The Greek empire, for example, was not destroyed by an army of men, but by a microscopic viral army.
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Civilizations have experienced more devastating blows from sickness than from swords–more heartache from bugs than from bombings.
The face of the world has been changed more through the louse, the flea, and the mosquito than by marching armies and flying missiles. When the daily count of the dead reached the breaking point (different in various societies and ages), responsible people became irresponsible, tranquil people became terrified, and the borderline paranoid became dangerous. As people fled their homes, social and political organizations disappeared, crops were left to rot in the fields, populations were displaced, civil war was fomented, and major shifts in religious thinking occurred. Some of that is taking place in African nations at this time.
After major plagues mysteriously left a nation, interest in religion decreased because of the many deaths among the clergy and because of so many unanswered prayers. Of course, unbelievers have used unanswered prayer as an excuse for unbelief since the beginning of time. J. L. Cloudsley-Thompson wrote, “It is beyond the bounds of possibility for anyone to estimate the influence of epidemic disease on religion and philosophy. Nor can we clearly assess its influence on the material course of human history.”
Many historians believe that the empire of ancient Greece fell into Roman hands because of malaria attacks, not because of marching armies. Malaria was endemic throughout the Greek world by 400 B.C. The malarial parasite (passed to man by the female mosquito) killed infants, weakened unsuspecting children, forced the vacating of the best farmlands, and helped produce Greek citizens who were listless, lazy, and licentious. As a result, the power and glory of ancient Greece became a mocking memory.
Greek historian Polybius (204-122 B.C.), called the most reliable ancient historian, reported that the whole of Greece had been visited in his time by childlessness and a general decline of the population that resulted in the emptying of the cities and the failure of the land to render its produce. He said that men refused to marry or, if they married, refused to have children. If they had children, they refused to rear them. He said that men went out of their way to be ostentatious, avaricious, and indolent.
Quite an indictment! Will Western civilization learn from the past or will we have the same experience? If Americans must live daily with the threat of terror (as do the Israelis) will that further erode our culture and destroy our homes and churches?
Some historians, in my opinion, give too much credit to the mosquito for the fall of Greece. It was a major factor, but men must always be held accountable for their actions.
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