Two quotes from H.G. Wells
I recently read two quotes by H.G. Wells, one written before World War II, and the other after.
Can we doubt that presently our race will more than realize our boldest imaginations, that it will achieve unity and peace, and that our children will live in a world made more splendid and lovely than any palace or garden that we know, going on from strength to strength in an ever-widening circle of achievement? What man has done, the little triumphs of his present state… form but the prelude to the things that man has yet to do. (from A Short History of the World, 1937)
The cold-blooded massacres of the defenseless, the return of deliberate and organized torture, mental torment, and fear to a world from which such things had seemed well nigh banished—has come near to breaking my spirit altogether… “Homo sapiens,” as he has been pleased to call himself, is played out. (from A Mind at the End of Its Tether, 1946)
A few observations:
- H.G. Wells must have had his head stuck in the sand in 1937 in order to think that the world was on the verge of utopia. Hitler had a firm grip on Germany and clearly had an expansionist agenda, Stalin was up to his knees in blood, and war was raging between Japan and China.
- The Second World War was especially crushing to the hopes of those who held to an optimistic view of the future of humanity. Those who believe that humans are on a path to something approaching a utopia keep on running into a wall.
- There is something fundamentally flawed about humanity. To say otherwise is, like Wells in 1937, to bury one’s head in the sand. We Christians call this fundamental flaw sin, which is rebellion against God. The failure to recognize the human sin problem is a reason why utopian systems, such as communism, turn out to be such bitter disappointments.
A few questions:
- What areas do we (as Christians, as a society) have our heads buried in the sand? In hind sight, it is easy to list a dozen reasons why Wells should not have been so optimistic in 1937. Are there some big, flashing, DANGER signs that ought to be obvious to us?
- How do we best communicate the dire straits we are in to those who are overly optimistic, and the hope that we have in Christ to those who are driven to despair by the world?
Grace and Peace
Source of quotes: Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, Chapter 10: The Problem of Sin