The history of civilization is the history of science. From the age when man learnt the uses of fire and stones, through the ages when he learnt the methods of agriculture and the uses of copper, bronze and iron, down to the modern ages of steam, electricity and atomic fission, science had fed and swelled the stream of civilization. In fact, science is the very mainspring of civilization.
Science has given us all the amenities of life. It has made our life worth living. The physical comforts and luxuries, the means of transport and communication, the prevention and cure of deadly diseases – all these are the gifts of science. Science has diminished the strain on human muscles; it has relived man of much of his drudgery. It has given him leisure and opportunity for creative arts.
Science indeed has released man from bondage to nature. Man was born a slave to nature, science has made him master. If civilization progresses by increasingly establishing man’s command over the forces of nature, it has got science to thank most of all.
Nobody denies that science that helps civilization can make it as well, that scientific inventions can be exploited for the destruction as well as the progress and expansion of civilization. The opinion that science tends to destroy civilization is based on a superficial view of things. In the Dark Ages there was no science, and very little civilization. There was much hostility to science in the middle Ages and civilization then was not of a high order, too.
Science advances as speedily in peace as in war; only the inventions made in war catch people’s eyes and become spectacular. There are some who hold that science had led to greater and greater barbarism, and they refer to the horrors of modern warfare such as those of aerial bombing. But it would be wrong to blame science for this, nor can it be said that men are more barbarous now than they used to be once upon a time.
Science is concerned with the methods of warfare, not with the causes of warfare or the brutality it involves; and, if anything is to be condemned, it is war as a mode of international settlements. We should try to abolish war. Any attempt at strangling science would retard the progress of civilization but it would not help us at all to remove the possibility of war. Human society must be reorganized and reconstructed on a new model that will take the maximum advantage of science as a method of cure and construction and not of death and destruction.
Science has, indeed, immensely benefited mankind. It has created preserved and advanced civilization. Its potentialities will enable the entire people of the world, irrespective of class, creed or nationality, to lead a fuller and happier life. If all the potentialities of science have not been realized yet, it is because men are still engaged in enriching themselves at the expense of others. Science is an instrument of civilization and he alone is a good workman who can make proper use of his tools.