothy 3:3.
5. What are some health consequences of rampant immorality today?
5 Sexual immorality is causing an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. Many types are now resistant to drugs. The widespread disease known as genital herpes has seen no cure so far. And there is a sharp rise in the number of babies who have it, born from infected mothers. About half of these babies die, and of the rest, half are physically or mentally damaged. Nor has any cure been found so far for AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), the deadly disease that has baffled doctors. AIDS has appeared in at least 33 nations “and now poses a global health threat” says the Associated Press. It has especially affected homosexuals, calling to mind Romans 1:27.
6. Has medical science stemmed the advance of disease throughout the world?
6 Medical science cannot stem the tide of many other diseases. In Africa alone, millions have malaria, sleeping sickness, leprosy, and other illnesses. In developed nations cancer, heart trouble, diabetes, cirrhosis, and emotional disorders are on the rise. Some of these are brought on, or worsened, by the anxieties or by-products of modern industrial society. Others result from permissive life-styles.
7. Is it likely that advances in medicine could keep us in good health indefinitely?
7 If more diseases were controlled, could medical science keep us in good health indefinitely? No, say many scientists. They show that while the life span might be lengthened by a few years, other illnesses would become bigger killers. A scientist concluded: “There is little chance that we will greatly increase life expectance or postpone aging in the near future.” Accurately, the Bible stated long ago at Psalm 90:10: “The days of our years are seventy years; and if because of special mightiness they are eighty years, yet their insistence is on trouble and hurtful things; for it must quickly pass by.”
Problem of Poverty Unsolved
8. How did the Bible accurately foretell that technology would not solve the poverty problem?
8 Technology has made living more convenient for some people, true. But many others do not have enough money to buy the products of technology. The publication World Military and Social Expenditures 1983 reported: “2,000,000,000 people live on incomes below $500 [U.S.] per year.” It continued: “At least one person in five is trapped in absolute poverty, a state of destitution so complete that it is silent genocide.” It then noted that each year “11,000,000 babies die before their first birthday” from malnutrition or disease.—Revelation 6:5-8.
9. What sad situation prevails in many lands?
9 In some countries, states The Detroit News, “many women find themselves with too many children and no means to care for them. . . . All too often, such mothers simply deposit an unwanted child . . . on the street.” There are millions of such children. In other places, parents are abandoned. An Asian journalist writes: “Thousands of old people are being turned out of their homes because their families cannot feed them anymore. There are no welfare agencies to provide help. Many times the children of these elderly ones take them on a train and drop them off someplace or abandon them at train stations.” The writer adds: “What a shocking change in a culture that had so much respect for the elderly.” So our age sees the truth of Proverbs 30:11, which states: “There is a generation that calls down evil even upon its father and that does not bless even its mother.”
10. How secure is the world’s financial situation, bringing to mind what prophecy of Jesus?
10 Human governments cannot solve the problem of global poverty. Underdeveloped lands have a crushing burden of mounting debt that they cannot pay. Even developed countries have excessive debts. Symptomatic of this, dozens of banks failed in the United States last year. When one of the largest was threatened, only government intervention with billions of dollars prevented disaster. The fear was that if such a large bank failed, “the contagion would have spread to other banks as well, threatening the entire financial system,” reported The New York Times. Thus, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ward off catastrophe. In fact, with each passing year the observation of England’s Guardian takes on added force: “The world is on the verge of a human catastrophe and a political disaster . . . Whole continents have seen their hopes for the future disappear.”—Luke 21:25, 26.
Technology’s Effect on War
11. What additional problem that governments cannot solve has been made much worse by technology?
11 Technology has made much worse something else that governments are unable to stop: war. It was technology that made World War I such a slaughter with the mass use of machine guns, submarines, warplanes, tanks, and flamethrowers. British author Richard Rees said: “The 1914-18 war brought two facts to light: first, that technological development had reached a point where it could continue without disaster only in a unified world and, second, that the existing political and social organizations in the world made its unification impossible.” World War II proved his point, as newer weapons killed about 55 million people.
12. What threats confront the human family today?
12 Today war weapons are far more hideous, and governments are far from united. Regarding nuclear weapons, author Herman Wouk said: “The ingenuity, labor, and treasure poured out on this . . . insanity truly stun the mind. If nations did not learn war any more, there would be nothing mankind could not do.” Astronomer Carl Sagan said of nuclear war: “There is little question that our global civilization would be destroyed.” And while this threat of earth-wide catastrophe hangs over the human family, numerous other conflicts take countless lives. The Center for Defense Information in the United States reported that in 1984 there were 42 different wars and rebellions in progress at the same time! Governments cannot even stop the tidal wave of crime and violence in their own lands, much less bring global peace.
