The Science of Life

In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, on page 90 of my book (I have a different copy), piggy says the following, “Life is scientific, that’s what it is.” For context, they are having a meeting and talking about “the beast”. Piggy is saying that they shouldn’t be afraid of the beast because there is no evidence of it existing. That is what it means on the surface, but what if we look deeper.

Scientists do many different processes while doing their job. They experiment, research, and they make discoveries. They also work in a laboratory. If we think of life like a “laboratory” what would the experiment being performed be? What would happen if boys were dropped on an island and left on their own? Would they be reasonable and think rationally, or would they be afraid of something that has no proof behind it? So far the boys are proving to be afraid of what doesn’t exist. They are afraid of the beast and ghosts.

Relating back to scientists directly again, what is the “research” being performed in life? Research is a systematic study of something to discover new facts. Think of our world as a box in a lab for a minute. In 1950 the “research” could be giving humans nuclear weapons and seeing what they would do. Will they use it for good or destroy the world. In Lord of the Flies, they used it to destroy the world, leading to the events of the book.

Continuing to think of our world as a box in a lab, what would the discovery be? In the book, the discovery that came from giving people weapons of mass destruction would be that they destroyed themselves and everything they know. Something similar happened on the island with the boys, when given fire they burn down half of the forest. When given the idea of a beast, they destroy all forms of civilization they have and resort to walking in a circle chanting incoherent jibberish.

When Piggy says that life is scientific he is coming from an optimistic view, saying that since there is no proof of the beast that it doesn’t exist, but when Maurice says the same thing, he means the opposite. Maurice is saying that since they haven’t found proof of the beast means that they simply haven’t found it yet. He is coming from a pessimistic view. He would think that something is real simply because there is no proof against it, and so it must be real.

When Piggy says life is scientific he is correct, life is full of science, and will be till the end of time. On the surface, it seems like a throwaway sentence that you wouldn’t analyze very deeply. But when you look a little closer it could lead way into some deep thoughts about society and life. It is a line that makes you think about how life could be viewed as a science experiment where we are all the subjects in a laboratory.

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