Governments and religions should be afraid of air pumps and electrical machines because they mean scientific progress. Scientific progress will ultimately change the way people think about the world around them. The reason religions should be afraid of science is it can change the way people see the belief system. In Priestley’s story he published History of the Corruptions of Christianity: Defense of the Christian Faith. Many of his arguments were against the Catholic Church and the worship of saints. This became very upsetting for many members of the church and the community (Johnson, 169-186). This is scary for governments because many are based on religion and divine right. Scientists and supporting them can affect opinions of public figures. John Adams revoked his support of Priestley close to the election partly because of Priestley’s stance as a controversial figure (Johnson, 205-210). All in all, scientists do have power. They are considered geniuses and some of the most unbiased seekers of truth for many. If a government notices science moving toward one side of controversial issue, public opinion could start to sway in that direction as well which could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing.
I think Johnson’s work does shed new light on many of the controversies that we see today. I think it is important that the public ask itself if we are being swayed by our own confirmation bias or the opinions of our peers and parents. We need to be able to look at studies and consider them before we create riots and call to take down the scientists that posed the idea. Johnson brings up good points on the positive and negative sides of Priestley and his beliefs. No matter what Priestley taught, t was unethical for him to receive the brunt riots he did, the claims against him for which he had no opportunity to defend himself, the burning of his home, or the threats of deportation.
1 thought on “The Corruptions of Science: Defense of Governmental Faith”
Amanda- I’m glad that you mention the prospect of scientists having power; I partially agree with you, in that I think scientists should have more power or political sway than they do. It is unfortunate that the political influence of scientists is undermined by the entrenched separation of science and politics, and our increasing emphasis on specialization. I think a major theme of this book was to point out that science and politics aren’t really separate domains, and that to think of them as such can be detrimental. I agree with your point about being able to examine science critically before we judge it through our political or religious biases as well. You seem to be attuned to the idea that sometimes people in society that are perceived as rabble-rousers might actually be onto something. In that respect, I think it would be helpful if we could all practice a little patience and open-mindedness, regardless of our political, scientific or religious orientations.
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