Thursday, December 01, 2011

If you find this book interesting, you may also find my two books "America on Strike" and "Mein Kampf - Analysis of Book One" to be of equal interest. Thanks.

Click on book covers to the right on this page for more information.

Declaration of a Heretic

By Jeremy Rifkin

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

I’ve taken a recent interest in books by Jeremy Rifkin. He has written several. “Declaration of a Heretic” is my second. My first was “The End of Work.” I have already posted that review.

In this book Mr. Rifkin presents his case against science – a difficult challenge to say the least.

He concentrates his attack on the two most significant breakthroughs of the 20th century: the splitting of the atom which ushered in the Atomic Age and the discovery of the double helix that brought the dawning of the Genetics Age.

“To cast these discoveries aside. To let languish the concepts that gave rise to them. To abandon the line of intellectual thought that led up to them. To say no to the human motivation that inspired them. For the true believers, the staunch upholders of the existing orthodoxy, such thought qualify as heresy.”

And so the challenge begins.

The author brings us all the way back to the Bible to trace the beginnings of this dilemma and the human penchant for learning and science. He reminds us that Adam and Eve bit of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. Knowledge and learning were the human curse plaguing mankind according to our Christian theological roots.

Now expelled from the Garden of Eden man would be forever condemned to live in constant fear of death and as a consequence of this angst he would be driven to seek security and perpetual life here on earth. Knowledge would lead to power and power would provide security and eventually life ever lasting.

Now science comes to the foreground.

“The Apostles of truth are no longer Peter, Paul, John, Mark and Luke. They are Bacon, Descartes, Newton, Locke and Darwin.”

We then dabble into Greek Mythology by touching onto Epimetheus and Prometheus.

“Prometheus noticed that Epimetheus had already distributed all the qualities at his disposal to the rest of the plants and animals. Not wanting to leave human beings totally unprotected, Prometheus stole the mechanical arts and fire from the gods and gave them to man and women.”

To the above scientific mix we add Adam Smith. We then proceed from Bacon to Descartes to Newton, to Smith to Darwin.

Bacon gave us the scientific method with his monumental work “Novum Organum.”
Descartes turned humans into machines and the universe into a mathematically predictable set of numbers and equations. “Give me extension and motion and I will construct the universe.”

Newton with his forces and gravity further reduced the universe to a matter of formulated laws of matter and motion.

“Locke concluded that each individual was like an isolated bit of matter in the universe with no goal than to perpetuate itself.”

Locke contended that “the negation of nature is the way towards happiness.”
Adam Smith then came and put the whammy on everything by claming that “it is only by each individual attempting his own material advantage that the common good of society is advanced.”

“Smith claimed to have discovered a natural law, the invisible hand, which he said automatically regulated the supply and demand of scarce resources among all the members of society.”

This type thinking brought us to the mandate of today’s modern civilization … efficiency.

If we will to be secure we must be efficient at all costs. Knowledge = power = control = security, which leads us all to cower beneath the dictates of efficiency and the efficiency gurus who now rule the world.

This book moves along asking all the biggest questions. Are we better off today because of the splitting of the atom or the discovery of the double helix? Has science truly been the benefactor of mankind or its nemesis? Or is it like most other things a blessing and a curse simultaneously?

If science does indeed have its negative and detrimental sides should we not be looking at it with a more reflective eye towards the damage it has done and to what can prevent further damage to man’s future on this tentative planet?

What is more important, efficiency, production and unlimited profits or human involvement, live sustaining jobs and the quality of our environment and human existence?

We now have the power via science and the splitting of the atom to explode the human race and this planet to extinction.

By way of our new scientific discoveries in biology, chemistry and genetic engineering we now have the capacity to reconstruct agriculture and human nature. Like Mrs. Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein from the annals of science fiction, we evolve to a real world in which the species barrier is not even a problem.

Today via genetic engineering we can construct crops and barnyard animals that have never existed previously. We already have a combination goat and sheep concoction and a mouse that has been injected with human hormone that the geneticists have named Mighty Mouse. It sounds rather funny but it is much more frightening than it is humorous.

We not only have the potential to do this, it is being done right now in the world around us. And it is being supervised, regulated and controlled by nobody. It has all been turned over to the so called free market. Which means it is entirely in the hands of the for-profit business community.

The oil companies have a bacteria they have spliced together in the lab that will eat oil slick. They are afraid to use it. They don’t really know what it can do.
Could it eat up all the oil reserves in the world and then present us with uncontrollable bacteria with totally unpredictable genetic possibilities? Could it combine with other natural things and produce other possibilities with no antidote.

If this were not bad enough the geneticists are now capable of cutting and pasting a new human being. A total prefabricating of human nature may be in the future. Man is attempting to scientifically take over the process of creation. A new horror along the eugenics line, may well be in our not too distant future.

When scientists first learned that it was possible to split the atom many of them standing at the testing grounds wondered if they were not in the process of totally destroying the planet. They were all not positive that the developing chain reaction that they were about to release could be stopped. They stood trembling for all mankind, but yet went forward with the test.

We were lucky that time. Will our luck continue with these new areas of discovery? Do we want to take such chances today? Wouldn’t it be wiser to put some rules and control into place?

But who will make these rules, Governments or capitalists?
The choices are on top of us. What do we do? What should we do?

The author is an optimist and a utopian of sorts. He gives us his cure for this mounting catastrophe.

This is another more than thought provoking work by Mr. Jeremy Rifkin. I would suggest everyone read it.

To say that this little book provides “much food for thought” would be grossly understating its importance.

Find out for yourself.

Get a copy of “Declaration of a Heretic.” Read it. Think about it.

It is up to us to decide if and how we and our planet will survive.

The future is here and it is scary.

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