THEOSOPHY, Vol. 35, No. 5, March, 1947
(Pages 199-205; Size: 55K)
(Number 101 of a 103-part series)



A FUNDAMENTAL revision in scientific attitudes, long in preparation, far-reaching in effect, is gradually becoming evident in scientific literature. Reasons for this change are various, some of them recondite, growing out of the long-term cycle of human evolution; others arising more or less obviously from the progress of science itself and the stimulus of contemporary events.

Theosophically, the humanization of science is to be explained by the progressive incarnation of the Manasic principle during this cycle. The deepening of the mental life of the race involves an increase in the sense of reality men have for the mind, the feeling that there lies the truly human existence. This attitude tends to make the old scientific explanations of human nature -- theories based on nineteenth-century physics and biology -- seem vaguely mechanical and needlessly animalistic. While these theories of the past may linger on in textbooks for a time, the scientific heart is not in them.

Correlated with the subtle changes induced by the mind-principle itself are the multiple influences of scientific progress. The working of a machine is no longer a useful analogy for understanding the great laws elaborated by contemporary physics. Matter has become little more than stresses and strains in the dynamic fabric of "space"; it is an "arrangement," a habit, a pattern of energy. Matter breaks down, not into little bits of matter called "atoms," but into something else -- call it vibration. Reality, for the physicist, is a matter of equations. If you ask a modern scientist what is really "real," he will put a lot of symbols on a blackboard and try to explain them. Matter, in short, is an abstraction, and physical reality has dissolved into complex mathematical nebulae.

Another aspect of scientific development has led to revaluation of most of the particulars of nineteenth-century evolutionary theory. While the central dogma of the animal origin of man remains unchallenged, research has steadily undermined the plausibility of the evidence originally proposed in its support. Genetics, for example, the branch of Biology concerned with heredity, has provided little information concerning the actual processes of evolution. Evolution is still an undoubted fact, but its method escapes modern biology. Present research centers upon the nature of mutations, those sudden changes in the germ cell held responsible for the origination of new species. Even cosmic rays have been seriously invoked as possibly a cause of mutations in the line of hereditary descent, but no scientific certainty enlightens any of the current theories to explain them. Last year's Nobel Prizeman in medicine and physiology, Dr. H. J. Muller, authority on artificially induced gene mutations, has gloomily stated that most of the changes in the genetic constitution that he has been able to observe are for the worse -- which can hardly account for evolutionary progress!

A second phase of biological investigation focusses on the problem of form. The combined efforts of a number of researchers have produced the conclusion that form is electro-dynamic -- a far cry from mechanistic speculations of the past. Study of life phenomena is now a department of electrical engineering. But the origin of form itself remains a mystery.

The intensive study of such problems as these has withdrawn the energy, and therefore the conviction, of scientists from attempts at "proof" of popular Darwinism. Of greater interest to present-day scientific thinkers is the now familiar idea of the "impact" of science on modern society -- the central theme of many essays during recent years. A resolution of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, passed in January, 1938, adopted as an objective of the Association "an examination of the profound effects of science on society," and few scientific writers have needed any encouragement to explore the question. It was then stated that the American scientists "accepted the challenge to science for moral leadership in a disordered and puzzled world." Today, nine years later, the need for moral leadership is as great, and the disorder and puzzlement have been increased manyfold by the scientific "contribution" of the atomic bomb.

While scientists discuss the problem of future control of weapons involving nuclear fission, ominous reports of even more destructive devices appear in the newspapers from week to week. The nations of the world are engaged in a new war of nerves, in which the threat of bacterial poisoning plays an almost conventional role, and small-minded statesmen speak menacingly of the annihilating power which they believe scientific discovery capable of adding to national armaments. As a result, many scientists have slammed the door on their ivory towers of "pure research" and thrown away the key. For the first time in modern history, the issue between power and social responsibility has been effectively joined and summarily laid on the work-tables of men who, until the advent of the second world war, asked only to be left alone to devote themselves to "the pursuit of truth." Now a truth that science has neglected for generations -- the principle of moral responsibility -- has sought them out.

In the United States, a few physicists have dared to advocate scientific boycott of military establishments. In Science for December 28, 1945, Dr. Gordon F. Hull, Dartmouth physicist, proposed the formation of a World Association of Physicists whose members would subscribe to certain principles of cooperation with other scientists, "irrespective of nationality," and would pledge themselves "not to give advice concerning, or assist in making, atomic bombs." Similar proposals have been voiced in England, the conservative consensus, however, as stated by Julian Huxley, being simply that the scientist "has a special duty of trying to organize public opinion in the direction of controlling his discoveries."

