Science—Mankind’s Ongoing Search for Truth
Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century
NINE, eight, seven, and counting! Countdown for a rocket launch? No, rather the countdown for the number of years that are still remaining before humanity is thrust into the uncertainties of the 21st century.*
Based on the scientific achievements of the past century, many may sincerely believe that science can cope with any challenge the 21st century might bring.* They may feel as did a French author at the turn of the 20th century. “Science is today destined to rule the world,” he wrote. “From now on world rulership belongs, not to the deity, but to science, to science as the peoples’ benefactor and mankind’s liberator.”
For science to live up to these expectations, it would have to undo many of the problems it has helped create.
The environmental devastation for which science is responsible is tremendous. The book 5000 Days to Save the Planet asserts: “If we keep on our current course of environmental exploitation, the question is not will modern society survive the next century, but will it disappear with a bang or a whimper?”
This hardly seems like an acceptable choice.
The Limitations of Science
“Many scientists of the 19th century . . . often felt that they would someday achieve absolute truth and ultimate understanding,” says the book The Scientist. “Their successors,” the book continues, “speak only of reaching ‘partial understanding’, of continually approaching truth but never grasping it completely.” This lack of absolute knowledge seriously limits what science can do.
Scientific facts have never changed over the years, whereas scientific theories have—and this repeatedly. In fact, at times theories have lurched from one extreme to the other. Medical scientists once thought, for example, that withdrawing blood from the body of a seriously ill person was the scientific thing to do. Later they thought that infusing blood was the answer. Now some are beginning to recognize the wisdom of not doing either and of searching for less dangerous alternative treatments.
Obviously, what scientists know is far less than what they do not know. The World Book Encyclopedia notes: “Botanists still do not know exactly how the process of photosynthesis works. Biologists and biochemists have not yet found the answer to the question of how life originated. Astronomers have not yet developed a satisfactory explanation of the origin of the universe. Medical scientists and physiologists do not know the cause or cure of cancer or how to cure the various virus diseases. . . . Psychologists do not know all the causes of mental illness.”
Science is also limited in the sense that it can be no better than the people who pursue it. In other words, a scientist’s lack of knowledge is compounded by his imperfection. The authors of 5000 Days to Save the Planet discovered that “time and again . . . special-purpose organizations have manipulated research, distorted cost-benefit analyses and suppressed information in order to sell harmful products or to continue activities which are detrimental to the environment.”
Even if the majority of scientists are honest, this is still no reason to place them or their activity upon a pedestal. “They are just like everybody else,” argues British-born Edward Bowen, himself a scientist. “They all have their failings. Some are dedicated, some unscrupulous, some sharp as a whip, others dull as dishwater. I’ve known some of the great names of science, men who have done tremendous good for the world. And while I’ve known no scientist who’s been in jail, I’ve known some who richly deserved to be.”
Clearly, because of its many limitations, modern-day science is not up to meeting the challenges of the 21st century. Especially has it failed to protect the environment, and rather than help rid the earth of war, it has helped create weapons of mass destruction.
Urgent Action Needed
Everyone agrees that something must be done soon. Last November a group of 1,575 scientists, including 99 Nobel prize winners, issued a statement entitled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” in which they wrote: “No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.” They asserted: “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.”
Similar warnings have been sounded before. In fact, in 1952, Bertrand Russell, a 20th-century British philosopher and himself an advocate of science, said: “If human life is to continue in spite of science, mankind will have to learn a discipline of the passions which, in the past, has not been necessary. Men will have to submit to the law, even when they think the law unjust and iniquitous. . . . If it does not happen the human race will perish, and will perish as a result of science. A clear choice must be made within fifty years, the choice between Reason and Death. And by ‘Reason’ I mean willingness to submit to law as declared by an international authority. I fear that mankind may choose Death. I hope I am mistaken.”
The truth is, people willing to abide by righteous standards are nowadays in short supply. The late civil rights leader Martin Luther King correctly noted: “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” Yet, Russell actually hit upon the solution to the world’s problems when he said that mankind will have “to submit to law as declared by an international authority.”
Who Can Solve the Problem?
