Another 50 Years Hence

“But the busy hands of the scientists are already fumbling with the keys of all the chambers hitherto forbidden to mankind. Without an equal growth of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love, Science herself may destroy all that makes human life majestic and tolerable. There never was a time when the inherent virtue of human beings required more strong and confident expression in daily life; there never was a time when the hope of immortality and the disdain of earthly power and achievement were more necessary for the safety of the children of men.

– Winston Churchill, “Fifty Years Hence”

Throughout the trials of 20th century, Great Britain and the United States of America were inseparable allies. In the struggle against Nazi tyranny and Soviet despotism, a common bond held these nations fast together. Churchill would call it the “special relationship of the English-speaking peoples.” It was this bedrock upon which he would place nearly all his hope in the darkest days of 1940. Even when Britain stood alone against the terrible power of the Third Reich, Churchill never wavered in his belief that the New World would “step forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."

It was more than a common tongue that gave rise to this unbreakable bond of fellowship. Rather, it was a common adherence to a tradition that stretched all the way back to Ancient Greece. Even before that venerable phalanx of hopeful Greeks formed one last time in the barren passes of Thermopylae, a noble tradition had been brewing in the Western World. It dared to study not just the natural world, but also the very souls of men. It dared to proclaim that men could know the truth and goodness of these things, and it declared that these things were worth fighting and even dying for.

Despite periods of darkness this idea was never eliminated. Tossed about upon the winds of man’s own inconstant passions, it first found a home among the oaks of Albion with the signing of the Magna Carta. From there it flourished, spreading to distant lands with the waves of hungry settlers that washed up upon the shores of America. But despite its prevalence, it was always in need of defenders. It waged a bloody war in England where tyrants rose and fell. It launched a Revolution in America, boldly asserted even against that blessed land that it had first called home. It became imperiled even here in America too, until a frail and homely man stepped forward as its champion.

Everywhere this tradition was spread, so too did liberty. In the darkest corners of the earth, petty despots trembled when they heard its call. They could ban books and murder the wise men, but these actions were futile. These self-evident truths needed no teacher, only men of reason to understand the evils of tyranny. But even as the tyranny all men knew began to fade from the earth, one new and more terrible started to show its ugly head – the tyranny of Science.

At first, this new tyranny was docile. The study of science was already a part of that ancient tradition, and its study went hand in hand with philosophy, ethics, and poetry. Yet gradually, scientists began to doubt other studies’ claim to truth. They could demonstrate the laws of biology and chemistry, they could see the cycles of the earth and the motion of the heavens. Surely they understood what truth was, for they held it in their hands. What did the philosophers or poets have to demonstrate? Only thoughts.

Science is not in itself evil. It can perform great acts that lift up all of mankind, but it can also bury us all. Slaveholders used science not only to make slavery more profitable, but even to claim that they were naturally superior to their slaves. Eugenicists, like the Nazis, used science to make the claim that certain peoples should be killed in order to strengthen the gene pool. Even liberal regimes like the United States used science to create weapons capable of eliminating entire cities, entire peoples.  

But when science separated itself from that tradition, it became inherently tyrannical, for it rejected the possibility of other studies to discover truth. In doing so, it abandoned the moderating influence of anything outside of itself. Science does not contain within itself a set of ethics. The only things that truly bound the scientist were the natural limits of experimentation. Can one scientifically demonstrate the character of Morality or Philosophy? No? Then these things were discarded. Science as the pursuit of truth became an end in itself, hungering ever only for more of itself. This became the belief in an all-encompassing Science.      

And when these new scientists rejected all other aspects of that venerable tradition, Science’s reign became terrible. The horrendous stories recently from the United Kingdom are only the latest. These devotees of Science now proclaim that they can quantify the human soul, that they can reduce the sanctity of life to a simple equation. And should some variable prove that equation to be faulty, they will wipe that variable from the face of the Earth. Such a variable was Alfie Evans’ disease. They claimed that the disease would cause suffering, and in their equation, suffering renders life null and void. They therefore “cured” this world of that suffering by starving a child to death as his parents were forced to merely stand aside and watch.     

When Great Britain first reformed its healthcare after the terrible destruction of World War 1, Prime Minister David Lloyd George proclaimed that it was a step toward making the country “a nation fit for heroes.” Would he think that the doctors who starved a baby were heroes? Would the men who bled out in Flanders Fields welcome them into the ranks of the victorious dead? Would the airmen of the RAF, so highly praised by all of Britain, have lauded the vicious destruction of little Alfie’s “suffering” life?

In Great Britain, Churchill’s prophesy from “Fifty Years Hence” has already come true. Science is on its march to “destroy all that makes human life majestic and tolerable.” Perhaps the link of the English-speaking peoples means that America is doomed to a similar fate. Or perhaps that ancient tradition can endure even this trial. If it is to do so, it will again need defenders. It will need heroes. It is not a matter of Right vs. Left, but of Good vs. Evil. All men can see the inherent truths of life and liberty. Should they stand aside or look the other way, then Science will reign as tyrant here in America too. In another fifty years hence, will the New World by any different from the Old?