“In conclusion,” he [Thon Taddeo, the scientist] said, “a brief outline of what the world can expect, in my opinion, from the intellectual revolution that's just beginning.” Eyes burning, he looked around at them [the monks of St Leibowitz] and his voice changed from casual to fervent rhythms. “Ignorance has been our king. Since the death of empire, he sits unchallenged on the throne of Man. His dynasty is age-old. His right to rule is now considered legitimate. Past sages have affirmed it. They did nothing to unseat him.“
“Tomorrow, a new prince shall rule. Men of understanding, men of science shall stand behind his throne, and the universe will come to know his might. His name is Truth. His empire shall encompass the Earth. A century from now, men will again fly through the air in mechanical birds. Metal carriages will race along roads of man-made stone. There will be buildings of thirty stories, ships that go under the sea, machines to perform all works.
“And how will this come to pass?” He paused and lowered his voice. “In the same way all change comes to pass, I fear. And I am sorry it is so. It will come to pass by violence and upheaval, by flame and by fury, for no change comes calmly over the world.”
He glanced around the room, for a soft murmur arose from the community.
“It will be so. We do not will it so.”
... The words brought a new pall over the room. [The abbot] Dom Paulo's hopes sank, for the prophecy gave form to the scholar's probable outlook. Thon Taddeo knew the military ambitions of his monarch. He had a choice: to approve of them, to disapprove of them, or to regard them as impersonal phenomena beyond his control like a flood, famine, or whirlwind. Evidently, then, he accepted them as inevitable—to avoid having to make a moral judgment. Let there be blood, iron and weeping... How could such a man thus evade his own conscience and disavow his responsibility—and so easily! the abbot stormed to himself. But then the words came back to him. For in those days the Lord God had suffered the wise men to know the means by which the world itself might be destroyed... He also suffered them to know how it might be saved, and, as always, let them choose for themselves. And perhaps they had chosen as Thon Taddeo chooses. To wash their hands before the multitude. Look you to it. Lest they themselves be crucified...
But why must it all be acted again? The answer was near at hand; there was still the serpent whispering: For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods. The old father of lies was clever at telling half-truths: How shall you “know” good and evil, until you shall have sampled a little? Taste and be as Gods. But neither infinite power nor infinite wisdom could bestow godhood upon men. For that there would have to be infinite love as well.
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