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Considering the violence that occurred during the previous century, can the Western ideas of science and reason be considered "progress"?

The twentieth-century witnessed the most technologically advanced nations in the world (i.e. Britain, Germany, France, Japan, and Russia) engage in two World Wars which killed millions of innocent civilians. Not only did the wars itself create unprecedented destruction, but atrocities such as the Holocaust were perpetrated by advanced, "civilized" nations. Although we have not had a major world war in seven decades, the most powerful nations in the world have created nuclear arsenals with the potential to destroy ever inhabitant on the planet. Finally, the Western lifestyle, perfectly exemplified by the United States, is warming the planet and destroying fragile natural ecosystems. Can this be considered progress?


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    Mar 3 2013: Matt, Issues like this would be easier to discuss in specifics other than generalities and knowing your location would be of great value in doing this .. IMO.

    Science is a tool that is used as a force for the good or evil. Reasoning is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.

    We have enjoyed a boom in science ... yes weapons are involved ... But so is space travel, medicine, entertainment, travel, comforts, and all types of electronics and toys ...

    We enjoyed the art of diplomacy after WW II notably John Foster Dullas, Henery Kissinger, and some Presidents that understood foriegn affairs. We do not have that talent available to us now and depend on diplomatic astute nations such as England to do our bidding. The USA is a failed diplomatic nation and has added greatly to our problems.

    The same problems exist today and throughout history ... kingdoms, dictators, fanatics, and the greed of man. I would consider that fewer of these exist today that ever before .... and yes that is progress.

    Matt ... I get the feeling that the real issue here is "green". Could you provide some guidance where you would like this conversation to go. Right now it the history of the world part one.

    I wish you well.

    • Mar 3 2013: I guess I was hoping that this conversation could go toward teaching ethical values of human dignity and environmental protection to our children, because I feel that we spend our lives living in comfort and hearing about how much better our lives are compared to just 300 years ago, yet we forget that we are still human. Although we may believe that we are more advanced than our ancestors, we still have the capacity to use our knowledge of science to the detriment of society. I think you are right in talking about "green" as an issue, and this is a perfect modern-day example of how we have to temper our science with ethics. Many scientists talk about science for science's sake or progress for progress' sake, but I believe that science is an incredible tool that can be used to achieve our goals that our founded on our beliefs and principles. Unfortunately, the prevailing attitude, as exemplified by nuclear weapons and climate change, is "to hell with ethics, if we can do it, why shouldn't we"
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        Mar 3 2013: Matt, Part of the problem is that we hear on the news fronm radicals in both arenas. President Obama poured millions into "green" that had no chance to succeed ... Americans took a bath. The environmental groups have assigned Al Gore to be the face of the movement when he is a punch line for cocktail hour jokes and has never dedicated any protion of his personal life toward the issue in fact much to the opposite.

        We have seen the same figures in the hands of spin doctors ... prove and disaprove all of the arguments until this year there appears to be a reversal in the findings that the earth is cooling again.

        Matt I agree that there are things we are doing that are abusive to the environment and we should stop. But until issues like the environment and immagration and so forth are taken serious and not just political sabre rattling for votes there will never be real change as you seek.

        Matt I might suggest that we, as a nation, begin to take our government seriously. If we returned to a Constitutional government, reduced the size and the programs offered ... and additionally took charge of the "career politicians" and made them once again servants of the people then we could seriously tackle the issues facing us.

        We need to focus on the things we can control and work toward those issues you have expressed.

        I wish you well. Bob.

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