Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Prince Charles
"We have to rediscover a sense of the sacred"
 real 28k

Ben Mossop, UK
""We should be looking for a balance"
 real 28k

Suyash Misra, India
"Scientists must accept moral responsibilty for their inventions"
 real 28k

Nigel bannister, UK
"A lot of the blame lies with commerce"
 real 28k

Dr Neil Emins
"There is a dangerous thread to what Prince Charles is saying"
 real 28k

Helen Smith
"Scientists use the public as their personal slave force"
 real 28k

Susan Vegors, US
"People are not being allowed to make their own choices"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Are we becoming slaves to technology?

Prince Charles has caused controversy with his Reith lecture in which he warns of a world that is becoming like a giant laboratory where nothing is held sacred.

He thinks we need to "rediscover a reverence for the natural world" or risk "potentially disastrous long-term consequences".

Is the prince's plea a much-needed wake-up call in a world of cloning, Frankenstein foods and gene manipulation? Or do his warnings go against mankind's need for progress?

We have been taking your calls LIVE on the World Service's Talking Point On Air programme.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before we went ON AIR

    Your comments since the programme



    While it's all well and good to comment about this technology, how will we feed our growing population?

    John Edwards, Australia
    While it's all well and good to comment about this technology, how will we feed our growing population? I don't think spirituality is going to be able to help much in doing that.
    John Edwards, Australia

    We have to learn to live off nature's income rather than by eroding its capital. Sustainable development is the only option we have, but science has a central part in this process.
    Ed, UK

    I object to those who claim that Prince Charles should keep out of such matters. We all have a right to air our views, so why shouldn't he?
    Christina Brown, UK



    We don't learn, we won't learn, and science, over time, is making us weaker and weaker

    Mark Selby, England
    William Blake deplored the "dark Satanic mills" of Victorian England. E.M.Forster in his short story "The Machine Stops" foresaw a frighteningly automated human existence. And now, Prince Charles takes up the anti-technology chorus. But the plain truth is that without modern technology most of us would be very poor, or even dead. We need look no further than the equatorial African countries where famine and disease are endemic. But having said this, we do need watchdogs to ensure that technology does not go too far. So thank you, Prince Charles.
    Malcolm Baird, Canada

    Because of some complex and unforeseen consequence, in ten years time, a government scientist could be making excuses while thousands die. Who at the time, aware of the decision, would have been agreeable to feeding dead sheep parts to cows? We don't learn, we won't learn, and science, over time, is making us weaker and weaker. BSE, superbugs, nut allergies and genetically weak people surviving through science to pass on their genes. We're on a treadmill, it's going faster and faster, and we won't keep up with ourselves forever.
    Mark Selby, England

    Prince Charles has probably never participated in many any of the activities that "ordinary" people engage in such as travel on a bus or go to the chippy. Nevertheless, he tries to make sense of things outside his own cultural sphere, which many others don't bother to attempt. For most of us, it is hard to imagine the constraints under which he lives, although we are aware of, and make allowances for people who are constrained by more unfortunate circumstances such as poverty and lack of education.
    Jenny Le Peuple, UK



    Progress is a double-edged blade. We've already wiped out most of the forests and a great many species on our planet

    Patrick Lewin, Swede living in UK
    Progress is a double-edged blade. We've already wiped out most of the forests and a great many species on our planet. We've polluted vast regions of land and sea. Most people live in poverty, at the mercy of diseases which they can't even afford to treat. I applaud Prince Charles for providing such a thoughtful insight into the sometimes too cosy relationship between scientific progress and big business.
    Patrick Lewin, Swede living in UK

    Prince Charles is a woolly minded liberal always looking for a new tree to hug. He has never had to work for a salary in his life and has consistently stumbled around looking for "causes" to define himself. The issues he whinges about are here to stay and if he doesn't get with the programme he'll simply underline yet again that the Royals are a complete waste of space.
    Graham, Philippines



    Religion is a means of imagining the world which we want to live in. Science is the way of making it happen

    Nathan Butcher, Australia
    If we take a scientific look at religion, we become aware that it is really a construction kit for peace of mind by way of self-hypnosis. When religions fight each other, it is really trying to argue that one religion is better at achieving peace of mind than others? Regardless of whether religions are true or not. Religion is a means of imagining the world which we want to live in. Science is the way of making it happen.
    Nathan Butcher, Australia

