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Has science made us gods even before we've become worthy of being men?

"Science has made us gods even before we are worthy of being men"
said the biologist and philosopher Jean Rostand almost 70 years ago, at the beginning of the Nuclear Arms race.

Is that quote even more true today or have we grown to be better people? Has science given us too much power? Will we ever be able to use that power responsibly?

I believe that science has given us power to create and destroy at "godlike" proportions, but we might've not grown enough morally to be able to use that power responsibly. I don't deny science, nor I think scientific knowledge can go "too far". What I'm worried about is how we use (or don't) that knowledge today and how shall we continue to use it in the future.

Just to clear things up: For me this question is purely a question about morals. I don't put any spiritual meaning in it. I don't believe people are divine, gods or anything "special" like that. Even with science we're still men with all the good and bad parts that come with us being just human.

  • Jun 27 2011: I believe this to be a complex subject and requires that several factors be looked at extensively. These factors include social change, morality, knowledge, wisdom and arguments such as "Nature versus Nurture" - who we really are and how we become to be who we are (Which I will not address as then my post would be too long).

    Nuclear destruction is on a lot of peoples minds. Many people believe that we will be our own end. It's almost universal that people realize that we are, in some shape or form, "in over our heads", or "too naive". I wonder if anybody has paused to ask why this actually is?

    During my life I have observed the human race to be very efficient at passing down knowledge from one generation to the next (comparatively to other things, such as wisdom). We have several different types of schools for hundreds of different branches of knowledge. Just look at the differences in science 500 years ago, or even 50 years ago - unlike then, scientists have been given almost free reign over their research.

    There is no doubt in my mind that knowledge is growing exponentially.

    During my observations of human race, I have found that in terms of wisdom, we seem to reinvent the wheel. We all seem to make the same mistakes as we go through life, we grow as a person through our experiences - whether its in love, or in science, one of our main approaches to life is to "live and learn".

    In my opinion, we haven't an efficient way of passing on wisdom. The only sure-fire way of understanding something to it's fullest extent, is to experience it, to make the mistake ourselves - and even then, some people are prone to making the same mistake again.

    We haven't the wisdom, the understanding to use the knowledge which is exponentially growing, until we find a way to pass down wisdom as efficiently as knowledge, the gap will only widen.

    As that gap widens, I feel our room for error only gets bigger.
    • Jul 17 2011: That couldn't be more true. We humans, morally, are still pretty much the same as we were a few thousand years ago. Of course, yes we don't really behave the same anymore, but that is more due to us being restricted to do so by rules. We still need incentives to to right, we still need punishments to stop wrong. IWe need to ensure a durable way to transmit not only knowlege, available to the grasp of any willing to work hard enough on it, but wisdom.

      If I wanted to give an easy answer, I would say ensure the elderly live on long enough to transmit their experiances. However, as you so effectively pointed out, most people nowadays feel not the need to seek them out, not untill it is too late. Another problem with this mistake is that not all elderly are the wise and knowlegable patriarchs and matriarchs. They are also humans, and as so, may be flawed.

      I believe storytelling is a very effective way to instill this at childhood. Not the modern, debilliting stories of piggie the puggy pink pig, but true actual stories, with deep morals and examples. As they grow up, don't indoctrinate them, use the Pythagorian kind of learning, in which they must develop their own thoughs rather than gobble up those they are given. Be a guide, not an instructor.

      Truth be told, there is no better way of obtaining wisdom than earning it. Forbidding something leads to indoctrination rather than comprehension, and hiding some things only makes them more vulnerable to them. Thus is indeed the greatest riddle of our time. How do we transmit wisdom?
  • Jun 30 2011: Wisdom for all! So how do we effectively pass on Wisdom? The first thing that comes to my mind - We have to look at the way we are treating our elders. In Western culture, when you get old, you are often assumed to be weak and feeble and incapable work. Unfortunately, our elders are looked upon as a burden, instead of a wellspring of knowledge and wisdom.

    I must say I have been guilty of such misconceptions. It took me 23 years to realize that my grandmother isn't just a sick old woman who has lost her mind. Once I began to ACTUALLY talk with her, I realized I couldn't have been more wrong.
  • Jun 21 2011: My opinion....

    Just like children, we (the human race) are still very naive. If we are the first species with a brain that allows us to be so creative and think on our own, then we definitely have much to learn. And, also like a child, we sometimes act like we are invincible, or unstoppable. Like Aaron Morrison was saying, in a previous post, "getting older makes you more able to see change... really you have a broader point of reference to base your thoughts/ideas/reality on..." we are very young as humans, and naturally, we don't always think about consequences. We may feel like we can act like God's, but we have so much to learn. I feel that we need to slow down a little, and take time to fully (as fully as we can) evaluate the consequences of our decisions.
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    Jun 17 2011: I remember my Dad saying the same thing decades ago… and all he would say when I asked he same question was.. “you will see son….”

