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This freedom of communication is indispensable for the development and extension of scientific knowledge, a consideration of much practical import. In the first instance it must be guaranteed by law. But laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression; in order that every man may present his views without penalty there must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population. Such an ideal of external liberty can never be fully attained but must be sought unremittingly if scientific thought, and philosophical and creative thinking in general, are to be advanced as far as possible.
The first man who said "fire burns" was employing scientific method, at any rate if he had allowed himself to be burnt several times. This man had already passed through the two stages of observation and generalization. He had not, however, what scientific technique demands-a careful choice of significant facts on the one hand, and, on the other hand, various means of arriving at laws otherwise than my mere generalization.
The history of scientific and technical discovery teaches us that the human race is poor in independent and creative imagination. Even when the external and scientific requirements for the birth of an idea have long been there, it generally needs an external stimulus to make it actually happen; man has, so to speak, to stumble right up against the thing before the idea comes.
As a proposition of linguistics: "Energy" is the name of the mathematical expression in question...As a propo sition of psychology: our senses are such that we notice what is roughly the mathematical expression in question, and we are led nearer and nearer to it as we refine upon our crude perceptions by scientific observation.
A conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs. On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors.
Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom. That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions — it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations — it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.
While I am not a believer in the orthodox sense, I commend religion, first, because every individual should have some ideal — religious, artistic, scientific, or humanitarian — to give significance to his life. Second, because all the great religions contain wise prescriptions relating to the conduct of life, which hold good now as they did when they were promulgated.
To say that we live in an age of science is a commonplace, but like most commonplaces it is only partially true. From the point of view of our predecessors, if they could view our society, we should, no doubt, appear to be very scientific, but from the point of view of our successors it is probable that the exact opposite would seem to be the case.
For, the advantages which fashion values, are plants which thrive in very confined localities, in a few streets, namely. Out of this precinct, they go for nothing; are of no use in the farm, in the forest, in the market, in war, in the nuptial society, in the literary or scientific circle, at sea, in friendship, in the heaven of thought or virtue.
Faith is harder to shake than knowledge, love succumbs less to change than respect, hate is more enduring than aversion, and the impetus to the mightiest upheavals on this earth has at all times consisted less in a scientific knowledge dominating the masses than in a fanaticism which inspired them and sometimes in a hysteria which drove them forward.
It is difficult even to attach a precise meaning to the term "scientific truth." So different is the meaning of the word "truth" according to whether we are dealing with a fact of experience, a mathematical proposition or a scientific theory. "Religious truth" conveys nothing clear to me at all.