Monday, December 19, 2016

Science in the Service of Man

The most valuable which science has rendered to mankind is that it has given it supreme self-confidence. It has given man the assurance that, instead of being slave to his environment, he can control and modify it to suit his needs. Before the scientific era, an agriculturist eked out a precarious existence, his livelihood depending upon the vagaries of the weather Insect pests, locusts and drought devastated his fields. Now we have built huge dams to supply waters through perennial canals, manufactured fertilizers which enormously increase agricultural production, produced effective pesticides, learnt how to prevent solid erosion, introduced multiple cropping and devised other ways to improve output. Population control would still be needed if food production is to keep pace with the growth in numbers, but the spectacular progress which scientific cultivation has made possible in the field of agriculture has belied all Malthusian fears in the West. Progress in the industrial field has been even more spectacular; thanks to the application of science to industry. The world, particularly the develop part of it, now enjoys a standard of living which in former ages was not even enjoyed by the wealthier-classes. The higher standards of living have made it possible for the illiteracy has been completely wiped out and most diseases have been eliminated in the industrialized societies. The machine has not only relieved man of heavy burdensome tasks but has also provided him with ample leisure in which he can engage himself in cultural pursuits, cultivate various kinds of hobbies and travel. It is through science that he has been able to invent new sources of entertainment and education, such, cinema, radio and television. The enormous are to mankind. Before the invention of the printing press, education was confined to a small section of the community and was of a predominantly religious character. The printing press revolutionaries the arts of publication and brought books, periodicals and news-papers within everybody’s reach. Democracy should have been impossible without the printing press. The modern media or mass communication is another fruitful source of education.
Science and technology have annihilated distance, brought the various parts of the would much nearer to each other, enormously increased international trade and integrated the economy of all nations. It is consciousness of the need for regulating the operations of the world economy to make it more orderly and stable that has led to the formation of international bodies to ensure order and stability in maters like tariffs, currency and labor. Foreign aid is being given to developing nations through the World Bank to groups of nations and nations individually because it is now recognized that economic stability and full employment in the world cannot be achieved unless two-thirds of humanity now living at the subsistence level is helped to attain economic maturity as expeditiously as possible. Yet it cannot be said that the material and manpower resources of the world are being utilized on a scientific and planned basis. This country, for example, could have raised the standards of living of its people to a much great extent that at present if it had not been thwarted in its endeavors by shortage of foreign exchange and inadequacy of foreign capital and technical skill. It is one more example of the bankruptcy of would statesmanship that, while astronomical amounts are being spent on manufacturing weapons of mass annihilation and space exploration, the affluent nations are not prepared to help developing nations on a scale which would make a significant impact on their lives. Only a world government looking at economic problems from the standpoint of human welfare can achieve balanced material progress. Many civilizations in the past perished because the people recklessly exploited natural resources, exhausted the sol and turned the lands into a desert. Impelled by the profits motive, nations are still recklessly exploiting world resources without giving any serious thought to what would happen a few hundred years hence. When we know that man hast to live on this planet for millions of years, this policy of exploiting natural resources and not judiciously conserving them is, to put it mildly, extreme short-sightedness. The same short-sightedness is being displayed over population growth. Science has rendered great service to humanity by finding a cure for most diseases. By preventing the outbreak of epidemics which formerly used to kill millions of persons and by curtailing the death rate in many other ways. But unless men learn to curtailing the death rate in many other ways. But unless men learn to curtail birth rate as well, we will, before long, be faced with a population explosion. Science has proved that for some time natural restraints on population in the form of wars, pestilences, and famines can be held back. This planet can be made a decent place to live in, only if man is wise. Science gives knowledge and power but not necessarily wisdom.
Science, it is said is creating problems faster than they can be solved. This is really not a criticism of science but of man’s inability to adjust himself to the changed conditions without delay. Scientists are primarily moved by curiosity, bye the passionate desire to know how things happen in life and nature, secondarily, by the desire to use this knowledge for human welfare. When scientist starts conducting researches on making weapons of mass annihilation, they are not moved by any diabolical designs. In a world divided into sovereign-states, self-defense depends upon power-equilibrium and no nation can afford to relax its efforts for military preparedness without a comprehensive agreement on disarmament. Nobody can deny that science has rendered invaluable service to mankind in various spares. It is due to the discoveries of science that we have been able to find a cure for most diseases and prevent the outbreak of epidemics, thereby vastly increasing life expectance and drastically cutting down infant mortality and mortality in child birth.

