No man believed so firmly in the philosophy of development and progress than H G Wells, the novelist. Wells was a scientific humanist who believed that the advance of knowledge, culture, and science would create an earthly paradise. When the Second World War broke out, he wrote his last book with this very significant title, Mind at the End of Its Tether. He simply did not understand what he considered to be the failure of human progress. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains:
This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV)
I need not tell you that we are meeting together tonight in a time of great confusion, a time of grave and terrible crisis. Everybody is aware of this; you cannot read a paper, you cannot listen to a news bulletin without hearing of some added crisis, some new problem, and some fresh tragedy. The world is in an alarming state and condition. We are truly in an age of exceptional crisis. But I want to put to you that we are not only in a time and age of crisis, we are living in a time when all of us are being tested, and all of us have been sifted and examined and proved. What I mean by that is this, that the state of the world tonight is testing the outlook, the point of view, of every one of us who is in this congregation. Indeed of everybody that is in the world. Everybody has got some view of life, even the most thoughtless people, people who scarcely ever think at all, they have got a kind of philosophy and their philosophy is not to think. What is the use of thinking?’ they say. So they have got their point of view, their point of view is ‘Let us eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’. So I am saying that everybody’s point of view, everybody’s attitude towards life, is on trial at the moment. . . .
So I put that as my first question: Are you surprised at the fact that the world is as it is at this very moment? Or, let me phrase that in a slightly different way: Are you disappointed that the world is as it is? Not only surprised but disappointed, because again there are many people in the world who are grievously disappointed at the present state of affairs. And they are disappointed for this reason, that having adopted the kind of idealistic philosophy, or view of life, which was very popular in the last century – you know that idea that believed in evolution, or progress and development, the view which said that as the result of popular education which came in 1870 and all the marvelous scientific advances and discoveries, more travel, ability to mix with other nations – they were very confident that the twentieth century was going to be the golden century, the crowning century of all the centuries! Did not Tennyson write about the coming of the parliament of men and the federation of the world, of the days when men would beat their swords into ploughshares and war would be no more? War, we were told – and they taught this, not only the poets but the philosophers and the politicians – war, they said, was due to the fact that people did not know one another. . . . They had forgotten, you see, that Cain and Abel were brothers. . . . (“A Kingdom Which Cannot Be Shaken”)
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