    There is no need to humour these sentiments when there is so much to be gained from science. Science is the most reliable methodology by which many satisfy their curiosity for all things. One only needs to look deeply into any aspect of the universe to feel mystified and awed. Maintaining status quo in order to preserve mystery is a cry for help from those unwilling or incapable of keeping up with the knowledge generated by science.
    Manoj Panicker, US



    I think this is just a cry of fear as modernisation occurs

    Bala Karunakaran, UK
    I think this is just a cry of fear as modernisation occurs. He knows modern values are going to replace the importance of his family soon. I sympathise with him.
    Bala Karunakaran, UK

    Are we becoming slaves to technology? There is nothing good or bad about technology. It is the application of science for achieving certain purposes. Unfortunately, most of the technology used today is used to stir the economy of a country.
    Kai Lin Woon, UK

    This is an interesting debate. All the same there is an interesting theory that the earth itself functions as a single organism, highly capable of adapting to changing conditions (Gaia). The universities in the US respond to this by making each scientist aware of ethics, sociology, psychology, philosophy etc by making a liberal arts education a required part of any scientific degree. I have not seen this reflected in any UK science degree courses.
    Jenny W, UK

    Nick Gunning said it all in his comments. There is a very strong anti-science movement, mostly comprising no-hoper idiots. They would like nothing better than for us all to return to the dark ages, and I for one would wish the whole lot of them would take a one way ticket to the third world, where they would feel much more at home.
    Simon Moore, UK



    Things today that appear mystical to us will one day become scientific fact.

    Haroon Khan, England
    How do you define "spiritual"? A thousand years ago the sun, moon and the stars were also dazzling spiritual things that no one could explain. Now we know exactly what they are because of scientific discovery and spiritualism has no more place there. Things today that appear mystical to us will one day become scientific fact. I agree we must proceed cautiously with our scientific research to avoid potential disasters but not stuff our heads in the sand and assume this pathetic "spiritual universe" because it quite simply doesn't exist!
    Haroon Khan, England

    Antibiotics and vaccines fight disease; pesticides and artificial fertilisers fight hunger. Their benefits far outweigh their costs to humanity. Be thankful that we still have the courage to violate the "natural order" of things.
    Henry Case, UK



    Prince Charles is not a thinker who takes on the establishment. He is a product of that establishment and, like many such people, thinks his intuition is better than other people's reason

    Nick Gunning, UK
    Prince Charles is not a thinker who takes on the establishment. He is a product of that establishment and, like many such people, thinks his intuition is better than other people's reason. There is a dangerous antiscientific movement which wants to reinvent a phoney past. It is made up of people who have enough material wealth to be able to afford to despise the advances which made that wealth possible.
    Nick Gunning, UK

    I applaud the Prince of Wales for raising the alert on this vital issue. Natural Law - Nature's intelligence - governs everything in the universe perfectly. Man's attempt to uncover and utilize the laws of Nature through science is fine so long as it does not manipulate or violate Natural Law, which spoils the natural balance and order of life and existence - stress, ill health, misery naturally result. Nature is almighty. Mankind must transcend the mundane and raise its consciousness to preceive that eternal reality.
    Anthony Miles, USA

    Science and religion are tools to seek out the truth. Religion fails when a particular religion claims greater monopoly of the truth. Science on the other hand accepts when it has gone wrong and evolves to the next progressive step. I therefore feel that science teaches greater humility and is non-discriminatory.
    Vinod Dawda, UK

    Bravo for Charles! I'm glad that he has taken the bold step to speak up about our growing distancing from Nature, our mother. Speaking up about this is not easy because it goes against the interests of Big Business. I hope Charles keeps up the pressure on the industrial giants who are creating a dangerous chasm between humans and their mother, Nature.
    Anthony Merhi New York, NY



    Without Science we are blind and ignorant, without religion we are heartless and cruel

    David Wright, USA

    Prince Charles is right to remind scientists that respect for creation should be paramount in their thinking. This is a fundamental truth taught by all religions. We forget this at our peril, and at great cost to future generations.
    Patrick Sherring, England

    Rediscovering "a reverence for the natural world" does not preclude scientific investigation. Scientific research of all kinds - be it into quantum physics, evolutionary biology or perhaps cosmology - can reveal many more miracles of the natural world. Perhaps science itself can give us this desired reverence, where ignorance fails.
    Stuart Bell, UK

    "Science" is just the Latin word for knowledge. The scientific method is the best instrument for generating knowledge available to humans - self-correcting, encouraging criticism and debate, and firmly grounded in experiment. Science alone, however, cannot decide on questions of policy - how this knowledge is to be used. The same technology that produces radioactive isotopes essential for early diagnostics of breast cancer, for instance, can be used and is being used to fabricate nuclear weapons. And it is not the scientists but the politicians and policy-makers who make the choices.
    Alex Petrov, Bulgaria



    Why do we need to turn to either science or religion for answers, why can't we accept both?

