In the progression of human history and the subsequent advancement of human understanding, one factor stands out as essential, the passing of one generation and the rise of the next. It is an established historical fact that the greatest achievements in science and the arts are generally accomplished early in life, often before age 30, reinforcing the important role that the young play in advancing civilization. Many scientists have noted how the achievements of their age built on those of their predecessors, indicating the foundational importance of the past but at the same time noting that progress is an inter-generational process.
The dying off of one generation and the rise of the next has often meant the diminishment of previously held beliefs and prejudices. These gradual changes in basic assumptions, worldviews, and attitudes are a necessary part of societal transformation, changes which allow for growth and improvement. Without a willingness and even eagerness to change, the growth process bogs down. Old thoughts and ideas become engrained, stifling creativity and innovation.
In seemingly ever age, though, the dying generation struggles immensely to maintain control and delay any changes. Thus we see the repeated spectacle of the senior citizens endlessly criticizing the younger generation for not embracing and maintaining the status quo and/or not recognizing and appreciating the glories and values of the preceding one. This is all obvious “poppycock”. Sustained reverence for the past would forever forbid progress. We oldsters glory in the past only because that was when we were the vital element in society, embarking on our own quest for progress. Of course, the fact that we were a bit healthier and perhaps better looking then draws our attention backward also.
Orthodox theology teaches that physical death was not a part of God’s plan and the original fate of mankind. Aside from the fact that no death would have quickly overwhelmed the earth with human population, it also would have precluded any spiritual growth and development. Some may assume that God’s plan leads to a static spiritual state for mankind at some point. Personally, that seems highly unlikely. A static state God would never have created in the first place.