Declinism is the belief that a country or civilization is in decline. Today, many believe that things are indeed getting worse in the world. Is that thinking just so much collective pessimism, or is there really a decline?
In a 2017 article in Psychology Today entitled “Declinism: Why You Think America is in Crisis,” author Dale Archer, M.D. attempts to refute the idea that America is in decline. He talks about the economy, race relations, gender equality, LGBT rights, healthcare, and medical advances as proof that declinism is a false notion. He explains that the reason people believe in it is simply cognitive bias.
Psychologists say that humans tend to give more weight to negative thoughts and emotions than to positive ones. They label this tendency “cognitive bias” or negativity bias. When we view the present, we weigh negative things higher than positive. But, as we age and reminisce about the past, we remember the positive things more than the negative. So, when we compare the present to the past, our view of the past is more positive than that of the present. This then leads us to conclude: things are declining! Dr. Archer reasons that, according to the facts, things are actually better now than ever.
But is that really true? Doesn’t it depend on what you evaluate, and on your moral values and beliefs about right and wrong?
Dr. Archer says that we have better education than ever before. Education is readily available at technical schools, colleges, and universities with modern equipment and extensive libraries, with federal grants, loans, and work study programs to help pay the cost. True. But what values does this worldly education teach?
What about marriage? Family? Abortion? Homosexuality? Transgenderism? Ethics? Integrity? Morality? Whose standard of values should society accept as the “norm”? Better or worse depends on one’s viewpoint and moral standards, doesn’t it?
Is unrestrained sexual activity with anyone or anything, anywhere and at any time, good? Or is it evidence of moral decline? Is abortion on demand good? Or is it a sign of moral decline? Are lying, cheating, and stealing justifiable through “situational ethics” and OK if done “for some greater good”? Do you want to be lied to? Cheated on? Stolen from? Are these standards good, or are they really standards at all, compared to “older notions” of morality?
Transgenderism is really a lie. A person can alter their appearance via medical procedures, but their DNA doesn’t change. If they have a Y chromosome, they are genetically male. If they do not have an Y chromosome, they are not male, regardless of appearance. And the same is true for crossdressers. Their appearance is false, lying about their true gender. What confusion all these issues—and many others—cause for society!
Is the economy really good? Is economic prosperity only measured by gross domestic product? Would it not be prudent to consider the national debt load as well? Is 21 trillion dollars sustainable debt? What are the effects of unfunded mandates like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and a host of other social and welfare programs? How long can a nation survive under such debt? What will a dollar buy? And what is the impact of millions of immigrants and refugees on the nation’s economy, wages, housing, education, and services?
Is declinism real or imagined? Might some who deny the decline be ignoring the most important facts? There is a God who created all things, and He is working out a great purpose on this earth. He declared the end from the beginning. The following articles and booklet can broaden your perspective on this vital subject: “Why Is America Declining?”, “The Demise Of The West”, and The United States And Great Britain In Prophecy. All are free of charge at Tomorrow’s World.
Have you ever been rousted out of bed by an unexpected, urgent knock at your door? Instantly, your heart races and you hurriedly react. If this has happened to you, I hope it was a minor event that you handled in stride. In this age of rampant crime, including home invasions, the security alarm business prospers as people attempt to protect themselves and their property. Sophisticated systems are now available to let you know who is at your door, even when you are not at home.
Even the words of the Bible address this subject. For example, Jesus said it this way: “When the strong man in armour guards his homestead, his property is undisturbed…” (Luke 11:21 Moffatt New Translation). Solomon wisely gave this advice: “A prudent manforesees evil and hides himself…” (Proverbs 27:12).
Most people are mindful of their exposure to physical loss and try to prevent damage or injury or to provide for coverage. An array of insurance plans and warranties are available to accomplish this goal.
While we value physical safety and financial security, what about spiritual matters? Sadly, many appear to think less on the values and rules for living that affect each of us morally and spiritually. In the press of busy, activity-filled lives, we often overlook this vital dimension entirely or let it occupy a very minor role in our lives. This is not a new phenomenon. Solomon decried disinterest in spiritual awareness. He wrote, “Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?’” (Proverbs 1:20–22, New Revised Standard Version). In the marketplace, the halls of government, and in academia, it seems that knowledge or discussion of the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ as the Messiah is simply off limits. Many in the news media, entertainment, and the business community disdain any reference to the Creator.
