The Progress of Science
“THE rapid Progress true Science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is impossible to imagine the Height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the Power of Man over Matter.”
American statesman Benjamin Franklin said these words two hundred years ago. He was optimistic about the progress science was going to make. But doubtless even he would have been astonished to see the giant steps science has made in the two centuries since his time.
Today science—or its application—is a part of our lives. Anyone who takes an aspirin, undergoes an operation, rides a bus or an airplane, makes a telephone call, watches television or allows wastewater to run down the drain, to be handled by the city sanitation department, is benefiting from scientific progress.
Science has even changed the way we view the world. At one time, food was just food. Now different kinds of food are scanned for calorie content, trace minerals and vitamins. Before the last world war, computers were things out of science fiction.
Now schoolchildren learn how to program them. And most of us are used to the idea that matter is made up of tiny atoms, which are made up of minute, highly active particles; or that the earth orbits around the sun, which is part of a vast galaxy called the Milky Way, which is just one of countless billions of galaxies in space. Since the days of Benjamin Franklin scientists have gradually filled out the details of this picture.
In advanced lands, science has achieved so much that many see it as man’s best hope for the future. Nobel prize winner Dr. Max Perutz clearly felt that science held the best answer to man’s problems. He said: “The priest persuades humble people to endure their hard lot, the politician urges them to rebel against it, and the scientist thinks of a method that does away with the hard lot altogether.” A recent humanist manifesto rejected the Bible as a source of truth and maintained: “We believe the scientific method, though imperfect, is still the most reliable way of understanding the world.” However, while science is indeed an outstanding source of knowledge, it has drawbacks.
g82 11/8 p. 3 The Progress of Science
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