John O'Neill, science editor of the New York Herald Tribune, has presented the minority viewpoint which assigns extreme individual responsibility to scientists. Drawing upon history, he shows that the subservience of inventive genius to political purposes may have greatly delayed the progress of civilization. He calls upon scientists to emancipate themselves from enslavement to the modern military state. To illustrate his thesis, he cites the invention by Leonardo da Vinci of a steam gun containing "all the elements of the reciprocating steam engine." Leonardo's great talents were exploited by the warring Dukes of the Italian Renaissance, who required the production of machines for war, of which his "steam gun" was an example. "If," writes O'Neill, "the genius that produced this invention had been directed toward peaceful pursuits the world might have had the steam engine about 1500 instead of having to wait for 275 years more for Newcomen and Watt to produce it." He continues:

The guns and other contrivances which da Vinci produced were extremely useful to the Lombardian dukes and they would have no trouble in justifying their production. However, if they had not got their guns, the world might have got the steam engine and civilization would have been advanced by three centuries. Who today can recall what the causes were for which the dukes found it necessary to fight?

A similar situation faces the world today in connection with the atomic bomb.... There are those among the scientists who, willingly or against their better judgment, are acting as stalking horses to lead lesser lights and the great body of scientists into this enslaved state. Like the dukes of the sixteenth century, they and the government sponsors can advance plausible justifications for their action.

To those who can see the larger scroll of history it is very apparent that those who, in their hysteria, would enslave and sterilize science, are functioning on a cycle of activity with just as short a wave length as was the cycle of the Nazis and Japanese imperialists and with identical characteristics -- but the situation always seems excusable on the home grounds. (Herald Tribune, December 23, 1945.)

Mr. O'Neill represents a view subscribed to by more scientists than may be suspected. Discussing the "deep dismay" felt by those who were leaders in the development of the atomic bomb, Katherine Chamberlain, professor of physics at Wayne University, gives clear definition to their dilemma:
It has been my privilege to see several of the people who have contributed to the development of our knowledge of radioactivity at sufficiently close range to be quite certain that a group less inclined to present the world with this means of destruction would be difficult to imagine. To the very great, physics is still natural philosophy, and the search for truth for its own sake is very common. Heretofore, it has always been the highest compliment that could be paid a scientist that he sought the truth without fear or favor. But, now, a moral dilemma of appalling proportions has been injected into the research. Is love of truth to be paramount, or love of mankind? Is the immediate advantage of one's country to be the primary consideration or the welfare of the world? Will man be equal to this great responsibility that he must now assume? The idea is not new that he sows the seeds of his own destruction when he seeks to usurp power that transcends his wisdom. (Science, February 8, 1946.)
Prof. Chamberlain says that the directors and senior research staffs of laboratories capable of manufacturing atomic bombs "probably do not include more than one hundred persons in the entire world." If these leaders -- most of whom know one another -- "were to publish an agreement that no further investigations involving release of atomic energy for military purposes would be carried on in the laboratories under their jurisdiction, the case against the atomic bomb would have the direct sanction of very exalted authority." Thus far, she writes, "Scientists have always lost control over their inventions and discoveries as soon as the creative phase was completed. Can't we act while there is still time?"

In Science for September 13, 1946, Dr. Hull returns to his thesis of scientific non-cooperation with war-making governments:

The scientists of this Nation are not likely to make war on this or any other nation. We are not combative or competitive. We should unite with the scientists of all other nations to outlaw war. No iron curtain should be allowed to enclose and segregate the scientists of any nation.
The problem, however, is not as simple as Dr. Hull implies. In a subsequent number of Science (October 4), another physics teacher replies:
It goes without saying that neither will the physicians of this Nation [make war], nor the teachers, nor, for that matter, the plumbers or the bartenders. Nevertheless, all of these were embroiled in the recent carnage, and the physicists were in the thick of the fight. Significantly enough, Dr. Hull's paper is preceded by a description of a gigantic naval research institution in which some 2,000 civilians, most of them scientists, will be sharpening the modern swords of war. When the bombs fall, scientists too, as well as their children, will die. As citizens, they cannot afford to assume a holier-than-thou attitude.
The moral dilemma of the scientists grows acute when it is realized that in the past research has been largely dependent upon industrial patronage -- as pointed out by J. D. Bernal in the Scientific Monthly, December, 1945 -- while its future seems mortgaged to the all-powerful State. Ernest W. Goodpasture, winner of the 1946 award of the Passano Foundation for medical research, writes of the need of science to be independent of political masters:
The great threat of our age to human welfare, as I see it, is that societies led or driven by industrialism are gathering the individual into their fold as a service unit. The individual as a member of society thus must do a society's bidding, regardless of the particular pattern that social organization might temporarily represent. To the true scientist, the present frame of social organization is not the end of all wisdom but just another phenomenon to be viewed objectively in the course of his inquiries. The scientist's limits are the boundaries of the universe, and his functions cannot, without destroying him, be limited to the service of any particular social order. Industrial, social, religious and political patterns are not yet drawn to serve mankind. It is to be hoped that each governmental power will provide an oasis for students who are individual elements of mankind first and servants of society last. Otherwise intellectual growth will wither and die. (Science, November 22, 1946.)
The expectation that any present-day "governmental power" will exempt the scientist from service to the State during a national crisis -- any more than Leonardo was relieved of military employments during his sixteen-year term of service for the Duke of Milan -- betrays the curious naïveté of specialists whose personal experience with "military necessity" has been extremely brief. But the question of the scientist's moral obligations to mankind has been raised. Discussion of it will continue, and as there is no "easy answer," the implications of the problem are bound to be increasingly disclosed.

