The past 100 years have seen a literal “explosion” of scientific and technical knowledge and achievement. The timeline would look like a hockey stick. In the early 1900s, medicine was pretty primitive compared to what we have today. Automobiles, airplanes, telephones, electrification, photography and radios were in their infancy. Milk and ice were delivered to your doorstep by someone using a horse drawn cart.
People back then had no idea what we have today and would be amazed: dishwashers, washing machines and dryers, refrigerators, microwaves, computers, satellites, GPS devices, cell phones with dozens of functions, flat screen televisions, 2D and 3D printers, digital cameras, air travel, moon landings, high speed railways, complex road systems, more advancements in agriculture, etc.
In addition, vaccines have prevented and in some cases essentially eliminated many diseases. X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds and mammograms have greatly assisted in the clinical diagnosis of health problems.
Some surgeries today are assisted by computers. Many drugs have been developed to relieve the pain of illnesses and help the body heal itself. Sadly, there has been the dark side of hunger, poverty, migration, drug lords, and regional and world wars.
But what will the world be like in 100 years? Will we have an extended timeline of hockey sticks, or will the graph start to look like an elongated “S” shape as if it is approaching an asymptotic limit? It is as difficult for us to predict the future as it was for people at the turn of the 20th century.
In 100 years, we could have the following: dozens or hundreds of diseases cured, lifespan almost doubled, useful DNA manipulations, stable world population, all vehicles powered by electricity, trains magnetic levitation, drones that carry people, nuclear fusion finally accomplished, hologram televisions, and other things a person could imagine.
It would be good if we finally had world peace, the elimination of all nuclear and biological weapons, the restriction of the possession of military-type weapons, a more equitable distribution of wealth, the elimination of poverty and homelessness. -abrism, and the adoption of the values of humanism.
A person can be a humanist without realizing it. For example, does the person believe in the common moral decencies of honesty, altruism, integrity, truthfulness and responsibility? Does the person try to transcend divisive parish loyalties based on race, religion, sex, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation or ethnicity, and does it to work for the good of all mankind? If so, the person is probably a humanist.
Here are some other precepts of humanists: they believe in an open and pluralist society and in democracy which is the best guarantee for the protection of human rights; they are concerned to ensure justice and equity in society and to eliminate discrimination and intolerance; they want to protect the earth, preserve it for future generations and avoid inflicting unnecessary suffering on other species; they believe in the culture of moral excellence and are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge; they believe in learning instead of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy over guilt, tolerance instead of fear, love instead of hate, compassion for egoism, inclusion rather than exclusivity, reason rather than blind faith, and separation of church and state. They reject any economic system that allows greed and exploits workers leading to an unjust society.
Humanism embraces human reason, ethics and methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalists believe that the scientific method is the best way to determine a realistic view of the world.
As Joseph Campbell writes in “The Masks of God”: “Not the Neolithic peasant looking skyward from his hoe, not the old Sumerian priesthood observing planetary courses from the ziggurat galleries, not a modern clergyman citing a revised version of their book, but our own incredibly wonderful scientists today are the ones who teach us to see: and if wonder and humility are the best vehicles for bringing the soul to its home, I should think that on Sunday A quiet morning spent at home in controlled meditation over a galaxy picture book could be an auspicious start to this trip. “
David Keranen is a retired educator and military veteran. He previously worked as a designer in the automotive industry.