In 1849, French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” — “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Without the context for his making this statement, we are left to ponder his intended application. But it takes very little thought to see the application for where we are some 170 years after he made that observation.
On the same day as I read this quote, I also read of a member of the U.S. Senate who has announced his intention not to seek reelection in 2 years’ time. His reason for making this decision dripped with frustration at the system of which he is a part. He may as well have said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same!”
There are reasons why there is some truth in the statement, and we can be very grateful that God has released us from that vicious cycle. It requires an understanding of basic human nature. A headline quote from the magazine Scientific American will shed some insight as to the general perception of human nature:
“Scientists Probe Human Nature—and Discover We Are Good, After All.”
This view is supported by another well-known U.S. magazine Psychology Today:
“Standard psychology texts imply that to be normal is to feel happy and to lead an untroubled good life—until uncontrollable lightning may strike, but this is unlikely. In their essence, life and people are good.”
The idea that humans are basically good and change will produce positive forward development stands on the foundation of the 18th century Age of Enlightenment. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes this “Age” this way:
“Central to Enlightenment thought were the use and celebration of reason, the power by which humans understand the universe and improve their own condition…
The high optimism that marked much of Enlightenment thought, however, survived for the next two centuries as one of the movement’s most-enduring legacies: the belief that human history is a record of general progress that will continue into the future.”
By using the reasoning powers of the mind, man can improve his condition as time progresses.
It was on this foundation that Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” was built. Evolution proved to be an accelerant to the idea that man can improve his condition as time progresses. The continual development of mankind is a central tenet of evolution that has been universally adopted. Change is good and necessary.
“Man indeed is wonderfully good, caring, and creative: Our species is an incredible leap forward on the evolutionary scale.” (Psychology Today)
In the political arena, change is a constant factor. Elections at regular intervals open the way to change. Through evolutionary trained eyes, this becomes a means to move forward in improving man’s condition. However, the reality proves to be, “the more they stay the same.” As one commentator observed recently,
“Many Americans express their growing sense of hopelessness with the state of things. Again and again, the bright hopes of a pre-election promise become the bitter disappointment of a long term of office.”
God’s revealed truth teaches us that human nature is essentially locked into the nature of Satan. Apart from God, it only changes in its intensity of enmity toward God and its refusal to be subject to God’s law. Of course, we are looking at human nature from a biblical perspective and not from reason. The spectrum of good and evil provides a false sense that human nature can change. But the good and evil are still set by enmity and disobedience. The variance is in intensity.
“A change of heart must accompany experience before lasting change occurs.” (Wiktionary)
That change of heart can only be initiated by God through a calling. When that calling is responded to, God provides the power to change the heart so that lasting change can occur. Instead of a growing sense of hopelessness, we have a growing sense of hope – none of which is based on evolutionary enlightenment.
“… but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). The more we change, the more Christ-like that change becomes.