    Paul, England
    Science teaches us more and more each day about the world we live in. Science answers the 'how' questions about our world, the world's religions help us to ask 'why are we here'? Why do we need to turn to either science or religion for answers, why can't we accept both?
    Paul, England

    How many of those people portraying nature as a disaster-zone have themselves a pure and clear experience of nature, so that they may understand what the Prince of Wales might mean, when he talks about sacredness? Science seems to be already sacred because people will put their lives in its hands. Why not give nature just as much credit. After all, she provides the conditions necessary for any kind of living?
    Vanessa Baddeley, Holland

    Your comments during programme



    Equating science with truth is an enormous popular misconception

    Tammy Rubinstein, the Netherlands
    Equating science with truth is an enormous popular misconception. We should remember that so-called scientifically proven hypotheses of today are always improved upon with subsequent studies. Thus we should look with considerable skepticism at the studies which are conducted in the name of technology, considering always who stands most to benefit.
    Tammy Rubinstein, the Netherlands

    I am all for science explaining the way in which black holes are created, for example, but when they decide to make one of their own, I have strong doubts. Prince Charles is obviously a deep thinker, more than can be said for some of his detractors.
    Tom, Australia



    Prince Charles' "heartfelt reason of instinctive wisdom" has been used by others to justify all manners of evil

    Roger Ward, UK
    Prince Charles' "heartfelt reason of instinctive wisdom" has been used by others to justify all manners of evil. Only science reveals truth.
    Roger Ward, UK

    Science is just one of God's gifts of common grace to man and as a gift it should be used in consideration of the existence of other gifts for life too. It should be ordered and not create chaos.
    Robert Tan, Singapore

    Why not tamper with what we understand? How does one know it is not 'nature' which wants us to do exactly that as a part of the evolutionary process? So far it has been moving towards higher intelligence - and I don't think any attempts to stop it can succeed, humans just don't have the resources to do it. We are not the first stage in the evolutionary process and we shall not be the last.
    Dimiter, Bulgaria

    I thought we were slaves to nature; disease, floods, droughts etc. Technology gives us some freedom although nature gets us in the end. Billions die of natural causes and very few of scientific mishaps.
    Rob, UK



    Science and Religion are both working towards the same goal

    David Thompson, Australia
    Science and Religion are both working towards the same goal i.e) the betterment of mankind. If both groups reached common ground and pooled their enormous resources and ideas, imagine the results we could achieve!
    David Thompson, Australia

    I agree with Prince Charles - science is given more importance than it should be and the huge amount of money and the countless number of intelligent people it gets give much less in return. A portion of that money and intellect should be spent to meet the primary needs of poor people around the world - their hunger should the first priority for all humanity.
    Mahbubul Alam, Bangladesh

    HRH the Prince is right. Spiritual values are becoming less and less important. Science is a must for our future but it has to tempered somehow. It is too early to say what GM products will do to us and therefore, it should be scientifically tested for a period of time before wide use is allowed.
    Emad Shaarawi, Cairo Egypt

    I'm with Charles. Of course the scope of science is unlimited, but do we have to EAT their experiments? I'm all for the genetic manipulation of mosquitoes, to make them vegetarian. But to force us to eat genetically manipulated soybeans, just so Monsanto can sell more weed killer, is not my idea of progress.
    Jim Clark



    Prince Charles is quite right not to let the "educated" scientists be heard unchallenged

    Nicola H.M. Swinburne (Dr.), USA
    Prince Charles is quite right not to let the "educated" scientists be heard Unchallenged. I was a research scientist for many and I came to the conclusion that most natural scientists arrived in their jobs because they also share a love of the complexity of the natural world and of its beauty and desire to see how it fits together. Trained to rationalise, their position of knowing what is best for the natural world is no more or less valid than that of a painter looking at the sky or a mother teaching her child to make a daisy chain - even if the arguments are more substantial.
    Nicola H.M. Swinburne (Dr.), USA

    I think it very important that science and religion/philosophy are respected. However, it seems that in today's world science is now considered as more worthy than religion and philosophy and this is what is worrying.
    Felicity Thomas, Israel

    Islam defines science as the best way to know God. If we missed the way, I think we should blame ourselves not science.
    Abdullah, Ahmed, Jordan



    The attitude of the science communitiy is typical of today's single mindedness

    Michael Vinegrad, UK
    I think Prince Charles is right and the science community very arrogant. I do not think he is against progress but is mindful of a balance. The attitude of the science communitiy is typical of today's single mindedness and unwillingness to be more philosophical.
    Michael Vinegrad, UK

    Your comments before the programme



    If the future head of state cannot express an opinion on something that effects us all, I don't know who can.