On this general subject, Dr. Gene Weltfish, co-author with Ruth Benedict of the pamphlet, Races of Mankind, has declared that "the disinterestedness of the scientist is largely mythical -- that it amounts to a lack of evaluation of purposes, and that as a consequence, the scientist can readily become the creator of havoc and destruction." (Scientific Monthly, September, 1945.) She adds:

"I further maintain that such a robot scientist is a greater menace to humanity than the robot bomb. In our reconstructed world graduating scientists should take cognizance of their responsibilities for the social consequences resulting from their use of scientific techniques."
Enough has been quoted from contemporary scientific literature to illustrate the enormous impact of the atomic bomb on scientific thinking. (Further material on this subject has appeared in THEOSOPHY XXXIV, 30, 111, 150.) [Note: Copies of these three items, from the "On the Lookout" section of each issue, follow this article. --Compiler.] The arousal of scientists to intense reflection, in some cases, to virtual desperation, is certainly desirable, but satisfaction over these various expressions ought not to blind us to the larger ironies of the situation. In the recently published "credo" of the greatest living physicist, Albert Einstein, appears the statement, "...force always attracts men of low morality." For a generation, Dr. Einstein has been a symbol of both human greatness and human gentleness. A man of quiet humor, to whom the highest good has ever been "the creative, sentient individual," he last year addressed to the public a telegraphed appeal for support of a nation-wide campaign to "let the people know that new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels." (Los Angeles Daily News, May 27, 1946.) This man, whose career of revolutionary physical discovery has been from the beginning associated with extreme abhorrence of war, now tells the American people:
Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing power to make decisions for good or evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything but our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.

We scientists who released this immense power have overwhelming responsibility in this world life-and-death struggle to harness the atom for benefit of mankind and not for humanity's destruction.

Yet it was the peaceful and harmless Dr. Einstein who, late in 1939, wrote to the President of the United States, recommending that this nation begin research on a bomb involving controlled chain reaction of atomic fission. As reported in Time for July 1, 1946, Dr. Einstein enclosed to the President a detailed report by Dr. Leo Szilard, who told how and why the bomb might be made. But it was Dr. Einstein's famous equation (E=mc2) which made the atomic bomb theoretically possible. The result, in Time's clipped phrases: "The Manhattan Project, the bomb, the 125,000 dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the biggest boost humanity has yet been given toward terminating its brief history of misery and grandeur."

If ever a great man was overtaken by a tragedy, not peculiarly his, but belonging to the entire human race -- of our time and karmic circumstances -- it is Albert Einstein. "There is," he is constrained to say, "no foreseeable defense against atomic bombs." He must confess, like Duryodhana, that our forces are "not sufficient." His manifest love of mankind, his purity of purpose, his uncompromising and elevated stoic philosophy, his inestimable contributions to scientific knowledge -- all these can balance but little the grim despair of one who envisions a world contorted by the shudders of atomic cataclysm.

Consistent with current medical theory, it seems, Nature is administering the shock treatment for a humanity running amok with natural forces rifled from her secret sanctuaries. The therapy, as in the modern mental hospitals, produces convulsions in the patient -- in this case a sudden evocation of the moral sense of sensitive men, of scientists and educators -- and the result remains to be seen. Whether the treatment will be sufficient to avoid a repetition of the catastrophes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is an open question; sometimes, the "shocks" have no lasting effect; but it is certain that the direction of scientific inquiry will change as a consequence of the new emphasis on human responsibility among scientific workers. Before a quarter of a century more, many new theories of man and his nature will find their way into scientific literature, flowing from this profound change in motivation. And with these new approaches, the sparks of intuition, already manifest in many quarters, may burst into a bright flame of truth.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here. And below that, before going on to the next article in the series, are copies of the three related items that are referred to by the Editors in the above article. They are from the "On the Lookout" sections of three earlier editions of THEOSOPHY magazine. Neither of them are the whole section, which is in every issue, and which always covers many different subjects, but are only portions of it.


