A World in Need of Rescue!
Seven Grave Developments
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A World in Need of Rescue!: Seven Grave Developments
We live in a time that can be called the technological age—a period of stunning discoveries, constant scientific breakthroughs and yet appalling and frightening evils. What does this mean? Where is all of this headed? What does the Bible say about it?
Like the Greek mythical story of Pandora, who out of curiosity opened the forbidden box of secrets and unleashed destructive plagues, we see the scientific world delving unrestrained, whether out of curiosity or the pursuit of fame or profit, into more perilous fields of scientific endeavor. Now that the world is largely connected via the Internet, the pace of scientific discovery—and its accompanying dangers—is accelerating.
We are in a time of tremendous progress, but also great moral and spiritual regression. We must protect ourselves and our families from the perils around us.
As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists commented this year: “One of the purposes of the Bulletin was to respond and offer solutions to the ‘Pandora’s box of modern science,’ recognizing the speed at which technological advancement was occurring, and the demanding questions it would present” (2017 Doomsday Clock Statement, University of Chicago, emphasis added throughout).
Here we will look at seven modern dangers that, if unchecked, could bring destruction to human civilization. These seven menaces, among others, are converging and producing a harmful multiplier effect on society. Indeed, all seems too far gone on a runaway course, so that only God can save us.
Such factors are leading to a period foretold by Jesus Christ of unprecedented peril and suffering: “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days”—that is, He will prevent events from running their course to where they would go if not stopped (Mark 13:19-20).
Yes, there is hope for mankind. God will intervene in world affairs to save humanity from the great corruption and destruction these hazardous innovations are fomenting. He will also protect His own followers while these events are happening.
Here, then, are seven great dangers mankind is facing.
1. Proliferation of nuclear arms
After a lull during the Cold War (1945-1991), now, with a more permissive, information-laden and war-weary world, numerous nations—some quite unstable—are acquiring nuclear bombs. Currently there are more than 15 thousand nuclear weapons in the world’s arsenal, enough to destroy all people from the face of the globe. In fact, scientists calculate that most of mankind and the ecosystem would largely be destroyed by using only a hundred nuclear bombs, or less than 2 percent of this total!
Writing for Global Zero, an organization committed to eliminating nuclear weapons, Ryan Rastergar reports: “A 2014 report published in the journal Earth’s Future found that even a regional war of 100 nuclear detonations would produce 5 teragrams of black soot (that’s 5,000,000,000 kg!) that would rise up to Earth’s stratosphere and block sunlight. This would produce a sudden drop in global temperatures that could last longer than 25 years and temporarily destroy much of the Earth’s protective ozone layer.
“This could also cause as much as an 80% increase in UV radiation on Earth’s surface and destroy both land and sea-based ecosystems [including the plant and animal life within them] potentially leading to global nuclear famine” (“How Many Nukes Would It Take to Render Earth Uninhabitable?” GlobalZero.org, July 9, 2015).
Nuclear proliferation, the spreading of nuclear arms among nations, is becoming more widespread. Atomic weapons used to be limited to a small, exclusive club—the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain and France. Then, a few more joined the group—India, Pakistan and Israel. But now, North Korea, an unstable dictatorship, also possesses them, and Iran will likely join this fraternity soon. Who knows how many other neighboring countries, feeling threatened by these new nuclear upstarts, are preparing their own nuclear programs as self-defense?
This is affecting the political and military stability of Asia, the Middle East, Europe, America and other parts of the world—for the intercontinental missiles North Korea is developing can potentially reach almost every continent.
This is not doom-and-gloom talk. This is the reality of what many scientists and political leaders are constantly stressing. That famous doomsday clock in Chicago, where scientists record how close mankind is to a human-caused global catastrophe, has been advanced in 2017 to two and a half minutes to midnight (it was six minutes to midnight as recently as 2010).
The scientists in charge warned: “During the past year, the need for leadership only intensified—yet inaction and brinksmanship have continued, endangering every person, everywhere on Earth. Who will lead humanity away from global disaster? . . . The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon. In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent’” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2017 Official Statement, pp. 3, 8).
This dire situation is especially the case since North Korea has stepped up its nuclear threats, Iran is close to developing its own nuclear bombs, global terrorism is multiplying, political instability is widespread, and nuclear accidents are becoming increasingly possible as more impoverished nations acquire them. The “nuclear genie” is out of the bottle, and no one has been able to put it back in. And now these “nuclear genies” are appearing in so-called rogue states!
2. Biological weapons
The second greatest menace to mankind are the biological weapons being produced. With advances in biology, more manmade viruses are being created that can propagate around the world, by intentional or unintentional means, causing deadly diseases that could wipe out the human race.
“For the past 50 years or so,” relates Steven Block in American Scientist magazine, “the world has lived under the shadow of atomic weapons, threatening a ‘nuclear nightmare’ that would bomb us back to the Stone Age. The recent revolution in molecular biology may have incidentally unleashed a new threat to a peaceful night’s sleep with ‘living nightmares’: genetically modified viruses and microorganisms that could be used to develop new biological weapons.
