As a scientist with a conscience, I am shocked almost every day by the uses that science has been put to on our planet in our present time. Science tells us that we have evolved as human beings from primates and then go on to make the assumption that this biological evolution is paralleled by cultural and social evolution. Indeed, science has given us the space program, laser, television, penicillin, sulfa drugs, and a host of other useful developments, which would seem to make our lives more tolerable and fruitful. However, we can also see that after three centuries of domination by science, it could be said that never before has man been so precariously poised on the brink of such total destruction. Why are so many scientists blind to this? Why aren't scientists - as a whole - standing up against the madness we see in the world around us?

The answer is that scientists, like any other group of people, come in all different shapes, sizes and with varying inner content in terms of conscience. I would like to give an example...

In the "Comment and analysis" section of the recent issue (24 June 2006) of The New Scientist, Richard Koch has published an article entitled "The fall of reason in the west ". It starts with the observation that
Science has been at the heart of western society for centuries, so why is it under attack as never before? [...]

The triumph of science explains, more than any other single factor, the west's enormous lead over other civilisations in technology, innovation, living standards and military might. Yet since the 1920s, and more particularly since 1970, western misgivings about science have greatly increased. Attacks have come from left and right, from intellectuals and anti-intellectuals, from the media and angry protesters, from Bible-bashers and New Age gurus. Westerners appear to have lost faith in reason and science. Why has science for the past 600 years been virtually a western monopoly, and what explains its decline in standing today?
The above comments are followed by a historical analysis of the role of science and then, Koch arrives here:
[...] Up to 1900, science had made the world easier to understand; thereafter it made it more difficult.

The other challenge was external: a much more critical view of science adopted by the rest of society. Science revealed a darker side. Suspicions arose that it was dehumanising and the tool of dictators. Then came the atom bomb. Since the 1960s, evidence has begun to pile up that science's triumphs are poisoning the planet.

The result is a widespread western, and especially American, descent into superstition. About 40 per cent of Americans believe that Genesis accurately describes the creation. There is an apparent belief in magic that has had no parallel since the Middle Ages. The growing anti-intellectualism has no western precedent at all. We are witnessing the elevation of emotion over reason, of personal conviction over hard thinking.[...]
So far so good. But then comes the following:
Does this loss of faith in science matter? Science seems impervious to attack. To a greater degree than ever, the world is being shaped by it. Scientific advance is unstoppable, constant and cumulative. There is no "alternative" science, no Buddhist science, no New Age science, no relativist science, no fundamentalist science. The funds for science keep coming, as does a ready supply of highly educated scientists.

There is an apparent belief in magic that has had no parallel since the Middle Ages
Apparently the author completely forgets the fact that "the mysterious" was very close to science all the time; think of Newton, think of Clifford.
But pause. Reflect on the inspirations for modern science: belief in God and belief in humanity, a rational world view, and optimism about humanity's place in the cosmos. Science, it seems, has disposed of much of what made it successful. It has eaten away at its thought-foundations: its contribution to human meaning, the human spirit and the non-material richness of civilisation has shrivelled.
"Optimism about humanity's place in the cosmos?" The author must be joking. The planet is on the edge of destruction because scientists are the slaves of politicians! What kind of contribution to human meaning has science to offer? The "Selfish gene" philosophy of Richard Dawkins? Or read this text by the physicist Freeman Dyson, member of the JASON defense advisory group, where he says:
[...]The prevailing view (Weinberg, 1977) holds the future of open and closed universes to be equally dismal. According to this view, we have only the choice of being fried in a closed universe or frozen in an open one. The end of the closed universe has been studied in detail by Rees (1969). Regrettably I have to concur with Rees' verdict that in this case we have no escape from frying. No matter how deep we burrow into the earth to shield ourselves from the ever-increasing fury of the blue-shifted background radiation, we can only postpone by a few million years our miserable end. I shall not discuss the closed universe in detail, since it gives me a feeling of claustrophobia to imagine our whole existence confined within the box (4).

I only raise one question which may offer us a thin chance of survival. Supposing that we discover the universe to be naturally closed and doomed to collapse, is it conceivable that by intelligent intervention, converting matter into radiation and causing energy to flow purposefully on a cosmic scale, we could break open a closed universe and change the topology of space-time so that only a part of it would collapse and another part of it would expand forever? I do not know the answer to this question. If it turns out that the universe is closed, we shall still have about 10^10 years to explore the possibility of a technological fix that would burst it open. [...]
The author of the New Scientist article concludes with these paragraphs:
Let's be clear: science will continue, driven by the search for profit and by humanity's ineradicable intellectual curiosity. There is little justification to abandon our trust in rationality and in science, for the best forms of civilisation depend utterly on them. But in losing the idea that science helps us all make sense of the world, the west has forfeited one of its main sources of optimism, success and commitment to a humane society.

Will science continue to lose its shine. Not necessarily. The notion that science deprives life of meaning is, after all, erroneous. Neither can science disprove the existence of God. What we may call the "lonely hypothesis" - that there is no rational and good God, and probably no God at all, that humankind is a speck of insignificance on the edge of a vast, pointless universe - has its own splendour, inspiration and self-justification. If nothing else will supply meaning in the universe, the existence and achievements of human intellect, creativity and love are quite enough.
Notice this: "There is little justification to abandon our trust in rationality and in science, for the best forms of civilisation depend utterly on them." The best forms of civilization? Which civilization? The one that has built nuclear bombs and used them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or the more modern one that is commiting crimes of mass murder in Iraq? In which sense is this science, now on the verge of replacing humans by genetically modified hybrids, the "main source of optimism, success and commitment to a humane society"?

And what "love" is he talking about when writing "If nothing else will supply meaning in the universe, the existence and achievements of human intellect, creativity and love are quite enough." As my wife, Laura Knight-Jadczyk has written:
Our lives, as individuals and groups and cultures, are steadily deteriorating. The air we breathe and the water we drink is polluted almost beyond endurance. Our foods are loaded with substances which contribute very little to nourishment, and that may, in fact, be injurious to our health. Stress and tension have become an accepted part of life and can be shown to have killed millions. Hatred, envy, greed and strife multiply exponentially. Crime increases nine times faster than the population. We swallow endless quantities of pills to wake up, go to sleep, get the job done, calm our nerves and make us feel good. The inhabitants of the earth spend more money on recreational drugs than they spend on housing, clothing, food, education or any other product or service.

The ancient evils are still with us for those who emerge from their "personal myth" long enough to be in touch with reality. Drought, famine, plague and natural disasters still take an annual toll in lives and suffering. Combined with wars, insurrections, and political purges, this means that not only are great numbers of people killed each year for political reasons, but also multiplied millions of people across the globe are without adequate food or shelter or health care. Over one hundred million children starved to death in the last decade of the 20th century. [The Secret History of the World]
The real Fall of Reason in the West lies in the fact that what we see in the world today is science being used to manipulate society, to make human beings into remotely controlled robots, to use "applied game theory" (see Lambda Corporation) in order to eliminate 99% of the population of this planet at the behest of their political Lords and Masters.