Exceptions exist, of course, but they are few and feckless at best. Much of mainstream Christianity has begun to accept homosexuality, gender confusion, and related perversions as acceptable behavior, rejecting direct biblical prohibitions of such activity. Seemingly unending charges of sexual abuse and shocking admissions of wrongdoing plague many well-known religious denominations.
There is a groundswell of concern as people see their lives and culture being adversely affected by the deviate, profligate activities all around them. “What to do?” is a very relevant question at this juncture in history. The answers are found in a book that is probably on a bookshelf in their homes. The Prophet Isaiah made it very plain; “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6–7).
In dealing with the religious establishment of His day, Jesus bluntly quoted Isaiah: “…Hearing you will hear and shall not understand and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull.Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them” (Matthew 13:14–15).
The Living Church of God speaks and explains the Bible’s eternal truths regularly on television, over the Internet, and in print. If you are reading and understanding these important subjects, then God may be opening your mind—as only He can. With hearing and understanding these truths comes a responsibility.
Jesus’ words in the Book of Revelation bring a sharp focus: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:20–22).
Do you hear the knock?
The booklets, programs, and magazines provide at this website—without charge—will be valuable resources as God opens the door and you begin your journey in living His Way and answering His calling.
Summer, one of my favorite seasons, is waning in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s hot and humid here in the American South, but everything about it—family trips, Fourth of July celebrations, and even the weather—is a wellspring of memories for me.
One of my greatest joys was one many kids in the North American school system shared. That was the “release” from school and a few months to enjoy that “freedom” with warmth and enthusiasm! I fondly recall many summer experiences from playing outdoors with friends.
Looking back, I realize I’m not alone in saying that Summer was always over a little too quickly. Such is life—things we look forward to seem to arrive in hours but leave in minutes!
Very soon, another season will come and go in the blink of an eye, and may even go unnoticed by many people in the world. The season of the Feast of Tabernacles, spoken of in the Holy Bible and observed by Jesus Christ and His disciples (Leviticus 23:33–34; Zechariah 14; John 7), is coming.
Around the world, Christians in the Church of God are well into plans to go away from their homes for the Feast, which is not simply a holy time “for the Jews only” but a commanded assembly for any who seek to follow God and His word faithfully. Not all brethren the world over will be stepping from the physical season of Summer into the Fall festivals, but from Winter to Spring, or from rainy to dry or vice-versa (and what a great set of experiences for brethren from diverse places to share, if they meet at the Feast!). Solomon said there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3), and the Feast is time for a lot of things!
Where will you be as the winds, seas, or colors change, and the Feast of Tabernacles comes? Will it bring unique experiences? What sort of blessings will there be—and what trials will there be to overcome? Will you be keeping it at all?
The Feast will be a spiritual gathering, regardless of distance or physical season. No matter the differences of culture, language, or location, God’s people share the most important common grounds. They prepare physically and spiritually and are encouraged to reflect on God’s coming kingdom, pictured by the Feast, and make the most of the short time they’ll have to spend together. Each year, the Church of God encourages members to reach out. Cards, letters, and visits to shut-ins mean a great deal. Assisting someone in traveling or finding a place to stay at the festival sites the Church uses may “make their Feast.” It is up to each individual to act, but even in an imperfect world, there are many ways for people to stay connected.
Helping people confront challenges is a great way to glean even more meaning from the Holy Days—and is a commanded standard of life that goes beyond God’s festival seasons (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19). To that end, these days picture a time and season when God will fulfill His word, and when Christ’s rule on earth will ensure that all will receive help and understanding.
And the most important thing to remember when the season changes again, and this year’s Feast is over? That nothing will be more fleeting than this life’s trials once that timeless season is here.
Author’s Note: If you are new to the Church of God or Tomorrow’s World and would like to know more about the Feast of Tabernacles, please be sure to order or read online the booklet The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan. It could change your life.
This article began in beautiful British Columbia, one of my favorite places on this planet we call home. On my recent trip to Canada, I recorded three Canadian-version Tomorrow’s World telecasts, gave a Tomorrow’s World Presentation in Kelowna and also spoke by way of an Internet connection to our congregations in Western Canada. Then I took a few days off with friends at a remote lakeside cabin—where I find myself now, writing this letter to you.
Outside, I see majestic mountains and white fluffy clouds painted against a magnificent blue canvas. Have you ever considered how truly remarkable our earthly home is? It is so easy to take for granted, and no matter where you travel, you find earthly treasures abounding. There are tropical islands where delicious fruits hang from native trees. The cornfields of Iowa and Nebraska feed both man and beast. Then there are the towering snow-covered mountain ranges of Europe, Asia and South America, which provide water for lower regions during the heat of summer. We marvel at the strange, colorful creatures inhabiting our oceans. But we can still take it all for granted.