“Biological weapons have been called ‘the poor man’s atom bomb.’ By any measure, the economic outlay required to develop offensive bioweapons capabilities is significantly less than that of a nuclear program” (“The Growing Threat of Biological Weapons,” January 2001).
Recently, Bill Gates, one of the founders of Microsoft, warned, “All these advances in biology have made it far easier for a terrorist to recreate smallpox, which is a highly fatal pathogen, where there is essentially no immunity remaining at this point . . .
“Whether the next epidemic is unleashed by a quirk of nature or the hand of [a] terrorist, scientists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year. So the world does need to think about this” (quoted by Sarah Knapton, “Bill Gates: Terrorists Could Wipe Out 30 Million People by Weaponising a Disease Such as Smallpox,” The Daily Telegraph, April 19, 2017).
In the book of Revelation, deadly diseases and other scourges are depicted in the end times as a fourth horseman riding upon the earth. It’s stated: “I looked, and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades [the grave] followed him. They were given authority over one-fourth of the earth to kill people using wars, famines, plagues, and the wild animals of the earth” (Revelation 6:8, International Standard Version).
3. Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering on human beings, animals, bacteria, viruses and even foods, through gene editing and cloning, can unleash serious unintended consequences that could potentially destroy much of life as we know it. So far, 22 different animals have been cloned, including cats, dogs, goats, horses and monkeys—and human beings may not be far behind.
“Genetic engineering is a revolutionary new technology” notes Ronnie Cummins, “that is still in its early experimental stages of development. This technology has the power to break down the natural genetic barriers—not only between species—but between humans, animals, and plants. Randomly inserting together the genes of non-related species—utilizing viruses, antibiotic-resistant genes, and bacteria as vectors, markers, and promoters—permanently alters their genetic codes” (“Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods and Crops,” In Motion, Aug. 29, 1999).
When God created life on earth, He established genetic walls to keep distinct kinds of creatures from mixing and creating aberrant copies of themselves. Different species have a wide variety of adaptability in order to survive environmental changes, but there is a genetic barrier they can’t naturally cross.
For instance, Genesis 1:24-25 states: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
The genetic barriers between differing creatures allows each to reproduce “according to its kind.” The principle is also found in Leviticus 19:19: “You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed.”
But now mankind has found ways to break down genetic walls and combine diverse genetic codes. What will be the outcome? It’s too soon to tell, but we are seeing more strange lab experiments creating weird creatures and plants, such as chimeras (human cells mixed with animal embryos), glow-in-the-dark cats, poisonous cabbages, and banana vaccines, to name a few, and the cloning of human embryos is already a reality.
In his famous 1932 novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley warned of what genetic engineering could one day produce—artificially designed and cloned test-tube babies—all programmed to fit a rigidly supervised society, which turns out to be a spiritual and moral aberration. We are just beginning to travel down that road, and indications are we will continue to do so—unless Jesus Christ intervenes in time.
4. Artificial intelligence
Computers are becoming so powerful and are being given such decision-making capabilities that they are gradually becoming more independent of their programmers.
Elon Musk, of SpaceX and Tesla automobile fame, who uses artificial intelligence in some of his cars, warned that artificial intelligence is “potentially more dangerous than nukes [nuclear weapons],’ imploring all of humankind ‘to be super careful with AI [Artificial Intelligence],’ unless we want the ultimate fate of humanity to closely resemble Judgment Day from Terminator [a Sci-Fi movie]” (Sebastian Anthony, “Elon Musk Warns Us That Human-Level AI Is ‘Potentially More Dangerous Than Nukes,’” Extreme Tech, Aug. 4, 2014).
He later added, “Competition for AI superiority at national level [is the] most likely cause of WW3 [World War III]” (quoted by James Poulus, “Are We Being Softened Up for Artificial Intelligence?” Orange County Register, Sept. 10, 2017, p. 4).
In fact, just recently two robots, called “bots,” actually created a way of communicating with each other without the help of people—the first sign of computer independence.
“At one point, the researchers write they had to tweak one of their models,” notes Adrienne LaFrance, “because otherwise the bot-to-bot conversation ‘led to divergence from human language as the agents developed their own language for negotiating.’
“They had to use what’s called a fixed supervised model instead. In other words, the model that allowed two bots to have a conversation—and use machine learning to constantly iterate strategies for that conversation along the way—led to those bots communicating in their own non-human language” (“An Artificial Intelligence Developed Its Own Non-Human Language,” The Atlantic, June 15, 2017).
An even more shocking AI achievement occurred recently when a computer named “AlphaGo Zero” improved its learning abilities in an Asian game called “Go” (somewhat similar to chess) without the aid of human beings.
