Educators are increasingly convinced they have found the way to world peace and unity... "education in the SPIRIT of SCIENCE." "Science is neutral non-political non-religious," they say. "Its products are universally desired." But what is the spirit of science? Can it bring peace and unity where all else has failed?
TRY TO PICTURE Alexander the Great as he might have commiserated with Julius Caesar over their mutual failures. Alexander is speaking: "Julius, old friend," he says, "I was sure I had the solution conquer-'em and then marry-'em. That way you keep it all in the family. But you know, somehow it didn't work. We finally developed a monumental case of incompatibility!" Then Julius Caesar, rolling his eyes in despair, replies sympathetically, "Alex, you had a great idea there, but folks are mighty fickle. You just can't depend on-'em. Spook-'em into line that's my motto! Tell-'em you're god that shakes-'em up. But you know, I never could convince some of my best friends!" Pretty farfetched? Yes, and yet in whatever age wherever in the world, the elusive dream of a ONE-WORLD SUPERCULTURE has fired the imagination of illustrious leaders from ancient times till now! None succeeded. Why?
A Chronicle of Failure
Man's history is an uninterrupted chronicle of powerful leaders soldiers statesmen theologians dreamers, who have tried literally everything from force of arms, to miscegenation, moral suasion, even religion in effort to establish a one-world "super-culture." Tragically, however, history is also an uninterrupted chronicle of man's abysmal inability to weld together the nations of the earth in peace and mutualism. World languages have been proposed. International legal bodies have been contrived without success. Nations have experimented with political, military, religious, and economic alliances to no avail. Utter failure has frustrated every scheme. Nevertheless, the dream still beckons. The unceasing search continues for some unifying set of values acceptable to all some belief or operative creed desirable enough and universal enough to bring all nations into common understanding and cooperation. Today the new hope is SCIENCE.
Worldwide Community Through Science?
Now, just as man's ecumenical resources seemed nearly exhausted, an exciting ground swell is sweeping the world. Everywhere, science and technology are transforming the minds and lives of whole nations. Among peoples of the most diverse and backward cultures there is a restless awakening an insistent hunger for more knowledge, better health, an abundance of material products, new ways of prolonging and enriching the enjoyment of life. In developing countries, opposition to change is breaking down. Tradition is gradually losing its power to perpetuate diversity. Make no mistake, there is a worldwide scientific-technological revolution under way. And everywhere it is producing startling results. Whatever their race, whatever their ideologies, whatever their historical backgrounds, whatever their social traditions differing cultures are beginning to evidence a unique new common identity. All nations are becoming concerned with the common aspirations, common material goods, common values, and common problems associated with science and technology. As a result, in the drive to enter the scientific age, cultures peculiar to emerging nations are being modified. Peoples everywhere are beginning increasingly to act, think, yes, even dress alike! Honda Coca Cola Volkswagen Telefunken Sony Boeing 707 desalinization bikini nylon nuclear reactor "the pill" IUD Red Mexican Wheat pesticides chemical fertilizer IR-8 Super Rice transistor and automation, for example, are fast becoming household words among an ever-widening circle of earth's population. "The most obvious result of the spread of science and technology to the developing countries has been the development of similar institutions and appearances all over the world." So reports the Educational Policies Commission of the National Education Association. "The same products, the same means of producing them, the same ways of organizing life so that they can be produced and used, and the same impacts on the appearance and structures of society tend to spread around the world..." (Education and the Spirit of Science, 1966, p. 5). Kenneth E. Boulding, professor of Economics at the University of Michigan also observed this growing commonality in experience and environment resulting from the introduction of science and technology. He wrote, "The super-culture is the developing society... [for example], all superhighways are the same superhighway; all chemistry departments are the same chemistry department... and in a very real sense, all universities are the same university." Expanding on this striking uniformity he remarked that, "Any university person can go into a university anywhere in the world and be immediately at home, especially in his own department. A chemist can go into a chemistry department in Tokyo, Peking, Moscow, Madrid, no matter where it is, no matter what the ideology is, and it is still chemistry. There is no such thing as Communist chemistry or Christian chemistry; there is just chemistry. Every discipline has a worldwide community." (Current Issues in Higher Education, 1966, pp. 14, 15) The spirit of science does indeed appear to hold great promise of cutting across national and cultural boundaries. A promise of finally binding together the peoples of the world in a long-sought oneness of thought, purpose, and aspiration a worldwide "super-culture." Exciting? A real breakthrough? Are science and technology finally the answer to all our longings? Is the world really on the brink of utopia and unity at last? Or is this merely another mirage on man's bleak horizon? What is this so-called "spirit of science" anyway?