13. Does global violence in our time fit Bible prophecy?
13 All of this fits the prophecy at Revelation 6:4 about the ride of one of the ‘four horsemen of the Apocalypse’ since 1914: “And another came forth, a fiery-colored horse; and to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him.”
Why Human Efforts Fail
14, 15. What is a major reason why humans cannot accomplish their aims now?
14 Why is there reason to fear that human accomplishments will not ward off catastrophe? Indeed, why are humans unable to accomplish their aims? The Bible shows one major reason: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created perfect in body and mind. But that perfection depended on their staying inside the boundaries of God’s beneficial laws. Within those laws they were given much freedom of choice. But Genesis chapter 3 shows that our first parents took free choice too far. They desired independence from God and his laws, wanting to decide for themselves what was right or wrong, an authority that belongs only to God. After they made that choice, they were on their own. The Bible states: “Jehovah is with you as long as you prove to be with him; . . . but if you leave him he will leave you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2) Separated from God, Adam and Eve began to degenerate. Sickness, sorrow, and eventually death overtook them.—Genesis 2:16, 17.
15 After our first parents became imperfect, the law of genetics saw to it that all their offspring inherited imperfection. The psalmist acknowledged: “With error I was brought forth with birth pains, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) There is no way whatsoever that medical science can overcome the consequences of inherited imperfection. Looking for some medical breakthrough to eliminate sickness and death is looking for something that humans cannot accomplish—ever.
16. How has imperfection affected mankind’s mental condition?
16 Inherited imperfection also affects our mental condition. We are all born with the tendency to do the wrong thing. Now, this does not mean that humans cannot control their actions. They can if they take corrective measures. Proverbs 3:6 shows this, saying: “In all your ways take notice of him [Jehovah], and he himself will make your paths straight.” However, when humans ignore the proper correction, then they get into deep trouble. And the farther away individuals and nations get from God’s laws, the more ruinously they act, feeding the inborn tendency to be selfish. In this regard a New York Times editorial commented: “You can hardly take a casual look at today’s headlines without wondering where the world is going. . . . See what happens when men, institutions and nations put their selfish interests ahead of everything else. . . . The plain fact in all countries is that playing the selfish game is not working.”
17, 18. What other major factor helps to explain why humans cannot accomplish their aims?
17 Another major factor that helps to explain why humans cannot achieve their aims and ward off catastrophe is the influence noted at 2 Corinthians 4:4, which speaks of “the god of this system of things.” Some who are not familiar with the Bible may think that the god referred to here is Almighty God. But the same verse adds that this god “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” Surely, the loving Creator would not do that. The god referred to is the same one mentioned at 1 John 5:19, which says: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”
18 The god who controls this present world is identified at Revelation 12:9 as “the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” The name Satan means “Resister” or “Adversary.” The name Devil means “False Accuser,” or “Slanderer.” These are appropriate terms, for the rebellion of Adam and Eve was instigated by this rebel in the spirit realm. It was he who told Eve, in effect: ‘You do not need God’s laws. You can decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong.’ However, by pulling away from God, Satan became mentally debased. This can be seen by his works, for just look at the world under his control! The ugly, evil history of mankind verifies that it has an ugly, evil influence behind it.
19. What have some observers suggested as remedies for this world’s ills?
19 Some observers of this chaotic world have made interesting observations about the remedy for mankind’s ills. The Gazette of Montreal said: “About 150 groups of national politicians pull in different directions, steering planet earth toward chaos. Yet most of the world’s major problems are global in scope because transportation and communications technology have shrunk the world into a global community or village.” It then recommended: “Some form of world government will be necessary.” Sociologist Erich Fromm said that this world’s ills can be done away with “only if the whole [social and political] system as it has existed during the last 6000 years of history can be replaced by a fundamentally different one.”—Italics ours.
20. (a) Why will desired goals never come about by human efforts? (b) In whom should we put our trust for the future?
20 Such observers do not realize it, but the whole social and political system is going to be “replaced by a fundamentally different one”! There will soon be just one world government for all mankind. But it will not come about by human efforts. Humans alone are unable to ward off catastrophe. They surely cannot replace this present system of things with a better one, as history has proved. They cannot get rid of inherited imperfection, sickness, and death. And they cannot get rid of Satan and his demons. Instead, the past course of human events has proved true the inspired words: “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Thus God’s Word counsels: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.” (Psalm 146:3) In whom, then, should you place confidence? Proverbs 3:5 urges: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding.” Why should we have such confidence in Jehovah? Because he can do what man cannot, as the following article will prove.
Questions in Review
□ What vital things have humans been unable to accomplish?
□ How has technology worsened the effects of war?
□ Why do human efforts so often fail?
□ In view of man’s record, what is the wise course?
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Medical science has not stemmed the tide of disease and death
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Human governments cannot eliminate global poverty