Looking at the implications of modern science in the context of human life and civilization from the vantage point of the present stage, the view obtained may exhibit a bias either in favor or against the scientific age, depending on the inclination of the observer. To be able to take a completely impartial view of things, it is essential to go back deep into human history of the pre-scientific period when a man as a tiny helpless creature had to wage a relentless war against a rather unkindly and inhospitable environment. Shorn of his ‘horns and hoofs’ stripped of his coat of arms’, robbed of his ‘fang and claws! and incapacitated to speed fast to escape from danger due to a loss of agility the tiny creature with an erect posture had to stand defenseless in the midst of a ferocious land of beasts, and the crush”ing forces of a relentless nature all out to pounce upon him and annihilate him. Man of those days could never imagine that the human species would multiply and fill the earth to such an amazing extent as to get drowned in its own creation very much like the silkworm dying within the cocoon, created by its own self.
It would be readily conceded that man is the most helpless of all the creatures if one were to take into account merely the physical powers of man. Is there anything in the world more helpless than the human baby? How was man to survive in such a hitter struggle for existence? How could man compete with animals much more powerful than himself because of the natural defense-equipments which they possessed? The Fact stands out; however, that man is today the crown and glory of creation. One has just to pay a visit to any modern circus to see how the supremacy of man is so well established even on tee wildest of creatures. The fundamental issue that comes up is, what is it due to?
It is obviously due to the fact that man has the unique advantage of the faculty of thinking which is denied to the lower order of creation unless it is of the most rudimentary form. The evolution of the thinking faculty was a sort of compensation, an inevitable necessity, for the loss of physical strength. It would not be too much to say that man has survived mainly on the strength of his mind. The application of mind is to be seen in every aspect of human civilization and culture. Insufficiently evolved communities mentally under-developed communities–find it exceedingly difficult to make life easy and comfortable. The development of modern science is but one aspect of the development of the human mind.
Science is nothing but the faculty to reason out the how and why of things as they occur in the phenomenal world or the objective world of observable phenomena and this observation reveals that there is no arbitrariness in the happenings as they occur. The world outside is subject to the rules and regulations of nature. Knowledge of the behavior of the things in the external world makes it possible for a man to forge tools and equipment that would help him to produce much more than what he would otherwise do with his bare hands. Development of modern technology is directly the outcome of the development of modern science. The industrial revolution would never have been possible but for the scientific revolution. Most of the wonders of the modern age are the outcome of scientific technology based on the application of knowledge with regard to the laws of nature.
The Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution feed each other and lift the human race on to higher stages of growth if the knowledge acquired by man is rightly used for constructive, purposes. Technologically backward communities continue to struggle in the pre-scientific mode of existence of hard toil and meager reward and the communities which have achieved a high degree of technological advancement flourish in affluence and comfort, and a feeling of hope and confide ice fills their mind. Development of modern technology is a ‘must’ whether for warfare or for constructive economic development. Modern science and modern technologies are one and the same.
Innumerable are the benefits of modern science and technology. The biggest benefit seems to be in the form of an unprecedented increase in the productivity of means of entertainment. In the pre-scientific era, almost the entire time of man was taken up by the struggle for making a living because of the fact that the hardest of labor could produce but a meager fruit.
The vast majority of the masses, except for the knights and barons and the feudal gentry, kept on striving for a pittance with absolutely no leisure left for the development of their liner faculties. Such of the affluent as were inclined to refine themselves had the opportunity to do so, but no such opportunities existed for the common masses in spite of all their toil. The economic development of the already industrialized countries has brought about such a big revolution that affluence has come within the reach of one and all. This is, perhaps, the biggest event in human history. Even the lowest of the low can have access to the doors of culture which were formerly open only to the so-called aristocracy. For a complete flowering of human personality; the basic prerequisite is freedom from toil and grinding poverty. A great increase in the production of essential goods and services is a necessary pre-condition to provide opportunities to one and all, regardless of differences of race, colour, caste, etc. This appeared a mere dream in the pre-scientific era but it has already been realised, at least in some part of the world, and there is no reason why the same thing should not, in course of time, spread to other under-developed areas as well. The phenomenon of poverty in the midst of plenty due to unequal distribution of wealth and income and the ugliness arising therefrom seems to be a transient phase in the course of human civilization. Sooner or later, there is bound to be a better distribution out of sheer necessity and hence the benefits of science would no longer remain restricted only to developed countries. The benefits originating from the Industrial Revolution in Britain have already spread to other parts of the world. Science has made the world much too small a place. The revolution in transportation and communication is much too obvious to need any emphasis. The benefits of science have accrued in the form of reduction of human toil, improvement of productivity, creation of affluence and leisure and provision of ample opportunities to people from all strata of society. Many of the mysteries of the universe have been unveiled and forces of nature have been effectively harnessed madman in the service of man.
As against the benefit, there is the bane of science in the form of a loss of firm faith in good, goodness and virtue. The spread of rank materialism and a wicked glorification of a life of raw instincts of the animal in man are a disgraceful outgrowth of science Any misbehavior is justified in the name of science. Science and rationality stand for the thinking man. This man has grown so disproportionately big that the feeling man, the spiritual man and the simple man of action in the day-to-day world, bound by the rules of common virtues, have been pushed to the wall. Excessive growth of intellect alone may push men down into the scale of evolution. There is a lopsided development of the human race.
The biggest of the banes of modern science dangles on the head of the human race in the form of a colossal power of destruction in the hands of a few politicians of powerful countries, who have piled up atomic weapons, enough to wipe the humanity off the face of this earth. The annihilation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima is but a small sample of the destructive potential of scientific techniques. The human race may one day be devoured by its own creation acting like Frankenstein.
Wars of old were of a limited nature but today wars are no longer limited to the battlefield and the combatants. The power for fulfillment may turn out to be a monster that devours its own creator. The fate of man hangs by his moral conscience and moral conscience is not the outcome of science. The religion of love and self-sacrifice preached by Jesus, Buddha, and other saints and sages can save us from the ravages of science, to enjoy the fruits of science.