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The Astounding Knowledge Gap!

Incredible, but true!
The world's knowledge doubled in the last ten years.
But our troubles also doubled in the same ten years!


IN THIS enlightened 20th century, an astounding KNOWLEDGE GAP?

Unbelievable! Yet it happened!

Think of it! In one short decade, scientific and technical knowledge doubled. Yet problems and troubles also doubled. That means an ALARMING knowledge gap.

How can this be?

If the present rate continues, what kind of a world will you be living in, ten short years from now?


The Staggering "Explosion" in Knowledge

Look for a moment at the increase in knowledge in historical perspective: The amount of knowledge which it took man from the birth of Jesus Christ to 1750 to acquire was doubled between 1750 and 1900 — in just 150 years. Between 1900 and 1950 man's knowledge doubled again — this time in only 50 years. And in the one short decade between 1950 and 1960 it doubled yet again!

At the present time it is estimated to be doubling every two and one-half years. And if the present rate of increase continues, it is estimated that man's fund of knowledge will be doubling every three months by 1975!

Such a prospect staggers the mind!

No individual or group of individuals in the world — no library, museum, foundation, institution or society — can even remotely begin to keep up with this deluge of new information.

Look at just one of these fields — medicine.

On the shelves of any large medical school library you will find 6,000 different journals — scientific magazines published weekly or monthly. These journals deal exclusively with the NEW scientific facts in the biological and medical sciences.

6,000 journals! And this for only one field of science! Even more significant is the amazing realization that almost 2,000 of these journals were not there four years ago.

An average journal contains more than 50,000 words (100 pages, 500 words per page). This means that every month over 300,000,000 words of NEW scientific facts are published in just the biological and medical sciences alone!

Yet — for all this explosion in medical knowledge — an increasing percentage of babies are being born with deformities! Why? Why this knowledge gap in medicine?


What KIND of Knowledge?

No one can deny that we are witnessing a knowledge "explosion." But what kind of knowledge is this explosion producing?

Is it the kind that tells man the way to health, to peace, to prosperity and happiness?

Does it answer the truly BIG questions of life for him — Where man came from? What is his purpose? Why he is making such a miserable mess of things? Where he is headed?

Is the knowledge being acquired today telling man how to solve the gigantic problems of mounting crime and social ills, the population explosion, the ominous threat of nuclear war, of economic chaos, of empty lives and religious confusion? Are the multiplied thousands of medical journals really solving the problems of physical and mental sickness and disease?

The tragic answer to all these questions is NO.

But WHY?

Why is man's fantastic increase in knowledge not bringing him any closer to the answers to these BIG questions? Why do even the questions themselves seem to be confused and muddled in the minds of today's educators and thinkers? Why, in an age when knowledge is being multiplied repeatedly, are the most basic questions of human life being studiously ignored? There is a reason for our growing troubles. You need to know what that reason is!

Take the experience of a young scientist, who seeks the answers to the purpose and meaning of his life.

The young scientist is full of youthful idealism. He finds himself in an incomprehensible universe, and he doesn't know why. What is this universe? What is man? Is there any purpose in life — or is mankind simply a colossal cosmic joke? He burns with curiosity and the desire to know. He wants answers.

In fact, this is one of the reasons he has chosen science as his career. "Science is a sure way to discover Truth," he reasons, "It will lead to the ultimate answers."

But will it?


Becoming a Specialist

The first thing the young scientist discovers is that "science" is much too broad. He must soon chose a specific "field" (before college). This will be the area that interests him most.

Yet even this field is far too large, and so a "specialty" must be chosen. But when our young scientist gets into his specialty, he finds that he must select only a "section" of this specialty. Then he must decide what "approach" to employ. For example: theoretical or experimental.

Next, he will have to single out an "area" of the section of the specialty of the field. Then a "sub-area" of the area. Still to be determined is what "technique" he will use to investigate this sub-area.

And finally, our young scientist extracts a "specific problem" from the sub-area of the area of the section of the specialty of the field of science. It is these specific problems that he will be working with for the rest of his life!

There are hardly ever more than a few thousand people at most who can even understand his specific problems. And the great majority of those who could understand it are far too deeply absorbed with their own specific problems to be concerned with the problems of other scientists.


Forgetting the Big Questions

So something subtle — yet drastic — has happened to our young scientist. A change has occurred in his outlook on life. He no longer cares about the answers to the big questions of human existence. Usually, he isn't even concerned with the progress of his field or specialty — he is interested only in HIS sub-area and His specific problems. His life now has become nothing more than a succession of these isolated, remote, picayune specific problems. He has become subject to scientific tunnel vision.

The PROCESS of solving these specific problems — not the results or facts learned — has become the main goal of his life. He enjoys watching himself in "creative-scientific action" more than he longs for truth. He rejoices in the self-satisfaction that he achieves by solving the most trivial "technical" problems.

When one specific problem is solved, other problems arise. The more he learns, the more questions he has. He has created his own little world, and he is content to isolate himself in it.

How can this process of learning lead to the answers to life? How can such knowledge produce solutions to man's big problems?

It can't! It never has and it never will! This is what Paul meant when he said that in the latter days men would be "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Tim. 3:7).

But the story doesn't end here.


The Vanity of Prestige

Soon other factors begin to creep in. The scientist inevitably begins to compare himself with other scientists. And naturally, he wants to elevate his relative position in his local academic (or industrial) department and in the scientific community in general. The higher his position becomes, the more money he will receive for his research and the more important he will feel.

Recognition by his scientific peers and associates is the glory of a scientist — this is what he seeks. The scientist generally doesn't care about public fame. And acclaim among the common people is actually looked down upon. But he desperately strives to develop and augment his reputation among the select group, the coterie, of his scientific colleagues. To be looked up to by other scientists — this is the overriding goal!

Therefore the scientist must publish papers and articles — as many as possible. He cannot delay, for he must publish his results and conclusions before anyone else beats him to it. It is critical to be first with new data or concepts, for nobody remembers those who are second.

The expression "publish or perish" is not humorous — it is the life or death issue for the scientist. This creates a tendency to publish papers even be fore the author himself is really convinced of his results or conclusions. The objective is to be FIRST — to beat the others.

Often the competition between individual scientists (or groups of scientists) is much less than friendly. They viciously clash in academic combat, each supporting his own "pet idea" and attempting to destroy the rival's "pet idea."

Is the search for truth the motivation? Let's not be naïve! The motivation is simply vanity!

Is it any wonder science has bequeathed us the threat of atomic and hydrogen annihilation?