Boris de Zirkoff
[Note from the editor: de Zirkoff wrote and published this article in THEOSOPHIA, during the summer of 1957, at height of the cold war with fear for a worldwide nuclear conflict over 65 years ago now. It is evident however that many of the statements the author makes are fully applicable in 2023. Science is supposed to be our greatest ally, but what have we, human beings, used science for? Of course many significant achievements were made, but at the same time a very dark shadow is hanging over the use of science in our day and age. Its pure materialistic approach has darkened many people’s vision and clouded their understanding. Through the use of internet, computers, smartphones, social media and you name it, mankind is impressively interconnected but it is also terribly disconnected, and that is the perfect paradox, not to speak of the lurking dangers of Artificial Intelligence. De Zirkoff in 1957 clearly points out what the perils are we have to be on the lookout for. JNK]
Great civilizations are the natural product of great Ideals. The sum-total of a national or racial culture is appraised by the principles - good or bad, noble or ignoble - which constitute its foundation and to which it adheres.
Whenever principles and Ideals gave way to mere expediency, or the love of ease, comfort and luxury, civilizations decayed and disappeared without leaving hardly any trace behind.
Civilizations are made up of men, human beings, evolving entities, not of machines, gadgets, technologies, mechanisms and instrumentalities, which are merely the spawn of civilization, and not civilization itself.
Today, men of small vision and of narrow minds, attempt to identify civilization with Science. But Science is not civilization, especially when devoid of the great ethical values and ideals which are the roots of all true growth and of all lasting achievement. Science is merely the application of a search for knowledge to the affairs of daily life. And if this search for knowledge is motivated by ignoble motives and by selfish desires, Science becomes a means of destruction, instead of being an instrument of order, growth and progress.
It is a strange fact that periods of great scientific development should coincide with periods of terrific conflict and violent destruction of men by other men. This fact, however, becomes less strange when we consider that the world of science is largely dissociated from any ethical implications resulting from scientific discoveries, so that the misapplication and misuse of scientific achievements by selfish and greedy groups of men is the natural result of this "amoral" situation.
As the matter stands now in our Western lands, Science and the scientific age have proved themselves to be means of destruction, enslavement and exploitation, therefore means which have become conducive to a further decay of Ideals, and the recession of noble principles of conduct the world over.
It should be clearly understood that this is no indictment of Science per se, which should stand for organized and systematized knowledge, the pursuit of knowledge as such, and the widening of the sphere of knowledge. But the truth of it is that most of what goes today by the name of Science is motivated by ideals of narrow opportunism, and is utterly devoid of the great principles of true civilization.
It should also be borne in mind that this is no wholesale indictment of scientists as such, among whom there are many men and women who strive for genuine and often abstract knowledge; but it is nevertheless largely true that even these men and women often fail to see any ethical implication in the result of their own most praiseworthy research, and have very little concern on the whole with the misuse of their discoveries by men of lesser caliber and more materialistic minds. They exercise no control over it.
The world is at present greatly disturbed about the probable effects of radiation upon present and future generations of men. To put it more correctly, part of the world is disturbed about it, while another part, also made up of scientists and other prominent men and women, is disturbed about the fact that their colleagues are disturbed. Hence a widespread conflict exists within science. Misunderstood, twisted out of all recognition, and often deliberately confused, their statements reach the daily press and are lodged within the minds of an already confused populace, unable to think for themselves on any of these serious problems.
But when everything has been said pro and con, and the last word has been uttered about explosions, tests, experiments and laboratories, the crux of the whole matter has not even been approached, and the heart of the problem has not been even hinted at. Hence no lasting good has been achieved.
