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There are many things that I hate about science. I hate it because I do not always understand it. I hate it because I always get bad grades in it. I hate it because it is so complex and there are so many technical terms associated with it. There are however, some good points. I only like science when I can understand it, and that is only in a way in which it seems common sense to me. For example, in Emily Martin's article, The Body at War: Media Views of the Immune System, she wrote about the immune system in a way that I could understand it, and that was by using images of war and of the police. I also like all the mysterious stuff that is associated with science. It is quite intriguing to me to think about all the wonders that are left to be explored. In addition, being a science fiction and Japanese animation freak, I like all the crazy things that both portray. In both Japanese anime and science fiction shows or movies, there is no limit to what science can do. They show us things that are perhaps possible or impossible when we take a look at it through scientists' eyes. That is why I cannot help to think about the question, should the pursuit of scientific knowledge be boundless?
In the movie, the Emperor Strikes Back, we saw Luke Skywalker in a healing tank after being defeated by this wooly monster in an ice cave. This water in the healing tank acted like an antiseptic, and healed his whole body while giving him all the fluids he needed without an IV. As far as I know, there is no technology like that anywhere, and if there were, I would sure like to know where it is. So then as I watch my Star Wars, The Terminator, Matrix, Dragon Ball Z, and other science fiction or anime shows, I begin to ask myself many questions about the possibility of making androids or traveling faster than the speed of light or other imaginable things. Then of course, after all my excitement dies down at the end of the show, I begin to wonder whether scientists out there are trying to find scientific answers to the things we see in these types of shows because it seems as though there is no limit to this exploring.
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So, what are the boundaries to pursuing scientific knowledge? I can only ask myself that a thousand times and perhaps many conclusions will come to me or perhaps not. The only logical conclusion that I can come up with is that scientific knowledge should be pursued up to the point where it helps humankind rather than hurt it. Finding cures to diseases such as AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, cancer, are all worthy causes in my definition. However, manipulating the genetic code or cloning a human, does seem like a worthy cause, but then it just seems that if that were to happen then who knows what kind of a super human could be created with the manipulation of their genetic code or what human gets cloned. I mean, what if there was some nazi scientist group running around with Hitler's DNA; I bet that they would just jump onto the opportunity to bring back as many Hitler's as they can, and that will not be helpful for the world. Therefore, I think that the pursuit for scientific knowledge should be limited to only helping humankind and not for selfish or greedy reasons.
In Mary Shelley's article, Frankenstein, we encounter a mad scientist by the name of Victor Frankenstein, who first off tells us that we should learn from him the mistakes of acquiring too much knowledge, and in this sense scientific knowledge. To briefly sum up a part of the story, Victor Frankenstein brings life to inanimate body when he discovers that he has the power to do so. Just like the title of the article, the name of the monster is Frankenstein, who truly is a hideous looking monster with a grotesque physique. After bringing life to this creature, Doctor Frankenstein flees to his bedroom because he is disgusted with the creation that his hands have made. Retreating to that forgetful world of slumber, Frankenstein is encountered by many haunting dreams of his dead wife Elizabeth. I believe that it is at this point that the readers realizes that perhaps Frankenstein had a different reason or motivation for creating this monster, other than that he had the power to do so. One possible reason is that perhaps he was longing for a companion. One in which that would understand him the way his dead wife did or perhaps just to have a friend around. Instead, he ended up with a living monster that has cursed him forever.
So then I ask myself again, how far should we really pursue scientific knowledge? Should it be at a point in our life when we have cracked or gone crazy or have nothing else to lose? Or, should it be at a point where we know that the outcome is a rational one or a helping one? As I take a more in depth look at this article, I can only believe that Frankenstein was motivated by the wrong reasons. It was noble of him to warn us to learn from his mistakes in the beginning of his story, but the damage has been done. And as I come to the part about his dead wife, I begin to realize that his reasons or motivation for creating this monster had to be for selfish reasons. I believe that the loss of his wife was too great for him and thinking that he had this great power, he tried to use it to replace the pain he had for his dead wife. In trying to replace her, he only found himself in a worse position than he was before. Now, not only does he have this sadness and pain in his heart that he feels for his dead wife, but he also has this guilt of creating a horrible monster that has instilled fear into his heart forever.