The theosophist sees all around him the evidence that the race mind is changing by enlargement, that the old days of dogmatism are gone and the "age of inquiry" has come, that the inquiries will grow louder year by year and the answers be required to satisfy the mind as it grows more and more, until at last, all dogmatism being ended, the race will be ready to face all problems, each man for himself, all working for the good of the whole, and that the end will be the perfecting of those who struggle to overcome the brute. 


THEOSOPHY, Vol. 34, No. 1, November, 1945
(Pages 30-33)


[The 1st of 3 references]


The falling of atomic bombs has caused a general straining of eyes toward the future, along with vast confusion of opinion. Voices representing some ten per cent of Americans were raised in protest or misgiving; certain hitherto obscure scientists rose smilingly and took bows; a group of young chemists at the Oak Ridge bomb plant, in a private conference with a noted columnist, expressed sincere terror for the future and regret that the project had succeeded; at a Presidential conference just after the deeds, one chief scientist of the project and one Army general expressed similar regrets, while the remainder of the assemblage remained silent.

Publicists all over the nation emitted warnings of the new necessity for a peaceful world and descriptions of the dire results that might follow otherwise. With the exception of a few, all forebodings were glossed over with ultimate reassurance, following the standard American requirement that all stories must end happily.


One notable exception to this trend of superficial thinking appeared -- rather remarkably -- in the Saturday Review of Literature for August 18. A sober editorial, entitled "Modern Man Is Obsolete," contained a genuine depth of philosophical perspective:

Whatever elation there is in the world today because of final victory in the war is severely tempered by fear. It is a primitive fear, the fear of the unknown, the fear of forces man can neither channel nor comprehend....

Where man can find no answer, he will find fear. While the dust was still settling over Hiroshima, he was asking himself questions and finding no answers. The biggest question of these concerns the nature of man. Is war in the nature of man? If so, how much time has he left before he employs the means he has already devised for the ultimate in self-destruction -- extinction? And now that the science of warfare has reached the point where it threatens the planet itself, is it possible that man is destined to return the earth to its aboriginal incandescent mass blazing at fifty million degrees? If not -- that is, if war is not in the nature of man -- then how is he to interpret his own experience, which tells him that in all of recorded history there have been only 300 years in the aggregate during which he has been free of war?


The writer, Norman Cousins, admits that the strict empiricists find everything in man's history to indicate that "war is locked up with his nature"--

But a broader and more generous, certainly more philosophical, view is held by those scientists who claim that the evidence to date is incomplete and misleading, and that man does have within him the power of abolishing war. Prominent among these is Julian Huxley, who draws a sharp distinction between human nature and the expression of human nature. Thus war is not a reflection but an expression of his nature. Moreover, the expression may change, as the factors which lead to war may change....

But even if this gives us a reassuring answer to the question -- is war inevitable because of man's nature? -- it still leaves unanswered the question concerning the causes leading up to war. The expression of man's nature will continue to be warlike if the same conditions are continued that have provoked warlike expressions in him in the past....

What does it matter, then, if war is not in the nature of man so long as man continues through the expression of his nature to be a viciously competitive animal? The effect is the same, and therefore the result must be as conclusive -- war being the effect, and complete obliteration of the human species being the result.


"Man is left, then," Mr. Cousins points out, "with a crisis in decision. The main test before him involves his will to change rather than his ability to change. That he is capable of change is certain." There are two principal courses open to him in this crisis:

The first course is the positive approach. It begins with a careful survey and appraisal of the obsolescences which constitute the afterbirth of the new age. The survey must begin with man himself. "The proper study of Mankind is Man," said Pope. No amount of tinkering with his institutions will be sufficient to insure his survival unless he can make the necessary adjustments in his own relationship to the world and to society....

It need no longer be a question as to which peoples shall prosper and which shall be deprived. There is power enough and resources enough for all.

It is here that man's survey of himself needs the severest scrutiny, for he is his own greatest obstacle to the achievement of those attainable and necessary goals. While he is willing to mobilize all his scientific and intellectual energies for purposes of death, he is unwilling to undertake any comparable mobilization for purposes of life.


"Man must consider himself in relation to his individual development," and "a revolution is needed in his leisure-time activities." The development of the individual, his mind and body, can be restored as the first law of life, as it was in the "Golden Age," and in Greece, where "it took the form of the revolution of awareness, the emancipation of the intellect from the limitations of corroding ignorance and prejudice."

