Our ancestors, right up to the modern age, knew they were fragile. A brief period of dazzling technological achievement combined with the absence of any major global war produced the belief that fragility was on the retreat and that making our global environment lastingly secure or controllable was within reach. But the same technical achievements that had generated this belief turned out to be among the major destabilising influences in the material environment. And the absence of major global conflict sat alongside the proliferation of bitter and vicious local struggles, often civil wars that trailed on for decades. But perhaps it is only in the past two decades that we have quite caught up with the realisation that global crises are indifferent to national boundaries, political convictions and economic performance. The vulnerability cannot be neatly cordoned off.
For the foreseeable future, we shall have to get used to this fragility; and we are going to need considerable imaginative resources to cope with it. In the past, people have found resources like this in art and religion. Today it is crucial to learn to see the sciences as a resource and not a threat or a rival to what these older elements offer. It is more than high time to forget the phoney war between faith and science or art and technology.