That is one of the lines that I myself used as a dispensational fundamentalist. I was taught and believed that the world situation was getting worse than ever before in history in anticipation of the coming of the Lord. I would hear about the general moral decay in society, or the impending doom of nuclear holocaust, or about wars and rumors of wars, or the increase in famines, earthquakes, and so on. I am sure that any Christian, or Ex-Christian reading this knows exactly what I am talking about.
Is it true? Are things really getting worse and worse? If you say yes, what countries or time periods are you comparing to make that assessment?
For instance, compared to the world of the United States in 1930, people live longer, Polio is no longer a threat to health, Pneumonia has a cure, many types of penicillin are available to wipe out sickness now which led to innumerable fatalities in 1930. Food is plentiful in the US now compared to 1930. Unemployment is not even an issue today, compared to the problems in 1930. The prospect of another world war was on the horizon in 1930, and who would win was a definite mystery. We are much more secure in that regard today. People generally life longer healthier lives with the average life span greatly increased over the potential longevity in 1930.
In all fairness to the proponents of the idea that things are so much worse than they were in the past, perhaps they are not talking about the recent past. Perhaps they mean that things are so much worse than the were in 1300 A.D. The typical peasant family of the aptly-named Dark Ages lived in a one-room, dirt-floor hovel, with a hole in the thatched roof to let out the smoke of the central fire. The floor was strewn with hay or rushes, easy havens for lice and vermin. Garbage accumulated within. If they were lucky, the family had a chamber pot, though more likely they relieved themselves in the corner of the hovel or in the mire and muck outside.
Water was too precious to use for anything except drinking and cooking, so people rarely bathed. Heck, they barely changed clothes from one season to another, wearing the same set every day, perhaps piling on more rags for warmth.
These are the conditions which spawned the infamous Black Plague, killing an estimated one third of the European population.
The first of several waves hit England in 1348, caused by flea bites spread by lice that dwelled on host black rats. They, in turn, fed on the garbage and excrement of the masses. London became largely deserted. The King and Queen and other rich people fled to the countryside. The poor were the greatest sufferers.
Panic, death and despair followed the abandonment of farms and towns. Wrote William of Dene, a monk of Rochester in Kent, England, Men and women carried their own children on their shoulders to the church and threw them into a common pit. From these pits such an appalling stench was given off that scarcely anyone dared to walk beside the cemeteries, so marked a deficiency of labors and workmen that more than a third of the land in the whole realm was left to."
So bad was the "Black Death," the Great Fire of London in 1666 can be viewed as a blessing in disguise. Though it killed thousands of people, the holocaust also consumed garbage, muck and black rats, effectively ending the plague.
Wrote the eminent English historian, Charles Creighton: "The Crusaders of the 11th - 13th centuries were not defeated so much by the scimitars of the Saracens as by the hostile bacteria of dysentery and other epidemics. "
The summer of the first Crusade in 1090 was extraordinarily hot as the ill-prepared and rag-tag "army" of men and camp followers went to war with little more than the clothes on their backs-confident that the Lord would provide for their needs in such a holy cause. They denuded the land of trees and bushes in the quest for nourishment. Hampered by lack of fresh water and contaminated containers, they trudged along to their destiny, relieving themselves along the wayside or in the fields.
Dysentery hit the women and children first, and then the troops. More than 100,00 died plus almost 2,500 German reinforcements whose bodies remained unburied.
Typhus fever is another disease born of bad sanitation. It has come under many headings, including "jail fever" or "ship fever," because it is so common among men in pent-up, putrid surroundings. Transmitted by lice that dwell in human feces, the disease is highly contagious.
Napoleon lost thousands of his men to typhus in Russia - as did the Russians who caught it from the enemy. Many historians believe that Napoleon would have won were it not for the might of his opponents "General Winter, General Famine and General Typhus."
French ships were notorious for their filthy and fever-ridden sailors. One such French squadron left its soiled clothing and blankets behind near Halifax, Nova Scotia, when they returned to Europe in 1746, thinking they could dispel their own plague. Their infected blankets wiped out a nation of Indians.
Typhoid fever, a slightly different ailment than typhus, involves a Salmonella bacillus that is found in the feces and urine of man. The symptoms are so similar to typhus that the two were not differentiated until 1837. Prince Albert died from typhoid in 1861. His wife, Queen Victoria, had built-in in-immunity because of a previous siege. Good thing, because she is said to have prostrated herself in grief across the dead body of her beloved husband.
It has to be admitted by any thinking westerner that many diseases have been contained. While the struggle continues as new strains and scares develop, we have so much more hope of overcoming disease in our day than those of past generations could even dream of.
But what about crime? Crime is on the increase in direct proportion to our lack of morality and religious fervor as a society. Okay lets look at some more recent information: Click Here As can be seen from this chart, Florida is having a marked decrease in crime. The following chart shows the recent trends in the murder rate for New York can be viewedClick Here And one more study in the declining rate of murder in general: HERE.
Are things getting worse and worse? What do you think?
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)