But let’s keep this ‘criticality’ aside and talk about this need for an easier lifestyle that has done so much to us that has put aside from the Bushmen! All this biological, intelligible and genetic advancement, superiority and dominance – thanks to Science! Mankind’s greatest achievement till date! Is there any doubt? In the four hundred years since science went mainstream distancing itself from the concepts of philosophy and theology, we have learned how the universe works, changed our concepts of man’s place in it and developed the knowledge required to construct fantastic technology! We have a big history: the inspiring story of the universe – beginning with the primordial big bang and creating order out of chaos through self interaction, and finally life arising and evolving in our corner of the universe! We have developed models that describe the universe on the largest visible scales down to the sub atomic sizes; Astronomy, Cosmology, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, Physics, Psychology, animate, inanimate, eater and eatee! The models form a mosaic that overlap, interlock and superpose to form a seamless whole! An amazingly complete picture! Science has brought us closer to understanding ourselves and our universe since the renaissance that the other aspects have in centuries! There is still much to know and learn, but let’s take credit as scientists, or rather future scientists that much is known! And yes we should be glad to be living in a time when so much is known!
However science has a few shortcomings; it does not offer the illusions of certainty of a purpose. But when it comes to knowledge, science promises less but delivers more than its competitors in analogy, philosophy or theology! I would take Issac Newton over Rene Descartes, Emmanuel Kant, Socrates or Confucius any day of the week and all put together! Their ‘certain’ knowledge has largely vanished but Newton’s approximates and estimates are still used in many practical applications. Ask any mechanical engineer!
What I mean to say is, the other roads taken by man in quest of knowledge provide answers such that there is no more room for more questions. There are final answers that explain the unexplainable and there are more answers than there are questions! For instance, theology invokes the presence and effects of the almighty to explain the phenomenon that are incomprehensible to the average human mind. God! Dot! That’s the final answer to everything! I don’t like that answer, but who has a better one? That’s where science comes in! Science makes room for more questions than answers. The inquisitions of man are put to the ultimate test in this approach. Man is incessantly trying to find answers that explain everything! Unify everything! To do that he is allowed to make wild adhoc assumptions and estimations if they support the observations and the limit to the results are the boundaries of his imagination itself! That’s precisely why mankind has turned to science to provide us with answers!
What is the aim of scientific advancements? What is its purpose? Science, an end-product of man’s incessant search for answers wants and so desperately craves for unification. From unifying all matter to the atom to attributing light, sound and high-speed emissions to electromagnetic waves. Science wants a ‘Theory of Everything.’ But hey, a while ago weren't we discussing about the so called ‘everything’? Now, what do they call it? Ah, yes ‘God’! Today we see the world’s achievements finishing its seemingly circular path/ And now we see it ‘going back to where it all began’. To the concepts of theology to fill the loopholes marring our otherwise perfect theories. Google Noetic Sciences, people.
Despite its shortcomings, science has a tremendous track record. But the best is yet to come. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the late nineteenth century physicists who thought all the ‘important’ questions had been answered. There are still things the mind wants to know! What, if anything, was there before the big bang? How do you combine gravity and quantum mechanics? Is there a solution for global warming that is politically acceptable? Are there room temperature superconductors? How did life begin? How intelligent were the Neanderthals? How does the mind work?
The last strikes me as the most interesting question: the final frontier. It has the potential to open up a whole new front in the conflict between science and religion, or science and philosophy. But it is interesting nonetheless! Answering these questions and others will take clever theoretical approaches, clever experiments and clever financial managements. However the techniques of science are fully equipped to take up the task. And the only species powerful enough to lead this expedition is, of course mankind!
But what is science? In the final analysis, it is a human activity, an exercise of the human mind. We construct models and paradigms because that is how our brains and minds of synced up and evolved to deal with the complexity of our experiences. Thus the nature of science is tied closely with the question asked above: How does a man’s mind work? Ultimately, how science works and indeed, the definition of knowledge, are questions for neuroscience and the empirical study of the mind.
Man has learnt to exercise his command and control over the forces of nature. And then arose another question. Who controls man? Mankind in general! Because he began to measure power by another abstract quantity called money, which we’ll look into some other time! Coming back this money which as no real value began to make Man dance to his tunes and to bring him back to earth, man created a whole new branch of study, Commerce, Business Studies and Management. Banking and Economics to analyze and study money! Sciences in their own right!
But what I mean to say is this, man’s inquisitive nature, his quest for answers; his inability to accept blindly has all shaped up into what we call today as science. Man has made science his touchstone. His key to the answers hidden in the depths of this universe and the next! But what we must not forget is that it is science which has made mankind into the dominant species that he is today! His inability to accept inferiority has made him overcome his fear and given him the force to suppress the forces of nature and the wild. Science is what has lifted man from the likes of ‘just another primate’ to the ranks of the ruler and caretaker of this planet. Man made science to make mankind! Let’s make sure science makes us better human beings for benefit of both mankind and science!