SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 21, February 2017 - Page 15

ooler heads used to prevail. Through the decades, even when there was little else we could agree on pennant

races and how to raise kids, conscientious objectors and draft dodgers, we could agree on facts. Facts that were provided, in large part, by science. Science, we agreed, gives us fact-based answers, solutions, even hope for a healthier, more equal world. Science, we agreed, nodding our heads, feeling like the anointed, sages with both the wisdom of the past years and the illumination of science buoying us through our self-doubts and differences.

Science, we assured our students, our children, ourselves, was what elevated us above our revered, but simultaneously silly, foolish, even cruel ancestors and their trials by fire and water that scar history. Tales of sodden “witches” and unrepentant, tortured astronomers were greeted with horror or even smug amusement at the irrationality of the perpetrators. They didn’t understand or even really have science, we’d shrug. They couldn’t fix this or that or even that because they didn’t know any better without science. We excused them because they were ignorant of facts.

And so, science, and the clarity and guidance it provided, was what separated us from our baser urges, our savage past, and primate cousins. Believers even found paths to reconcile this additional allegiance with their faith. The current pope is no exception to this embrace. If we part with science, scorn it to the corner like a fanciful great aunt or doddering family friend, we’ve invalidated our very selves. We’ll have negated what was supposed to now separate us from barbarity and ignorance. We’ll have removed the only truth from our lives that isn’t, that shouldn’t, be subject to the whims of any group, any country, any movement, or even any generation. If we lose the stable, unbiased refuge that science can provide from an increasingly fractured, confusing, and fragile world, we put ourselves even more at risk from the most flawed aspects of human nature. From its cool, clean edges to its intricacies and still unexplored realms - even those within our own bodies - science holds no allegiances, revers none as sacrosanct.

What science can’t tell us, however, is how to treat one another. It cannot, as 20th Century Nobel Prize-winning physicist Erwin Schrodinger once pointed out, “… tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet...; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, god and eternity.” We are what breathes humanity into science. It is one of our greatest possibilities, but also one of our greatest responsibilities. In our constant search for enlightenment, we come our closest to our most honest selves when we remember this and use its power – not to exploit, not to distort, but to heal.


February 2017 - Conservation Comments