Thursday, October 13, 2016

Riddle of the Sphinx: Where Does Modern Life Lead Us?

What is it that walks on four in the morning, two at noon, and three in the afternoon? If your answer is correct, then you can safely pass. If not, the Sphinx will not let you.

Dr Abe V Rotor
Sphinx at Giza, Egypt

In Shelly’s celebrated fiction novel, Frankenstein - wasn’t the monster Dr. Frankenstein created, a product of modern science of the time? It is not different today. Wittingly, or otherwise, we are creating a modern Frankenstein monster in our quest for power and wealth - a monster which first appears as an obliging genie, but at the end refuses to go back into the bottle.

Let us look into the monster modern man has created.

1. By splitting the atom man has unleashed the most explosive force the world has ever known. This tremendous power can plunge the world into Armageddon. Today’s nuclear stockpile threatens the globe with obliteration of humankind three times over. This means a thermo nuclear war can instantly kill a population of 18 billion people, notwithstanding the gross destruction of other organisms, and obliteration of the environment as we know it.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons Рatomic, hydrogen and cobalt bombs - reached its peak during the Cold War. With the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR, in 1987, the accountability of nuclear stockpiles became a big question among its former satellites. It is not impossible to smuggle a nuclear warhead which is only about the size of an attach̩ case, or produce radioactive material for making a nuclear bomb in the guise of nuclear power generation. We know that nuclear weapons technology is no longer the monopoly of the West and highly industrialized countries. The latest additions to the list of countries capable of making nuclear weapons are reportedly North Korea and Iraq.

2. Unrestricted massive expansion of frontiers of production and settlements has resulted in loss of natural habitats, in fact, whole ecosystems as evidenced by the death of rivers, lakes and coral reefs, and destruction of forests and wildlife. It is a fact that if man can tame the earth, so can he destroy it.

3. Growing affluence continues to accelerate man’s conquest of nature through industrialization. Practically every country in the world is on a race towards industrialization in order to meet capitalistic parameters for economic growth and development. But Gross National Product (GNP) merely sums up a country’s output. Very little focus is given to Human Development Index (HDI), the guarantee of equitable distribution of benefits that elevates quality of life in a country. In certain societies such us ours, socio-economic inequity can be aptly summarized as having 10 percent of the population controlling 90 percent of the nation’s resources, and that 50 to 60 percent of the population are trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Industrialization has widened the division between the affluent and the poor, stunting migration patterns that have caused massive urban growth, while siphoning off the resources of the countryside. This, in turn, has created a world order dominated by multinational companies and self-proclaimed global leaders now questioned by the free world, and challenged by civil initiatives and terrorism.

4. The recent scientific breakthrough, the breaking of the code of heredity - DNA (Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid), the Rosetta Stone of genetics, has opened up an entirely new concept of the origin and development of life - genetic engineering.

But more amazing and frightening is the new power of man to tinker with life itself – playing God’s role in the creation of new life forms, extending human life to nearly twice its present longevity, and in eliminating diseases even before their symptoms are manifested. Cloning suddenly became a fearful word as applied to humans, following the success with “Dolly, the sheep”. Even this early we are warned of food products manufactured from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), dubbed as Frankenfood. 

One by one, countries are coming out against crops with engineered genes – and there may be more to the skepticism over GM crops. Genetic modification can be a strategy to bring agriculture under the dominance of foreign corporations. An the grassroots level farmers doubt if GM crops can be grown side-by-side with non-GMO plants and not being affected negatively since open pollination knows no boundaries.

The biggest scare that can be spawned by genetic engineering is Genetically Modified Man (GMM) - a being different from the original man described in Genesis, who is God-fearing, loving, sociable, intelligent, and with a sense of values.
A transformation of our technology and values could make it possible to build a society that will stand the test of time.
Time, A Culture of Permanence
5. It was unprecedented that the world has traveled far and wide on two feet – communications and transportation – with the West discovering the East, and subsequently resulting in intermarriages of the races, in trade and commerce, education and culture, politics and government, religion and philosophy. With the advances of science and technology the world has shrunk further into the size of a village now wired with fiber optics. But such union cannot be merely characterized as gross merging of characteristics. Here the rule of compatibility may bring diverging directional paths, especially when we force the union of dynamic processes, such as the liberalism of the West and traditionalism of the East. Through time and with continuing “intermarriage”, perhaps a global society will form and accelerate towards homogeneity. We rejoice in meeting friends from across the globe, at getting international news live, and in finding commonalities of interests, and in being part of a genetic pool.

Remember the universal soldier? The Renaissance man? But this new kind of man - will he be superior over say, man in the times of the Greeks and Romans? This superman may yet represent the fittest of the survivors in accordance with the standard of Charles Darwin; or the righteousness of the Human Being in the pursuit of the precepts of the church. Is this true?~
The demise of a single species can produce a cascade of extinctions and threaten an entire ecosystem.

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