Science and Society

English Essay on "Science and Society"

A comparative study of modern life with that lived by our ancestors will at once show the remarkable difference between the two. It will be enough to say by way of appraising the distinction that their life was poor, insecure and conditioned by the forces of Nature on which they had no control, while our life is rich, comfortable and safe. We have also gained mastery over Nature and are harnessing her forces daily to our services. This radical change has been effected beyond doubt by the great revolution which has taken place in scientific knowledge and technique, particularly since the dawn of the twentieth century.

It is impossible and also needless to recount the numerous achievements that science has mastered in various spheres of life. in fact, there is hardly any minor affair, into which science has not penetrated. Modern life is, in short, synonymous with scientific life in two senses. First, all the countless innovations of science have some bearing on life, directly and indirectly. Secondly, science has so thoroughly changed the moods, that a life without the aid of science at every step, as now we receive, is next to impossible to think of. Without, however, going into any detailed analysis of what science has done for us, it will be better and sufficient to mention a few of its representative boons.

Russell has attributed two board contributions to science in relation to human life. The first is that science has enabled us to know things that were long considered unknowable. The second is that science has empowered man do things that our ancestors could not imagine. For all practical purposes, the vast range of scientific progress can be classified into these two categories — intellectual enlightenment and material comfort.

As to the first, the most striking contribution of science has been to liberate our intellect from the bondage of ignorance and superstition. Battering down one after another the citadels of ancient superstition, early science taught man and with proven facts that illness was not due to sorcery or diving displeasure, that failure of crops had nothing to do with angry gods or malignant demons; that eclipses and comets did not presage earthly disaster; that witchcraft had no foundation in truth; that the earth was neither flat nor stationary nor also the centre of the universe; and so on. But science did not stop with the removal of ignorance and unfounded belief, It proceeded on to build the foundation of knowledge, by explaining in positive terms the laws and phenomena of Nature. It went further and invented paper, printing and thus facilities the ever-widening diffusion of knowledge.

Modern science has gone still ahead and broadened the horizon of knowledge beyond imagination. The mystery of the unfathomable sea and the impenetrable sky has been un-shrouded with equal success. The biological history of man has been written. The whole universe has been brought within the range of telescope. Laws by which the universe is governed have been brought within the scope of definite calculation. As a result, it can now be predicted with great precision how the weather will behave, when there will be an eclipse and even which particular regions a cyclone will affect. Over and above, the space — the outer space — is likely to be conquered and at least a good bulk of knowledge about that is already at man’s command. All these and many others that are too obvious to need mention have raised human knowledge to such a height that between him and his mysterious Creator, there now exists only a thin screen which he may be able to pierce through in the not-too-distant future. In the realm of doing, as distinguished from, but not contradictory to knowing, science has achieved still greater wonders of an incalculable variety.

Science has relieved human suffering to a great extent, particularly our bodily sufferings resulting from disease. All those fatal diseases — leprosy, tuberculosis, typhoid — that once took a heavy too of human life are now treated with success. Epidemics are no longer dreadful to man because successful preventives exist to tight out the menace of cholera, small-pox and plague. Even cancer, though yet fatal, can be cured if detected at the early stage. Surgery itself has gone a long way to revive human sufferings and modern methods of surgical operation are safe and painless because of science.

Science has also extended human longevity beyond measure. It has analysed intrinsic contents of food materials and taught us to eat those that contribute to health and vitality. It has discovered the causes of various ailments and taught us how to resist their attack. Science has, in short, led man out of fear into the realm of hope — of safe longevity. Man is no longer helpless against diseases. He is now their master — preventing, controlling and curing them at his will.

Science has doubtless made modern life immeasurably comfortable. The aeroplane has made the whole world as small as a small country whose every corner can now be reached with ease and speed. The telephone and the wireless have dissolved the phenomenon of distance altogether. Electricity has brightened our nights as the sun brightens the days. It warms the chilly night as much as it cools the sweltering noon. Our mines are no longer unsafe, nor the factories hot like the hell. We work in the office, learn in the class and travel through the desert much more costly than our ancestors could sleep in their shady groves —- all due to the blessing of electricity. Thus, in every sphere of life science is found to have relieved bodily sufferings and made life safe and comfortable in a measure that our ancestors could not imagine.

Science has also made noteworthy contribution towards relieving the pangs of hunger. It has made man the master of nature and her wayward forces. It has introduced scientific irrigation and greater knowledge of soil. Science has taught us to combat pests. The cumulative effect of all this is much greater production of food. Besides, science is helping us to check the undue growth of population and thus prevent large scale death from starvation, exposure and mal-nutrition that would inevitably result from the excessive growth of population.

So, these are the services science has done for us. But they represent, quite truly, only a fraction what science has given man by way of making his life safe, comfortable, purposeful and worth living. The scope is ever-widening. Speaking of the march of science, Russell says: “When we consider how recently it has risen to power, we find ourselves forced to believe that we are at the very beginning of its work in transforming human life.”

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