Science has given man various forms of power to replace the power of animals and that of human muscles. This has made it possible for him to annihilate distance, overcome the forces of gravitation and explore outer space and undertake production on a big scale. Never was the world so completely integrated as it is today. Only in a few days, we can flu round the world. Telegraph and telephone have also helped to destroy the distances and unify the globe, enabling immediate contacts to facilitate transaction of business or personal communication over long distances. Chemistry gave man-kind gun-power which resulted in the destruction of feudalism and the emergence of modern State. It also gave man the power to create new materials. The resources of the world in many things are very limited, and there is always the fear that, if they continue to be used on the present scale, they would be exhausted before long. This fear is no longer so serious because chemistry has discovered substitutes for them or made synthetics to replace them. Scientific breeding has already yielded highly satisfactory results in the case of animals and plants. It has produced race-horses who agility and stamina are a marvel. Given more knowledge of heredity and embryology, it would be possible to produce even finer specimens of the animal and human species. It is a fascinating subject to speculate on what physics, chemistry and biology would be able to achieve in the next few centuries. Men may be able to reach other planets, explore them and explore further the immense interstellar synthetics including food and out of the raw material of nature manufacture everything more refined, more developed, more lasting. There is no theoretical limit to what man can achieve through science and technology. What has hitherto been achieved would pale into insignificance before what would be achieving hence, unless, of course, meanwhile, man commits suicide.
Science has revolutionized life in the intellectual, social and material spheres creating a large number of problems for human race. These problems are not unmanageable. What is needed is revolution is the minds of men to ensure that the knowledge and power gained through science is used for a constructive purpose. The future of mankind cannot be left to be determined by old parochial passions, reckless competition among producers and the operation of uncontrolled urges. The future has to be scientifically planned. Our first and foremost problem is to ensure world peace and to banish from the mind of men the specter of a nuclear holocaust. It is everywhere recognized that a full-fledged thermo-nuclear war would destroy civilization built up after centuries of hard and sustained labor and endanger the very existence of mankind. Yet the stockpiles of thermo-nuclear weapons are everywhere mounting. Despite protracted negotiations, it has not been found possible to achieve an agreement on nuclear disarmament because the super-powers still distrust each other and apprehend surprise attacks. So long as we cling to the antiquated notion of national sovereignty and depend upon the antiquated concept of the balance of power as a means of preserving peace, the threat of war will persist. This threat will disappear only when all nations renounce war as an instrument of policy, surrender their sovereignty and establish a democratic World Government. Our primary loyalty should be to the human race and to the planet on which we live. We can make this planet a decent place to live in if we undertake to use all its resources through a common threatened with competition in nuclear arms, the alternative to a World State is too frightful to be contemplated with equanimity.
Science has made a most valuable contribution to the acquisition of knowledge and the development of a rational outlook on life. Not long ago, the masses were sunk in superstition. They attributed diseases to the wrath of gods. They believed in ghosts, witches, magic and sorcery. Human and animal sacrifices were made to propitiate gods and demons. The appearances of eclipses and comets were a regarded as most ominous. Astrology was accepted everywhere as a science. Mythological accounts of the origin of the universe and movements of heavenly bodies were believed even by the educated. Anyone who offered different interpretation base on scientific laws was severely frowned upon. Galileo came into clash with the inquisition when he made the simple observation that the earth moves round the sun. Newton himself believed in God and he held that a Creator was necessary to set the universe in motion, but once the process had stated, it required no further supernatural intervention. The law of gravity came into conflict with the view of Providence as omnipotent, kind and generous who responded to prayers, achieved miracles and set things right. Darwin’s biological discoveries banished purpose and moral design from the universe. His theory of Evolution and principles of the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest leave no room for the view of the universe held by theologians. Modern astronomy does not inspire much hope and faith. Life, it holds, exists only this planet. Though the universe has millions of years of existence, according to astronomers, it is unlimitedly moving towards dissolution. In this country even now it is believe the earthquakes, pertinences, famines and other disasters are indicative of divine displeasure and call for repentance, prayers and self-purification. Science has helped man see the world and life in it really as they are. But in doing so, it is said it has deprived the people of their religious and spiritual faith. The principle of the struggle for existence and survival of the fittest has been invoked to justify imperialistic wars. Science has created a problem for mankind by taking away its faith. It has also given rise to philosophic systems which do not favor disinterested pursuit of truth but judge what is true by the severely practical test of how far it serves the ends in view. The indictment against science is not fair. Science has exploded fairy tales, mythological fantasies, irrational fears, unfounded speculations. It is for statesmen, religious teachers, humanists and social reformers to give a sense of purpose to mankind. Men ought no longer to live on myths. Instead of becoming determinists they must take their destiny into their own hands, and build a glorious future for the human race. Science and Scientific outlook open up infinite possibilities for man. What he must bring with him as his contribution is wisdom. This seems at present a rare commodity. 


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