And the heart of the problem is just this: all tests and explosions and a large percentage of all experiments and research, are conducted with either the expressed or the tacit objective of producing, if and when, the largest possible destruction, and the greatest possible evil effect upon other human beings than n those who are engaged in the experiments or tests: This is indeed an objective worthy only of the devilishly fiendish "civilization" which has been spawned by the Western countries in the last hundred years more or less! And when this horrid situation is sold to the people at large as a "Christian" civilization, hypocrisy, deceit and prevarication, are added to other deep-seated vices in the likeness of which modern men have made their gods. These ideas and objectives, let it be plainly stated, are from hell itself, and no amount of "scientific" verbiage or "psychological" tommyrot, political opportunism or sociological propaganda, will ever succeed in showing to decent people any cultural value in such notions - decent and clear-sighted people whose sense of decency and fair play has now been aroused and is expressing itself more and more loudly in the councils of the people. To their swelling voices we add our own, for whatever it may be worth.
The only power that can ever stop the present race for national and racial suicide is the power of the people as such, the people of any country and of the entire world, irrespective of their temporary ideologies. We mean the combined power of human opinion, the weight of mankind's own inherent sense of justice and decency, the vox populi which at critical times and in the face of impending danger has often been the vox dei. No one else is apparently going to do it for us. Science is divided within its own ranks. The Churches, fearful of the possible loss to their prestige, more preoccupied with material properties than spiritual ideals, and hopelessly divided among themselves inspite of the utter simplicity of the precepts of their common Teacher, have no power to organize public opinion or to direct it into channels of greatest ethical productivity. Political groupings of varied hues are but camps of competitive greed and a machinery for the wielding of power over others; and the world of technology is the sphere where the greatest amount of money can be made, in any country, by constant production of implements of war. Hence, not one of the existing large channels of organized human thinking and action is to be relied upon to put a stop to what is very obviously an inhuman, degrading, utterly unethical, and potently dangerous game - the parlor game of present-day science, the explosion of nuclear bombs or other devices whose only purpose is the eventual destruction of one or another portion of mankind.
In a world which is One, in the midst of humanity which is one family, and in the era where science itself has demonstrated the fundamental unity of all life, from the atom to the star, this trend of ideas and this pattern of action can be the result of only one state of mind - insanity, and the megatons exploded here and there all over the world are merely the outward symptoms of a wide-spread megalomania among the least ethically responsible and the most untrustworthy types of the human race, however high-sounding may be their names and titles.
Indeed, we have had enough of Science!
What we need today the world over are men and women in whose hearts burns the fire of Spiritual Pioneering, in whose souls resounds the distant call of Spiritual Frontiers ...
We have enough of machines, of speed, of means of comfort and of ease ...
But we have no sense of justice, of trust, of mutual respect, of self-abnegation, of honest-to-goodness co-operation, faith in the inmate decency of man, and the courage of his convictions.
We have conquered distance and time, but we have lost the road to our inner Selves.
We have unlocked the Atom, but we have lost the key to the lock which opens the hidden recesses of the human Soul.
We have started a chain-reaction of uranium atoms, but we have lost the secret to the spiritual chain-reaction of Ideals which generate other and still greater Ideals ...
And because we are so scientific, and because we are so practical, and because we are not "dreamers" any more, don't you see, and because we are at last civilized, we have ceased to be human, and ceased to be ensouled, and lost our divine birthright, and are sliding, it would appear, down the same proclivity upon which every material civilization that had lost its vision tumbled to its doom.
Yet the Vision is not wholly lost. There are men and women in all parts of the world who are bending every energy of their noble souls to stem the tide of rampant materialism, of chaotic psychism, of crass ignorance and ethical decay. In their hands, and in the hands of those far greater than they, largely lies the future welfare of mankind. The human race has never been without protection, and in many things which happen today a guidance is felt from behind the veil, as new ideas and new movements of thought emerge from the mystic depths of the unknown and assert themselves on the plane of human thought and action. Sensitive minds, touched by the flame of inspiration, voice ideas which sustain mankind at a time of dire need, and give it new courage to rise and claim its own.
It is these men and women of Vision that we need today above all else. Men and women of world-wide, all-encompassing sympathies. Men and women of deep convictions and of boundless faith in the innate goodness of the human heart. Men and women of hope and good-will toward all that lives. Men and women of lofty Ideals, of unshakable trust in a brighter Future. Men and women whose souls vibrate in harmony with the starlit sky ...
Men and women to match the Atom!