Is Science A Curse or A Blessing
Today life is dominated by science. By applying the method of observation and experiment, scientists have been able to understand many important secrets of nature, which are then used to make life comfortable. According to Bronowski, the achievements of science are far greater than those of philosophers, political thinkers and economic theorists. In fact, the ideas of science have been the most creative.
Science has greatly succeeded in getting rid of superstitions beliefs and myths. It is against obscurantism, dogmatism and bigotry. It has helped to put an end to witch-hunting and the taboos of the early nineteenth century.
Science has brought revolutionary changes in the fields of agriculture and industry. Scientific methods of cultivation have stepped up agricultural production. Large-scale industries produce various goods, relieving men of all irksome and difficult work.
The field of medicine and surgery has undergone a sea-change. Diseases like leprosy, tuberculosis, polio, yellow fever, malaria, etc., which were considered incurable, can now be cured. The use of anesthetics has made- surgery painless. By ‘twilight sleep’ women are delivered of babies. They do not experience any pain. Hearts, kidneys and eyes are transplanted. The laser beam is used to cure some diseases of the heart, kidneys and eyes. A team of.American doctors has lately succeeded in transplanting the pancreas. As a result, a diabetic patient need not take any insulin, which – is required for the metabolism of carbohydrates. Dr. Hargovind Khurana synthesized the first wholly artificial gene. This achievement helps doctors to understand the real nature of hereditary diseases, like diabetes and hemophilia.
The invention of the printing press has increased the number of newspapers, books, periodicals, and other publications. In the olden days people read few books. There was no way to acquire knowledge. Spinoza, the famous philosopher on the Continent, had a library. This library, as Nehru points out, consisted of less than sixty books.
Rapid means of transport and communication have shrunk the world. The telegraph, telephone, and television etc., have revolutionized communications between various countries of the world. Now we can reach London or Paris in a few hours. When Armstrong landed on the Moon on July 21, 1969, he had a telephonic conversation with President Nixon the lengthiest telephone call that has ever been made.
Science helps in detecting criminals. Forensic laboratories use a number of tests. Dactylography, polygraph and computers are also very useful for finding out criminals.
In some countries where there is scarcity of rain, artificial rain is produced to cultivate lands. Silver iodide is now used for seeding the clouds.
Nuclear and other weapons created by science have become a great threat to the very existence of man on this planet. The indiscriminate slaughter of men, Women and children and devastation of their homes by turning a switch have made modem warfare a mockery of the highest human values and an insult to the throbbing human heart. Scientists must not forget their responsibility to mankind. They must remember that the existence of mankind is the vital matter and that the prestige of their nation is of little importance. They must be ready, as Russell points out, to face martyrdom. They must take a firm decision, not to discover or invent anything that will wipe out man from the face of the earth. In the opinion of Lord Adrian, the human race will come to an end, if scientists do not give up their old loyalties. They should think like Socrates, who declared, “I am a citizen not of Athens or Greece, but of the world.” We are also reminded of what Thomas Paine said, “My country is the world and my religion is to do good.”
Dr. Joad says science has given us powers fit for the gods; but we use them like small children. A Russian peasant expressed the idea much better when he told Maxim Gorky, “You can fly in the air like birds and swim in the .sea like fish, but you don’t know how to walk upon the earth like man.”
Science is thus a blessing and a curse. As long as it tries to promote human welfare and comforts, science is a blessing. When it is used for destructive purposes, it is a curse.