Regrets About Science and Technology

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Towards the Lost Paradise

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The general atmosphere and conditions surrounding us promise greatly happiness so long as science and technology with all their facilities and fruits are devoted to the service of humanity. Nevertheless, so far we have not been able to make proper use of these extensive possibilities. The happiness of humanity has been delayed. There is some doubt and despair because nobody has taken on the responsibility for guiding humanity to eternal bliss. Such will probably continue to be the situation until those who have authority and competence come to acknowledge their true responsibility.

In the past, cities and villages used to live in an isolation that was unpleasant, disorderly and devoid of spirituality. They were frequently visited by privation and pestilence and were permeated by immoralities. Moreover, they merely observed what was going on with indifference, believing life to consist of nothing but this. Today, it is obviously impossible to live with out-of-date conceptions which have nothing to do with reality. Continuing the old state being impossible, it means either following the new state or annihilation. We will either reshape our world as required by science, or we shall be thrown into a pit together with the world we live in.

Some believe that doing this will reduce man to a machine, and mankind to a swarm of ants, running the world in accordance with mechanistic science. This is not true at all! Just as the past was not without science, so too, the future cannot be without it; everything in the end is connected with science. A world without some science has nothing to give to man.

It is, however, true that in some of our cities man has been reduced, human feelings have been diminished, certain human virtues together with health and ability to think have been wiped out. But it is an injustice to ascribe all this to science and technology. The fault lies rather with the scientists who avoid their responsibilities. Many worrying conditions would probably not have existed if the scientists had acquired an awareness of their social responsibility and had performed what was expected of them.

Science means comprehending what things and events tell us, and what the Divine Laws prevailing over the universe reveal to us. It means striving to understand the purpose of the Creator. Man, who has been created in order that he shall rule over all things, needs to observe, read, discern and learn about what is around him. Then, he has to seek the way of exerting his influence over events and subjecting them to himself. At this point, by the decree of the Sublime Creator, everything will submit to man, who himself will submit to God.

Science, with all its branches such as physics, chemistry, astronomy, medicine and so forth, is at the service of humanity, and every day brings new gains which may also be gifts of hope.

There is no reason for man to be afraid of science. The danger does not lie with science itself and the founding of a world in accordance with it, but rather with ignorance, and the irresponsibility of scientists.

We acknowledge that some planned acts based on knowledge may sometimes give bad results, but it is certain that ignorance and disorganization always give bad results. For this reason, instead of being opposed to the products of science and technology, it is necessary to use them so as to bring happiness to man. Herein lies the essence of the greatest problem of mankind. It is simply not possible to take measures against the space age or to remove the thought of making atomic or hydrogen bombs from the minds of some people.

Given that science might be a deadly weapon in the hands of an irresponsible minority, we should nonetheless adopt science with its products to found a civilization where man will be able to secure his happiness in this world and the next. It is vain to curse the machine and factories, because machines will continue to run and factories to operate. So too science and its products will not cease to be harmful to mankind until the men of truth assume the direction of things and events.

We must not fear science or the technology it enables, for such a fear paralyses every sort of activity. Instead, we must be fearful of the hands using it. Science in the hands of an irresponsible minority is something disastrous which could on its own change the world into hell. Having come to know only after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that a monster of cruelty had exploited his studies of the atom, Einstein apologised in tears to his Japanese counterparts, but by then it was too late!

That calamity was neither the first nor will it be the last of its kind. Seas have been changed into sewage and poison, rivers into canals of filth, and the atmosphere into a fog of pollution by the barbarian minority, and this will continue to be so...

Mankind have never suffered harm from a weapon in the hands of angels. Whatever they have suffered has all come from deprived, ambitious souls who believe only that might is right. This situation will continue until mankind builds a world on the foundation of science and faith.

It is our hope that human beings will come to comprehend the nature of the world they live in before it is too late. Aug 1985, Vol 7, Issue 79