Johnson discusses Priestley’s particular knack for challenging the ‘status quo’ not only in religion, but in science, and political philosophy. For example in Priestley’s experiments with rodents sealed in jars, it took a particular scientific curiosity to perform such an experiment. As an English Separatist Theologian, his faith and religion differed from the status quo. Science became an integral part of his philosophy. The monarchy of the time was catholic at the time, and treated religious dissenters with disdain. Priestley was a leading advocate for the separation of church and state. To me, what is important is not the air pumps and the electrical machines, it is the mentality that it represents. Priestly, among many others, made a habit of using the tools within his grasp to challenge what was understood in the mid 18th century.
When I think of contemporary examples, one ‘status quo’ comes to mind. The DEA classifies Marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. In recent decades people were taught that Marijuana is dangerous and only served its use in achieving a high. In recent years, states like Colorado, and Washington have legalized marijuana under the original context of medicinal uses. To many, that may sound like a stoner’s pipe dream, but in reality, it has been discovered that Marijuana may have unrealized potential in medicine. A cannabinoid know as cannabidiol (CBD) has been found to be effective in treating a plethora of ailments and diseases. It is remarkable that since being discovered by Dr. Roger Adams in 1940, it has taken almost 80 years for a state like Montana to see it’s benefits.