But he [man] shall have to effect a radical transformation in his approach to and philosophy of education, which must prepare him for the opportunities and responsibilities not only of his chosen work but for the business of living itself. The primary aim should be the development of a critical intelligence....

The second course is relatively simple. It requires that man destroy, carefully and completely, everything relating to science and civilization.... In short, let him revert to his condition in society in 10,000 B.C. Thus emancipated from science, from progress, from government, from knowledge, from thought, he can be reasonably certain of safeguarding his existence on this planet.


Another philosophical analysis of the meaning of "The Bomb" is a Politics editorial, in which Dwight Macdonald raises, as he did a few months before, in respect to the Nazi Death Camps, the question of the responsibility of the individual:

The Bomb produced two widespread and, from the standpoint of The Authorities, undesirable emotional reactions in this country: a feeling of guilt at "our" having done this to "them," and anxiety lest some future "they" do this to "us." Both feelings were heightened by the superhuman scale of The Bomb. The Authorities have therefore made valiant attempts to reduce the thing to a human context, where such concepts as Justice, Reason, Progress could be employed. Such moral defenses are offered as: the war was shortened and many lives, Japanese as well as American, saved; "we" had to invent and use The Bomb against "them" lest "they" invent and use it against "us"; the Japanese deserved it because they started the war, treated prisoners barbarously, etc., or because they refused to surrender. The flimsiness of these justifications is apparent; any atrocious action, absolutely any one, could be excused on such grounds. For there is really only one possible answer to the problem posed to Dostoievsky's Grand Inquisitor: if all mankind could realize eternal and complete happiness by torturing to death a single child, would this act be morally justified? (September Politics.)

Prof. H. D. Smyth of Princeton, whose account of the bomb is the most authoritative scientific report, points out: "The weapon has been created not by the devilish inspiration of some warped genius but by the arduous labor of thousands of normal men and women working for the safety of their country." This is a twist that even the pulp writers never imagined: "their atom-bombs were created by 'devilish' and 'warped geniuses'," and Macdonald comments, "the effort to 'humanize' The Bomb by showing how it fits into our normal, everyday life also cuts the other way: it reveals how inhuman our normal life has become."

Only a handful, of course, knew what they were creating. None of the 125,000 construction and factory workers knew. Only three of the plane crew that dropped the first bomb knew what they were letting loose. It hardly needs to be stressed that there is something askew with a society in which vast numbers of citizens can be organized to create a horror like The Bomb without even knowing they are doing it. What real content, in such a case, can be assigned to notions like "democracy" and "government of, by and for the people"? ...

All this emphasizes that perfect automatism, that absolute lack of human consciousness or aims which our society is rapidly achieving.... the elements of our society act and react, regardless of ideologies or personalities, until The Bomb explodes over Hiroshima. The more commonplace the personalities and senseless the institutions, the more grandiose the destruction. It is Gotterdammerung without the gods....

Insofar as there is any moral responsibility assignable for The Bomb, it rests with those scientists who developed it and those political and military leaders who employed it. Since the rest of us Americans did not even know what was being done in our name -- let alone have the slightest possibility of stopping it -- The Bomb becomes the most dramatic illustration to date of that fallacy of collective responsibility which I analyzed in "The Responsibility of Peoples."

To the Theosophist, of course, the future of the atom is a Study in Karma, and the broader philosophical and moral implications of the atomic bomb will be considered in that series in an early issue. [Note: The 60-part series entitled "Studies in Karma" will be on this web site in the near future. --Compiler.]

[End of the 1st reference]

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 34, No. 3, January, 1946
(Pages 111-115)


[The 2nd of 3 references]


As the months go by, both specialists and laymen are endeavoring to assimilate the more obvious implications of the atomic bomb. So far, judgments are all in the nature of fearful anticipations. John J. O'Neill, New York Herald Tribune science editor, is especially disturbed by the limitations which the new discovery has imposed on scientific freedom. He writes:

The ethical code of science calls for complete freedom of research, requires complete disclosure of all knowledge gained and the quickest possible dissemination of this knowledge. Under war conditions practically all research was forced onto a basis of regimentation in which the work of the scientists was directed to tasks of immediate importance as determined by military authorities. Freedom of research was practically eliminated.

