A more recent fashion has been to think that we're pretty much doomed by science and technology and icky stuff like that. Maybe that's passing, along with nostalgia for the sixties. And that's another topic.
Almost.1, the notion of inevitable progress wasn't all that daft. From 1801 to 1899, a huge number of things we take more-or-less for granted were developed:
- The Jacquard Loom
- The McCormick reaper
- Steam locomotives
- The telegraph
- A variety of electric lighting devices
- Air conditioners
- Kidney dialysis machines
- Neon lights
- Talking motion pictures
- Radio transmitters and receivers
- Okay: so not all inventions caught on
Then 'natural therapies' became popular starting around the sixties. Maybe folks were paying attention, after all.
I've mentioned lobotomies in this blog (August 26, 2009), and discussed the practice briefly in another one. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (June 17, 2008)plowshare was a big step up in its day.
So were antibiotics and other medical technologies that took diseases like cholera out of everyday life in many countries. Haiti's one of the places that's revisiting that part of the 'good old days' just now.
While I'm thinking of it, there's a list of charities helping Haiti - and other places - in another blog. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (January 15, 2010)) No pressure, but a whole lot of folks in a lot of places could use help.
So, do I think that medical science and technology is good? By itself? No. That doesn't mean I think it's bad, either.
On the whole, I'd rather live now, than in the 'good old days' before the 19th century. Partly it's because I can remember when polio was being stamped out in this country. And I was paying attention when the green revolution happened. Norman Borlaug and all that. Never heard of him? I'm not surprised. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 18, 2007))
I've discussed this before. In my opinion, there isn't any such thing as "evil" science or technology. It's what people decide to do with them that has a moral dimension. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (December 2, 2009))March 20, 2009) As it is, we've got folks who go a bit nuts when they hear the word "evolution."
I'm sure that some of the religious folks who don't like what's been discovered over the last few centuries are very sincere. That doesn't mean they're right. And it sure doesn't mean that everybody with religious convictions regard ignorance as next to Godliness. (March 6, 2010)
Coming from another direction, there are other folks who may be quite sincere in their conviction that religion must be suppressed in the name of reason and science. Again, sincerity doesn't imply accuracy.
Others are convinced that religious people - particularly those Christians - are ignoramuses who hate logic, reason, and science. I can see how they might get that impression.
Provided they carefully avoided learning about the Catholic Church.
Introduction to a publication for a science convention at the Holy See:
"Certainly the Church acknowledges that 'with the help of science and technology…, man has extended his mastery over almost the whole of nature', and thus 'he now produces by his own enterprise benefits once looked for from heavenly powers' (Gaudium et Spes, 33). at the same time, Christianity does not posit an inevitable conflict between supernatural faith and scientific progress. The very starting-point of Biblical revelation is the affirmation that God created human beings, endowed them with reason, and set them over all the creatures of the earth. In this way, man has become the steward of creation and God's 'helper'. If we think, for example, of how modern science, by predicting natural phenomena, has contributed to the protection of the environment, the progress of developing nations, the fight against epidemics, and an increase in life expectancy, it becomes clear that there is no conflict between God's providence and human enterprise. Indeed, we could say that the work of predicting, controlling and governing nature, which science today renders more practicable than in the past, is itself a part of the Creator's plan.Folks who don't like the idea of human beings being different from aardvarks and chiggers probably wouldn't like that "mastery over ... nature" thing. It's yet another thing we're supposed to feel guilty about, I gather.
"Science, however, while giving generously, gives only what it is meant to give. Man cannot place in science and technology so radical and unconditional a trust as to believe that scientific and technological progress can explain everything and completely fulfil all his existential and spiritual needs. Science cannot replace philosophy and revelation by giving an exhaustive answer to man's most radical questions: questions about the meaning of living and dying, about ultimate values, and about the nature of progress itself."
)Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 6 November 2006."
