IN THIS age of ear-shattering noises we feel the following information might be helpful for sermon preparation on noise pollution. The human race is enduring more noise today than at any other time in history. Some of this noise comes as an offspring of scientific invention. Screaming jets, clanking bulldozers, thundering trucks, and the explosive pounding of air hammers are only a small part of the noise problem. One important and increasing segment of noise is the music that blares out with a deafening roar in cottage, castle, countryside, car, club, and chapel. What is all this noise actually doing to the human race?
Ellen G. White, long years ago, spoke of certain conditions affecting expectant mothers. If a mother is overworked and lives on unwholesome food she would be irritable, nervous, and despondent. These characteristics would "mark the character of her child" (Selected Messages, book 2, p. 431).
Now scientists have broadened the scope of prenatal influence to include noise and music. A few months ago the 136th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was held in Boston. Lester W. Sontag, M.D., director of the Fels Research Institute in Yellow Springs, Ohio, came up with some interesting results from experiments that showed how loud noises disturb unborn children in the late stages of development. He claimed that human fetuses respond to loud noises. For instance, loud clapping will cause an unborn infant to stir in the womb. It was reported that in one recent experiment, mothers late in pregnancy were asked to choose their favorite music and listen to it for ten minutes. Both the mother's heart rate and the fetal heart rate rose in response to the music. Thus, the mother's emotional response to environment can have an effect on the unborn infant.
Noise and Heart Disease
Dr. Sontag was not alone in his convictions. Other scientists participating in the panel on noise pollution suggested the possibility of a link between excessive noise and heart disease. Samuel Rosen, M.D., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City, described a primitive tribe in southeastern Sudan that lives in virtual silence. They were subjected to an increase in noise and stress after moving to Khartoum. In this environment they developed high blood pressure and heart conditions that were unknown among the same tribe members in their former residence.
The underlying principle of these experiments was expressed years ago by Ellen White. She went so far as to say that the mother's environment affected her milk, which in turn affected the nursing infant. If a mother, while nursing her child, "is unhappy, easily agitated, irritable, giving vent to outbursts of passion, the nourishment the infant receives from its mother, will be inflamed, often producing colic, spasms, and, in some instances, causing convulsions and fits.
"The character also of the child is more or less affected by the nature of the nourishment received from the mother. How important then that the mother, while nursing her infant, should preserve a happy state of mind, having the perfect control of her own spirit. By thus doing, the food of the child is not injured, and the calm, self-possessed course the mother pursues in the treatment of her child has very much to do in molding the mind of the infant. If it is nervous, and easily agitated, the mother's careful unhurried manner will have a soothing and correcting influence, and the health of the infant can be very much improved."—Ibid., pp. 432, 433.
Drums, Music, and Dancing
In 1900 in some of our churches the Holy Spirit was given credit for some rather noisy demonstrations. Responding to this situation, the servant of the Lord made some remarks that apply with piercing directness to our day. Referring to the Indiana experience, she declared, "The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit.
"The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise. This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure, sincere, elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time. Better never have the worship of God blended with music than to use musical instruments to do the work which last January was rep resented to me would be brought into our camp meetings. The truth for this time needs nothing of this kind in its work of converting souls. A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if con ducted aright might be a blessing. The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise, to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit's working. . . .
"The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with such a confusion of noise and multitude of sounds as passed before me last January. Satan works amid the din and confusion of such music, which, properly conducted, would be a praise and glory to God. He makes its effect like the poison sting of the serpent."—Ibid., pp. 36, 37.
Music a Snare
"Those things which have been in the past will be in the future. Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted. God calls upon His people, who have the light before them in the Word and in the Testimonies, to read and consider, and to take heed. Clear and definite instruction has been given in order that all may understand. But the itching desire to originate something new results in strange doctrines, and largely destroys the influence of those who would be a power for good if they held firm the beginning of their confidence in the truth the Lord had given them."—Ibid., p. 38.
The counsel "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10), was never more needed than now.
"In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength" (Isa. 30:15). "Make it your ambition to live quietly" (1 Thess. 4:11, The Twentieth Century New Testament). "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever" (Isa, 32:17). Can you imagine heaven being a noisy place?