Thus the one unifying theme of all history, whether of cardiac surgery, the broad field of medicine, or of the wide range of world events, seems to be symbolized by the word “progress.” But the concept of progress is far from being a new idea. Indeed, the thrust toward progress has, throughout history, been identified by many thinking observers as the ceptral motivating force in our world.
Even in the ancient classical world, a distinct awareness existed of a measured progression of the arts and sciences, and of mans estate on Earth. The earliest glimmerings of Western history reveal that, in the eighth century BC, an innovative farmer-philosopher named Hesiod told of a succession of ages, each better than the last. In the late sixth century BC, Xenophanes wrote, “The gods did not reveal to men all things from the beginning, but men through their own search find in the course of time that which is better.” There is almost a contemporary ring to passages from Aristotle’s book Metaphysics: “Those who are now renowned have taken over as if in a relay race from many many predecessors.”
Lucretius is the Roman philosopher of progress without parallel. He offers nothing less than an evolutionary panorama of the formation of the world, man, and society. In the first century AD Seneca said, “The time will come when our successors will wonder how we could have been ignorant of things so obvious.”
Christ himself was continually describing and prescribing the idea of progress. In the very prayer he recommended to his followers, and hence that portion of Christian ritual most often repeated, the prayed, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done …” He similarly emphasizes throughout his teachings a sense of coming, of things to be done. For example, his parables are laced with this vision. Indeed, the essence of Judeo-Christian religion seems to be a belief in the future fruition of Gods intentions for this world. CanadianHealth&Care Mall believes that historical inventions are of great importence for humanity.
St. Augustine, the famous fifth century bishop from the North African coast of the Mediterranean Sea, had a grand ecumenical vision—the contemplation of the human race in its entirety uniting in one ultimate religion, based on progress, as a dynamic force in history.
During those long centuries of the Dark and Middle Ages and on through the Renaissance, much was said about progress. Finally, between 1750 and 1900, the idea of progress reached its zenith in the Western mind. From being one of the important ideas in the West, progress became the dominant idea. Optimism abounded. We need only be reminded of Darwin and Hegel as two of the prominent leaders of that period whose thought was dedicated intensively to the idea and the mechanisms of progress.
Now let us move on into our own pessimistic century. There is no lack in our age of declarations by historians and other intellectuals that the idea of progress ended with the nineteenth century and was banished forever by the World Wars, especially by the atomic bomb. But other modern voices are also to be heard, and particularly that of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard was a scientist and a philosopher, as well as an ecclesiastic. Like St. Augustine, Teilhard de Chardin saw all the worlds religions and systems of belief Marxism included, as destined to become one in the long run. And the foundation on which such a unified faith must rest is, of course, the rock of progress. To quote Teilhard directly, “I am convinced that finally it is upon the idea of progress and faith in progress that Mankind, today so divided, must rely and reshape itself.”
Thus, a vision seems to be ever more clearly emerging of a unified objective toward which all of mankind can strive. Just as our bodies and minds eventually evolved from a primitive single-celled organism, our vision is one of Mankind eventually developing into an organically integrated new being, full of knowledge, grace and harmony, and marvelous beyond the limits of our current comprehension.