When I was in Grade 10, I did a dissection for the first time in my life and I found myself feeling really uncomfortable. The frog my group members and I dissected was female, and also pregnant. When we laid the frog on her back and spread her legs wide, when we pinned the needles through her feet, when we used cold scissors to open her belly and took the eggs out of her womb, I felt nauseated and depressed. I felt like I had done something wrong. I felt like I was trapped in a giant freezer and short of breath. I learned later that even if I didn’t participate in the lab, my teacher would not have deducted marks. Why? Because the TDSB’s heath and safety reference clearly states that “No pressure should ever be exerted on students to take part in these activities”. The school board recognizes the moral issue involved in dissection. This experience made me wonder whether morality should limit scientific progress or not.
In Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood also investigates the relationship between morality and science. She illustrates a dystopian world where science goes too far and eventually destroys civilization. I was frustrated and anxious while reading the book because I was scared that one day our world would be like that.
Did you know that in the 20-century there were many experiments done with infants? An article I read on the topic mentions that in the 1920’s, “newborns were stuck with needles on the cheeks, thighs, and calves.” Most of us would agree that it is wrong to do such things for the progress of science. In today’s world, this would be illegal. However, using animals in experiments is still accepted. I wonder if future generations will judge what we are doing today the way we judge scientists of the past.
The best example of science’s relationship with morality is the nuclear bomb, which was created to win WWII. Some people who worked on the project came to regret it. Unfortunately, it was already too late to stop it from being used. When he saw the results of the trial, Robert Oppenheimer, the leader of the Manhattan Project quoted the Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse Hindu scripture, saying “I am become Death. The destroyer of worlds.” This story demonstrates what we all know about Pandora’s box – once it is opened, it can never be