Thursday, June 11, 2015


Has humankind advanced?

It depends upon that which you are measuring.
Scientifically are we advanced?  By leaps and bounds.  Morally, ethically, civilly have we improved?  There is much to debate.
The 19th and 20th century are often considered the bloodiest ever.  I remember hearing in grade school the evil Romans used to toss their deformed babies over a cliff.  Today we regularly end the life of our perfectly healthy children in the womb.  But that we still have a strong call for abortions in the first place is a sign that things are terribly wrong. 


I used to chuckle superiorly about the silly pioneers who used to throw their trash right out of their windows surrounding themselves in filth.  But we pollute ourselves no less and in fact much more.  Genocide still occurs. One third of the world is dying from hunger while another third dies from over eating.  The Christian Church (a place of unity in Christ) is fractured and we can no longer enter Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north, without a passport and a purpose.  (I went recently just to pop over and see the falls and MAYBE spend the night.  Wrong answer.  I was detained at the boarder for an hour.  Our friendly neighbor is now the grumpy guy with the cane who wants you to stay off of his lawn.)

This is not to depress but to point out something important.  Our progress as a species should not be based upon the tricks that we can do.  It should be about where our minds and hearts as a people are.  Until we advance in love, peace, and unity, we haven’t really advanced at all.  We have simply learned new tricks and made ourselves feel better.
That is the importance of our faith.  Every week we remind ourselves of this and strive to be better, to fess up when we mess up, and do our best to make amends.  To remind ourselves that it is not enough to be able to do new tricks but to stop and think if the new trick is worth doing.  Medical advances don’t mean much if it is not accompanied by compassion.  We can’t save someone we think “worth it” while tossing those we don’t want over a cliff.  There is no advancement there. 
Even more basically: it reminds us that there IS something toward which we may progress.  If this is all an accident of moving particles, then there is no real goal to reach.  But we say that there is an ideal on which to keep our eye.  This is our hope for a better more advanced world.


MaryofSharon said...

What arrogance to think that just because we are further along on the timeline of history that we are somehow better in every way. A quick look at modern music, art, literature, and architecture should make it easy to see that we have regressed or spun out of control in a lot of ways.

I really like what Peter Kreeft has to say about it in his chapter from the book Dis-Orientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind. You can read his whole chapter over at Catholic Educational Resources: " Progressivism: The Snobbery of Chronology".

He says something really interesting there about how people haven't always thought so highly of that which is modern:
"One of the causes of chronological snobbery is a reaction to the opposite superstition, which often clouded the judgment of our ancestors: that 'new' equals 'false' and 'true' equals 'old.'

Colby said...

One of your best ever!

jan said...

I agree with Colby; One of your best ever!