In Frankenstein's case, pursuing scientific knowledge is just not worth it. Acting for selfish reasons, he only made things worse by creating something reflecting his own selfishness as he states, "I had desired it with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart (234)." His true motivation or reason for creating this monster must have come at point in his life where he must have felt that there was a chance for happiness again. Therefore, was this a rational reason for doing such a thing? I believe that some would say yes. I honestly would have to say no, only because it is not rational enough for me to create a monster for my own selfish reason, even if it were for a chance at an awesome relationship. If Frankenstein were creating this monster for a just cause, like for rescuing people, then I would say okay. But even with that answer, I am only fooling myself because to create a monster from other people's parts is not only gross, but it is also dangerous. What if the wrong people got a hold of this scientific information? What would be the consequences of such a thing happening? Just imagine, a whole army of horribly created beings, ruled by a dictator whose sole purpose in life is to take over the world. Yes, I may sound crazy now, but who knows what lies in the future ahead of us. I just know that in pursuing scientific knowledge, scientist and would be scientist should consider the outcomes of their pursuit and think about whether or not it will better humankind.
Frankenstein, however, is not the only type of article that we can look at in determining whether or not the pursuit for scientific knowledge should be boundless. In Michael J Bishop's article, Enemies of Promise, he talks about the many misperceptions that people have about science. In his article, he argues that people should not be ignorant of science and that people should not place so much pressure or fault on scientists when they fail at an experiment. Bishop is right, it is wrong of us to place to place an additive pressure on scientists who are trying to find a cure to deadly diseases that plague our society. Rather, we should be in support of these people because they seem to be sacrificing a lot of time and energy to help better humankind.
In Bishop's article, he mentions that "the price of science seems large, but to reject science is to deny the future (242)." I agree with this statement one hundred percent because without the works of many scientists discovering cures for the common cold and of the such, the population of this world would be dramatically decreased. Over time, science has helped us to understand many things about ourselves and about the environment we live in. To limit science would only cause us to lose vast amounts of knowledge that could be useful to us some day. In addition, since we are a society that is based on change, we cannot ultimately limit science because it plays a major factor in the change around us.
In Bishop's article, he comments on some scientists who have testified that science should be boundless. Of course, not in those exact words, but comments strong enough to get a clear message across. For example, Bishop comments on George E. Brown JR., who was trained as physicist, but now is a strong critic of science. Brown said that with the new expansion of scientific knowledge, it should better society, but it has obviously caused an increase in social problems. Bishop says that the blame has been misplaced and that science has been doing its job, it is just that the uses of medical items, such as vaccines and antidotes, have been distributed poorly or improperly to the society. Bishop's argument seems to be more plausible versus Brown's argument because we live in a society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And running with this sense, the rich are able to buy the more expensive medical items, where the poor are just stuck with some poor medical benefits or none at all. Therefore, critics of science who look at the point of view that science is not doing what is has been intended to do, should really take a good look at what society has become. It does not seem reasonable to me to totally blame science for many of society's social problems. Yes, there are probably many blames that are directly related with science, but at the same time, there are probably just as many or even more good things that have come about from science.
At this point, I have made several comments on whether the pursuit for scientific knowledge should be boundless. In my own research, I have come across many mixed views while looking at Shelley and Bishop's article. While using Shelley's article, I argued that science should have a boundary, but in Bishop's article, I began to hint that perhaps it should be boundless. It is after assessing and reviewing all that I have wrote that I have been able to come to my conclusion.
However, before I reveal my answer, I must say a few things first to truly air out all of my thoughts, and to show you where I am coming from as the person that I am. First off, I am a Christian. As a Christian, I don't believe in all the views that scientists have come up with. For example, I don't believe in the evolution theory because I believe that it was God who created man. There is still a missing piece to the puzzle in the whole evolution theory and until that piece is found, I believe that it was a higher being who created us. And even if that piece were found, I would still believe that it was all God; it is just now I would have to find an answer as to why we evolved from an ape. See, God, like science, is a mystery. We have so many questions to ask this God, and science is just the same way; many questions to ask, but not many answers are given. My point in all this is that when one is seeking God, it is always going to be a boundless journey. Therefore, I believe that the pursuit of scientific knowledge should be boundless as well.
Just like when one is on their spiritual journey to find out more about God, they will encounter answers that they will not like, but on the reverse side, many answers that they will like. And all the while, even more questions will be asked, and yet we will probably not find an answer to. Pursuing scientific knowledge should be the same way. Whether it hurts us more as we progress or whether it greatly helps us as we progress, it doesn journey for scientists who seek to better humankind with their discoveries. So I say, let the pursuit of scientific knowledge be boundless because in Bishop's words, "Resistance to science is born of fear. Fear, in turn, is bred by ignorance. And it is ignorance that is our deepest malady (241)." I rather live in a society that runs with change, than live in a society that is ignorant of it.
Bishop, J. Michael. "Enemies of Promise." The Presence of Others. Ed. Andrea. A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000. 237-242.
Shelley, Mary. "Frankenstein." The Presence of Others. Ed. Andrea. A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000. 231-235.