SCIENCE IS NOT ENOUGH
Science in the modern sense is hardly three centuries old. Three hundred years is a very short period in the life of humanity but even in [this short time the applications of science, its discoveries and inventions have become the leading factors inhuman life. Every moment of man’s life, figuratively speaking, is controlled by science. Agriculture, industry, medicine, surgery, the method of warfare, means of communication, transport and human comforts have been revolutionized by science. The secrets of nature have been wrested by the scientists and the most powerful forces of nature have been harnessed for the benefit of mankind. If the ancients could rise from their graves and see the marvels of our time they would be hugely bewildered. They would cut a sorry figure in the midst of the highly civilized, mechanized, refined and sophisticated life of today.
We have come to take the inventions of science for granted. But if we could travel back, say with the time machine of H.G. Wells, we should find life in the past a dull and drab affair. The primitive man had to bear heat and cold resignedly. He had to fetch water from a distant spring or fountain. He had to work hard in the fields from morning till evening.
Means of communication were few and slow. Transport was difficult. To take an example from the field of romance, the lover had no other means of talking to his beloved in far-off lands except through pigeons and parrots. Nala sent his message through pigeons to his beloved Damayanti. 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 clouds to carry his message to his sweetheart. “O messenger of mine; whence will thou get mine own tongue and mine own words to describe what I feel!”
All this is changed now. Life has become safer, swifter, more comfortable, and more pleasurable. In the sweltering heat of summer, the rooms are kept cool by means of electric fan, which supplies wafts of air.
The rooms in modem buildings are air-conditioned. A person sitting in these rooms forgets the scorching heat outside. During winter these rooms are kept warm by the use of heaters. In the past, people returned from long journeys dead-tired and footsore, their feet blistered and their bodies totally exhausted. Now journeys are comfortable. There are all the amenities of modem life in ships, aeroplanes and railways. The value of science in everyday life can be judged best from the application of electricity to the needs of a person in his daily life. To the house wife, electricity is more than a maid servant. The electric press for pressing clothes, the heater for warming water and preparing tea, the
refrigerator for keeping water, fruit, and vegetables cool, and various other electric devices and gadgets are immensely useful to her. Electricity also performs major tasks for us. Electric tools have made it possible to bore into the heart of the mountains, to divert the course of the rivers, to store water behind dams, to dig canals and construct barrages, to construct bridges and floating docks.
In the field of medicine, science claims splendid triumphs. Penicillin and streptomycin are in 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 human suffering.
Even so, it has to be admitted that science can give us comfort but it cannot give 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 dim and dazzle noise and unrest.
The struggle for existence hangs 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. We have been caught in the entangling apparatus of money and machinery; have become violently, 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 meditation and quietude.
The pursuit of science by looking at facts alone and ignoring the ultimate purposes has resulted in a lopsided growth. It has made the world jump forward with a leap, built up a glittering civilization, opened up innumerable avenues for the growth of knowledge, and added to the power of man to such an extent that for the first time it has become possible to conceive that man could triumph over and shape his physical environment. Man has become almost a geological force changing the face of the planet earth chemically, physically and in many other ways. Yet when this sorry scheme of things entirely seems to be in his grasp to mould it nearer to his heart’s desire, some vital element is found missing. There is no knowledge of ultimate purposes and not even an understanding of the immediate purpose; for science has told us nothing about any purpose in life.
It is wrong to suppose, as science does, 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 force of gravitation. The current of life derives 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 his driving power. His electrons and protons do not resolve the mystery of the 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 experience of a personal life cannot be reduced to formula. Life is not a simple geometrical pattern nor are men and women merely parallelograms.
It is this sense of the eternal, which must supplement and complete the knowledge known as science.
Science deals with the domain of positive knowledge but the temper which it should produce go beyond that domain. The ultimate purposes of man may be said to be to gain knowledge, to realize truth, to appreciate goodness and beauty. Now the world of Truth, Beauty and Goodness is proclaimed by the scientist 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 collusion of whirling atoms. But if we apply a little of reflection and try to break through the surface of things, we shall find that things do not move in a mechanical fashion. All the arguments of the laboratory, the formulae of the physicists, the smart phrases of the intellectual atheists are shamed into nothingness when we look at the majestic phenomena of nature, the stars, moon, sun, flowers, and fruits, hills and dales. The scientific method of objective inquiry is not applicable to all these and much that is vital in life seems to lay beyond its scope—the sensitiveness to art and poetry, the emotion that beauty produces, the inner recognition of goodness.
God save the man of science who believes in nothing but what he can prove by scientific methods. Science alone cannot explain the mysteries of life and existence. It is with the temper and approach of science, allied to philosophy and with reverence for all that lies beyond, that we must race life.