True, Bertrand Russell was not referring to a divine authority when he spoke of law as declared by an international authority. Yet, obedience to the laws of such an authority is exactly what is needed. Human laws and human authorities are definitely not the answer. They could never change the world and thus prevent disaster. The dismal record of history proves that humans need divine rulership.*
Indeed, only Almighty God, whose name is Jehovah, can provide an international authority with the power and ability to meet the challenges of the 21st century. (Psalm 83:18) The authority that all must submit to if they would receive life is God’s Kingdom, which is a heavenly world government established by the Creator, Jehovah God.
Long ago the Bible foretold regarding this government: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called . . . Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7, King James Version) This foretold child, Jesus Christ, was miraculously conceived by the virgin Mary and was born in Bethlehem of Judea.—Luke 1:30-33.
While on earth Jesus taught his followers to pray about God’s government when he said: “You must pray, then, this way: . . . ‘Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.’” (Matthew 6:9, 10) Only Jehovah God’s powerful holy spirit, or active force, can help willing people to make the necessary changes in their lives in harmony with the righteous laws of his government. Science cannot. Thousands of years of discord and confusion are proof that it cannot.
Jehovah God, who is unlimited in accurate scientific knowledge, will see to it that the earth enjoys Paradise conditions, even as they existed in the garden of Eden, when he created the first human pair. At that time he instructed them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) Although they failed to be obedient and did not carry out that assignment, Jehovah God will see to it that his original purpose for this earth to be a paradise is fulfilled. “I have even spoken it; I shall also bring it in,” he says. (Isaiah 46:11) But when will God’s original purpose for the earth be fulfilled?
Jesus Christ and his apostles described conditions that would exist on earth in “the last days,” immediately before God’s Kingdom replaces all human governments. (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:3-14, 37-39; 2 Peter 3:3, 4) When one reads the Bible prophecies cited here and compares them with world events, it becomes clear that we are living at the time when God’s Kingdom will take the action described in the Bible at Daniel 2:44: “In the days of those kings [the human governments now ruling] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”
Life in the Near Future
Just imagine what that will mean for the near future! What marvelous things are in store for humankind during the coming century, if not even before! The bad effects of thousands of years of imperfect human rule, hypocritical religion, greedy commerce, and this world’s science will be replaced by divine rule, which will bless humans beyond their greatest expectations.
This is how the Bible describes events that are certain to transpire in God’s righteous new world: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.
Therefore, of primary importance to you is to be aware of the countdown that will end shortly at the destruction of this world system that is under the control of the powerful, invisible world ruler, Satan the Devil. (John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4) It is vital that you learn God’s will and do it, for the Bible promises: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17.
So, then, as long as time allows, may you wisely take advantage of Jehovah’s provisions for survival. Then you will be privileged to enjoy life in the future, yes, during the upcoming 21st century—as well as during the 22nd, 23rd, and countless others thereafter.
Technically speaking, the 21st century will begin on January 1, 2001. Popular usage, however, views the 1st century as being from the year 1 through 99 (there was no year 0); the 2nd century, from the year 100 through 199; and accordingly, the 21st century, from the year 2000 through 2099.
This is the last in Awake! magazine’s six-part series on science.
The ineffectiveness of human governments was highlighted in a ten-part Awake! series (August 8 to December 22, 1990) entitled “Human Rule Weighed in the Balances.”
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In the Midst of Bad News, Good News
Despite scientific progress multitudes of starving children and emaciated adults are still to be found. But soon under God’s Messianic Kingdom, “there will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”—Psalm 72:16.
Despite scientific progress oppression and violence are still the lot of millions. But soon the King of God’s Messianic Kingdom “will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. . . . From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul.”—Psalm 72:12-14.
Despite scientific progress the number of street people, bereft of housing and sufficient food, continues to grow worldwide. But soon under God’s Messianic Kingdom, people “will certainly build houses and have occupancy . . . They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating.”—Isaiah 65:21, 22.
Despite medical progress preventable diseases continue to kill millions. But soon under God’s Messianic Kingdom, “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’”—Isaiah 33:24.
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Everywhere on earth life will become a delight
Courtesy Hartebeespoortdam Snake and Animal Park