Life Out There?
I heard in grade school that life might be found on Mars or Venus, our closest neighbors, but such hopes were shattered decades ago by later scientific discoveries. Scientists are beginning to understand how unique our planet truly is. Many imagine that with so many galaxies, so many stars, and so many planets out there, life must exist somewhere else in our universe. However, the more scientists learn about the conditions needed to support life, even so-called primitive life, the slimmer the chances become. More importantly, there is the problem of how life could ever develop from non-living material anywhere. The odds against even a single protein evolving are astronomical. It is statistically impossible. No one has truly produced new life from non-living material, and no one can give a plausible explanation that stands up to scrutiny concerning how this ever could happen.
The fact that you are reading this magazine probably indicates you see the marvel of design in every living creature and recognize the need for a Creator, a Designer, a Life-giver. This brings me to a very important question: Why are we here?
At the Tomorrow’s World Presentation in Kelowna, I pointed out how few consider the meaning and purpose of life. Why did an intelligent Being put us here on this special place? Why are we even capable of considering such a question?
Few people invest time trying to discover the answer. Instead, they move from one exciting activity to another. They cheer for their favorite team and live for the next game. They make as much money as possible, buy as many toys as they can (or cannot) afford, and go along with the customs handed down to them. They are oblivious to the why question. Many try to live what they consider a “good life,” believing their feeble efforts may somehow give them life after death, but their decisions make it evident that life after death is not their top priority. Instead, they live a just-in-case life—that is, a life lived a certain half-hearted way “just in case” there is a God, and “just in case” there is life after death.
We exist because a Mind far greater than our own designed, engineered and created us. If that is true—and I believe most of you reading this article believe it is—then there must be a purpose. However, too few (perhaps including some of you) care enough to try to discover that purpose. How sad!
Many of our booklets, magazine articles and Tomorrow’s World telecasts address this subject. This is precious knowledge that I personally never learned in the mainstream churches I attended growing up, and I am certain you were not taught them where you attended Sunday services. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus has transcendent significance to every human being, even though most have little idea what all this means. But, what was the message Jesus brought prior to His death, burial and resurrection?
In passage after passage in what is called the New Testament of the Bible, we read about the Kingdom of God—but what does that mean? It is not what most church-goers think. It is not about going to heaven. It is not the great golf game, fishing excursion or marijuana patch in the sky. Instead, Jesus Christ taught His disciples that He would return and set up a kingdom on this earth, and we can have a part in ruling that kingdom with Him.
A man once came to Jesus asking, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” He was told to “keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16–17). This sounded simple enough, but by the end of the conversation, it was evident that the individual was not willing to go “all the way” to obey God. The man’s god was his money, and Jesus pointed out to His disciples how difficult it is for someone of wealth to put God first. This teaching stunned His disciples. They had given up all to follow Him and they wanted to know, essentially, what was in it for them (vv. 21–27).
Jesus replied, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (v. 28). This ought to create several questions in our minds. For example, were not ten of the twelve tribes lost in history, absorbed into other nations and peoples, as many claim? How, then, can there be twelve distinct tribes when Christ returns? Our booklet, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy, explains this mystery in detail.
We also read that King David will be resurrected to life and will rule over all twelve tribes of Israel (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 37:24). Verse 24 of Ezekiel 34 makes it clear that these passages are not referring to Christ, but to David himself, as it mentions both “the Lord” and David: “And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them….”
Jesus’ disciples first thought He would set up His kingdom during their lifetime, but He gave them a parable to dispel that idea (Luke 19:11–27). In the parable, rewards are given to those who actively obeyed the commands given to them. The first man multiplied the mina given to him tenfold. “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities’” (v. 17). The man who multiplied his mina fivefold was to receive rulership over five cities (v. 19).
We see this pattern in what is prophesied to come. When Christ returns, He will be King over all the earth (Zechariah 14:9). Under Him will be David over all twelve tribes of Israel. Under David will be Jesus’ twelve Apostles, each ruling over one of the twelve tribes. And then we find that others of the servants of God will rule various cities to bring peace and prosperity to this troubled world. Numerous scriptures point out that the reward of God’s servants will be on this earth (Revelation 5:10; Daniel 7:27).
