We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. There are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the men of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant; if we suppress all discussion, all criticism, saying, “This is it, boys, man is saved!” and thus doom man for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before.
It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress and great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress that is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom, to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed, and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.
— Richard P. Feynman in his paper “The Value of Science” (full text) presented at the National Academy of Sciences, November 2-4, 1955. Published in “Engineering and Science”, volume 19, December 3, 1955, p. 13-22. Reprinted in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The best short works of Richard P. Feynman, p. 149.
"We are at the very beginning of time for the human race."