Knowledge that Lacks Wisdom: The Price We Pay 

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein explores a multitude of themes, including creation, responsibility, natural laws, ambition, and crossing boundaries. These themes are woven together to create a narrative that teaches the value of recognizing human limitations and warns of possible consequences of abusing science and intelligence. The final tapestry, though it was created nearly 200 years ago, has not frayed or grown old or outdated, and the message is still applicable today. As members of a corrupted society and as Christians, we must be careful to ensure our “vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself” does not get the better of us and that we do not capitulate our morals for temporary personal gain (Shakespeare, 1.7.27). Our society is one that values recognition, fame, and prosperity over morality. When it comes to scientific advancements, society is negatively affected, though the ramifications are subtle. But the benefit of the advancements technology has created for humanity as a whole and the major contributions to the quality of life around the world far outweigh the repercussions to an already weak-minded society.

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Science in and of itself is information. Harm can only be created through human actions and interferences. According to these basic premises, science has discovered information and humans have used such information with both good and bad intents. The impact that science has had on society can be seen anywhere we turn: progress in agriculture, medicine and health care, telecommunications, transportation, computerization and so on, it is part of our daily living. To say that these advancements have done more harm than good is naive: science does neither harm nor good because it is simply a disciplined way to understand how things work. Mankind uses the knowledge that science provides and decides what kind of application to make of it. Albert Einstein, whose theory of relativity was used in the making of the A-Bomb said “the discovery of nuclear reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind, any more than did the discovery of matches” (Einstein, 65). Science is simply a tool: like a sharp knife, it must be used with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. It must be guided by people who understand this concept so that it benefits mankind rather than destroying it.

Isaac Asimov, an American writer and professor of biochemistry, once said, “the saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” Our society is corrupt: we are human, and fallible (New International Version, Rom. 3.10). In a culture where religion of any caliber is rapidly on the decline, morals of any merit are also being neglected: we are, as a society, borderline nihilistic. Without the application of wisdom of a moral standard, knowledge will be misused and can become treacherous, threatening to corrupt the race which discovered it.

Many of the ramifications that come from such nefarious misuse of knowledge are insidious, but some are not so innocuous. Because we are able to do things which were before impossible, people falsely imagine that they are independent and self-sustaining. What they do not realize is that they are quite dependent upon technology. Unfortunately, this mindset makes them imagine that they do not need anything to help them. There is a danger in this way of thinking which can be deadly. Pride is the deadliest of the seven deadly sins, and this display of apparent individual adequacy exposes a rapidly decaying heart. It is a sin to think that we do not need God, and the danger lies in presuming that we know better than Him. In our foolish, self-minded ways, we put ourselves in God’s rightful place on the throne of our hearts. We must, as Victor Frankenstein so aptly says, “...avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries” (Shelley, 162).

Science gains knowledge faster than man gains wisdom. If there is wisdom, we will not use the knowledge gained by science for destructive purposes. Unfortunately, wisdom can only be gained when we have a healthy respect for God—something most people lack (NIV, Psa. 111.10). When knowledge is employed without the application of wisdom, any moral standards that were there before will dissolve, and chaos and destruction will ensue. This, then, is the price we pay for employing knowledge without wisdom.

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