This is only a small part of a much larger picture of why you were born. God has a great purpose in mind for you. Is it not time you discovered the meaning of your life?
If you would like to learn more—much more than you will learn in a Sunday-morning worship service—request our free booklet, Your Ultimate Destiny. The regional office nearest you, listed on page 4, would be delighted to send you a copy upon your request.
Prophetically significant winds of change are beginning to swirl ominously around the globe. Once-mighty Britain, which at one time controlled the greatest empire the world has ever seen, is exiting the European Union and now stands alone as a financially-strapped and increasingly insignificant island nation. America, still the only global superpower, is trillions of dollars in debt, torn by internal divisions, concerned about emerging threats from abroad, and seemingly intent on alienating its allies.
What has led to these dramatic reversals and what does the future hold for two nations that, along with their kindred countries, have dominated the world for two centuries? Are we approaching another critical turning point in world history? While scholars debate the meaning of these momentous changes, few today realize that Bible prophecies have long foretold these striking events would occur. The Bible also reveals why these notable shifts are happening and what lies ahead for the countries of what some call the Anglosphere—the English-speaking nations around the world.
Rising Chorus of Warnings
During the last several decades, a growing number of observers have focused on the troubling signs of decay spreading across the Western world—especially in the English-speaking nations. More than 20 years ago, Judge Robert Bork published Slouching Towards Gomorrah, a “book about American decline” that described America as a nation on a “downward trajectory” and “on the road to cultural disaster.” As a university professor in the 1960s, Judge Bork saw the ideas of political radicals permeate American society, spawning racial tensions, illegitimate births, widespread drug use, the uninhibited display of sexuality, and increasingly violent entertainment. His conclusion was “Gomorrah is our probable destination” (p. 343), referring to the ancient biblical city known as a center of debauchery, destroyed by God along with the city of Sodom (Genesis 19:24–25).
A few years later, English journalist Peter Hitchens published The Abolition of Britain, where he described the efforts of liberal politicians to overthrow accepted cultural traditions in Britain by undermining the foundations of marriage and family and normalizing pornography, prostitution and homosexuality. These would, he believed, put “a great civilization… on the edge of extinction” (p. xi). His concerns were echoed a decade later by Melanie Phillips, an award-winning columnist for London’s Daily Mail, in her book The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power. Ms. Phillips described how the spread of secular humanism, along with moral and cultural relativism, facilitated the rise of New Age cults and the return of paganism, witchcraft and astrology “in Britain’s multicultural nirvana,” and how the modern liberal attack on traditional Judeo-Christian values—which provided the foundation of Western civilization—is nothing more than a “Secular Inquisition” and “Cultural Totalitarianism” (pp. 97–98). Taken together, these sweeping changes have contributed to what her book describes as “Britain’s postwar cultural suicide” (p. xi).
In America, scholar, economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell published Dismantling America, in which he lamented the fact that many today are blind to the lessons of history and fail to see the parallels between the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and what is happening in America and the West. According to Sowell, we are watching “the degeneration of our culture” (p. viii). Patrick Buchanan, an advisor to three presidents, addressed the same subject in Suicide of a Superpower when he wrote, “America is coming apart…. Our nation is disintegrating ethnically, culturally, morally, politically…. What once united us is dissolving. And this is true of Western civilization” (pp. 2, 7). He cites the growing threat of runaway debt, the tragic death of a primarily Judeo-Christian culture in America, and the divisiveness spawned by the worship of diversity. Buchanan concludes, “America has taken on the aspect of a decadent society and a declining nation” (p. vii)—and as a result of the culture wars of the 1960s, America is “a house divided against herself” (p. 408) which will eventually fall (see Matthew 12:25).
The view of the road ahead for other Anglosphere nations is equally telling. BBC correspondent Nick Bryant notes that due to the “uncertainty in Westminster, and something nearing chaos in Washington… neither Britain nor America can boast strong and stable governments” (BBC.com, “The end of the Anglo-American order?,” June 9, 2017). He writes, “These English-speaking nations no longer speak with such a clarion voice [like Churchill’s], and the rest of the world no longer takes such heed.” In his book The Rise and Fall of Australia, Mr. Bryant notes that short-sighted leadership by self-promoting politicians has wasted many opportunities for the “land down under.” An article in The Brussels Journal entitled “The Decline of the English-Speaking World” states “the English-speaking world is leading the disintegration of the West, ideologically and demographically. The entire West is sick, but the Anglosphere is sicker than most.”