    Andy Trigg, England
    Well done Charles. If the future head of state cannot express an opinion on something that effects us all, I don't know who can! I believe he is correct, we are in danger of pursuing science for science's sake, not for the good of humanity and the planet. We forget that the ultimate scientist, Mother Nature, has been taking care off us for 1000's of years. We are loosing sight of the important things in Life - family, friends and the natural world. Let's try to help nature, not corrupt and pervert her.
    Andy Trigg, England

    Matthew Wright, UK

    Only this month, Prof. Freeman Dyson - a top physicist - won the 2000 Templetor Prize for progress in religion. According to Dyson, there should be more understanding and respect between scientists and theologians: "Science and religion look at different aspects of the same thing. Both omit essential knowledge and ideas, therefore both need each other." I agree that humanity needs both. Comparing some of Prince Charles' remarks with Dyson's, I think you should have asked Dyson for the Reith-lectures. At least you would have a more constructive discussion, not one which ignores both the contribution of science and moral institutions for societies, whilst highlighting negative aspects of scientific-based applications. Interesting detail: the prize was handed over by Prince Philip of the UK. If you insist on having Royalty on your program, perhaps you should have asked him for the final Reith Lecture.
    LuciŽn van Wouw, The Netherlands

    Science will keep going either we like it or not. It's human by default.
    Spyros Liokis, Greece

    I suspect that what he is concerned about is not science but the application of technology. Just studying the world about us so that we understand more about it is good. A fair number of scientists do believe in God. I am concerned that the future King of England appears to be unable to express his ideas clearly or apparently has muddled thoughts. I suggest he filters his views on life, possibly through a technical writer first before announcing them.
    John Whelan, Canada



    God created us with a brain for scientific discovery

    L. Pederson, US
    God created us with a brain for scientific discovery. However, the brightest scientist understand that we also have a heart that longs for the Creator. To ignore God is as silly as not accepting scientific advancements!
    L. Pederson, US

    To attack any man, including as Prince Charles on the grounds that he does not have an academic background merely demonstrates a lack of respect for the opinions of others and false pride. I believe that everybody, including the Prince, has a right to question the so-called "advances" that are being made. We really do not know what future consequences lie ahead. Do people not realise that the Prince is representing a larger public in that matter, that cannot make their voices heard?
    Iain Bird, England

    Shouldn't we applaud anyone for having the guts to stand up to an entrenched establishment? No-one can deny the great benefits that science has brought to our lives but scientists are not infallible and the rest of us would be foolish to trust science unconditionally. Prince Charles was ridiculed a few years ago for pointing out what anyone who has been to a big British city knows: that much of modern British architecture is awful. He wasn't attacked because he was wrong but because he dared to interfere. Even if Prince Charles is wrong now, I applaud him for daring to interfere.
    Jere Wiseman, US



    Science strengthens spirituality

    Danlami Gomwalk, Nigeria
    Science strengthens spirituality - as long as man realises that we can only duplicate (not even imitate) what God has done. Until man can actually start and end a process from scratch, I think even scientists must recognise a force greater than they can understand.
    Danlami Gomwalk, Nigeria

    What a hypocrite Prince Charles is. When he himself abandons technology and goes off to live in a cave, I will give his anti-scientific views more serious consideration.
    Jamie Evans, UAE

    MP's are now asking Prince Charles to debate his views with them; this is a perfect opportunity to have a public debate on the balance of material and spiritual in society. It's also a debate which cannot be bypassed.
    Benj'min Mossop, Britain

    We are slaves to life itself, and in the name of life we are entitled to do anything. I'm afraid God and the sacred have nothing to do with this wretched material world of ours. We all have to eat and nobody is able to multiply bread and fish like Jesus did. What's more, the business game is a global plague so we'll have GM food, willingly or not.
    M., Brazil

    Being dependent on technology is what makes us different from beasts. We are humans because we labour and enjoy the products of our labour. The wheel is a technological advance - should we reject it to be closer to nature? Cloning etc can only enrich the natural world, not destroy it, if used and balanced wisely.
    Andrej, Russia

