Essay on Science and Civilization

By | June 15, 2019


  • Miracles of science
  • The conquest of nature
  • The discovery of steam power and electricity
  • Progress of science in the field of medicine and surgery
  • Increase of comforts and luxuries
  • The practical and rational approach of science
  • The evils of science
  • The downfall of cottage industry and the rise of capitalism
  • Loss of mental peace and happiness
  • The growth of materialistic civilization
  • Failure of science in grasping the spiritual reality
  • The invention of destructive weapons
  • Conclusion


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 an other. Let us first deal with the blessings of science.

The conquest of nature

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 the 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.

[the_ad id=”17141″]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 neighbours 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

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.

Progress of science in the field of medicine and surgery

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-rays 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

Increase of comforts and luxuries

Apart from these human comforts and luxuries have made life more attractive and worth living. Electric fans and heaters make one to 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 newssheets and magazines to eager readers. The cinematography, the gramophone and the stage made lively by the aid of scientific apparatus, afford a grand recreation. [the_ad id=”17142″]

The practical and rational approach of science

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,

T was she discovered that the world was young,

And taught a language to its lisping tongue.”

The evils of science

But there is nothing like unmixed good in the world. Human life itself, as Shakespeare declared, is but “a ming yar – good and ill together.” The ugly yarns which science has woven in the garments of human personality are not negligible. Owing to the increase of scientific inventions, man is gradually giving up the use of his limbs and has become physically poorer. The railway and motor vehicles have become his real legs; cranes and lifts his real arms, machines, and printing press, his real brains. Machines were made to be man’s servants, yet he has grown so dependent on them that they are in a fair way to become his masters. Already he finds it difficult either to work or to play without machines, and a time may come when they will rule him altogether, just as he rules the animals.

Downfall of cottage industry and the rise of capitalism

Huge mills and factories have replaced prosperous cottage industries. 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 poor, the capital and the labour, 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 dropping mouths. [the_ad id=”17150″]

Loss of mental peace and happiness

Our material achievements, our control of physical forces, our aeroplanes 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 contentment and us to hear the still, small. 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 stands, are caught in the entangling apparatus of money and machinery, have become violent, restless, thoughtless, undisciplined 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 mediation and quietude. In 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 growth of materialistic civilization

No doubt, science has developed wealth and material prosperity of man but wealth is not the be – all and end – all of human life. The greatest fact in the history of man on earth is not his material achievement, the empires he has built and broken but the growth of his soul from age in his search of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. It is supposed that if everyone has complete material satisfaction, his desire for heaven and higher ideals would be put to an end. But is there any material benefit more valuable than life, any material loss more awful than death? We are ruled by passions and ideals rather than by economic interests. We are human beings, not merely producers and consumers, shopkeepers and customers.

[the_ad id=”17144″]Even if this world becomes an earthly paradise dripping with milk and honey, even if cheap automobiles and radios were made available to all, we will not have peace of mind or true happiness. America is one of the richest countries yet of the world it is surprising to note that the greatest number of murders is committed there and American dramatists and novelists write the largest number of tragedies. Never before has crime been so frank and triumphant as it is in this land of unparalleled prosperity. Similarly, the wealth of London, Paris or Berlin has not resulted in the development of a higher type of character. The great wealth that the mechanical and commercial civilization of the modern age has given to Europe is not a blessing but a curse in disguise

Failure of science in grasping spiritual reality

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 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. The noble thought, the mother’s tear, the saint’s deed – all are the products of chance, created in the wind and scattered in the dust. There is no purpose in life, no spiritual force at the heart of things. But if we apply a little of reflection and try to break through the surface of things, we all find that the things do not move in a mechanical fashion, as the scientists would have us believe. All the arguments of the laboratory, the formulae of the physicists, the smart phrases of the intellectual atheists are smashed into nothingness when we look at the majestic phenomena of Nature, the stars, moon, sun, flowers and fruits, hills and dales. We find that a blind mechanism, a whirlpool of chance – guided atoms could not have formed them. They bid us to assert that there is definitely the conscience of some Supreme Being without whose grace and skill they could not have come into existence.[the_ad id=”17151″]

It is wrong to suppose that the world is a mere mechanical movement and man a purposeless force. Life is not the product of mechanical laws, like a river carried by the forces 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 soul. Besides, God and 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 immoral 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 be 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.

Invention of destructive weapons

The forces of Nature, which were harnessed by science for the benefit of humanity, are now employed in the service of Devil for the wholesale destruction of mankind. Wars, which were confined to the battle frönt 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.

[the_ad id=”17141″]By our own acts we have turned the Fair God-mother of Science into a Fury of invulnerable malignity. When people are asking breads 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.”

y our own acts we have turned the Fair God-mother of Science into a Fury of invulnerable malignity. When people are asking breads 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, sciences have, on the whole, brought both Heaven and Hell in the world man. It is not science but its misuse on the part of man that has wrought so much of havoc. Unless a man is re-made 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, for 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 non-violence.

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