Cause and Effect—The Biblical Perspective
But what does the decline of the Anglosphere nations have to do with the Bible, and why is this happening now? Many today have forgotten that God guides the course of history (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32), and He alone can bring to pass what He has foretold (Isaiah 46:8–11). Moses recorded that the covenant God made with the ancient Israelites prophesied blessings for obedience and consequences for disobedience to His laws (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28). Just as the ancient Israelites turned away from God, so too have the modern descendants of Israel living in the nations of the Anglosphere. God prophesies of the Israelite nations that, as a result of turning away from God and His ways, “you will become utterly corrupt… and evil will befall you in the latter days” (Deuteronomy 31:27–29), which accurately describes what is happening today. Among the many outcomes that follow from disobeying God, we are told, “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower… [and] he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail… until you are destroyed” (Deuteronomy 28:43–45).
Isaiah anciently prophesied that the sinful nation of Israel had forsaken God and was sick from head to toe (Isaiah 1:3–6). These words well describe the modern Anglosphere nations today. The prophet proclaimed, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20), and the prophet Jeremiah stated repeatedly that the ancient Israelites would be punished because they had forgotten God and forsaken and perverted their ways (e.g., Jeremiah 2:13; 3:21). The Russian novelist, historian and social critic Alexander Solzhenitsyn echoed these same words when he commented in his 1983 Templeton Address that the unprecedented evils of the twentieth century were due to a simple fact: “Men have forgotten God, and that is why all this has happened.” The prophet Hosea foresaw a time when the Israelite people would view the laws of God as a “strange” thing (Hosea 8:12). Today in the Anglosphere nations, the biblical concept of marriage and Bible-based prohibitions such as those against adultery, fornication, swearing, and homosexuality are viewed as old-fashioned and repressive laws that must be eliminated—and we are seeing the tragic results.
We are heading toward Gomorrah, and the future is not good. Bible prophecies indicate that the British-descended nations that ignore the lessons of history will reap what they have sown (Galatians 6:7). The demise of the Anglosphere will be a sobering turning point in history and a lesson to the world (Deuteronomy 28:37).
On June 28, 2018, NewScientist magazine published an online article titled “A fine-tuned universe may be controversial but can’t be ignored.” What are they talking about?
The more that cosmologists and physicists have plumbed the depths of the laws governing our universe, the more they have been unsettled. They have found that the laws of nature seem to have been very finely tuned to make life possible. If just one of many constants and principles governing the cosmos were different by even the slightest amount, then life as we know it—in fact, life in the universe at all—could not exist!
When we examine the universe, it does not appear random and unplanned. Quite the contrary, it appears to have been designed to allow for life like ours to exist! One of the ways that design shows itself is through the numerous factors that must have been finely and precisely tuned to tailor a universe just for us.
The number of such cosmic “adjustments” that make our lives possible is far too large to exhaustively list them in this brief article. But let’s take the time to survey only a few of them and then consider what such fine-tuning implies.
A Universe Precisely “Dialed In” to Allow Life
For example, physicists have discovered that the ratios of the particle masses that make up the atom cannot vary by even the tiniest amount. If they did, then the lives of stars would be too short or, in the worst case, even atoms themselves could not exist. As Stephen Hawking once wrote in his book, A Brief History of Time, “The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life” (p. 125, emphasis ours).
Consider, as well, the “cosmological constant”—an obscure but vital number related to the “energy density” of the universe. Scientists were surprised to find that it was vastly lower than theories predicted, yet if this cosmic constant were not “finely tuned” to within 120 decimal places, then, according to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg, the universe would have long ago collapsed in on itself or else expanded so fast that no stars or galaxies could exist (“Life in the Universe,” Scientific American, 1994).
The list of such precisely “dialed in” numbers that make life possible is long! If the strength of gravity were larger, stars would burn too hot, too quickly, and too unevenly—yet if it were lower, stars would be too cool and would fail to begin the nuclear fusion essential for life. If the “ground state” energy level of the helium atom were slightly higher or lower, there would be insufficient carbon and oxygen in the universe for life. If the electromagnetic force did not have exactly the strength it does, then the chemical bonds that make life possible could not occur. Example after example exists in the sciences of such “coincidences”—where the numbers turn out “just right.”
Had these factors that constrain the forces and laws of the universe differed by only the tiniest of fractions, we simply could not exist. And yet, try as they might, physicists and cosmologists have yet to discover a convincing reason for why these conditions are so precisely fixed the way they are. To them, it remains a mystery for which they continue to seek a satisfying explanation.
