We live in a strange time. To our ancestors I am sure it would be somewhat intimidating. Most of the things that they feared have been conquered by science and industry. The things that would have shaken the heart of the bravest man are dismissed with disdain. Diseases like influenza, smallpox, measles, and polio have been all but eradicated. Elusive destinations like Mount Everest, the North and South Poles, and even Mars have been reached. Technology has left us with an existence nearly devoid of struggle. Phrases like "wash day", "make hay while the sun shines", and "a woman's work is never done" are throwbacks to a life nearly forgotten. Can you imagine what a person from even one hundred years ago would think of wind farms or genetic engineering?
Are there yet any trials to prove mankind? The answer is easily voiced. Of course. We have diseases like cancer, ebola, and aids to remind us of our fragility. Planets are waiting to be explored. Inventions are ongoing.
Perhaps a better question would be, What caused the last two hundred years of massive improvement? After thousands years of human history our existence had changed very little. The greater part of this global advancement has happened in the last one hundred years. My opinion is that the Bible changed our world.
How then does a book change the world? It is in material just a parchment, a stack of paper, a scroll. In it's content, a series of lines, dots, and spaces. These are placed strategically to in an accepted pattern to form words.
These words then become a conveyance for the most basic and yet complex form of communication known to man. The strength of these words lies in their ability to transfer the feelings and ideas from the mind of one being to the mind of another. A writer must not forget this one principle truth. A book that does not convey thought is just paper covered in ink. A book can only be effective if it is more than a book. It can only be effective if it is an idea.
Ideas have changed human history so many times. Tesla's idea of alternating current, Galileo's planetary theory, and Einstien's mathematical contributions were pinnacles of scientific research. William Tyndale's belief in the education of the common man and Roger William's stand on the liberty of conscience were equally monumental to our social development. Ideas however have not always changed us for the better. Hitler implemented the Master Race idea and changed the landscape of Europe forever. Stalin's idea, (Socialism) destroyed the very people it claimed to protect. Millions of innocents perished from these two ideas. Our conclusion is that bad ideas can be as damaging as good ideas can be beneficial.
How then do we determine the value of an idea? God's Word dedicates an entire book to this principle. The book of Proverbs is written by a man whom the Bible alleges was the wisest who ever existed. King Solomon presided over a kingdom that was the greatest power in the world in it's day. Though imperfect at best it is the only example of a peaceful and benevolent empire in history. He wrote timeless statements such as, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction", "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it", and "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender". His book is especially applicable to our narrative because of it's social implications. Solomon's kingdom was marked by monetary prosperity, scientific advancement, and the lack of a major military conflict. It's social value can be seen in what is assumed as well as what is written. Almost every proverb that Solomon relates is to the individual. Proverbs 22:3 " A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. " Pro 6:1-2 "My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth." What is it that the book of Proverbs assumes? It assumes personal responsibility and the liberty to gain the reward of or suffer loss from our decisions. To the writer this right is given by God and it is as natural as heat in Summer and snow in Winter.
You may notice that both of the more modern ideas that changed our world for the good shared this principle. It can be briefly described by the term, "Soul Liberty". William Tyndale believed in man's right to educate himself. Roger Williams believed in man's right to govern his actions. Soul Liberty is described in America's own Declaration of Independence when it states that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are God given and unalienable rights.
It is relevant to note that the worst ideas of the last century also bear a common and quite opposite thread. They both put forth conformity and the collective good as social models superior to liberty and individual freedom. These ideas assume that a small group of intellectuals know what is best for the fictitious entity they create and protect. They call it, "The Public". What is good for "The Public" is, more often than not, very bad for the individual. Mass expanses of "public" land deny individuals the right to own their own land. "Common Core" education denies the individuals right to determine educational values for their children. Welfare takes from those who make good decisions and gives to those who make poor decisions. Under the guise of "Public Safety" the E.P.A. is taking away water rights from the individual. Public healthcare laws mandate that the individual must pay for services whether they use them or not. Our nation is embracing bad ideology before our very eyes.
Are there yet any trials to prove mankind? The trial facing mankind today is the same one that faced our fathers before us. It is the defense of Individual Liberty. Will we give in to the collective ideal? Will we accept that our nation's "progressive" social agenda is better for us than freedom? I for one have a high view of freedom. I think it works pretty well. From Solomon's Kingdom to Washington's America I know of no other free society. When I look through my history books at those years I am glad I do not live in them. America is an Idea you see. It is a Biblical idea and I believe it is a good one.