From "Plenary Session on The Scientific Legacy of the 20th Century" (PDF) (28 October - 1 November 2010))
Me? I don't have trouble with the idea that God made us in His image. (January 25, 2010) Which doesn't mean that I think we should pour raw sewage into our drinking water. We've got brains: I figure we're expected to use them. (September 23, 2010)
Then there's what Pope Benedict XVI had to say, earlier this week:
"Science leads to truth about God, humanity, Pope says"The CNA article has more about what the Pope said, including the observation that science isn't something that answers all questions about our existence. And it's not a bogey man that'll kill us with atomic bombs and bug spray.
Catholic News Agency (October 28, 2010)
"Science in the 21st century must work for the 'true good of man,' the Pope told a group of scientists Oct. 28. The 'positive outcome' of this century largely depends on it.
"The Holy Father hosted members of the Pontifical Academy for Science in audience at the Vatican. The group is gathered in Rome for the academy's plenary meeting examining 'The Scientific Legacy of the Twentieth Century.'...
"...The task of science, rather, 'was and remains a patient yet passionate search for the truth about the cosmos, about nature and about the constitution of the human being,' said the Pope....
"...The Church 'is convinced that scientific activity ultimately benefits from the recognition of man's spiritual dimension and his quest for ultimate answers that allow for the acknowledgment of a world existing independently from us, which we do not fully understand and which we can only comprehend in so far as we grasp its inherent logic,' he said...."
A balanced view? I think so.
- "Science, Religion, and the Pope"
(September 17, 2010)
- "Physics and God, Hammers and Architects"
(September 7, 2010)
- "Report of a UFO Would 'Destroy One's Belief in the Church?!' "
(August 6, 2010)
- "Stem Cell Research: Backed by the Vatican, No Kidding"
(April 28, 2010)
- Home Schooling, Religious and Moral Instruction, and American Culture"
(March 6, 2010)
- "Next-Generation Prosthetic Hand - and Intel Says Direct Neural Interface Brain Chips by 2020"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (December 2, 2009)
- "Tofu Turkeys, Genetically Altered Foods, and the Evil Eye"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (November 14, 2009)
- "Hard Science Fiction, Cultural Blinders and Laban's Sheep"
Drifting at the Edge of Time and Space (October 29, 2009)
- "Food, Agriculture, Technology, and City Folks"
Drifting at the Edge of Time and Space (October 2, 2009)
- "Emotions, the Frontal Cortex, The War on Terror, Anarchists, and the Illuminati"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 23, 2008)
- "Starvation, Poverty, and Perceptions"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 18, 2007)
- Norman Borlaug and the green revolution
- "Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences"
Benedict XVI (October 28, 2010 )
- Pontifical Academy of Sciences
- "Plenary Session on The Scientific Legacy of the 20th Century" (PDF)
(28 October - 1 November 2010)
- "Scientific Insights into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life
Plenary Session (October 31 - November 4, 2008)
Acta 20 Vatican City, 2009 pp. LXVIII-622 ISBN 978-88-7761-097-3
- "Plenary Session on The Scientific Legacy of the 20th Century" (PDF)
- Tales of Future Past
David S. Zondy
- "It wasn't that long ago that we had a future. I mean, we have one now; the world isn't going to crash into the Sun or anything like that...."
1 As I've written in another blog, America isn't perfect. But I don't buy the idea that this country is the source of all the world's ills. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 3, 2008)
About the two cities affected by nuclear weapons: I don't have the conventional knee-jerk reaction to that. I don't think war is nice. I'm sad that so many people were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On the other hand, I can't work up serious regret that a decision was made which - in all probability - saved an enormous number of Japanese and allied lives.
I'll admit to having a personal stake in the matter. I'm one of the many people on both sides of the Pacific who almost certainly would not be alive today, if a conventional invasion of Japan had occurred - with the sort of suicidal defense which had become routine for Japanese forces and the civilians they controlled. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (October 16, 2009, March 24, 2009)