The dilemma of science now consists in the fact that its future progress depends in large part on free consultation and comparison of results, while military "discretion" would isolate and silence workers in research, even in peacetime, lest they betray a vital secret to a potential enemy power. If it were known which discoveries might prove of military importance, the problem would be somewhat simpler to solve, but the fact is that discoveries made ten years ago, which then seemed without practical application, have since played a significant part in the development of the atomic bomb. Apparently, there is no escape from the yoke which now unites scientific inquiry and military preparedness. O'Neill's conclusion is self-evident:

Science will remain linked unavoidably to military requirements and a science limited in any way means a science that has started to deteriorate and decay. The nature of free science requires a free world in which to survive. (Herald Tribune, September 23, 1945.)
Even industrial applications of atomic power will involve military considerations. Dr. M. L. E. Oliphant, a British scientist who worked on the atomic bomb, has said that a plant producing nuclear power "produces also as a second by-product a whole series of radioactive materials." (Los Angeles Times, November 16, 1945.) These materials, he continues,
could be extracted by an unscrupulous country, and could be sprayed or otherwise distributed over an enemy territory in sufficient concentration to prohibit the survival of any living thing in thousands of square miles of country.

This dissemination of a new type of poison gas, as it were, is free from any of the difficulties associated with the use of ordinary chemical gases. There is no known method of decontamination, so that areas affected in this way would remain unusable for weeks or months until the radioactivity decayed away.

It is clear, therefore, that it is impossible to separate the military question from the possible commercial utilization of atomic energy.


The scientists of both England and the United States are growing uneasy at the prospect of extensive military control over their operations. American physicists who worked on the atomic bomb have announced that if they are not permitted some voice in deciding the use to be made of their discoveries, they will renounce atomic research for an elaborate study of butterflies' wings! Their distrust of military control may well spring from the fact, revealed at a meeting in London by Dr. Oliphant, that "the scientists who had been responsible for producing the bomb in the United States had unanimously voted against its use unannounced against the Japanese." A British editorial account continues with the following explanation:

Not that to drop twenty thousand tons in one raid is worse than twenty raids that each drop a thousand tons, but that the occasion could have been used to demonstrate to the Japanese (who might have surrendered before it was dropped) and to the world as a whole that Science had at last brought us to the stage when a World State is absolutely necessary for the survival of civilised man.

This view, attributed to a group of American scientists, must be contrasted with a very different account of scientific influence on the military use made of the discovery. The Washington correspondent, Frank C. Hanighen, reported in the news supplement to Human Events for September 12:

Some military circles, who defend the atom-bombing of Hiroshima, now say that the dropping of an atom bomb on Nagasaki served no military purpose and played no role in the end of the war, which they say was virtually brought to a close by the destruction of Hiroshima. The bombing of Nagasaki, on the other hand, was a "purely experimental matter"; scientists wanted more data on atom bomb results. These Army circles are shocked by Nagasaki and say we cannot deny that we have perpetrated the biggest atrocity of the war; that we cannot now, without hypocrisy, accuse the Nazi authorities of Buchenwald of "death experiments" on prisoners of those concentration camps. The inhabitants of Nagasaki were our guinea pigs.

But whether the scientists wished to restrict the use of the bomb in the war on Japan, or asked for an "experimental" repetition of the blast, the horror of its destructiveness remains to haunt the serious men of every land. The question of justification for its use is dwarfed in the minds of most by the tremendous issues it raises for the future. The problem is formulated in academic terms by John S. Perkins, of Boston University, in School and Society for November 17:

Science did it.

The physical scientists won the war. It was the atomic bomb and radar, coming out of the unknown, which provided the margin of advantage needed for victory. The physical scientists -- the chemists, the physicists, the metallurgists -- succeeded in harnessing the forces of nature; and they stopped the war.

It is now up to the social scientists to win the peace. Unless social scientists harness the forces of mankind, the ending of World War II will prove to be just another armistice.

This is quite an assignment for the social scientists, especially when one of their leaders, Prof. Edwin B. Wilson, of Harvard, announced only five years ago "that there is not much that is social science." His depressing conclusion came after long professional association with workers in this field. There is certainly a need for social science, indeed, an absolute necessity, but those who look to the universities for help in this critical juncture of history will find only a reflection of their own bewilderment. True "social science" for the present would provide, first, an accurate diagnosis of the moral condition of the great mass of mankind, and second, a straight-forward statement of the corrective measures that must be applied. For suggestions on the first requirement, we turn, not to academic science, but to some observations by "Critic," shrewd commentator of the British New Statesman and Nation (October 27, 1945). The second requirement is outlined by W. T. Stace, who discusses the question, "Have Nations Any Morals?" in the November Atlantic.


