The Fight for Power and Understanding

I believe what Joseph Priestley was trying to get at when stating science is something to be concerned about for the English hierarchy, he was referring to an adjustment in power. Back in the mid-1700s, religion played a large role in everyone’s life. There were many different social classes for different reasons, but religion was a major one of them. Priestley was trying to get at how religion was not the only dimension of life and power, and there were reasons outside of Christianity for the way the world worked. “But for Priestley, these three domains were not separate compartments, but rather a kind of continuum, with new developments in each domain reinforcing and intensifying the other,” (Johnson 147). These three domains being referred to are science, religion, and politics. Religion and politics were already strong, science was the missing link. This missing link of science or “air pumps and electrical machines,” is what the English hierarchy should have been fearing. Once people started practicing and believing in all three together, the existing pyramid was bound to be overthrown, or at least altered.

Currently, one of the biggest technologies or scientific discoveries being explored at the moment that we should be concerned about is CRISPR technologies. The light that Johnson shed on social and political consequence could definitely be felt in the future with CRISPR if it makes it’s way into popular use. The ability to alter genetic codes within animals, humans included, means it is possible to create an ideal species that could rise. This is a scary possibility. Part of the way the world works is because we haven’t been able to do this and there has been great diversity leading society.

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