The Quest for the Royal Road: Why is Man Scared of Scientific Progress?

Published: 12.03.2016

Question

One wonders what purpose has America fulfilled by releasing a Skylab in space? Has it not invited some trouble by doing so?

Answer

Inviting trouble is one thing and refraining from doing something for the fear of some trouble is another thing. Which work does not involve risk? Man is surrounded by dangers from all sides. Is it possible to abandon any work on that account? There are so many trains, buses and scooters going up and down every day and occasionally there are terrible accidents. But has the transport by these vehicles stopped even for a day? The bigger the work, the bigger the risks. Hence, because of the risks, it is difficult to stop any work. Basically man has two goals: spiritual and material. Those who live for spiritual ends, cannot make scientific discoveries nor carry out such experiments. But the people who are trying to reach the highest physical goals, make progress in that direction. Those who carry out such experiments consider well their benefits and harms beforehand. Even if the point of possible risks is set aside for a while, it must be accepted that this kind of work does not call for less courage. How much the scientists have to concentrate and work with dedication to reach their targets of physical progress: They live with the danger always hovering over their heads. If they succeed in attaining their goal, then the way is open for the next discovery. Otherwise sometimes there are wrong results. The Skylab is a space-laboratory. It must have been used with some special purpose so that mankind can achieve something new.

Question

Man is a developing creature. He has opened so many new venues of progress. He may be having a number of plans for future progress as well. Driven by the cherished desire for progress, why are such satellites being built that lead to destruction of human life?

Answer

Matter embodies power which is both destructive and constructive. Power as such can kill as well as protect. Which power is being used in what form depends on the user. Take for instance, the preparation of poison. Usually, poison is known to kill. Any person who consumes poison has to be prepared to die. But the same poison, when used as medicine, can cure diseases.

Probably the satellites too are not being built for destruction of human life. Through those satellites, so many things are being tested and so many experiments are conducted. But man after all is man. He has certain weaknesses and some imperfections, because of which he commits many wrongs wittingly or unwittingly. He releases a certain satellite with a special purpose. How far his purpose is right or wrong depends not only on his own thinking, but also on the impact of that satellite on the atmosphere and its final results. In this context, all that can be said with regard to this question is that it is difficult to call the building and use of these satellites as purely destructive or purely protective.

Question

Science is the special expression of man's intellectual competence. He has discovered many things in the field of science and also applied them in practice. Today also, all directions are opened for him. New discoveries are being made and experiments are being conducted. Are these things being done for man's benefit or to harass him?

Answer

We can only say that science is being used from the point of view of human welfare. If there is harmony between what is being said and what is being done, there can be no experiment which would aim at harassing mankind. In that case, all energy, time and money—that are being used for making destructive things would automatically stop and they would be used for the purpose of human welfare. We can actually see that some experiments are being carried out with that end in view. The work which has done with the labour of hundreds are thousands of labourers can now be done with the help of a single machine. Science has triumphed remarkably over a large number of natural adversities. Advance information is now available with regard to a number of conditions likely to occur. With that advance information, it is impossible to take atleast some precautionary measures. Inspite of this, it cannot be said that science is being used only for the benefit of mankind. There are many other points too, which cannot be disputed.

Apart from human welfare, atomic power is also being used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons for reasons of defence, revenge, competition, balance of power, etc. If some other country has nuclear capacity and it is thinking in terms of harming its neighbouring country, that neighbouring country too is forced to manufacture such arms. Otherwise, that country's sovereignty is bound to be angered. Some countries develop their war weapons with the idea of taking revenge. Some nations in their arrogance want to show their power, and for that, they manufacture destructive nuclear weapons. Some countries do not want to be left behind other countries and become competitors in the blind race. In this competition, one country wants to be ahead of the rest and the results of what happens in the course of the race have to be faced by millions of people. There is yet another purpose which drives nations towards this is that of balance of power. Leaders of some countries maintain that both the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons are fraught with danger. I agree with this view. Nevertheless, we are forced to be in the race in the interest of balance of power. If we do not do it, any nation could over-power us. Our people would be terrorised by the neighbouring nations. We have to be powerful to protect ourselves against that danger.

Inspite of all this, everyone knows that manufacture of destructive weapons would not allow man to live in peace. Even after reaching the pinnacle of material progress, unrest, anguish, fear and doubt still persist. That is exactly why big powers are signing pacts. Restrictions are being put on the manufacture of new weapons and wherever there is a possibility of new weapons being manufactured, attempts are being made to stop the process. Had science been used only for human welfare, there would be no need to put any limit to it, because no nation can put restriction to anything related to national welfare. The pact being signed between Russia and America and peace-talks between them, bring to light the fact some war weapons are dreadful and are capable of arousing fear in society. That is why they have to be kept under control.

So long as man is not sufficiently free from fear, he can be seized with fear is any situation. The main reason for fear and anxiety is that people want to live. No one wishes to die. Even the slightest fear of death makes man uneasy. But those who have laid down rules for moral conduct in our country have said:

"We should be worried about danger till we actually face it. But whenever any danger arises, instead of being in panic, we must fight it appropriately."[1]

Question

Dr. Thomas Blownwich who is a scientist and a technical adviser in American Embassy, in India said that it had been decided in the pacts in 1967 and 1972 that if any satellite caused any damage to India, America would meet the cost to make it up. Would America be able to make up for all the harm being done to mankind?

Answer

The tradition of making up for the losses due to some accident is not new. But this relates only to financial grants. Loss of property can be made with this, but no one can make up for the loss of life. In that situation, financial help is given to the nearest family members of the victims. Similar things have been agreed upon in those pacts. I think the promise to make up for such losses can be kept. But the greatest loss is not the loss of property and human life, but of the erosion of humaneness. If humaneness is well protected, then mankind would continue to make progress. After destroying humaneness, even if mankind is taken to the highest peak of material progress, the problems of unrest, fear and anxiety cannot be solved. In this age of nuclear bomb, anuvrat is the only philosophy which can make up for the aeration of human values. We must wait for the time when there is no cause for anxiety. We must constantly resolve to spend our energy in working for human welfare.

Footnotes
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Sources

Title: The Quest for the Royal Road
Authors:
Acharya Tulsi
Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 2013
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anuvrat
  2. Fear
  3. Science
  4. Space
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