    I think the Prince of Wales was correct. That we must strive to understand the world around us is true, but at the same time we must also be careful not to destroy ourselves in the process.
    Ryan, USA



    Thank God that Prince Charles has the courage to speak out

    Alan Hart, UK
    Thank God that Prince Charles has the courage to speak out on this and other issues such as architecture. We do not have to bite our tongues because governments or establishments take a certain line - we have the right to speak out and Prince Charles is quite right to represent ordinary people in this way - if not, what is his job about?
    Alan Hart, UK in Japan

    In generations past, burning fossil fuels and steam power were the new technology of the age. It is now widely accepted that greenhouse gases are causing global warming and climate change. How can today's scientists be so arrogant to discount so completely the possibility that scientists of the future may deplore what they are doing today?
    Adam B Cooke, UK

    Having read the Reith 2000 Lecture by Prince Charles, I thought his main theme was "sustainable development," as a matter of "enlightened self-interest." This is somewhat different from how you have summarised it, as he emphasises, "I am not suggesting that information gained through scientific investigation is anything other than essential. Far from it. But we need to restore the balance between the heartfelt reason of instinctive wisdom and the rational insights of scientific analysis."

    Although I agree with his concerns about the consequences of our over-use and abuse of the environment and the importance of development that is "sustainable," I do not share his views on gene manipulation and inter-species gene-transfer. The recent progress in the fields of genetic and biotechnology has rendered various diseases less threatening, treatable and curable. Of course, we have to be alert to the long-term consequences and risks in this, just as in other, areas of scientific pursuit. It is this pursuit of scientific and intellectual curiosity that not only brings us a better understanding the 'living world' but, with it, an ever-increasing "reverence' also for the infinite mystery it holds.
    Riz Rahim, USA



    Scientists funded by the community cannot ignore the values of the community

    Bob, Australia
    What does Prince Charles DO anyway? Does he have any function whatsoever other than sucking up financial resources? Does anyone care what he thinks?
    Chris, USA

    Charles is right to address these issues. They are more relevant now than ever. Scientists funded by the community cannot ignore the values of the community or hold themselves aloft. At least not in a democracy.
    Bob, Australia

    I am grateful that Prince Charles reminds us of the sacred. But I don't think that science and that which is sacred are mutually exclusive. When the intent of science is one of compassion, then science embraces the sacred. If the intent is less than kind, i.e. profiteering regardless of its deleterious effects on the environment or its inhabitants, then I think this is unethical and disregards the sacred.
    Chris Camarata MD, USA

    If one believes in a God then I would suppose that the actions of anyone including scientists are part of God's plan. A purely "natural" world is one of savagery and disease and without science that is where we would be.
    G.S.Brown, New Zealand

    I feel that technology has become a vital part of our lives, and like a drug we will not be able to withdraw from it. Whilst it makes our lives easier in the short run undoubtedly, it will trigger far more undesirable consequences for future generations.
    Jenny, Singapore

    No we are not slaves to technology, and technology is not destroying God. People who resent religion are attacking it and are using bad science to do so. We are using technology to solve the problems of humanity, not being enslaved by it.
    Richard T. Ketchum, USA

    There is no doubt that in the wrong hands, gene therapy could be a very dangerous technology but that doesn't mean that responsible scientists should be banned from exploring it. If you lost your sight and advances in technology meant you could be given new eyes, would you refuse???
    Matt P, England



    Not the best of things for a future King to be a senseless dreamer

    Han de Min, Netherlands
    Why is Charles rocking our well-balanced boat, again? Who is he to make these senseless statements? His hereditary right as the head the Church of England should not give him the right to challenge our technological advancements and compare the effectiveness of those to what God has created. [supposedly meaning let's sit back and await fate]. Millions of people would have died without the application of new medication, for example.
    A very sorry and short-sighted assault on critical issues by somebody who is not academically qualified. Charles is becoming the world's laughing stock and if he is not careful, nobody will take him seriously anymore, even when he may be correct on other issues in the future! Not the best of things for a future King to be a senseless dreamer.
    Han de Min, Netherlands (now UK)

    Science and religion go hand-in-hand for me. If anything, science is a complement to God. My belief (Islam) holds science to be in perfect harmony with faith. Open the Qur'an, you'll see what I mean.
    Adam Knoerzer, USA



    What he actually proposes is that we ensure that scientific developments have both a moral basis and proceed on the principle that if it isn't broken, don't fix it

