Human development

“The non-scientist’s relation to modern science is basically craven: we look to its discoveries and technology to save us from disease, to give us a faster ride and a softer life, and at the same time we shrink from what it has to tell us of our perilous and insignificant place in the cosmos. Not that threats to our safety and significance were absent from the pre-scientific world, or that arguments against a God-bestowed human grandeur were lacking before Darwin. But our century’s revelations of unthinkable largeness and unimaginable smallness, of abysmal stretches of geological time when we were nothing, of supernumerary galaxies and indeterminate subatomic behavior, of a kind of mad mathematical violence at the heart of matter have scorched us deeper than we know.”

– John Updike

From a critical essay on evolution. December 30, 1985.

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One comment

  1. This is quite amazing and I need to read the rest of the essay.

    It got me thinking, though, about whether science has spoiled us. Instead of modifying our behaviour to fit into a technological world, it’s almost like we sit back and wait for science to solve our problems, be they global warming or cancer or waste or whatever.

    Perhaps science, with all its infinite wisdom, has also caused us to stop taking responsibility for ourselves and our world. The more we know about this habitat of ours, the more terrifying it seems and the less we seem to understand, and that distance between knowledge and the ability to take responsibility for oneself is enough to make people step back and wait for others to act.

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