"Critic" described an exposition of the world situation he presented before a large university audience, including many demobilized soldiers. As he tells it:

Inevitably the picture is gloomy, and I tried to relieve the gloom by concentrating on the chances of using the atomic bomb as a lever for world organization, and making suggestions about the best way of overcoming the difficulties between Russia and the West, and on the problem of creating a "closer union" in Western Europe of a type which would be no menace to any other State. Afterwards I was assailed by an American officer, who said that, if my picture were true, all the Service men had been through hell for nothing; that we had just defeated Fascism and there was enough skepticism and cynicism about the future without my adding to it. An English ex-officer explained that the Service men just would not "take" all the "realism" that had been pumped into them in army lectures; they demanded some positive assurance and lead for the future. The criticism touched me very closely. Thinking it over afterwards, I see that the real point is not that I was unconstructive or over-gloomy, but that to tell people that certain things must be done on the high diplomatic level, which they distrust anyway, gives them no personal hope or objective. In every returning soldier ... there are two tendencies -- the glowing reformer and revolutionary, and the escapist, who got the upper hand after the last war until he was jerked out of his private garden by the discovery that the world had been plunging to catastrophe while he tried not to look.... The idealistic tide will flow into wrong channels unless individual supporters are made to feel their personal part in creating a new world order and reconstructing their country.
That is the diagnosis: the post-war period is a time of emotional enthusiasm and of longing for freedom from responsibility. Unless the ideals for which so many have given so much can be scaled to the dimensions of a practical goal for individuals, with specific jobs for each of those individuals to do, as part of the common realization, the "idealistic tide" will quickly turn into cynicism and bitter disillusionment.


But what is the task of common realization? W. T. Stace states the objective:

There is nothing we can do in these circumstances except try to get rid of old habits of thought. We are still, all of us, everywhere in the world, in the grip of old habits of thought, carried over from the day when the nations were relatively independent or self-dependent, into an age in which they have become, whether they like it or not, interdependent. Our habit is to think in national terms only, whereas we have to learn to think in international terms.... There is only one way out. We have to learn the lesson that nations, deserting their petty ideas of sovereignty, prestige, national self-interest, must combine to act together for the common good of humanity -- which is the meaning of acting morally. There is still time to learn this lesson. But the time is short.
This is the task for individuals: to get rid of old habits of thought; to learn to act together for the good of all humanity -- to practice, in short, the teachings of Theosophy. However we approach the problem, however we divide it or break it down, it comes to the same basic end. Failing in this, all other projects for peace will fail as surely as they have failed in the past, without the practice of Brotherhood.

[End of the 2nd reference]

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 34, No. 4, February, 1946
(Pages 150-153)


[The last of 3 references]


Discussion of the Atom Bomb continues. The English World Review (November) reports a symposium on the control of the bomb, in which the participants were Prof. G. D. H. Cole, Dr. Demant (Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral), T. S. Eliot, Dr. Julian Huxley, and Dr. C. E. M. Joad. They considered first the moral responsibility of scientists for such productions, Prof. Cole maintaining that the special knowledge of the scientist gives him greater responsibility, which may oblige him to be guided by conscience rather than by statesmen. This Dr. Joad called "an incredibly dangerous doctrine," implying "that anybody and everybody may take it upon himself to judge whether his Government is right." The question was obviously a thorny one, as revealed by the interchange:

DR. JOAD: You cannot expect the scientist to take upon himself the political responsibility of disobeying the Government by withholding his services.

DR. HUXLEY: No more than a soldier, or a civil servant.

PROF. COLE: Is that true of any Government? Was a Nazi scientist right in aiding Hitler?

DR. JOAD: Just as far as a Nazi soldier was right.

PROF. COLE: I don't want to be taken as acquiescing in the view that a man ought to be willing to do anything of any kind for his country.

DR. HUXLEY: But don't you then come up against the difficulty of the conflict between patriotism and humanism?

DR. JOAD: In which patriotism always wins.

PROF. COLE: No. It wins in the majority of cases. Not always.


The consensus was expressed by Dr. Huxley, who summed up by saying that "there does come a stage where obviously the scientist may be expected to see further into the implications, and then I would say he has a special duty of trying to organize public opinion in the direction of controlling his discoveries." Discussion of international control of manufacture of the atomic bomb led to the conclusion that if it can be made secretly, in small laboratories, "then the only hope is the moral hope -- the hope of creating so strong a world public opinion in favor of the preservation of peace that it would be very difficult for even a dozen people to get together and make this stuff without one of them going and denouncing what they were doing."


In America, Dr. Vannevar Bush, civilian scientist in charge of development of the bomb, told a Senate committee that it was the late President Roosevelt who made the decision to use the atomic bomb and new incendiaries against Japan in order to destroy her industry. Vaguely reflecting the sense of responsibility mentioned in the discussion quoted above, Dr. Bush said: "I am glad I did not have to make the decision." There was some question, he said, because it was known that many civilians would be killed.