    He was right about a lot of things.. more than I thought at the time… getting older makes you more able to see change… really you have a broader point of reference to base your thoughts / ideas / reality on…

    Take for instance the idea that we could throw our garbage out the window of our cars and expect it to somehow not matter… or pollute the water by continuing to disregard what we flush down the toilet or release from our factories… or how we allow large overflows of sewage… and somehow that wouldn’t matter either… well that was the view back then… wasn’t ok back then… and even more true today…

    Just stop look and listen… the world is groaning under the weight of our consistent disregard … Think I am being a little harsh here… check out any water related website..
    Or grab your camera and go down to the waterway where you live, take some photos and ask yourself would I drink that water… Check out the reports of how your water supply measures up.. find out all the chemicals that are in it.. I could go on and on but as this Sunday is Fathers Day, I’ll raise a glass to my Dad and say.. “you were right dad…” and even more true today!
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    Jun 19 2011: Hardly, if anything, to anyone who is paying very close attention, it makes us humbler or should. Because what the leading edge of science keeps bumping against lately is how much we don;t know and will never know . For example Perfect Sprials has thrown a big wrench into what decades of science had come to. Our science, our scientific model is very primitive and limiting..not just on science and its advancements but on us culturally because that same limiting paradigm is ingrained in us..etched in us. I love the kid in the TED Talk who as an intern at a pretty tiny second rate lab built a quantum object.However that kid thinks is what science needs ( but he's moving on..he doesn't want to have to do the Darwin thing and spend the rest of his life arguing with the ingrained entrenched establishment who have built careers and reputations on things they many not be quite right).
  • Jun 18 2011: We are NOT gods, a god-like creature would have some form of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power) or omnipresence (present everywhere).

    We are still men, our sticks for clubbing things have just grown more destructive. We are far from immortal.

    If people are going to cite Al Gore for anything climate related, have them try to find a conversation in which he addresses why meteorologists can't get their forecasts correct. Apparently our world is doomed in so many years yet we can't get an accurate weather forecast for the week.

    Yes we have made powerful breakthroughs as a species but it can all end in a flash today if a giant rock was to hit our planet.
    • Jun 19 2011: Of course we're not god(s) and we never will be. We're men with all the good and bad parts that come with this.

      However, our knowledge is giving us power of god-like proportions and to quote Churchill (not Spider-man!) -- "With great power comes great responsibility". Responsibility that we might've forgotten somewhere along the way.

      And yes it all can end in a flash. From a giant rock *or* a nuclear apocalypse.
  • Jul 8 2011: I know i am a little late entering the debate. I think this question has very interesting implications. And unlikely source of reading into this would actually be some smartly written superhero comics which give us an insight into how everyday humans would react to yielding powers which sort of us gives them demi-god status complete with the moral question and complexities that it brings. Watchmen would be a good example.
    I am not trying to trivialize the question, all i am saying is that since science provides humans to be creative on a "godlike" level, it is entirely upto us to use it responsibly, and based on the evidence, that is more or less the case. Even the abberrations have been well-meaning and we just need to focus on the creative aspect of it more.
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    Jun 26 2011: I think it is in our nature to question the morality of what we do with science. I’m sure that the individuals like those on the Manhattan project spent nights wonder if they were doing right thing. The old quote “it is not a question of can we but should we?
    I think we have to watch our moral compass more today then ever before because large corporation lead the exploration of our scientific endeavors. In the past, the major of those who sought knowledge went to universities and mostly looked to understand. Now, I believe more people are looking for a pay check and are willing to push the envelope without questioning it. They are not looking to understand but to bring results for the company. This in my opinion is the most dangerous type of science.
  • Jun 21 2011: I do believe we're getting ahead of ourselves. But it's always worked that way I suppose. I think it's very important that as we apply ideas, we always give credit where it's do. One smart guy comes up with an idea, the rest of the species eventually benefits from it, and then we all say how smart and great we are, while generally remaining ignorant of the specific details.

    I see it as the smartest among us bring it to the next level, and it forces people to become more educated about such things after being immersed in it long enough. Imagine if someone didn't have a concept of what germs were for instance.

    I think that as technology and science develops, it's also important to increase our education regarding it. When I hear a person on their cell phone yelling about how their "stupid" phone is cutting out, there's a part of me that just thinks, wow I bet this guy doesn't even know how a cell phone works in the slightest, yet here he is criticizing.
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    Jun 17 2011: What do you mean when you say "even more true today"? Can science make us "gods" at all? And does "gods" mean we're tinkering with evolution by exploring its scientific basic principles, or are you referring to something more spiritual? Maybe it would help if you shared *your* opinion about the topic with us to launch the debate?
    • Jun 19 2011: I think that by "Science has made us gods" he meant that science has given us the power to create and destroy at "godlike" proportions, at least that's how I interpret it. I am not referring to anything spiritual, nor I want to state a single correct answer or opinion.

      I just think it's about time we begin asking that question more often.

      PS: I edited the debate description to make things more clear. Tell me if there's something still unclear about the question. :)