In Johnson’s Invention of Air, the idea of governments or religions fearing air pumps and electrical machines is mentioned extensively. This idea was first brought about by Priestly in the 18thcentury, and is then further explained and interpreted by Johnson (p. 18). The process of photosynthesis is key within this argument, as Johnson views the study of politics and economics, and biology and ecology as extremely interdisciplinary (p. 228). This concept is key in understanding why governments and religions should fear technological advances. If technological advances can mimic processes that occur within nature, then what is stopping socially based technological advances. If we as humans continue to advance, at some point governmental or religious institutions may be replaced by our advances; if we have found a way to artificially make oxygen and produce light, what can’t we do? Johnson also mentions that the foundations the United States are founded on are connected, despite the government’s clear policy of the separation of church and state (p. 236). If science, religion, and politics are all connected, if one pillar overtakes the other two, so if science overtakes religion and politics, the entire system of government could potentially fall apart, which is what I think Johnson means when he refers to the idea that governments should fear these technological advances.
I think Johnson’s ideas hold true for many modern technological advances; an extremely prominent scientific advancement that shows the interconnectedness of science, faith, and politics is the improvement in safety and availability of abortion procedures. These procedures have sparked uproar in religious communities as well as political parties currently in power, so much so there had to be a supreme court ruling on the matter. Without the advance of biological technology, this conflict between politics, religion, and science never would’ve been possible, which displays how interconnected all these ideas are. Although I don’t think abortion will be the end of government or religion, it is an idea that portrays why governments and religions may begin to fear technology.