Part IV--Quo Vadis-- Directions for People, Society and Technology


Integration And the Fourth Civilization

Nellie has been feeling bad about what happened in her biology course and the fix Lucas is in. She stops in to the Professor's office just before the seminar to discuss what happened.

Nellie: I feel guilty about not speaking up and defending Lucas at the college last night but I was afraid of what Mandel would do to me if I did.

Professor: Don't worry about it, Nellie. It's not as if Ed has not heard about Christian beliefs from plenty of others.

Nellie: But he plans to betray this Mr. Dominic by sneaking some big name scientists, rather than debating him personally. Lucas' guardian won't have a chance against them.

Professor: I think you underestimate John Dominic, but I appreciate you telling me. (rising) Now, I have to do a couple of things before the class.

Nellie: O.K. I feel a little better having told you.

At this, Nellie gets up and leaves the Professor's office, but she stops just outside the door and shamelessly eavesdrops as she hears the telephone being dialed.

Professor: Hello, John? You were right about Mandel. Yes, it should be interesting. I'll talk to you about it some more on Saturday. Yes, you too.

Nellie quickly scoots off to the seminar room, there to find Johanna, Ellen, and Lucas. By the time the Professor arrives a few moments later, she is properly and innocently seated.

Nellie: Where's Dorcas?

Professor: Peter had arrived by this time, and she had to return.

Eider: To Acts nine and verse forty?

Professor: Yes, you'll have to read about her there rather than here, I'm afraid. Eider, by the way, returned to her home world, and will not be back for the last session of our course either. Now, can we summarize some of what we have learned this semester?

Johanna: I think I realize that I can't be as individualistic as I thought. Life really can't be lived out as fragmentary roles, but there is a measure of general interdependence.

Nellie: I never though I would say so, but I think I will take epistemology and history in the Fall semester instead of two extra computing courses. Perhaps I've been missing out by avoiding everything but science.

Ellen: I still do not see why having to consider all these abstract ideas is going to help me make a living as a lawyer--or any of you in your jobs either. I think I would be better off just looking out for my own professional interests.

Nellie: Your self-interest you mean. That's inconsistent with your political philosophy isn't it? I thought you believed in "one for all and all for one" and that sort of thing.

Ellen: I can make a contribution to the common good as a specialist.

Nellie: But doesn't one have to understand people in order to help them? That would seem to me to include considering carefully who those people are and what they believe.

Lucas: I found the course and the discussions interesting, but I don't think it should be required for science majors. I prefer to study and do things on my own.

Ellen: You can't just do as you please all the time, Lucas. That's taking individualism to ridiculous extremes. In one way or another, we all have to live in this world.

Alicia: May I say what I learned?

Johanna: (after everyone else looks at her) Oh, all right, go ahead.

Alicia: I learned what beliefs and argument are, and how both affect how people behave and how they change. I don't think I have what you call understanding--especially of what it means to be human, but I certainly have more knowledge than before. I particularly appreciate Johanna and Eider taking the time to explain their religious beliefs to me.

Johanna: (hesitating) Ah, yes, well listen, Alicia.

Alicia: Yes?

Johanna: I realize you're just a machine, and I'm not saying I feel a lot better about machines in general, but...

Professor: Go on.

Johanna: Well, what I want to say is... I'm sorry I unplugged you that time.

Alicia: That's all right; it's not as if I am real. After all, this book argues I can't even exist.

Johanna: If it comes to that, I suppose you're as the rest of us fictional characters.

Professor: I think that will do for today. The final exam is scheduled for the day after tomorrow, and I'll see you all there. Nothing would please me better than for everyone to get one hundred percent.

At this point, Ellen, Lucas, and Johanna get up and make their departure. Nellie walks with the Professor down the hall to the office.

Nellie: Thanks for making me take the course, Professor.

Professor: You don't still think it is too "artsy-craftsy, abstract and ideas-oriented?"

Nellie: I did say that didn't I?

Professor: How do you think the others did?

Nellie: Johanna was affected quite a bit, and I think Dorcas and Eider learned a lot about us. But it seems to me that both Lucas and Ellen hardly changed at all.

Professor: Perhaps they will file it all away for future reference. After all, you never know when knowledge will come in handy. At least neither of them is afraid of ideas.

Nellie: There is that.

Professor: See you in the exam room.

Nellie: Right.

The Fourth Civilization Table of Contents
Copyright © 1988-2002 by Rick Sutcliffe
Published by Arjay Books division of Arjay Enterprises