SCIENCE AND CIVILIZATION
—By LUTHER BURBANK
Science is knowledge —arranged and classified according to truth, facts and the general laws of nature. . . defined more briefly as "organized human knowledge" or "human experience tested and set in order."
There are always at least two sides of every question which may be suggested to the human mind. Sometimes both views are correct, but far more often ...one is right, and according to facts and truth, the other —wrong. All personal, social, moral and national success depends upon ...the judicious wisdom of our choices —made by the aid of science. Narrow personal prejudices and feelings —quite too often becloud the issue— and ultimate defeat is the inevitable result.
Life as we see it around us on this planet is usually thought to be confined to man, animals and plants ...those organisms which grow and reproduce their kind with more or less precision. Why should we omit crystals ...which grow as truly as plants and reproduce themselves quite as precisely to type ...or the more primitive forms of life which are reproduced by divisions? Science is proving that the world is not half dead, but that every atom ...is all life and motion.
Life is self-expression ...intricate —organized polarity. The lure of happiness and the fear of pain are fundamental qualities possessed by all living beings and are the two forces which have —through untold millenniums— kept what we usually call life ...from annihilation by the ever encroaching outside forces of destruction. Life is ...heredity plus environment. At the birth of a plant, animal or man ...heredity has already been fixed. Environment may now call into action ...only those tendencies which have been experienced in the age —long past, yet ...may recombine and intensify them in a most surprising way, but is limited generally to the individual. By slow increments —generation after generation— these ...by repetition continued in the lives of the individuals —at last become fixed and available in the species.
Assimilation and reproduction are, and of course must be, fundamental and universal. The power of adaptation —to various conditions which beset all life— may also be considered as fundamental for the continuation of any species. All these various powers of adaptation have to be acquired individually and repeated infinitely until —so fixed in the life stream— that they are reproduced. Repetition ...is the means of impressing any quality or character in animal life or in man. And by just the same means ...plants are impressed, and their qualities and habits changed ...as we desire. All life ...depends upon a series of selections and repetitions.
The first faint glimmering of choice ...may be seen in the polarity of the magnet. Next, we see it perhaps in plants and the more primitive forms of life. And, as we mount higher and higher in the scale of life ...there is more and more freedom of choice and less dependence upon heredity.
Ancient tribes and nations had many gods, often one for almost every phenomenon of Nature. The Hebrews have the credit of inventing the conception of our monotheistic Jewish-Christian God ...who, however, is represented as jealous, cruel, vindictive and having most of the weaknesses and bad habits of primitive man. This was a step in the path of evolution towards man's present conception of God —the God within us— who is the only available God we know. The clear light of Science ...teaches us that we must be our own saviors ...if we are to be found worth saving. In other words, to depend upon the "kingdom within." The manhood and womanhood which would make the most of life in service to others ...is a sublimated form of the best of self —which leads the way to a long lifetime of usefulness, happiness, health and peace.
There are without doubt some human beings in every nation, who —according to our present standards of civilization— are truly civilized. But grave doubts may be entertained ...whether there is any community or nation today —who could in any way— measure up ...even to this standard scale of life. We find more and more freedom, but even man today is far from free. Slaves yet to ...war, crime, bigotry and ignorance—the only "unpardonable sin." Slaves to unnumbered ancient "taboos," superstitions, prejudices and fallacies, which however, are one by one—slowly but surely— weakening under the clear light of the morning of Science ...the savior of mankind. Science which has opened our eyes to the vastness of the universe and given us ...light, truth and freedom from fear ..where once was darkness, ignorance, bigotry and superstition. There is no personal salvation, there is no national salvation ...except through Science. There are too few who exploit the inexhaustible forces of nature and far too many ...who exploit their fellow beings. Useless waste and unnecessary parasitism takes at least nine-tenths of the productive capacity of the United States.
Will the growing intelligence of man (Science) forever tolerate the wholesale production of the ever-increasing proportion of idiots, morons, Mongoloids, insane, criminal, weak, destitute, nervous, diseased half-men and women ...who infest the earth to their own sorrow and disgrace and perhaps the ultimate destruction of our present state of civilization? A knowledge of the fundamental laws of Nature —not inefficient palliatives— is the first step. Is there a problem equal ...to the building of better humanity? Our lives, as we live them, are passed on to others —whether in physical or mental forms— tinging all future lives forever. This should be enough of an incentive for one who lives for truth and service to his fellow passengers on the way. No avenging Jewish God, no Satanic Devil, no fiery hell ...is of any interest to him. Science and Religion have no differences. Every human being is more or less religious. The scientist is a lover of truth —for the very love of truth itself— wherever it may lead. Every normal human being has ideals —one or many— to look up to, reach up to, grow up to. Religion refers to the sentiments and feelings; Science refers to the demonstrated every day laws of Nature. Feelings are all right, if one does not get drunk on them. Prayer may be elevating if combined with works and they who labor with head, hands or feet ...have faith —and are generally quite sure of an immediate and favorable reply.
Religion is as natural to man and as important to each human being and to the welfare of society ...as breathing; but like love, cannot be fully described by any single fact. It is justice, love, truth, peace and harmony; a serene unity with Science and the Laws of the Universe. The Religion of Science, Ethics, Service and of Love and Good Will are not necessarily connected with obsolete, misleading theologies ...which bear the same relation to the essence of True Religion ...that scarlet fever, mumps and measles —do to Education.
Religion is not ceremonies, though ceremonies may suggest Religion. The very word ceremony is derived from "cerements" or grave clothes.
Religion rejoices in the happiness of others and helps to make them happy. Religion has charity and sees beauties in other Religions. It takes good care of this wonderful body and mind and rejoices in all the beauties of Nature ...and unlike theology, never leads to insanity. Children are said to be of the "kingdom of heaven," they are religious if they are healthy, but seldom cry for theology, and they are not pre-natally damned as some of the older theologians would have us believe, yet they are the greatest sufferers from outgrown theologies.
Those who take refuge behind theological barbed wire fences, quite often wish they could have more freedom of thought, but fear the change to the Great Ocean of Scientific Truth ...as they would a cold bath plunge, the cleansing crystal waves of which are an exhilarating tonic ...healthful and life giving—removing the debasing Sin of Ignorance ...the mother of misery, crime, inefficiency, superstition, bigotry, disease and death.
Those who would legislate against the teaching of evolution ...should also legislate against gravity, electricity and the unreasonable velocity of light, and also should introduce a clause to prevent the use of the telescope, the microscope and the spectroscope —or any other instrument of precision— which may in the future be invented, constructed or used for the discovery of Truth.
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