Many people have a view of evolution as a progressive, upward movement toward perfection. Evolution, they feel, means that everything is getting better over time. Serious evolutionists would disagree with that interpretation. Instead, they see evolution as simply the process by which organisms become better adapted to their environments, whether or not that adaption looks like a step upward. An organism can be considered improved in the sense that it is more fit to live in a specific environment, but evolution isn't really about getting better; it's about surviving. Even using that stricter understanding of evolution, though, it can be argued that life on earth, and especially the human race, is not evolving at all. In fact, some people argue that the human race is devolving, that we're degenerating in a variety of ways and are consequently losing the ability to survive. More to the point, we can argue that our physical bodies, beautiful though they are, are mere shadows of the excellent bodies God gave our ancestors when He created the world, and the disease and physical suffering we see around us is a result of a fallen world and thousands of years of degeneration.
It's easy to see that despite our fantastic technology, there's a shameful lot of disease and weakness in our world. We can blame a variety of factors for the downward spiral; poor eating habits, diets of highly processed foods, less physical work and play, a lack of sunshine and fresh air as we spend our days indoors, a dependence on synthetic drugs for medicine â€“ the list can go on and on.
The problem isn't only physical. Intellectually, the average child in America and the rest of the West is not challenged the way they could be. Sponge-like brains sop up detailed information on digital games and sports figures and television stars and spend much less time studying science or literature or art or the great mysteries of the universe. Students can't write down their thoughts in organized, well-developed paragraphs. They can't offer basic information about politics or geography or history. Compared to the past, it's a lazy, fat Western world we live in.
The developing world isn't much better. Malnutrition, famine, disease, war, all contribute to low life expectancies in developing nations. Children may not even have the opportunity to go to school at all, and poverty and ignorance are serious problems.
Does that really mean we're "devolving" though? After all, we're a lot better off than the folks who lived during the Middle Ages when the average life expectancy was 35. We're not completely lost intellectually; if a good education were a more desperate necessity for survival, we'd certainly pull our kids away from their Game Cubes and make them study. Humans are not all falling apart. We still have men who can run a mile in less than 4 minutes and others who can swim the English channel. We still build rockets and skyscrapers. We're not too bad off.
Granted. However, if we compare ourselves to history, we cannot choose the Dark Ages as our yardstick. We have to go back to the Beginning, and compared to the Beginning, we're pretty sad.
God created Adam perfect, with the ability to live forever. His genetic code was error free, and even without the Tree of Life he lived to be 930. Onward down to Noah, humans consistently lived over 900 years each. The genetic code hadn't been affected by thousands of years of deterioration. Despite some excellent DNA preservation mechanisms built-in, errors still took their toll on our genes over time.
In the beginning, our DNA was perfect. Where did Cain get his wife? He certainly married his sister, and there was no problem in doing so because her genetic code was just as perfect as his. That rubs us wrong these days because we've learned we cannot marry our close relatives. But, don't forget, we're all related to each other, and when the genetic code was more error-free, close relatives could marry because they weren't doubling up on the same genetic glitches. Abraham was able to marry his half sister without a problem. It wasn't until Moses that the Law finally nixed the practice of marrying a sibling, and marriage between cousins was acceptable practice until relatively recently.
We have fantastic technology these days, yet genetically-related diseases consume us. We have achieved great civilization, yet many of us can hardly do one chinup. We look at the suffering of the world, we take poor care of our minds and bodies, and we constantly disobey God, and then wonder why He allows human suffering.
Yet, in His great mercy, God hasn't abandoned us to these faulty bodies, these earthen vessels forever. He's got new bodies planned for us, new bodies that will last forever free of all disease and weakness and pain. They will be bodies better than we can imagine, bodies that are not only perfect, but ones we won't mess up. As John says:
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). The human race is not improving physically, but this world is not the end. Even as we use the great minds and talents that God has given us to fight the diseases of Earth, it is good to know that this world is not the end of our existence. Not only will we not be prone to degeneration anymore, but we will be like Jesus.