Science: a friend or a foe?
At the very outset, we must know what science is before considering its role as a friend or as a foe. Science is described as a body of knowledge ascertained by observation and experiment. The knowledge is critically tested, systematized and then brought under general principles. The foundation of scientific method embodying the aforesaid traits is laid down for ascertaining facts through observation.
Scientific method has opened unlimited possibilities of scientific and technology progress. The cycle of discoveries continues uninterrupted to render it possible to make the best use of natural resources. The developed countries through research and development are spearheading new changes in technology in the manufacture of consumer as well as capital goods. That is how, there is a rich variety of goods available to satisfy the ever changing desires of the consumers. Technology changes are visible in every sphere of life. One sees new designs of automobiles, new architecturally designed buildings. There is newness and innovation all around. New production techniques are used to increase production and minimize production costs. That is how the cycle of change in the field of technology goes on. It is due to continuous application of Research and Development (R & D) that technology tends to be changed and perfected. One may ascribe the economic-cum-technological progress of scientific method, which has opened vistas to new scientific developments.
Scientific method has given a death blow to superstitious, irrational beliefs, dogmas etc. Things are now interpreted in terms of why and how and that has dissolved superstitious, dogmas etc. In the Western society dominated by rationality, there is no room for the aforementioned evils to thrive. However, in backward societies, characterized by ignorance, low literacy levels, economic poverty, superstitious like fear of black cats magic etc., have a tendency to thrive. Scientific outlook is anti irrationality. Diseases considered fatal before the discovery of scientific medicines, now are controllable due to the widespread use of anti-biotics. The life span has increased. The death rate particularly in the developing countries has shown a marked decline. There is now scientific treatment of human diseases. The influence of magic or some other evil forces no longer holds now. However, backward communities are will subject to these forces, but with the spread of education the hold of magic is getting loosened over time.
The best thing about science
One of the good things done by science is that it has fought against poverty, hunger and diseases. Poverty has yielded to prosperity in developed countries since the advent of the Industrial Revolution. The graph of economic prosperity continues to rise over time as reflected in the higher living standard in the economically advanced countries. The underdeveloped countries also struggle hard for the eradication of poverty through economic development but owing to a number of constraints of diverse nature they do not succeed in accelerating the growth rate to seek diminution in economic poverty. The initial development gap between the developed and the under-developed countries continues to widen with the passage of time. Poverty could be eradicated if the developed countries aid the poor countries in terms of technology and other economic inputs like capital, investment resources etc. The poor themselves must ensure development sustaining milieu. If poverty's existing dimension remains at the international level, science is, ,in no way, to be blamed rather it is the psychology of man veering round selfishness, greed, avarice which should be held responsible for it. If the benefits of science are not shared equitably between developed and poor nations, then science is least to be blamed for that.
The major benefit which science has conferred on man is the conquering of discomfort and pain. Scientists who have discovered various sorts of pain-killers are great benefactors of mankind. Life, in technologically advanced countries, has virtually become pain-free, whereas in backward countries human beings die like animals. Pain kills man in poor countries. The latter are poor in every respect. People in poor countries are born to experience pain in life. Experience the pain of poverty throughout which further gives rise to a series of pain. They suffer from the pange of hunger and privation. They suffer from physical pain. The educated section of society in these countries suffers intellectual pain when it finds economic exploitation as order and other socio-political evils on the rampage. No doubt pain is the basis of life, but one has a feeling, they are over exposed to pain. A leading plus point of science is that it has conquered discomfort and pain.
Benefits for the people
Science has conquered physical environment. There is a revolution in the means of communication and transportation. Transport is civilization. This revolution has made world a one uni. Any disturbing development in any part of the world is instantaneously flashed the world over. It is a great contribution of science to enable man to survey and explore the hidden secrets of space and other planets. Man has taken rapid strides to discover gaps in space, but as the saying goes, he does not show awareness of gaps of space gaps. With a change in the physical environment, man's seen even in the remotest corners of the world. People in the under-developed countries are gaining consciousness of the fact that poverty is not something unconquerable, rather it is conquerable through technology and other tools of development. Their aspirations have gone up, and when aspirations remain unfulfilled, they generate frustrations. Alongside the rising material aspirations, there are ever increasing human frustrations. It is a serious problem with which under-developed countries are confronted. But the blame cannot be put on science, but on man who has failed to establish an egalitarian order under which fruits of development could equitably be shared between rich/poor nations/individuals within countries.
Misuse of science
Politicians have been misusing the discoveries of science. It is like giving a sharp-edged weapon to a small child, who initially would injure his own fingers and then deploy it further as a means of destruction. One may say that science has given immense powers to man in the form of nuclear energy to which he shows the mentality of destructive powers. Science does not suggest that it should be used for the annihilation of man. It is a different matter that the ruling politicians in their egotistical forts prefer to use nuclear energy for destroying their foes. That is how, nuclear energy being a blessing; becomes a source of destruction. It should be borne in mind that science is ethically neutral, as its function is to discover the laws of nature. It has nothing to do with the ethical judgment of things. Through inductive, deductive methods, science yields generalizations based on empirically tested facts. So the blame for putting nuclear energy to destructive purposes squarely rests with the ruling politicians and science can not share the blame.
The upshot of the discussion is that science is a friend of man. If there is a foe that is within man himself. Let man conquer his foe through love and not through hate. Herein comes the role of religion, which of course, cannot be compared to science because of fundamental differences between the two. Religion stands for 'what ought to be' and this aspect can exercise wholesome influence on containing the evil instincts in man.