Lions and Tigers and Science, oh my!

In Joseph Priestley’s progressive writings, it is noted that the English hierarchy, both the religious and political aspects, should be weary of scientific progress.  He proclaimed with scientific explanation there is a likelihood that we will begin to question, and even prove wrong, the paradigms presented by the church and government.  This can be seen during the shift from a geocentric to heliocentric model of our solar system. With the progression of astronomy, it became apparent that the church-supported model of the solar system was incorrect, which was not taken kindly by the church.  In order for a society to grow, current paradigms, religious and political, must be continually reevaluated for their validity with present knowledge. Priestley highlighted that many of the political elite of the past, such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were also passionate about exploring science.  History often remembers these men as political figures, but it was their understanding of the necessity for societal growth when “the light of reason was allowed to shine upon it” that made them successful figures. (Johnson, 149)

Today, some scientific progressions, vaccination, genetic manipulation, etc, are often seen as science vs government or religious entities.  Take genetic manipulation, in which CRISPR and other enzymes can work to alter DNA. This can be beneficial for the decrease in genetic-linked diseases, but still remains in a concerning light for both societal and religious implications.  Primarily, the idea that this ability to impact human genetic makeup is taking a “God-like” role in our own existence. But if we observe this through Priestly’s arguments and past attitudes toward scientific development, this response is not to be unexpected.  Religious disagreement has been seen since Darwin, and most of the time these religious and societal views shift with progress, albeit often at a slow rate than scientific issues themselves.