Just What Do You Mean The Spirit of Science?
The "spirit" of anything is its essence, its motivating force, its heart and core. Just so, the "spirit of science" is the essence the fundamental guiding principles upon which modern science and technology rest. Look at this definition of the "spirit of science." According to the Educational Policies Commission, "The spirit of rational inquiry, driven by a belief in its efficacy and by restless curiosity, is... commonly called the spirit of science." More simply, the spirit of science is a boundless, optimistic faith in the potential of human reason and ingenuity to overcome every obstacle and to achieve man's wildest utopian dreams. "That sounds great!" you may be thinking. But wait a minute let's be sure we understand what is involved. Remember, educators are urging that the "spirit of science" become the common basis of curriculum everywhere. You need to know just what it is they are proposing to teach children and youth around the world. Let's take a look at the three pivotal values or beliefs which undergird the so-called spirit of science.
Human Reason Is Supreme Authority
Understand first that the spirit of science is, above all else, a spirit of absolute confidence in MAN. It is an attitude of mind which views man as the supreme culmination in the "evolutionary" scheme of nature the supreme intelligence. It is a mentality which ascribes unlimited power to man when he is free to pursue the processes of rational inquiry and experimentation. At its heart is the absolute conviction that there is no authority greater than the individual human mind! The "thinker," say proponents of the spirit of science, feels compelled to insist that his curiosity and activities cannot accept limits imposed by any external authority! Briefly, then, the key characteristic of the spirit of science is an absolute belief in the supreme authority of human reason. Man's mind becomes the measure of the universe! "But where does that leave God?" you are probably asking. The simple (and convenient) answer is DEAD! And that's the answer, direct or implied, that is being given to young people wherever the spirit of science dominates the school curriculum.
Certainty an Illusion
Now, let's consider the next point. The natural human mind can comprehend only those things which the five external senses can perceive the world of physical things the world that is known through taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. For the scientist who views his intellect as supreme, this logically means that the material universe is the limit of all possible knowledge and thus the limit of all "legitimate" scientific endeavor. The idea of supernatural knowledge is totally rejected. He is then nagged by the question of how accurately he is able to comprehend the material world. From experience he is suspicious of the limitations and imperfections of his physical senses. He doubts their reliability. Therefore, he is forced to conclude that there can be "no perfect knowledge and no perfect knower!" At length, the scientist is left with no alternative but to reason that certainty is unattainable and so the idea of certainty is replaced with the uncertain idea of probability! It has been said that "incompleteness rules science." The "scientist" can never rest assured that he has reached the firm bedrock of truth. For him to do so would be to fly in the face of his human reason! It would be utterly "unscientific." So a second characteristic of the spirit of science is a belief in the impossibility of certainty. At best, physical knowledge must be accepted as "hypothetical" and truth viewed as "relative." Certainty is an illusion! What incredible nonsense! It is this very teaching this popular agnosticism that is responsible for so much of the frustration and despair among the world's youth today. Ask yourself, "Can stability and unity come from confusion and doubt?" NEVER!
