Mankind has escaped his natural environment and everywhere suffers the consequences (and the advantages).


We don’t starve anymore, but we do bloat with fat. The abundance that prevents starvation has overwhelmed our instincts for eating, which were honed in a starving world.

We have acquired some hard-won mastery over the secrets of nature, such that we have the means to provide for children and to cure their childhood diseases. That same mastery allows us not to have children. Our instincts for wanting children aren’t strong enough to have children anyway; before now, they never needed to be.


Over time, of course, either our instincts or our society and technology would adapt to the new environment. Either we’d breed the obesity out of ourselves, or social controls would help us to eat better, or highest-grossing drug of all time, a safe and effective diet pill, would hit the market.   In the long run, maybe it doesn’t matter if individually fight obesity.  Or porn.  Arguably we end up in the same place eventually, it just takes a little longer.

Yet the prophets aren’t waiting for time to sort it out. They keep trying to address these problems now. Why?

The simplest answer is that God cares for the suffering of each of his children. It isn’t the welfare of the race of man as a whole that concerns the Deity. It is the welfare of each of his children.

That is answer enough. But let me go beyond that simple answer to suggest some other reasons. (I am not claiming that any of these reasons are the prophets’ reasons).

To the extent that the human race as a whole is relevant to the gospel, it is as a series of lineages. If preaching reaches people at the margins, it moderates the selection effect. Even if you reach the same adaptiveness in the end, moderating and prolonging the selection effect probably means that more lineages are tied in to the end population. So promoting resistance to unadaptive environmental superstimuli serves the gospel purpose of uniting the race into one great whole.  (From a biological perspective, the same argument shows that moderating the selection effect may get you more genetic diversity).

Further, moderating the selection effect could moderate the resulting adaptation. Which could be a good thing, because adaptations to strong selections are often pretty harsh themselves. The adaptations often just jettison otherwise good qualities.  This is true of both social and biological adaptations.  Every fix creates its own new problems.

Finally, biological and societal evolution aren’t magic. They may simply be unable to provide an adaptive solution. Preaching may be all we got.


Next in the series, we’ll look at specific prophetic responses to individual superstimuli.

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