The tremendous advancement made by modern science in the different spheres of human life has completely changed the face of the earth. If the ancients could rise from their graves and see the marvels of our time they would be hugely bewildered and amazed, and would probably agree that there was no age in the past which was so good and at the same time so bad as ours. The goddess of science has blessed us with one hand and cursed with and others. Let us first deal with the blessings of science.
Since the earliest day of his existence, man’s master ambition has been to conquer Nature. Science has admirably helped him to do so. Today, he can move much faster than his legs can carry him. Railways, steamships, and airplanes have brought him mastery over land, sea, and air. In the Arabian Nights, we read the story of the Wonderful Lamp of Alladin, which obeyed the commands of its owner and erected in one single night a beautiful palace with everything complete. Nowadays the powers of the Lamp are the forces of Nature and modern science is much like Alladin who controls and commands. these forces. These very forces of Nature which will otherwise destroy us, become our faithful servants, carry us on land, sea and through the air, at a terrific speed; convey in the twinkling of an eye our messages to our friends, thousands of miles away from us, and do other things, more miraculous than are related to have been done by the spirits of the Arabian Nights tales. In olden days, the lover had no other means of talking to his beloved in far off lands except through pigeons and parrots. Nal sent his message through a pigeon to his beloved Damyanti. When the clouds arose on the bosom of the sky and the memory of past happy days was excited, Yaksha had no help but to cry for the aid of clouds to carry his message to his sweetheart. But today the exchange of thoughts can be done quite easily, without incurring any danger or difficulty, by whispering into the ear of a friendly telephone, which will exactly repeat your words to your friend in your own tone and accent, and in a shorter time than was ever possible by sending human or animal messengers. Now you need not say with the poet who said to his messenger carrying his oral message to his beloved,
O messenger of mine! Whence with thou get mine own tongue and mine own words to describe what I feel?”
Easy and quick means of transport and communication have shortened time and space beyond expectation and the world today is a much closer: unit. Foreign nations have become our next-door neighbors and on account of easy and rapid interchange of thought, we are slowly realizing that the world is a single cooperative group.
The discovery of steam power and electricity has worked wonders in all walks of life. Gigantic industries have come into being with the help of machinery and their output is of the finest and most durable quality. On account of large-scale production, the wealth of nations has multiplied to an immeasurable extent.
In the sphere of medicine, science claims splendid triumphs. Penicillin and streptomycin are the supreme wonders of medical science. Most difficult surgical operations are performed with the greatest possible ease. Treatment by X-ray, or radium is without parallel. Countless new drugs have been discovered to relieve and cure human suffering. It is not wrong to say that science has given eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf and speech to the dumb. She has controlled madness; she has trampled on diseases.
Apart from these, human comforts and luxuries have made life more attractive and worth-living. Electric fans and heaters make one forget the rigors of the season and the radio music removes fatigue after a hard day’s work. The printing press sends forth millions of news-sheets and magazines to eager readers. The cinematography, the gramophone and the stage made, lively by the aid of scientific apparatus, afford a grand recreation.
With its stress on the experimental and rational modes of enquiry, science has encouraged man’s outlook to be practical and logical. It has driven away numerous silly’superstitious and orthodox beliefs from human mind and made it more enlightened about the subtle secrets of both material and mental worlds. As the poet Mackay exclaims, it has replaced. Faith with Reason, Age with Youth
“Blessings on Science! When the earth seemed old,
When Faith grew doting, and our reason cold,
Twas she discovered that the world was young,
And taught a language to its lisping tongue.”
Prosperous cottage industries have been replaced by huge mills and factories. Instead of thriving villages, sinful and smoky cities have grown up. Wealth has passed into the hands of a few capitalists and the masses are ill-fed and ill-clothed. A perpetual struggle between the rich and the poor, the capital and the låbour, has made our social life full of discord and unrest. The mechanical civilization of the present age has dispossessed, impoverished and embittered our agricultural population, corrupted, coarsened and blinded our workers and given us millions of children with black faces, dead eyes, and drooling mouths.