The Law of the Possible
In science, human reason is elevated to supreme authority. Certainty is replaced by probability. The "tools of science" are admittedly incompetent to deal with supernatural knowledge. So the spirit of science is necessarily disqualified from making moral judgments. The rational scientist disavows such considerations in his work. What is and what is possible are the limits within which he operates. The spirit of science walls itself off irrevocably from concern with what ought to be. Prominent author and social critic Archibald MacLeish recently wrote, "After Hiroshima it was obvious that the loyalty of science was not to humanity but to truth its own truth and that the law of science [spirit of science] was not the law of the good what humanity thinks of as good, meaning moral, decent, humane but the law of the possible." MacLeish concluded that the prevailing attitude is that, "What it is possible for science to know, science must know. What is possible for technology to do, technology will have done, regardless of anything!" (Saturday Review, July 13, 1968, p. 14) Yes, the law of the possible guides scientific endeavor. This is the third pivotal characteristic of the spirit of science. It simply boils down to complete freedom of action without moral responsibility! Wilbur H. Ferry, vice president of the Fund for the Republic, summed up the law of the possible in very pithy terms when he bitterly referred to... the high priests and acolytes of technology's temples... enraptured by the pursuit of what they most often call truth, but what in fact is obscene curiosity..." (Saturday Review, March 2, 1968, p. 50). It was that "obscene curiosity" which gave mankind the "Bomb" along with at least a half dozen other exotic means of annihilating all life from the planet. It also fathered the "Thalidomide generation." And it is that same obscene curiosity which is presently obsessed with the manipulation of human genetic structure, intrauterine surgery on the developing human fetus, and control of human behavior through implantation of electrodes in the brain! So there you have it. The spirit of science is a spirit of deep skepticism, doubt, and cynicism dehumanized, clinical, and coldly materialistic. It is essentially a self-seeking attitude, unconcerned with moral or social consequences A LAW UNTO ITSELF!
Up with Science Down with God!
Robert Sinsheiner, professor of biophysics at California Institute of Technology stripped away any sentimental illusions when he boldly declared, "The scientist has now in effect become Nature with a capital N and God with a capital G!" (Saturday Review, January 20, 1968, p. 43) Think about that! The scientist now openly claiming to be GOD! Does the impact of that remark shock you? What motivates such a conclusion? THE SPIRIT OF SCIENCE! Look around you. Look at the absolute perfection and balance in nature and the universe. Then compare it with the insoluble wretchedness, pollution, destruction, and chaos which man has produced. Can you honestly believe that human reason is the master of all things? What absurdity! And yet this is the spirit, the attitude, the frame of mind which educators hail as the basis for international unity. This is the mentality they are urging should be fostered in schools around the world!
Needed a New Spirit
Are we really so gullible and materialistic as to believe that a helicopter in every front yard, a synthetic suit of clothes on every back, a transistor radio plugged into every ear, a transplanted heart beating in every bosom, a frozen TV dinner in every belly, an electric toothbrush jammed into every mouth would bring world unity? Preposterous! And so what if science is now in almost full possession of the means to modify the hereditary nature of every animal, plant, and microbe on earth including man. What unity does that guarantee except perhaps height, weight, and color of hair and eyes? Would the Jew-Arab conflict disappear if we could get them together farming algae and reconstituting sewage for food? Are tensions decreasing in the world as one after another nation begins to share the scientific and technological know-how to produce nuclear energy? No! Just the opposite is true! Would the race problems around the world be settled if every native hut were equipped with color TV, stereo HiFi, an electronic oven, and inside plumbing? Don't you believe it! When will we learn that unity among men is a matter of heart and not hardware? And when will we learn that the spirit of science can only deal with hardware and not the heart? No! Education in the spirit of science is not the long-awaited Messiah. The only things it can deliver are flashy, chrome-plated, computerized, transistorized idols dedicated to man's lusts and programmed for frustration and destruction! Scientific process is being confused with human purpose. Man's highest calling seems to have become an unending, enervating round of production and consumption an irrational obsession with the manufacture of things to be squandered on self! English philosopher Aldous Huxley identified our dilemma with great perception when he said, "Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means of going backward!" Yes, what is desperately needed is a new spirit guiding the minds and lives of men a spirit of humility, compassion, service, and outgoing concern. Unfortunately, there is no science laboratory, no technological process, and no science education program with the power to implant that spirit in the hearts of men. But the GOOD NEWS is that there is indeed a MESSIAH the Jesus Christ of your Bible the very source and fountainhead of the SPIRIT OF LIFE AND LOVE. He has promised to bring UNITY and UTOPIA and TRUE SCIENCE to this earth SOON! And He will! Will you believe it?