Science is often seen as something that exists outside the realms of politics or religion, however, for Joseph Priestley the three were closely interconnected and integrated into each other. Priestley strongly promoted freedom of thinking and acting and believed that only after every point of difference had an opportunity of being fully canvassed would truth prevail (Johnston p. 147). With his innovations in developing gunpowder and the air pump, political powers were able to establish dominance with his help, however, at the same time his beliefs undermined the constitution of the English hierarchy and the teachings of religions which resulted in much controversary. Although strong in his faith to God, many of his scientific innovations undermined the teachings of religion and caused much tension between himself and the religious and political structures of his time. After entering America, Priestley expressed support on expanding libraries and laboratories which would further prevent the control of information by political powers and promote freedom of thinking (Johnston p. 208).
A large part of Priestley’s life was spent promoting the freedom of information and free thinking. Today people are allowed access to an unlimited and growing number of resources through the internet, the political consequences of which holds such great influence that certain countries have taken great strides to limit the flow of information. Some political structures have greater reason to control the access of information due to contradictions between science and their own constitutions. Similar to how English hierarchies feared and depended on scientific innovations during Priestley’s time, certain political constitutions today have great reason to fear the freedom and access of information as much as they rely on scientific innovation for political influence.
2 thoughts on “Truth Found in Contradiction”
I agree with you on the innovations made by Priestly helps promotes freedom of thinking, which in turns causes people to start to question old beliefs and old ways of life. Priestly received a lot of criticism for helping to open up a new church because people said it was undermining the current churches authority, while he claimed that it was best to teach as many different people as much as possible. As for today, your idea with the internet is a great example. I never even thought about the internet, but it really makes sense seeing as how many people have access to the internet which means that many more people have easy access to all the worlds information, which causes many countries to be scared, like China for example.
I like the way you connect science and religion the way we’ve discussed in class. I wonder how much and how far this conflict will go however. It seems like we as a society are becoming much more aware but even some of the most open minded people I know feel strongly one way or another. That is, enough to take a side. Based on history and general human consistencies I think one could safely assume that this is a controversy that will occur for all of time. Maybe not even solely in religious context, but just like China perhaps there will always be censorship and restrictions on information and media. I am curious as to if and when that policy changes, just as banned books in America have shifted with the times.
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