By Dr Jyotsna Bhattacharjee
This is the age of science and technology, which has created wonders. Once in the past our ancestors would have regarded the scientific discoveries as miracles, but now they have become reality and we are reaping the fruits of the wonderful innovations of science. We have become acquainted with such amazing things,which our ancestors could not have even imagined. Life has been made much easier by the scientific discoveries. We have learnt from the Ramayana that Ravana, the king of Lanka, had a chariot which flew across the air and after abducting Sita he carried her off to his kingdom in his flying chariot. People thought that Ravana’s flying chariot was nothing but an imagination of the author, the great poet and sage Rishi Valmiki. The people in the ancient era possibly could not have even imagined that one day their descendents would fly across the air just like the king of Lanka, in aeroplane, a modern version for the flying chariot. This is one of the wonderful contributions of science to mankind.
Once travelling was a hazardous process. People had to make lots of preparations for days together to make a journey of even fifty kilometers distance. But science has made travelling much simpler. Besides cars, trains, ships etc., we have now aeroplanes. In the present era people can go for holidays in any place in the world without any hassles and these journeys are very easy and pleasant. So many wonderful things have been invented by science, which could not even be imagined a few decades back. People did not have any idea about computers, television, laptops, mobile phones, microwave ovens etc. But today the situation is such that people can’t even think of living without these scientific wonders. Countless wonderful things have been contributed by science to make life much more comfortable and enjoyable.
Today the world has become much smaller and we can view anything anywhere in the world on our TV screen, sitting in an armchair at home. After the invention of aeroplanes by Wright Brothers travelling has become quicker and easier and one can go around the world in the shortest possible time. Today one can have Breakfast in Mumbai, lunch in London and Dinner in New York on the same day. These things were unbelievable in the past.
Housewives too are having an easier time. They do not have to struggle with wood used as fuel for cooking, smoke and blackened utensils. With the production of LPG, cooking has not only become easier, but it has become enjoyable as well. With micro wave sort of cooking they can bring out dainty and tasty dishes instantly. Science has changed tearful cooking into cheerful one. The age has turned into the age of instant cooking and today everything is done instantly.
Science has also unfolded the mysteries of the universe by exploring into space. Astronauts have already visited the Moon and I have heard that they have visited Mars as well. It seems that nothing is impossible for science. The things which were considered as impossible some time back have been made possible by science and technology. In a way miracles have been created by modern science. That is why many people in the present era have become arrogant and conceited. Only the other day a friend questioned me regarding my belief in God and religion. I may mention that I am a deeply religious person and have abundant faith on God. This friend is aware of my faith. He said that my faith was nothing but superstition. He wondered how modern educated persons could be so ignorant of the real facts of life. I replied calmly that we cannot give evidence for every fact of life or for all our beliefs. Religion is a matter of faith and in a way it is a subjective feeling and one could not argue about a matter of faith. We all are finite human beings and our understanding or knowledge is limited. With our marginal understanding we cannot possibly claim to know everything and our ignorance cannot be a measure to judge our beliefs. So they should not be ridiculed or belittled. A finite human being cannot claim to know the existence of infinite transcendental Reality. That does not mean that we can reject religion or Reality, which is beyond our empirical knowledge of the phenomenal world. These things are happening due to predominance of science and people have come to believe that science can do anything—and there is nothing in the universe beyond what we see and know. But this kind of statement merely demonstrates the arrogance and ignorance of human beings.
We have to realize that science cannot interfere with the workings of God or His creations. Till now the scientists have not been able to produce any of God’s creations. As Thomas Alva Edison remarked, “Until a man duplicates a blade of grass, Nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favourable comparison with the products of Nature, the long cell of a plant, the final result of the rays of the Sun, the mother of all life”.
Science is beneficial no doubt and has contributed a lot for a comfortable life style and the world has also progressed enormously. But there is a dark side as well. We hear about lots of incidents which have occurred due to the harmful products of science. It is due to the scientific inventions that so many disastrous events have taken place. Science has both constructive and destructive aspects. It has discovered diverse medicines and remedies to extend the longevity of human beings and at the same time has invented lethal weapons to kill people instantly. So science works in both ways. On the one hand it has provided panacea to lengthen life and on the other hand it has given armaments to shorten life. So the goal of science seems to be contradictory. It has given us many things, which are beneficial and harmful at the same time.
Television is undoubtedly a blessing from science. It is highly informative and educative. It brings the whole world closer to our home. We see diverse incidents happening all around the world, sitting at home. It has also entertainment value Television brightens our dull and drab life with its wonderful presentations. The situation is such that today’s young generation cannot even imagine a life without television, since its presentations are highly entertaining. But it is also a fact that television has given many wrong ideas to its viewers with its crime stories and some serials, which are not suitable for children and young people. It is true that it also offers some educative programmes, but it is seen that children and youths are mostly interested in those shows, which are highly improper for them. Now mobile phone has become a very useful companion for everybody—from petty menials to multi—millionaires all over the world. Yet we often hear about certain evil activities of these mobile phones. Examinees use mobile phones to indulge in unfair practices. Some misanthropic persons click obscene or compromising photographs with the mobile phones and many other anti-social activities are performed with this indispensable adjunct of life.
Thus all the scientific inventions have both positive and negative aspects. They have increased the sufferings of the people and have also damaged the earth to a large extent. Once there was no impact of science and technology in the world. People did not enjoy the modern facilities of life, but apparently they were much happier than the people of this era. Now the technological progress has increased the sufferings of the people tenfold. It is also a fact that science and technology have helped the terrorists enormously to organize a reign of terror and do every sort of crime. Besides that scientific progress has also harmed the natural flora and fauna to a large extent, thereby pushing the earth to the verge of extinction.
We have heard that the polar bears are losing their natural habitat because of melting polar ice caps. For that we have to blame the veiled regress, masqueraded as “progress”, towards doom. Nobody can deny the benefits of technological progress. However the rampant destruction of natural resources is too heavy a price to pay for the so-called progress of technology.
We are living in a fast world, where everything is done very fast. But beneath the shimmering and complacent image of a fast man in a fast age, lie some disturbing questions. Are we bothering ourselves with fast information, speech communication, amorphous success, and abundant money to crazy limits? From the birth people make the journey to globalization and technology and they encounter many changes which are harmful. But we have not bothered about these terrible changes which may lead to disastrous consequences.
Human nature is such that the more one gets the more one wants. There is no limit to man’s wants. Man has gargantuan appetite, which may never be satisfied. Even though it may be said to be the natural attitude of mankind, it is not the right one. We have to put restraint on our insatiable greed. In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that greed is one of the doors to hell and so it must be rejected. Greed leads mankind to disaster. Hence wants of man and desire have to be put under restraint, because man’s unlimited want may cause extinction of earth and humanity.