Our material achievements, our control of physical forces, our airplanes and automobiles, have not added to the peace of mind or brought laughter back to life, or answered any questions about here and hereafter, Machines have snatched away from us the calm of mind and peacefulness of our environment. We are surrounded by a perpetual din and dazzle, noise and unrest: It is no longer possible for us to hear the still, small voice within us whose call is heard only in moments of calm reflection and contentment. Highly-refined means of recreation and articles of luxury have driven out our capacity of drawing joy from simple nature. The doctrine of the struggle for existence has fallen heavy on us and we are cracking under its burden. We have begun worshipping material success, are greedy for tangible gains and are governed by worldly standards, are caught in the entangling apparatus of money and machinery, have become violent, restless, thoughtless, indisciplined and unscrupulous. We are full of hurry and worry and in the midst of ever-increasing social and political excitements, there is no time for us to stand and stare, as the poet says, or to tarry a moment to enjoy the pious pleasures of meditation and quietude. In ancient times, life was much quieter and peaceful. But in the present age of facts this kind of peace is altogether denied to us. T.S. Eliot observes
“The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention endless experiment
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence.”
The purview of a scientist is limited only to the physical world of five senses. His approach is intellectual and unsympathetic. He is an unfeeling realist and studies the shape of things as it is and not as it ought to be. He ignores the spiritual aspect of things and the ultimate purpose of human life. He explains the phenomena of our existence merely in mechanical terms. The world of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness is proclaimed by him to be no more than a product of an accidental combination of atoms destined to end as it began in a cloud of hydrogen gas. For him, life is not the designed plan of a divine artist, but an outcome of the peculiar combination and collision of combination and collision of whirling atoms.
It is wrong to suppose that the world is a mere mechanical movement and mana purposeless force. Life is nut the product of mechanical laws, like a river carried by the force of gravitation from the cradle to the grave. The current of life drives man onward and upward on the path of evolution, and the driving power lies not outside him but within him. But the scientist does not comprehend the real nature of this driving power. His electrons and protons do not clarify the mystery of the soul. Besides, God and the soul cannot be treated as mathematical equations. Our deepest convictions for which we are sometimes ready to die are not the results of cold rational calculations. The decisive experiences of personal life cannot be comprehended into formulae. Life is not a simple geometrical pattern nor are men and women merely parallelograms. The essence of life is spiritual creativity. What makes man a man is not his physical and material richness but his sense of the eternal, his feeling for heaven and that immortal voice within him for the sake of which kings have Abandoned their empires and adopted the garments of fakirs, drunkards have broken their bowls and robbers have left their midnight rounds. Religion is the inside of civilization, the soul as it were of the body of its social organization. Scientific applications, economic schemes and political institutions may bring the world together outwardly but for a strong and lasting unity the invisible but deeper bounds of ideas and ideals require to be strengthened. In the work of rebuilding human family, the part of religion and morality is more vital than that of science.
The forces of Nature which were harnessed by science for the benefit of humanity, are now employed in the service of the Devil for the wholesale destruction of mankind. Wars, which were confined to the battlefront between two contending armies have now spread their field of devastation in which civilian population, with innocent men, women and children, are to be victims of ruthless and gruesome weapons of wholesale destruction, which are the products of highly scientific brains. Can we defend civilization by the instruments of barbarism? We have worked wonders in inventions, but at the same time committed blunders in morals. By our own acts, we have turned the Fair Godmother of Science into a Fury of invulnerable malignity. When people are asking bread they are being given bayonets; when Governments should count the heads in ruling over the country they prefer to break rather than count those dumb drifting heads. This is all due to the mechanized and commercialized spirit of our modern scientific civilization which “has brought to our windows a storm of unending disasters and impending dooms.”
Anyway, science has, on the whole, brought both Heaven and Hell in the world of man. It is not science but its misuse on the part of man that has wrought so much of havoc. Unless man is remade from within, there is little hope of science doing any good to him. He has to discover his roots in the eternal and regain his faith in moral and spiritual values. He has to believe in the principle of humility and sacrifice, not pride himself over his mechanical and material achievements.
“To fly in the air is no miracle, fur the dirtiest flies can do it; to cross rivers without bridge or boat is no miracle for a carrier can do the same, but to help suffering hearts is a miracle performed by holy men”.
Man has now to decide which way to move, whether to walk on the path of holiness or that of sorrow and death. Time has arrived when the children of humanity if they have at all a wish to survive in the process of their evolution, must get back from the path of hatred, Jealousy, and misunderstanding and restart their journey on a new path i.e. the path of truth, love and nonviolence.