Could it be random? Is it possible that we simply “got lucky” and just happen to have been given such a “Goldilocks universe”? Geoff Brumfiel, writing in the prestigious science magazine Nature, summarized what it means to live in a life-permitting universe such as our own: “If you believe the equations of the world’s leading cosmologists, the probability that the Universe would turn out this way by chance are infinitesimal—one in a very large number” (January 5, 2006).
An Infamous Atheist Changes His Mind
Antony Flew had been one of the most famous atheists in the world, writing many books and participating in public lectures and debates, arguing that God did not exist—even that the very idea of “God” was illogical.
Then, in the early-2000s, he changed his mind, to the shock and surprise of many. He summarized how he had arrived at his new conclusion in his 2008 book, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. In that book, written with co-author Roy Varghese, he details why he had to face the facts and admit the obvious: There truly must be a God behind the world we see around us.
In his chapter “Did the Universe Know We Were Coming?,” Flew discusses the sort of evidence we have described here, and summarizes the clear conclusion with a simple analogy.
Imagine, he suggests, that you stop at a hotel during a vacation trip, get a key, and head to your room. But as you enter the room and put your bags down, you begin to notice a number of remarkable coincidences. The music playing quietly in the room just happens to be your favorite music. You smell your favorite fragrance wafting through the air, and the room is stocked with your favorite beverages and your favorite snacks. The book on the desk just happens to be one by your favorite author, and the bathroom happens to be filled with your favorite products. The television is off, but when you turn it on, it is already set to your favorite channel.
Such a growing collection of “coincidences” would lead you to conclude that somehow the hotel management knew in advance that you were coming. And, as Flew argues, the far more numerous life-supporting “coincidences” we see in the world and cosmos around us should bring us to the same conclusion: Someone has arranged this universe especially for us.
Only a “Divine Mind”
Some have tried to dismiss the fine-tuned universe idea in a variety of ways, such as a hypothesized “multiverse” of multiple universes, in which ours just happens to be one that “works.” (Our November-December 2014 article “Do We Live in a Multiverse?” explores this issue.) Others have suggested that we shouldn’t be surprised that the universe suits us, no matter how utterly improbable it might be. After all, they argue, this arrangement of the universe may have been mind-bogglingly improbable, but if it had not turned out this way, we wouldn’t be here to wonder about how improbable it is!
In evaluating such responses, the one-time atheist notes that when such “answers” are examined closely, they simply fail to address the central question: No excuse or imagined scenario changes the fact that these laws of nature must be explained, and in Flew’s own words, “the only viable explanation here is the divine Mind.”
None of this should surprise students of the Bible. We are told by the prophet Isaiah that the Eternal One “who created the heavens” is also the One “who did not create [the earth] in vain, who formed it to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18). His intention from the beginning was to give you a universe in which you could live and come to know Him—to create a home for the works of His hands.
In reality, the universe is made for you in more ways than one. In creating the cosmos around us, the Creator has done far more than craft a finely tuned environment that affords us an opportunity to live out our brief, physical lives. For those who spend the time they are given seeking His will and His way, the universe is more than a temporary home. It is an inheritance.
Do you ever get tired of hearing about all the struggles that so many people face in our world? One day, you hear that three in ten people don’t have access to good, safe water in their homes. That’s 2.1 billion people. The next day, you read that in Ghana, 36 percent of public schools lack toilet facilities. Then, you see a YouTube video highlighting the lack of electricity typical in many corners of the world, making it virtually impossible for vast numbers of people to enjoy so much of the modern way of life that is familiar to the rest of us. What do you think about when you are confronted with the reality of a struggling world?
The Pressure to Give Up
When we are children, we are largely oblivious of the world around us. We have a small bubble of awareness that includes our family, our toys, our friend Timmy and our dog Rover. But as we grow older, we become aware of a larger world, and in that world, we see that some people have far fewer blessings than we do. We see a homeless man in a doorway when we’re riding down a city street. We see a woman with a cardboard sign asking for food at an intersection. And perhaps we drive through a part of town where the buildings look run-down, and we wonder about the people who live there. But it is hard to see what we can do to help—how we can make a difference.
As we grow yet older, we learn more about the breadth of humanity’s problems. We see pictures of refugees, starving children, and drought-afflicted villages. And we can feel overwhelmed by the scope of human suffering. We also learn from the prophecies of the Bible that mankind’s suffering will increase right before Christ’s return. We read Matthew 24, and see that Christ prophesied mankind would have a history of suffering and struggle, culminating in the greatest time of trouble man has ever known. And, again, we can feel overwhelmed. But should we just give up? Should we just say, “There’s nothing I can do, so I’ll just do nothing?”
