Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why Study Science?

Anonymous said:

At times I wonder . .. without all those advances in science, will human life be less happy or will it be less satisfying. I truly doubt so.

So what have all these advancement contributed to? They simply give us more reasons to earn more, to be financially successful so that we can enjoy them. Do the poor get to enjoy them? No.

Science saves more lives but it also kill more lives.

Improvement in science without improvement in our spiritual level is basically a zero sum game.

My Reply.

You commented that:

(i) you have doubts that without the advances in science human life will not be less happy or less satisfying and

(ii) that the poor do not get to enjoy what the advancement in science contributed.

These are very general statements. The issue is not on the study of science to generate more knowledge, which is neutral. It has more to do with the our wisdom (the ability to use the knowledge and experience) individually, collectively or as a country,to make sensible decisions and judgment.

As a country Singapore has not done too badly in transforming itself from a third world country to a 2nd if not 1st world country within a span of 48 years since we gain self governing status in 1959. We should ask ourselves how did we do this and what more could have been done? This is a question which many in the developing countries asked us.

We never had much science education and its application during the colonial days. We just existed and had hardly enough to live on. Now science education has given us more to live on and something to live for. The rest is up to us.

We must never allow ourselves to kill the spirit of science, the spirit to ask questions to get knowledge which can help us move forward. During the colonial days many of us have been taught the virtue of ignorance as expressed by the poem by Thomas Gray “On a distant prospect of Edon College” It reads as follows:

“Yet ah : why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late.
Any happiness too swiftly flies,
Thoughts would destroy their paradise.
No more, where ignorance is bliss
‘Tis folly to be wise “

Gray emphasized that WHERE ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.

As I grew up I discovered that

Not all ignorance is bliss

Remaining ignorant is easy. It makes one lazy and selfish – two of human beings most pronounced and common trait. It only makes it easier for others to manipulate or control us.

After that I tried to learn how to be wise to search for wisdom with integrity and honesty for the good of others because “ When Wisdom reigns, Knowledge is Divine.”

Fewer people will be confused if we can do that.

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