Science & Priorities

Beliefs & Practices, Chapter 08, Islam & Modernism / Sunday, August 17th, 2008

The question arises can it be the act of anyone having the slightest compassion for mankind to spend billion and trillions of rupees in a space journey in a world where people are massacred by hunger and poverty, where millions of people are begging for a loaf of bread, where countless people die for not being able to get the medicines required for their ailment, where about half the population remain deprived of education facilities? In America itself which has the “honor” of performing the “great achievement” a report was published in the same month in which one trillion and twenty billion rupees were spent on Apollo-8, that one out of every nine persons is destitute, and that:

“Poverty is the greatest material problem of today” (Weekly “Time” New York, 24 January 1969, p 29)

This huge expenditure on the useless probe of space in a country like America cannot be justified for a nation who claims to be sympathetic to mankind. It seems that Sa’adi had been addressing the astronauts of today when he said:

You have well solved the problems of the earth that you are going to play with the heavens. If a man from the East tries to show the other side of the picture of space-race, it may be said that he is saying it due to his jealousy for Western advancement. Hence we present the comments of a renowned historian and thinker of the West itself on this subject. A very thoughtful article of a distinguished historian and philosopher of England Dr. Arnold Tyne Bee has been published. We are presenting herewith a summary of its excerpts from Pakistan Times of 6th. January 1969. After admitting the wondrous feat of space achievements he writes:

“Even today 10% or 20% of American population comprises of indigent people. Looking at the world as a whole only one third of its increasing population is such as is getting proper food. Hence utilization of the economic resources of mankind is in the foolish pursuits of erecting the Pyramids of Egypt or landing on the moon, which, in themselves, are included in the list of the crimes.

“The world of today is involved in three wars. Individual strikes are getting frequent, students are protesting everywhere and different ways of terrorism are being adopted. All this is happening under the disgraceful feeling that use of force is the only way to attract attention of people when one is offended.

“People of Russia and America had been congratulating each other on their space achievements although the
main cause of this “stupidity” had been their own rivalries. If these two political powers had not been in combat with each other on the small planet of Earth this “stupidity” would not have occurred.

“From the very early days of history of human activities, the technical advancement and moral degradation of man are becoming inseparable. The history of our science and technology is indeed a wonderful “Tale of achievements” but the history of our mutual relations has been proved to be a story of grief and regrets on our failures. This is the moral “gap” which after 1945 A.D. has widened to the extent that it has opened a vast channel for disaster to enter.”

“In this atomic age, the priority must be given to save ourselves from the crime of wasting the lives of other human beings. For this it is essential that a Supreme government be formed on the universal level and all local governments be placed under it. But this is becoming even more difficult, than landing on the moon because at present Nationalism has become as sacred as an idol. To part with a false deity needs a greater courage and bravery in this world than is needed by the astronauts.

“Next in the list of priority comes making effective arrangements to produce food for the population on this earth. We do not know the extent to which the world population would have gone by the time the movement of family planning gains popularity throughout the world. However we do know that we should not waste a single moment to increase the supply of food. The fast moving technological progress should equally speed up the productivity
in every field.

“These are the two most important targets before mankind while space adventures can not be of any service to any of them.

“Hence the fact is that conquering of space is an absolutely wasteful exercise, and by spending our energies in this direction we are intentionally imposing on ourselves huge economic liabilities. We cannot, and should not ignore our economic problems at a time when the human race is heading fast toward starvation.

“As to the question that, in case we put the space program at the bottom of our agenda and delete the preparation of war from it, what alternate use of the scientific knowledge of our inventors be?

“The question has already been answered by the Japanese government. The researches of our scientists should be directed to explore the resources hidden in the sea instead of wasting them in space and war strategies.

“The sea is within the reach of man as against the nearest planet from the earth. Two-third area of our planet is water and it is a huge treasure of the unknown resources. It has been estimated that there exists the greatest store of natural resources in the sea which remains yet unexplored.

“This is a vast field of research for man and in addition to satisfying the desire for research it may also provide a surety that the population will not die of starvation even if it increases ten-fold of the current population.

“A yellow female fish lays one million eggs during its life span, but under ordinary circumstances only three fully grown fish can be produced that would be capable of laying further eggs. But when Japan’s “sea-farmers” tried to enhance the ability of these eggs artificially and nurtured the stock of eggs and protected them from other animals it resulted in the production of 100,000 fish from the eggs of one fish.

“When Apollo-8 returned after its victorious flight I received a telephone call from across the Atlantic a few hours after it, “Do you think this is a revolutionary incidence in the history of mankind?”

My answer was ‘NO’.

“My answer could have been ‘Yes’ if the news of that day had been that humanity has suddenly regained its consciousness and it has formed a universal central state, and their researchers have discovered from the depth of the sea things that can be used by mankind for its collective purposes.” We have yet to achieve this revolutionary aim, and for that the first step of the world powers should be to divert their resources towards the collective advancement of human beings instead of wasting them in space adventures and war weapons. If this is achieved the population of the entire world can be brought to the standard of living now enjoyed by 80% of American peoples.

‘This will indeed be a ‘Revolutionary incidence’ but this will not be achieved through technology alone. If one wants to reap fruits through the power of technology the essential condition for it is a spiritual revolution. This spiritual surgery is our dire need and without it all our recently discovered material resources would be useless. Even if we land on the moon without the spiritual revival the dust and ashes obtained from there will mock at our spiritual bankruptcy from which we could not get our motherland rid of.”

In this article Dr. Tyne Bee has made a wise diagnosis of the disease, and if you give a little thought you will know that the root cause of this disease is that the people tracking the heavenly bodies have no definite aim or any exalted motto of life. All the ways of their struggle have been lost in their childish desire of surpassing others. The result is that they have not been able to utilize their unlimited capabilities for conquer of this universe that could lead mankind to the goal of peace and tranquility. All their energy is being spent in combating with each other, in surpassing or defeating each other; and in this struggle they have overlooked what great harm they have inflicted on themselves.

A race between the two parties, no matter how fast and speedy it is, cannot be of any benefit to humanity if it is not in the right direction. Tyne Bee was right in saying that spiritual surgery was needed to take full advantage of science. But what he does not know is that such a surgical treatment cannot be possible without submission to the greatest benefactor of mankind, Muhammad (Peace of Allah be upon him) who had made the return trip to heavenly destination far beyond the Moon, Mars, Venus and Pluto, and which is beyond the scientific imagination. Instead of directing his followers to conquer the moon he asked them to conquer the hearts and souls of the people. Unless the world kneels down to his feet and seeks guidance from Him, it will never be able to acquire peace and tranquility, though it may launch numerous artificial satellites or plant its flags on the moon or Mars or
any other planets. After the landing on the moon all further advancement of science in this direction will prove more disastrous for mankind and only add to the uneasiness and darken the clouds of suffering and distress over the mankind.

The great philosopher-poet of the East has rightly said:

“The one, who is seeking the paths of heavenly bodies, could not travel in the world of his own thoughts. He captured the rays of the sun, but could not turn his night into the dawn of life. He was so much involved in the perplexities of his logic that he remains unable to decide between the gain and loss.”

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