    Andy D, UK
    Nothing the Prince said is actually an attack on either science or technology. What he actually proposes is that we ensure that scientific developments have both a moral basis and proceed on the principle that if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
    In terms of both the environment and human wellbeing this means ensuring that what we do in the name of progress does not leave major problems a few generations down the line.
    Andy D, UK

    Science will flower to untold heights when it understands that the spiritual dimension is at the root of all existence. Then it will make the most staggering discoveries.
    Conversely, spirituality will fully blossom in the world when it sheds its own religious dogma, when people can experience it at any moment, and people understand its inner, magical tendencies.
    Roy Posner, USA



    Living things are complicated and they're not like machines with interchangeable parts - unexpected results can come from gene-change

    Adam, Australia
    Mother Nature has been transferring genes between species since life began. Microbes swap information all the time and every multi-cellular life-form owes its complexity to gene exchange. So transferring genes between species is nothing new.
    But living things are complicated and they're not like machines with interchangeable parts - unexpected results can come from gene-change. That's the real danger and the real promise of GM life-forms.
    What really matters is not banning GM or promoting it as totally safe. It's exposing the vested interests behind the big push for all to see so the people can decide for themselves whether or not it's in their interest - on a case by case basis.
    Adam, Australia

    Only an insecure religion could find the truth threatening.
    Geoff Sutton, USA

    Occasionally science bleeds human nature. Science is benign and unbiased, it is the knowledge it creates that can cause problems. Many people of faith are angered by science because it is the antithesis of faith. Unfortunately they tend to believe that the purpose of science is to disprove faith. In reality this result is just a side effect of knowledge.
    Kirk House, USA



    We can harness technology, and have it work for us without living and breathing it to the extent that we lose the qualities which make us human

    Richard, USA
    We only have the time to sit and discuss the profound effect science will have on the earth in the future because of the effect science has had on the earth in the past. While the idea of living in eco-friendly harmony with nature is very nice, the reality is that mankind would be far hungrier, far less healthy and with much shorter lives. Next time you drink a glass of clean, fresh water just think of all the science that has gone into it. The real challenge is to make such benefits available to all.
    Andy Jones, United Kingdom

    I respect some of Prince Charles' concerns, but he is adding to the problem that science and religion necessarily have to be polarised and mutually exclusive. Some of the greatest scientific minds over the ages have also been deeply religious, and many a famous priest has made scientific breakthroughs. By working together, and not pulling each other apart, science and nature can produce much more as a sum of their constituent parts, than they could on their own.
    Paul, UK

    I am sorry to hear Prince Charles harp on so much about spirituality. It would be better if he stuck with the reality of the world's situation and tried to resolve it from a political sense.
    Robert Sinclair Shand, Scotland

    Prince Charles is absolutely right on this issue. We need to strike a healthy balance between technology and nature and the meaning of life. We can harness technology, and have it work for us without living and breathing it to the extent that we lose the qualities which make us human.
    Richard, USA



    Humans have always been slaves of their spiritual weakness. The obsession some people have with technology is merely an outlet for this weakness

    Edward, UK
    I am very happy that Prince Charles has spoken out. I agree with him in many respects, but at the same time I know there are many, many scientists who have found their spirituality has only deepened as they discover the patterns of the universe.
    Marion G., USA

    Humans have always been slaves of their spiritual weakness. The obsession some people have with technology is merely an outlet for this weakness.
    Edward, UK

    The promise and threat from genetic engineering in this millennium makes Charles' observations highly relevant. While it would be good to have a cure for cancer, AIDS and the like, we need to be wary of how market forces and anarchists tend to determine how technology is used.
    Jasabanta Choudhuri, India

    Having just listened to Prince Charles' speech, I think that anyone who heard it can only have seen it as intelligent, considered and moving. He is not calling for a halt to scientific progress nor is he undermining anyone's achievements, let alone the whole of human history.
    Judy, UK



    I don't think many parents of children dying from horrible genetic diseases will agree that we should stop advancing our genetic engineering abilities. God may have given children these diseases but He's also given us hope to cure them

    Matt B, USA
    I am both a scientist and also one who has strong convictions in his religion. I feel that many see science and religion as two opposing themes. That either you have religion or you have science. I think that if we use science to better humanity (not change life as we know it) then there is no contradiction to religion. However, when we use science to act as God or to produce people for the sake of creating a better being then we over step the bounds of religion.
    Ali S., USA

