Assignment Description:

The goal of this assignment is to discuss critically what you feel is important about Science and Nature. Because these are such broad topics, the main challenge will be to focus your investigation effectively on specific questions. In order to guide you in the process of identifying, selecting, and communicating your ideas, four sections of example questions and famous quotes have been provided below. Each section represents a wide field of potential exploration, and there are many conceptual overlaps between them. Links to additional Internet resources, which may provide inspiration, are provided below Section 4.

While you may choose one or more of the example questions to answer in your discussion post, please do not hesitate to use other sources and to formulate inquiries of your own.

If you wish, try to include a quote (or two) of your own creation! After creating a thread, continue the conversation by providing constructive feedback to the posts of your colleagues.

Please Note: You do not need to answer questions from each section. The sections are only provided in order to organize the example questions conceptually.

Formal Guidelines:

Minimum 200 words for Original Posts
Minimum 100 words for Peer Responses
Clear references to external sources, if used
Due Dates:

At least ONE (1) Original Post due by Thursday, April 28th, 11:59 PM
At least TWO (2) Peer Replies due by Saturday, April 30th, 11:59 PM
Forum becomes inactive on Sun, May 1st, 11:59 PM

Example Questions, Quotes, and Additional Resources

1. Science – Heroic Quest of the Imagination?

“We Are All Connected”

Where would you draw a line to distinguish between Science and Nature?
What does it take to make a clear separation between Nature and Humans?
Do non-human organisms lack the desire and motivation to define and catalog Nature as Humans do?
Do non-human organisms lack the intelligence to make scientific inquiries?
Do non-human organisms in Nature “merely survive” while Humans, by contrast, “heroically struggle” to explore, discover, imagine, and create new realities?
Are scientists infatuated with the beauty of their own perception of Nature?
Is Science driven by a uniquely Human love for discovery? Is Science a heroic quest for the discovery of Nature’s hidden beauty? In this quest, are there any questions not worth asking?
Do scientific inquiries disturb the “sacred balance” of Nature?
Which is more desirable – humbly living in harmony with the “rest of Nature” or taking a chance and “reaching for the stars?” Are these mutually exclusive endeavors?
Should we try to compare the intelligence of Nature to the intelligence of Humans?
Do scientists “love” Nature more than anyone else?

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

“We sit in the mud… and reach for the stars.”

Ivan Turgenev

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

Carl Sagan

“Do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.”

Nikola Tesla

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.

John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty, 1929

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”

Stephen Hawking

“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.”

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

2. Science – The Rational Religion?

“Happy Holidays”

Does Science invite and promote skepticism in regard to itself?
Is there a need for skepticism when it comes to the pursuits and values of scientific inquiry?
Is “Real Science” capable of speaking “only the truth?”
Does Science lead a crusade against “false thinking?”
Does Science seek to carry out an “ideological genocide” against “wrong ideas?”
Have you ever experienced a time when you thought that scientific research was focused on a different truth than your own?
If you are opposed to or skeptical of certain kinds of scientific research, does this imply that you are “fearful of the truth” or “hanging on to superstitions?”
Is Science the “antidote to superstition” or does it introduce its own brand of superstition?
Is superstition a disease that needs to be “cured?”
Does Science require a belief in the infallible power of objective observation combined with logical reasoning?
How does Science make you feel in your gut?
Is “Nature” a scientific term for “God?”
Has Science become a large-scale religion?
Does Science transcend religion, or are science and religion both belief systems of the same class?
What are the similarities and differences between scientists and priests?

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little; it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover.

Bertrand Russell

Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue.

Robert K. Merton, Social Theory, 1957

That theory is worthless. It isn’t even wrong!

Wolfgang Pauli

Science is simply common sense at its best.

Thomas Huxley

Scientists should always state the opinions upon which their facts are based.

Author Unknown

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

Marie Curie

3. Scientists: Vengeful humans waging war on Nature?

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Does the pursuit of Science violate Nature or help it to progress?
Do human beings engage in scientific pursuits because they feel betrayed by Nature?
Has Science become humanity’s prideful quest to “crack Nature’s code” and obtain a divine authority that aims to exploit the world in any way imaginable?
By believing in the superiority of objective truth over “mere beliefs,” does scientific thinking work towards eliminating “considerations of the heart” from any discussion about what has value in human life?
Is Science driven by a lack of trust in Nature?
Are scientists obsessed with eliminating fear, pain, and uncertainty from the world?
Can scientists simply not leave Nature alone?
Is it possible to keep Science safe from its own self-destructive applications?

“Dreams of the far future destiny of man were dragging up from its shallow and unquiet grave the old dream of man as god…”

C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief, which is at the heart of all popular religion, that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.

Walter Lippmann

Whenever science makes a discovery, the devil grabs it while the angels are debating the best way to use it.

Alan Valentine

Science has made us gods even before we are worthy of being men.

Jean Rostand

“Never forget that a human being with technology is exactly like an alcoholic with a barrel of wine.”

Ted Kaczynski

“Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.”

Albert Schweitzer

“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.”

Leo Tolstoy

4. What is the relationship between scientific endeavors and society as a whole?

“Science saves more than lives…”

Do you feel generally harmed or benefited by the work of scientists?
Do you feel a need to be protected from Nature?
Are we more vulnerable to Science or to Nature?
How should scientists manage their position of power when they alone can “help” the scientifically ignorant?
What does it mean to “understand” science and technology?
Is Science “mainstream;” is it generally considered “cool?”
Are scientists highly respected members of your society?
Is ignorance of Science and its applications a serious problem for the inhabitants of today’s world?
Does enthusiasm for scientific progress distract from other important questions about our world today?
Do old problems continue in ever new, “more intelligent” forms due to the application of scientific inquiry?
Do public policies generally invite participation from the general population in decision-making processes regarding scientific explorations?
What kinds of questions would you seek to answer if you controlled your own advanced scientific laboratory?