What do we see in God’s word? Does He direct us to “give up” helping others? Not if we look at Christ’s example. In Luke 18:22–23, Jesus sought to teach a wealthy gentleman about priorities. He pointed the young man to consider the needy and turn to Him. Paul taught the Church to be generous and helpful to those in need, as we read in his words to the Galatians: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
So, how can you “do good”? How can you make “good news”? What can you imagine and create that will bring help to others in need? Some of the best news today is about people who are using their creativity and ingenuity to make life better for those who need help the most.
Here’s an example of two people who made good news. Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker are two South Africans who were concerned about the struggle many face to bring water to their homes. Every day, millions of people around the world spend a significant portion of their day carrying heavy containers of water on their heads from a village water source to their homes, sometimes kilometers away. The majority of these people are women. This duo had grown up on farms in rural areas, had seen this vexing problem and wanted to do some good. At first they tried to convert a 100-liter plastic barrel into a wheelbarrow, using the benefit of a low center of gravity to maximize the amount of water that could be moved. But the most expensive part of the project was the wheel. In a creative twist, they realized that the barrel itself could be the wheel!
The result? Today, their “Hippo Roller” is used in over 20 countries, and 50,000 blue “Hippo Roller” barrels roll down dusty roads in villages from Africa to South America. How beneficial is this? Consider the scope of the problem. According to WaterAid, a charity that works to improve access to water and better hygiene and sanitation, one in nine people in our world do not have access to water close to home—more than 800 million people, based on the world’s current population. When you consider the time and energy spent walking miles every day to obtain water for drinking, sanitation and gardening, the extent of the challenge becomes more clear. At the same time, good solutions that help to overcome this challenge become even more exciting.
Other innovative ways to collect, move and use water are equally promising. On mountaintops in Chile, villagers have installed nets to collect water from mist, alleviating local drought conditions and providing thousands of gallons of water every year. Other creative inventors have developed the “LifeStraw,” a simple handheld device enabling millions to filter water for drinking.
But the needs of many who are suffering go beyond water. For example, Jessica Matthews experienced the reality of living without consistent electricity when she visited her family in Nigeria. Challenged in a college course to address a key problem in developing countries, she and three other students invented the “Soccket”—a soccer ball that produces electricity! It’s only an ounce heavier than an ordinary soccer ball, but inside it carries a pendulum that captures the kinetic energy that is generated as the ball is kicked and moves around. This drives a motor, which charges a battery. One hour of play produces enough energy to power an LED lamp for three hours!
Jessica didn’t stop there. She also developed a jump rope that produces four times the power of a “Soccket,” using the kinetic energy from the rope’s rotations.
A Future Making Good News
The point is this: If you dream of a way to help others, through service or creative inventions, there are plenty of ways to “make good news” today! Many of us will never invent a new technology, but in a world of darkness, unhappiness and suffering, simply providing a helping hand reflects a good and godly mindset. Christ’s compassionate mindset motivated Him to heal the sick and encourage the poor.
Even more exciting is this: Our future will be full of “making good news.” The very best news we can give today is that Christ will return to our war-torn, poverty-ridden world. He will establish His Kingdom. And when that time arrives, each day will be full of more good news. The prophet Isaiah was inspired to write of that time, that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). That knowledge will include an understanding of every facet of how our environment works. We will show how to make our world into a Garden of Eden, with abundant water, proper sanitation and the power needed to build a godly, productive civilization. We’ll be able to develop creative solutions to daily challenges. Making good news will become a way of life.
What would you do if you became sick with a bacterial infection like tetanus, tuberculosis or strep throat? Today, a doctor would prescribe a course of antibiotics—but what if there were no “miracle drug” available? Would there be anything else to treat you? This was the situation up until 75 years ago, when the first antibiotic, penicillin, began to be mass-produced.
Since then, the impact of penicillin has been almost incalculable, and the drug is credited with saving an estimated two hundred million lives. Named after the fungal mould penicillium notatum, from which it is derived, penicillin acts by destroying the cell walls of bacteria, making it a formidable antibiotic in addressing infection. However, with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria making the arsenal of such drugs increasingly ineffective, we now face a return to the pre-penicillin era, with few viable “medical” defenses at all. Will science discover some new “superdrug” in the fight against disease? Or might there be an even more powerful means of preventing and addressing diseases, one that has been overlooked?