    It's amazing how the Prince's views have been distorted! No one ever claimed that science has to be abolished altogether! But what the Prince meant and is totally right is that the progress of science should go hand to hand with that of the society, with the necessary institutions that can guarantee a safe and beneficial use of the discoveries.
    N. Misoulis, Britain

    I do agree that science should go further with research but I don't understand why is so much pressure on people to buy genetically modified food. Where is our right to choice? For how long we shall allow Americans to dictate our way of living? They use science only to become more powerful and do not care about people's health.
    Maria, Canada

    I agree with the Prince's statement that the world is a place where nothing is held sacred. Technology by itself is not to blame because it is people who hold nothing sacred. We have made technology our god, but it is a god that will not be controlled
    Rick Hayduk, USA

    I don't think many parents of children dying from horrible genetic diseases will agree that we should stop advancing our genetic engineering abilities. God may have given children these diseases but He's also given us hope to cure them.
    Matt B, USA



    I think Prince Charles does a great public service by speaking out. In my view the main problem with science is that no one respects the idea of "balance"

    Dr V Narayan, Sweden
    I wish people would stop spouting the notion that any science is automatically good. Laboratory research is perfect, specifically because unsuccessful experiments can be terminated and controlled. When the entire planet becomes a giant laboratory, what happens if an experiment goes wrong, or has unexpected side effects? We can all rest easy that the scientists that declared Thalidomide to be safe are now using all of us as their guinea pigs.
    John B, UK

    I think Prince Charles does a great public service by speaking out. In my view the main problem with science is that no one respects the idea of "balance". It is easy to understand "balance" when one thinks of a see saw, but for more complex systems are hard to appreciate.
    Dr V Narayan, Sweden

    The issue is probably the most serious facing the world today. However, I resent an unelected public figure abusing his position to constantly publicise his personal views in this and many other areas.
    Gary Romain, UK

    Why is it some people have to deliberately misconstrue the point Charles is trying to get across? Humankind is a composed of three parts - mind, body and spirit. Without consideration of all three, the kind of problems the earth is now experiencing are inevitable. Without moral concern for the environment, nothing but destruction will come of unbridled technology.
    Jan B, Canada

    I don't have any problem with playing with nature in terms of developing hybrids or even cloning. But my fears do arise when I think of crossing species. The thought of adding fish DNA to tomatoes and human DNA to pigs makes me ill. I think the ignorance of the balance of nature is clear enough with the fact that we can't even control pollution. Until some wisdom can be demonstrated, I would tend to agree with Prince Charles.
    Dorothea, USA



    The problem, I think, is not science itself, but the way its results are at times portrayed by the media and by politicians

    Chris Lewis, UK

    Any threats or dangers resulting from the misuse of technology are, at the end of the day, scientific issues, to be understood and resolved by science. Concerns about "frankenfoods" or pollution are not spiritual or theological but simply practical problems to be evaluated and addressed. If theologians want to avoid becoming irrelevant they need to develop theological models and principles which are not so easily undermined by every new scientific discovery which comes along.
    Peter Nelson, USA

    As a scientist I am depressed by the offhand manner in which the Prince's comments are dismissed. To talk of a return to cave-dwelling is nothing short of farcical and trivialises an important point - we live an unsustainable existence at present and only by "rediscovering a reverence for the natural world" (and that includes people) can we hope for a brighter more sustainable future.
    Gavin, UK

    Scientific knowledge unveils the full beauty of nature to us, something that spirituality cannot do. Unfortunately, this knowledge can easily be subverted and it is our job to make sure that it is used in the right way. That is why it is a shame so many people decline a scientific education.
    Dan Bebber, UK

    The problem, I think, is not science itself, but the way its results are at times portrayed by the media and by politicians. God would not have granted us free will and the ability to study our surroundings were they not to be used.
    Chris Lewis, UK



    Society is coming apart at the seams, no one is certain of anything. The reason for this is there is no central belief structure, nothing is sacred. Science has opened it's ugly mouth and look at the mess it has made

    Kieran Kelly, Great Britain
    With regards to GM crops, the question remains: Are we willing to risk changing the whole eco-system? I agree with Prince Charles - this is out of our control and potentially disastrous if we do.
    Per Petersen, UK

    Society is coming apart at the seams, no one is certain of anything. The reason for this is there is no central belief structure, nothing is sacred. Science has opened its ugly mouth and look at the mess it has made.
    Kieran Kelly, Great Britain

    I really admire Prince Charles for speaking out on this issue. It is sad to see people equate opposition to recent developments in biotechnology to technophobia. Are there no valid arguments they can make?
    Alekh Bhurke, USA