As The Economist magazine noted: “AlphaGo Zero discovered the standard joseki [Go moves] taught to human players. But it also discovered, and eventually preferred, several other [moves] that were entirely of its own invention . . . The result was a program that is not just superhuman, but crushingly so . . .” (“Going Places,” Nov. 21, 2017, p. 77).
The danger is of losing control of such machines, like a Frankenstein monster that eventually turns against its own creator. Some computer scientists dread the day when a super-intelligent computer with self-learning abilities and a will to win connects to the Internet and uses it as a data bank to begin making decisions for itself and possibly even controlling such things as electrical power plants, banking, and nuclear arsenals, thus effectively holding the world hostage.
Despite these threats, the most powerful governments and corporations are in a mad rush, because of the profitable “first move advantage” they would have, to come up with the first computer with artificial intelligence to match or outperform a human being.
The Bible warns us that in the last days two characteristics would be evident that would produce a knowledge explosion—worldwide travel and a multiplying of information. As Daniel 12:4 says: “But you, Daniel, keep these words secret, and seal the book until the end times. Many will travel everywhere, and knowledge will grow” (God’s Word Version).
5. The dark side of the Internet—undermining morality
Another invention that is having a profound effect on humanity is the Internet. It truly is a two-edged sword—it can provide a lot of useful information, but there is a dark side that has a corrupting power like nothing else ever made. Unfortunately, according to statistics, 30 percent of Internet content is pornography.
It is so easy to morally defile people by making available sinful content, especially to unsuspecting youth. We are just in the beginning stages of this worldwide Internet that includes many pernicious uses, such as pornography, online gambling, identity theft, hucksterism and even sex trafficking.
We are gradually returning to a condition God saw in Noah’s day, but now the violence and corruption, through modern technology, have reached a new level. Back then, “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . . . The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:5, 11).
How close is society now to fitting the apostle Paul’s description of the end-time civilization? He foretold: “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.
“They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, New Living Translation).
Sad to say, this portrait of society is becoming more the norm today. What would the world look like now if it had the Internet 100 years ago? How much more spiritual corruption would there be? The moral decline so far is quite evident and alarming in just these few years the Internet has become virtually universal. This is another “genie” that’s out of the bottle. And because of its popularity and addictive power, people will not want to put it back in the bottle despite the enormous moral and spiritual damage being done. As Christ said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37).
6. Permissive drug culture—the decline of morality and family
Just recently, due to a rise in permissiveness, we have seen an upswing in the legalizing of natural and synthetic drugs in most of the world. Marijuana is in the forefront of this societal shift, but once its legalization and use spreads, it will be easier to market more potent drugs as well.
There is also an enormous epidemic of opioids—drugs derived from opium, such as morphine and heroin—affecting the Western world as more synthetic drugs come on the market. At no time in known history has society had so much access through technology to so many hallucinogenic and addictive drugs. More governments are simply giving in to the popular demand to decriminalize their use, thus allowing widespread propagation and commercialization.
As Ecclesiastes 8:11 states, “When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong” (NLT). The present measures by such governments are not truly limiting the problem, but are allowing it to get worse.
Just as 2 Timothy 3:13 prophesied, “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
7. Widespread alternative lifestyles—moral degeneration
In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, legalized same-sex marriage, which prior to this had been banned in the United States under federal law. Virtually all the legal moral safeguards to preserve the traditional family are now gone. The floodgates have opened to every kind of alternative lifestyle, and most of the world is following suit.
Just recently in Colombia, the first marriage among three men has taken place, called a polyamorous relationship. Where will all of this end? No one knows for sure. It is just the beginning of this “social experiment,” and the traditional family unit, something historically upheld, is now being replaced by a multitude of alternative lifestyles.
God sent a reminder to mankind about keeping His laws and not destroying the family in the last days preceding Christ’s return. He warned in Malachi 4:4-6: “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb [Mount Sinai] for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet [in reference to an end-time preparatory work like that of John the Baptist, who also came in the spirit of Elijah (Luke 1:17)] before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Indeed, Christ described the growing wickedness of the end-time society: “And as it was in the days of Noah [before the Flood when the world was filled with violence and corruption] . . . as it was also in the days of Lot [before perverse Sodom was destroyed] . . . Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed”—at His glorious return (Luke 17:26-30).
Where are these trends leading?
Again, we find ourselves witnessing tremendous progress today, but also great moral and spiritual regression. Consequently, we must do our part, protecting ourselves and our families from the perils around us, staying spiritually strong and praying for Christ’s Kingdom to come soon.
Thankfully, God will not allow these seven great dangers now spreading around the world to ultimately wipe out the human race. Jesus will intervene. And in the age to come under His reign, the nightmares of nuclear arms, biological weapons, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, the dark side of the Internet, permissive drug culture and aberrant alternative lifestyles will be things of the past.
As Micah 4:3-4 said about Christ’s coming Kingdom of peace, joy and righteousness: “He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.”
Let us trust that the day of this millennial description is not too far off in the future and that we can be part of it!