Modern age is the age of science. Everyday new inventions are made. Everything the man uses has been given to him by science. He cannot live without science even for a single day. Science has given eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf and limbs to the cripple. It has made man fly in the sky like birds. It has achieved wonders. Let us here consider some of its important effects on human civilization.
It is said that modern civilization is a scientific civilization. It is true as far as the material aspects of civilization are concerned; man lives in great comfort today. He enjoys the cinema, the radio and the television. He can talk with his friends thousands of miles away from him through the telephone. Science has increased human comfort and lessened human drudgery. He has no longer to travel on foot. He can travel comfortably without any fatigue in cars, air-conditioned trains, buses, etc. he has no longer to bear the hardships of weather. In the summer, he can cool his house by electric cooler and in winter heat them by electric heaters. Day and night make no difference to him, for night can turn into day by electric light.
He has no longer to work hard like his uncivilized forefathers. Neither does he follow barbarous practice of having slaves. Science has given him slaves of a new kind, which do all his work for him. Machines are the slaves of modern scientific civilization. These slaves do all his work for him while he himself lives like a lord. They cook his food for him and even serve it to him. They manufacture everything that he uses from morning till night. They plough fields for him, sow seeds and reap crops for him.
Human pain and suffering have been conquered by science. Modern civilized man has not to suffer like his forefathers. Many diseases have been conquered and operations can be performed without the patient feeling any pain. Many wonderful drugs have been discovered and man’s life on this earth has become longer and happier. Man lives in comfort likes the lord and master of nature. He has conquered even outer space, mastered weather and all other living creatures. He is powerful like gods are not supposed to have.
But there is another side also to this picture. Science affects only the material aspects and makes man materialistic. Radio, television, cinema and costly furniture and dresses are the symbols of this artificial civilization. But civilization has material as well as spiritual elements. Science helps only the growth of the material aspects and has no influence on the spiritual element.
Science has made man morally bankrupt. It has degraded him. He is no longer inspired by noble ideas. He thinks only of the body and not the soul. Science has made irreligious. He has lost faith in religion of god. He has no longer truth-loving and self-sacrificing. In order to satisfy his wants and desire, he uses dishonest means. By hook or by crook, he wants to posses the luxuries provided to him by science. No moral considerations influence his actions or his thoughts.
Art and literature are also essential aspects of civilization, but science does nothing to promote them. Rather it has an adverse effect on the growth of art. There is inherent opposition between art and science. Science is utility, observation and experiment, reason and good sense, while art is the worship of beauty. It is an inspiration. Science has killed the artistic sense of man and has made him a worshipper of worldly wealth. He now dissects and kills objects of nature instead of enjoying their beauty. As the poet William Wordsworth has said, man now murders to dissect, and perhaps he would botanize even on his mother’s grave. His emotions and passions have all dried up and he has become a monster guided by reason alone.
No doubt science has given man power fit for the gods, but it has not increased his wisdom or his morality. It has given him the right use of those weapons. It has given him machines, but machines are now becoming his masters. Man today does not know when to cure and when to kill. He has got the atomic energy but he does not know how to use it for his own good and prosperity. In this way, science has brought human civilization to the verge of ruin.