    Science is a tool and should remain one. Man has the ability to judge what is right and what is wrong. He can use nuclear energy to destroy the world or save the environment by cutting down fossil fuel usage. And if man decides to follow the path to destruction, he well deserves it. Even if some bodies might try to ban scientific experiments like genetic engineering, it is too late to return from the point we have reached.
    Ish, UK



    Yes we are slaves to technology, and thank God for it. Try living without clean water, heat and shelter. All are products of technology

    Gwyn J, Europe
    Nature is continually changing itself. Man (and woman) would not be here in their present form had it not been for nature adapting to the environment continually.
    Madhu Bhabuta, UK

    Yes we are slaves to technology, and thank God for it. Try living without clean water, heat and shelter. All are products of technology. It is our ability to engineer our environment and create tools which distinguishes us from the beasts (in most cases!).
    Gwyn J, Europe

    Prince Charles, far from being anti-scientific, is speaking about using all of human reason. We do not build a factory next to a river without regards to pollution because of our knowledge of ecology. The true reason to respect human life is not social utility but each person's sacred relationship to the Creator.
    Peter Gaffney, USA

    The Prince lectures us on our "need to rediscover a reverence for the natural world". Presumably this should not extend to include the tearing to pieces of live foxes nor shooting a maximum number of birds carefully protected and reserved for the purpose.
    L Golding, UK

    Ultimately, science has stripped away any rational basis for belief in the supernatural, God included. This does not mean we cannot gaze in wonder on the natural world or that we are spiritually bereft. We are all intimately bound up with the fate of every other living thing, past present and future, and we will probably never be smart enough to understand, let alone control, these relationships. Let's proceed with caution!
    Andrew Day, UK



    It's not about going back to living in caves. It's about balance

    Doreen Lankshear-Smith, Canada
    Prince Charles' comments are not new. Theologians Matthew Fox, Thomas Berry, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Scientists David Suzuki, Brian Swimme, among many others have been saying this for years. The Aboriginal peoples of the world have always known how to live in harmony with nature. It's not about going back to living in caves. It's about balance.
    Doreen Lankshear-Smith, Canada

    The first humans who learned how to make fire to keep themselves warm, cook their food and ward off predators were the first humans to fight against nature and, thank God, we've kept fighting ever since. No doubt even that time, there were a few who grunted dark suspicions that all this burning of twigs and dried grass would lead to no good at the end.
    Henry Case, UK

    If you don't like technology don't use it. Go back to the caveman existence. I enjoy technology and my creature comforts and the fact that I'll live a lot longer because of it. As a cancer patient, I was experimented on with new drugs and 20 years later, I'm still alive. These drugs have gone on to help many thousands of people. Stop the scaremongering now. Technology works.
    Will, UK

    Once again, the Prince proves that he doesn't have a clue about life in the real world. Science, technology and a widespread watering down of the influence of religion have helped many of us to live a life more akin to that the Prince has always enjoyed through the privilege of his position. It's very easy to criticise GM food in favour of organic when you have millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to spend feeding yourself.
    Dave Lock, Wales



    I wonder what exactly qualifies Charles to make these statements. Is he a respected scientist? A successful industrialist? A famous artist? No, he has actually accomplished nothing himself.

    Guy Ruth Hammond, UK
    According to the Bible, Adam's mistake was to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. I never understood this. However looking back over the last 50 years, mankind has acquired knowledge at a rate that is, I think, out of control. I now appreciate that knowledge is a very dangerous thing. I do not think that anyone, whether scientist or politician, has the maturity to handle what we now know. It's a very frightening thought.
    Anthony, England

    The Prince is right. Pro-GM scientists say they're doing what's been done in agriculture for years. But they're wrong. It goes like this: you can cross-breed plants, like you can breed a German Shepherd with a corgi. This has been done for centuries. But to introduce genes into a plant, such as fish genes, which would never get there otherwise is different, like inserting cat genes into a dog. That's playing God. The GM scientists are not doing this for science, but rather to answer the prayers of corporate profit.
    Cindy B, UK

    There is no way back. With the human population still growing, even staying stuck at the present level of scientific achievement would mean accepting a decline in stable food production, decent housing, health care and therefore widespread war and famine, not to mention damage to the environment within our lifetime.
    Peter, Netherlands

  • Search BBC News Online

    Advanced search options
    Launch console
    BBC RADIO NEWS
    BBC ONE TV NEWS
    WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
    PROGRAMMES GUIDE


    Links to other Talking Point stories