Representatives of organized religion declared themselves through the voice of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, "central organization for 27,021,153 members in 25 denominations," calling on the people of the United States to "cleanse themselves from the moral contaminations of war." (Los Angeles Times, November 25, 1945.) The report of the executive committee of the Council continued: "Too easily we have condemned whole peoples because of their race and have hardened our hearts to inflict on them wholesale death and destruction [and] have come to tolerate, as aids to victory, qualities and deeds which, when they appeared in Nazism, rightly revolted us."


A further explanation of the effects of atomic bomb radiations was forthcoming from Dr. Philip Morrison, who helped to assemble the bombs. The rays, he said, strangely affected the blood and made the victims a prey to fatal infection. (Hollywood Citizen-News, December 6, 1945.) He reported to a Senate atomic energy committee the findings of a party which inspected Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the Japanese surrendered, saying in summary:

Many who escaped death by blast or burn died from the effects of radium-like rays emitted in great number from the bomb at the instant of explosion. This radiation affects the blood-forming tissues in the bone marrow, and the whole function of the blood is impaired. The blood does not coagulate, and the white corpuscles which fight infection disappear. Lack of these corpuscles permits infection to prosper, and the patient dies usually two or three weeks after the exposure.

In the course of a talk given before a political association in Berkeley, California, on November 28, 1945, Dr. J. R. Oppenheimer, chief of the Los Alamos atom bomb laboratories, revealed the following facts:

1. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the smallest possible laboratory models. There is no limit to size in the construction of atomic bombs.

2. A bomb can now be constructed which can be propelled over the countryside by its own power, giving off a controlled radiation of either heat or gamma rays, as desired.

3. Such a bomb, capable of destroying everything over a path two miles wide, could be carried in a suitcase or shipped by air express.

Dr. Oppenheimer also stated that he desired to lay the ghosts of current propaganda with respect to the great benefits to be obtained from atomic bomb research. He said that nothing new of a constructive nature had been found in operations thus far, which had consisted of adapting already known principles to destructive purposes. He concluded on the note of "repent or die," suggesting that there is no solution except for men as individuals and nations to adopt an entirely new direction of thinking. He warned that scientific developments were proceeding so rapidly as to make the time for the necessary changes in attitude very short.


Statements issued by the scientists of a major atomic bomb laboratory were in a similar vein. A condensation of their views, prepared by the Center for International Understanding, in Los Angeles, shows the measure of concern felt by these men. They point out the folly of hoping that any nation or group can maintain a monopoly on the atomic bomb. It is a weapon against which there is virtually no defense, and the "terrible destructiveness" of the first crude bombs "is no measure of the future possibilities." Expectation that nations may be persuaded to renounce use of the bomb in war is described as baseless:

Limitation of fleets, attempted between the wars, was largely futile; there also existed an agreement to refrain from the bombing of civilians, but this agreement was broken at the very outset of the war and subsequently this kind of warfare was most extensively used by all. These experiences make it clear that no nation possessing the atomic bomb will renounce its use in war. In fact, simple agreements of this kind between sovereign nations have no significance in war; war is in itself a manifestation of their failure.
These scientists ask for the sacrifice of sovereignty by all the powers and the establishment of a "true World Government" with power to control raw materials used in atomic bomb production. They say further that while statesmen may perceive the need for international organization created by the atomic bomb, "without a clear conviction as to the proper course in the heart of every man everywhere, their efforts can be in vain."


How practicable such proposals for world government will prove, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, it seems clear that scientific achievement and its utilization for destruction has assumed the character of an explosion, as distinguished from cyclic growth; if, to counteract this tendency, a spiritual "explosion" of commensurate dimensions is required, there are few signs of any such event on the immediate horizon.

There is a fairly large school of thought holding that men will now reform as the alternative to death. Neither history nor sociology gives any color to this idea, and surely, Theosophy teaches that fear can never be a constructive force, except insofar as its manifestations may bring karmic lessons home to those relatively free of it, thus stimulating their own constructive efforts. But whether or not the means will be found to avert catastrophe in our generation, Western humanity seems fated to undergo a reign of terror -- already widely and deeply rooted -- for an indefinite period. Some of the subjective Karma, presumably, could be worked out or "paid off" in sheer terror, but while the ledger of suffering may be balanced, karmic effects must continue until the lesson is learned, and the paralysis of fear is not conducive to the learning process. Karma has two aspects or cycles of expiation: retribution and restitution. Having experienced what he inflicted on his enemies, man is only half-way through with the Karmic adjustment. So far, the idea of restitution has hardly occurred at all to the victorious powers.

[End of the 3rd reference]

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