It was Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900) who more than a century ago made the observation
Poor man! First the priest came with his indistinct notions of religion, or his cunning devices to establish and enforce his authority, and now science with a false face steps in, to rob man of his dignity, to place him many degrees below the dumb idol or among the beasts of the field, and to subject all to iron, relentless, cold, dead, and unreasoning Fate, casualty, dead mechanism.
Valid statement then, I believe, but even more to the point in our time.
As science began to replace the mythological framework of humanity's view of the universe, the snowball once small rolled downhill ever faster and took on more and more snow until it has become so large it threatens to roll over all of us, crushing us out of existence.
We have attempted to gain dominion over the earth (and have made inroads into the heavens). We have replaced the gods with ourselves. In a day that has witnessed the power, terror, and danger of nuclear energy, that is witnessing an increasingly hard to deny and ignore human-caused environmental crisis, it is hard for me to think we have improved on the gods of old.
What is perhaps worse is what Wise referred to in the quote above. Science is increasingly replacing the spiritual dimension of humankind. We have been reduced to meat machines, and it is no wonder that such a view brings with it a certain pessimism and nihilism that strips away the dignity we have come to cloak ourselves in over the long centuries of our civilization.
I read an article the other day by psychologist Nigel Barber speculating that within another quarter century or so, religion will finally have been replaced with atheism. If I live to be as old as my mom is today I will likely see that take place if the prediction holds true. Of course, the death of God and fall of religion have been predicted before only to be eclipsed by a resurgence. But suppose Barber is right. Will an atheist worldview bring us a better, more peaceful, more gentle world? Can science alone bring us closer to utopia?
I personally have my doubts. And the many dystopian works of popular science fiction writers and thinkers could become prophetic. In which case I will be glad to be gone or at least at the end of my journey.