When one reads of the marvels of science in the newspapers and periodicals of the day, he often wonders what happened that things got off the track before they got to him as a customer or beneficiary, whichever way you want to term it. Scientific carburettors in your car which flood, wonder drugs which clog your kidneys and decorate your skin. He has never been taught that scientific laws operate only when the circumstances are just so and that even scientists do now know all the angles about these circumstances and that the circumstances themselves are often
beyond human control due to their nature, complexity and multiplicity. Soon he begins to wonder where science is.
To look for science one does not look under a davenport cushion, as one does for lost loose change, but into the minds and hearts of the human race. As the first is always subsequent to the latter, we will have to make our start with the heart which I am using to refer to the combined emotions of the human race. man felt long before he was able to think and it was probably his feeling about certain matters which brought thinking about.
His first emotion was probably fear of the awful forces about him which seemed about to and usually did overwhelm him. He looked upon these forces as beings like himself or the animals he had seen. He first believed that he could propitiate these forces as he could others of his kind and there began many of the ways and means man has developed to survive the perils of nature and to make himself happy and comfortable. If he had spat over his left shoulder during a flood and he was not washed out of his cave, he decided that spitting over the left shoulder pleased the god of waters and this became a magical formula for protection and, lo, superstition was born. It is not necessary to go into detail to show how polytheism developed, a practice which persists to this day, even in the supposedly most enlightened nations.
A group of tourists stands in front of the Pantheon in Rome and admire the beauty of its architecture and marvel at its antiquity. Then anything from a pitying smile to downright indignation for the benighted heathen who could worship so many gods when we have found the better way and worship only one. These tourists may include anybody from the newly rich, whose ignorance might be in inverse proportion to their wealth, to college professors, even scientists, who should know better.
If we are downright honest with ourselves, we will all of us admit that we have a little private pantheon of our own-all of this in spite of our public avowal of monotheism. In addition, we have a public pantheon which we politely do not call by that name.
The first god of our public pantheon is the almighty dollar. This god receives more constant attention than any of our other gods. Service is done to it day and night without cessation. Even though we have removed the mink coat from it by going off the gold standard and replaced it by the dyed skunk of silver, it is still highly worshipped and greatly sought after. It seems that the more it is debased, the more it is desired.
The next god to be mentioned is science. This god stands high in the list almost next to the almighty dollar (Zeus or Jupiter whichever you prefer). As soon as people found that applied science added to their comfort, science was elevated to godship and is now worshipped by the multitudes. When it was found that this new-found god could do great service for the god dollar, he has been worshipped blindly.
Lastly, I shall mention the God whom, with much beating of breasts, we proclaim to be THE ONE, and the Only One we worship. I mention Him last because He is the last One thought of. He receives perfunctory attention about two hours per week sandwiched in between blaspheming the ball at early morning golf and blaspheming the Sunday drivers and the mosquitoes and the ants at the Sunday afternoon picnic.
When He does get any particular attention it is when we are at the end of our rope. Then we ply Him with prayers of a most selfish and personal nature and usually wind up with a lot of advice with and feeling of gratitude for the good things we already have. But even God has been pressed into the service of our modern zeus, though we stoutly maintain that we use the dollar in the service of God.
Another great tendency of man is to prostitute or exploit his gods. He wishes to be a god himself and thereby control his pantheon. He even prostitutes his dollars.
Now, science is one of the victims of man’s prostitution. The evidences of this are legion. So, it is in these various houses of prostitution (I do not mean the kind that have to do with “ladies of joy”) that we must look for science. As soon as science is applied, it becomes exploited. Worst, of all, it is bent out of its path-which is the endeavor to find Truth-to kill great numbers of people in the shortest possible time (an old time prayer to destroy our enemies with special concession to ourselves), as witness the subsidy by the Government of all atomic research; to make money, as witness all industry; in more direct relation to ourselves, the great pharmaceutical houses rushing to be first on the market with some half-tried drug so that particular house can make a killing. Freedom of science is lost because its real purpose is denied it.
Another crippling feature is our handling of scientific method. Individuals, even with comparative freedom, try to make science prove that some pre-conceived theory, or better termed, wish, is correct. Instead of being open-minded, tolerant, humble and with a healthy doubt of his own findings, the would-be scientist is just the opposite and jams everything through to suit his ends.
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is where science is and why your carburettors flood and your kidneys clog. It is man’s desire to be a god, a thing entirely out of his province, and to do so he must exploit all his gods, and in so doing exploit his fellow man.
As I look out on his troubled world through those little peepholes which are my eyes, a couplet from a very beautiful poem comes to mind. It is from Oliver Goldsmith’s Deserted Village. It should be posted in every room used by man. It reads:.
“Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay”.
320 ONTARIO STREET,