Many scientific inventions can change society in different ways, big and small. Governments and religions should be cautious of air pumps, electrical machines and all scientific inventions, not because of the inventors’ intent of the inventions, but because the change the inventions may bring upon society. In The Invention of Air, Steven Johnson states that when Joseph Priestley was in England during the late 1700’s, the English Parliament had failed to give seats to towns who were noticeably growing, therefore, the towns could not have any say in where funds were located in their communities. Governments and religions should be aware of inventions because the inventions cause change which may not be noticeable until change brings insight to flaws of the state. (Johnson, 167, 168, 169, 175). Priestley had to ask for private funding in order to continue experimenting productively.
The Invention of Air’s examples of the many inventions from great minds of the late 1700’s in Europe and America that caused change throughout the entire world can be used in comparison of some of today’s ethical issues. The research into human cloning and abortion often is a topic of discussion in politics, and amongst the general public. A politician who chooses either side over the other can expect backlash from supporters of opposing opinions and will likely have to answer questions from the public. A politician who supports abortion and human cloning may not get much support from people who are Christian, which may result in that particular politician’s demise. Fossil fuels are also often an important topic in politics, and choosing to support renewable energy could result in the loss of support from people who work in the oil industry, but also could gain support from those who share the same ideals. (Johnson, 175, 176).
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Your example of scientific issues in politics brings up an interesting point. Today the two fields are typically viewed as separate entities, but at the same time the dominating political parties in the United States have very set scientific views. Liberals and democrats tend to tout the dangers of climate change and are supporters of renewable energy, whereas conservatives and Republicans typically doubt man’s effects on the environment and hold truer to religious (Christian) standards. From this standpoint, politics and science (and religion) are still intricately intertwined. However, I think that the difference in this relationship is its static nature; science, religion and politics should inform each other, yes, but not serve as each other’s dictators. The current political climate is one in which different parties and persons choose data that reflects their viewpoint without always considering the whole picture. The change that must be made, then, is to reintroduce flexibility into the dynamic.
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