The British bacteriologist Alexander Fleming is said to have discovered the antibiotic qualities of penicillin by accident in 1928. Apparently, Fleming left a petri dish smeared with staphylococci (or simply “staph”) bacteria in his laboratory while he was away on a two-week holiday, and the petri dish grew a fungus that killed the staph bacteria around it.
Fleming soon identified and isolated the effective component, but he had difficulty extracting significant quantities of penicillin beyond his experimental needs. It wasn’t until 1939 that scientist Howard Florey and biochemist Ernst Chain furthered Fleming’s research and produced penicillin in much larger quantities. In 1942, penicillin was first used successfully on a patient with septicaemia, successfully treating the infection and saving her life.
The Second World War provided essential motivation and financial support for the mass production of penicillin. By 1944, the Allies possessed sufficient penicillin to treat soldiers with infected battlefield injuries and return them to the front line.
In 1945, Fleming, Florey and Chain were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of penicillin and its effectiveness in treating various infectious diseases. That same year, Fleming issued an insightful warning about the future use of antibiotics. “Man may easily underdose himself,” he cautioned, “and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.”
The last 75 years have shown Fleming’s prediction to be true. Today, antibiotics are becoming less effective, as superbugs become more prevalent. The overuse of these medicines and the failure of patients to finish their prescribed courses of antibiotics have resulted in the exact scenario Fleming predicted. Antibiotics have also been applied extensively in agriculture, on both plants and animals, contributing to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. According to a report by The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, 700,000 people die every year because of drug resistance, and by 2050 this number is expected to rise to 10 million.
In the 2016 Tomorrow’s World article “Superbugs! The End of the Antibiotic Era,” author John Meakin highlighted a sobering observation from Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. In a speech in October 2015 to the World Health Summit, she said, “Antimicrobial resistance has become a major health and medical crisis. If current trends continue, this will mean the end of modern medicine as we know it.” Here in the U.K., Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, recently warned that the world is facing an “apocalyptic scenario” as we are fast running out of effective antibiotics.
Penicillin, identified in Alexander Fleming’s petri dish, originated from a fungus that grew from spores in the air. In their search today for new antibiotics, scientists are testing microbes from sources as diverse as the soil, cave deposits, the Arctic seabed, leaf-cutter ants from the Amazon and even Komodo dragon blood. Malacidins found in soil have been tested successfully on several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to most existing antibiotics, including the superbug MRSA. Scientists have also developed some synthetic antibiotics, but most are semi-synthetic, meaning they are modifications of various natural compounds. Even if new antibiotics are found, development and clinical testing take many years before a product reaches the market. Also, pharmaceutical companies know that antibiotics are not a high-profit item and may only be effective for five to ten years before resistant strains of diseases develop.
What God Makes Available
All the potential new sources of antibiotics have one thing in common with Fleming’s discovery: They are derived from the physical world around us. Yet, as the Bible explains, that world has a Creator! Ultimately God is the creator of everything. Alexander Fleming recognised and researched the attributes of something present in God’s creation, but why do we not think one step further: Why not look to God Himself? God is far more powerful than any and all diseases—and any and all antibiotics. The Bible proclaims a benefit available to those who seek God: He is our healer (Psalms 103:2–3). He can “make us whole” again, in all senses of the word.
It is in God’s power to heal. When the ancient Israelites left Egypt to become God’s nation, He promised to spare them from the Egyptian diseases of the day, provided they obeyed Him (Exodus 15:26). As long as they kept God in the picture, He promised to be a source of healing for them (Exodus 23:35).
Today, it is no different. What should you do if you get sick? Does it make sense to look only to man’s “wonder drugs,” when we can have access to our Creator? Shouldn’t we involve God in our health and healing if He is at the centre of our lives? Here is what He tells us today: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:14–16).
The future looks dire when it comes to our battle against disease if we rely solely on the ingenuity of man (Matthew 24:7–8), but God can provide healing for those who seek Him in faith as their first priority (Matthew 9:27–30).
Mankind has benefitted greatly from being able to kill many pathogens that otherwise would kill us. But that ability has its limits. Yet we must remember that God has authority over all diseases! He is willing to play a role in our health and fitness if we seek to know Him and please Him in all aspects of our lives. If you would like to learn more about the vital subject of God’s healing, read our free booklet Does God Heal Today? You can request it or read it online at TomorrowsWorld.org.