I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called Surviving Progress. It gives an interesting perspective to what we have been promised to be a better, brighter, more advanced future. Medical breakthroughs allow people to live longer, healthier lives. Technological advancements allow for instant communication and speedy travel between nations. More cars, more computers, more televisions, more – more – more. Bigger! Faster! Better!
This is “progress.”
But what are we to do with it?
An interesting observation from an evolutionary psychologist is that the human brain hasn’t changed much at all over the last fifty thousand years. I’m not going to get into the evolutionary debate at this point, but I think the point is very valid. The parts of our brains that still tend to dominate are the more rudimentary regions. The deepest parts of the brain, also considered the oldest, are those that control the “fight or flight” survival system, the sex and pleasure system. The concern of these regions is the immediate and the tangible. They are always concerned with what is happening right this moment all around us.
Very helpful if one is living in a world overrun with wild beasts and tribal warfare. Not so helpful when standing in the checkout line at Walmart.
These regions are incapable of considering the long term impact of immediate decisions. Do I eat the cupcake in front of me or do I wait and receive an additional cupcake in an hour? You get the point.
We humans would like to think that we are more sophisticated than our nomadic ancestors of millennia past. But we aren’t.
We Christians would like to think that we are better prepared to handle Satan’s temptations today than were, say, Adam and Eve. But we aren’t.
We would like to think that Satan is always scheming, always going back to the drawing board, always drawing up more intricate traps and snares in order to catch us. But he doesn’t.
Satan has one playbook. It hasn’t changed since the time of Eden because there is no need for change. The road runner kept out thinking and outsmarting the coyote, so the coyote had to keep trying new and increasingly dangerous stunts to catch the darn bird. Not so with Satan. Humanity falls for the same traps so consistently that there is no need for him to update his game plan.
The real kicker is…we KNOW the playbook! We know every single go-to that Satan has. Just read Genesis 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11; and James 1:13-15. We know how he works, we know what play he’s going to run, and we’ve had thousands of years to study and develop a defense.
When it comes to progress – be it technological, medical, social, or economical – the single greatest hindrance of progress is…humans. As long as Satan is able to trap humanity with his schemes, nothing will really change. That’s why the writer of Ecclesiastes could say, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
What we really need is not new “stuff;” we need a new system. If there is nothing new under the sun, we need a different sun – a new world, restored to God’s original intent. We need a world redeemed and set free from sin, where Satan has no dominion, where our own fallen humanity won’t get in the way of true progress.
If we’re going to “survive progress,” then we need a little bit of heaven.