Can human problems be solved in factories, laboratories and on the desks of statisticians?

Western civilization has not been able to strike a harmonious balance between man’s bodily and social needs and his spiritual cravings; it has abandoned its erstwhile religious ethics without being able to produce out of itself any other moral system, however theoretical, that would commend itself to reason. Despite all its advances in education, it has not been able to overcome man’s stupid readiness to fall prey to any slogan, however absurd, which clever demagogues think fit to invent. It has raised the technique of ‘organisation’ to a fine art – and nevertheless the nations of the West daily demonstrate their utter inability to control the forces which their scientists have brought into being, and have now reached a stage where apparently unbounded scientific possibilities go hand in hand with world-wide chaos. Lacking all truly religious orientation, the Westerner cannot morally benefit by the light of the knowledge which his- undoubtedly great- science is shedding. To him might be applied the words of the Qur’an:

Their parable is the parable of the people who lit a fire: but when it had shed its light around them; God took away their light and left them in darkness in which they cannot see – deaf, dumb, blind; and yet they do not turn back.

 

And yet, in the arrogance of their blindness, the people of the West are convinced that it is their civilization that will bring light and happiness to the world… in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they thought of spreading the gospel of Christianity all over the world; but now that their religious ardour has cooled so much that they consider religion no more than soothing background music – allowed to accompany, but not to influence, ‘real’ life – they have begun to spread instead the materialistic gospel of the ‘Western way of life’: the belief that all human problems can be solved in factories, laboratories and on the desks of statisticians…

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