What Does The Future Hold

What Does The Future Hold

Frederick A. Tatford

The constant turmoil in Africa, the uneasy conditions of the Middle East, and the bloodshed and strife in the Far East cause many to view the future with the utmost perturbation. Are we teetering on the brink of a third world war? Will Russia precipitate a holocaust which no one wants and everyone fears? These are not idle questions.

The threat of future trouble is no empty one. In the arsenals of the great powers there is a total explosive power equivalent to a million megatons of T.N.T. The stockpile of nuclear weapons is sufficient to destroy the whole of the population of the world 50,000 times over, and this takes no account of the suffering which might be inflicted earlier by bacteriological and biological warfare.

The problems of the present day are not merely military ones, however. The world is rapidly running out of the oxygen essential to life. Apart from human beings, every factory, car, ship and airplane reduces the supply. A 707 jet, for example, burns 35 tons of oxygen every time it crosses the Atlantic, while a jumbo jet consumes more than 50 tons of oxygen. And, at any one moment, around the world, there are over 3,000 jets in the air. Yet at the same time, we are thoughtlessly cutting down the forests which provide much of our oxygen. Dr. Lloyd Berkner pertinently utters the warning that we cannot hope to survive if we continue to behave as we are doing.

At present, 50 per cent of the population of the world have a food intake with a total calories content of less than 2,000 a day; 80 per cent of Indian children suffer from protein deficiency. Yet the population goes on steadily increasing. In The Environment Game, Nigel Calder (formerly the editor of The New Scientist) questions whether man can last much longer unless he can replenish his food supplies. It is too late now to look to natural resources and, if world famine is to be avoided, it will be necessary to depend upon the chemical manufacture of food and particularly of proteins.

In The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich estimates that the population of the world will double itself in the next quarter of a century, and that the next half a century after that will create problems, not only of food, but of living space. Nature strongly resents overcrowding.

One of the greatest current problems is, of course, that of pollution. Dr. John Holloway, of Cambridge University, writing on the subject, asks, “How crazy can the world get? No rational man would actually set up conditions in which his very food and water were constantly polluted, his children killed and injured, and his whole environment rendered fouler all the time — not through his failures, but through his very efforts and so-called advances.” One writer pertinently comments, “Man has fouled his own nest and will drown in his own sewage before the century is out.” G. R. Taylor’s Doomsday Book gives ample reasons for the doubts and uncertainties existing.

In his book, Can Man be Modified? Prof. Jean Rostand points out that we are culturing new viruses and seeking new mutants, but if a dangerous new mutant escaped, it could conceivably set off a universal epidemic, against which the population would be helpless since the natural defence systems would be unable to cope with it. This is not an empty dread. Prof. Salvador Lucia, a specialist in virology, frankly confesses to a feeling of tremendous fear regarding the future.

Prof. Bentley Glass declares that we may discover how to cultivate the reproductive cells of men and animals, to produced normal human embryos and raise them in artificial cultures. We may modify genetic features and improve genetic stock. We will soon be able to modify the mind and to enhance intelligence, to clone animals and men. But we may be making a bigger mistake than Prometheus when he stole fire from heaven to give to men. Sir Macfarlane Burnet, the Australian scientist who won a Nobel prize for his work on tissue transplants, aptly remarks, “It is becoming all too evident that there are dangers in knowing what should not be known.” We may be prying into secrets hidden by the Creator.

By 2000 A.D. we will probably be generating electricity by solar cells. Hypersonic aircraft will be transporting us to Australia in an hour. Underground railways will blow pneumatic trains through tunnels with compressed air. We will carry small radio sets on our wrists like wristwatches, to receive and transmit messages. We will be using plastics in housing instead of wood and metal. We will be able to wear an exoskeleton to amplify our physical powers. We will have sperm banks for A.I.D., frozen embryos for prospective parents, and artificial placenta to avoid the disadvantages of the gestation period.

In his Biological Time Bomb, however, G. Rattray Taylor warns that the social disorientation resulting from biological developments may seriously undermine the social cohesion of Western countries, and that the disorientation of society may lead to the disorientation of personality. “There are already signs of such personal nihilism in society today,” he says, and it is particularly evidenced in the younger generation. The old mores are breaking up. In Future Shock, Alvin Toffler, approaching the matter from the angle of the rapid increase in knowledge, comes to very much the same conclusion. We are rapidly invoking the Divine judgment of which Amos spoke.

All in all, we are living in one of the most critical periods of history. The degree of instability is greater than ever it has been before and, on every side, people are asking what — if anything — the future holds. It is at such a time as this that we turn back to the reliable revelation of Holy Writ. Has the Bible a message for the present day? It has! The judgment of the guilty is inescapable, but the Bible declares categorically that the final solution to human and universal problems is in Jesus Christ, that peace will be brought to the warring nations by His intervention, that law and order will be restored to a disordered world by His power, that the hopes and aspirations of the human breast will be satisfied by His unveiling, that wrongs will be righted and evil checked by His restraint. The Scriptures disclose that the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth, is to be the enthroned Sovereign of the universe, with every tongue acclaiming His worth. In that day, all will hail Him as King.

But these sacred pages also assert that the suffering church in China, the poverty-stricken Christian in India, the persecuted believer in Russia, the millions of waiting saints throughout the world, will soon behold the Saviour whom they adore. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And so will we ever be with the Lord..”

This is our hope and our confident expectation. Christ is coming — and coming soon! Today we bow in worship and adoration at His feet. Tomorrow we may stand in His presence and gaze upon His face.

I am waiting for the coming
Of the Lord who died for me,
Oh, His words have thrilled my spirit,
“I will come again for thee.”
Faith can almost hear His footfall
On the threshold of the door,
And my heart, my heart is longing
To be with Him evermore.