We Choose To Advance Science, Not Because It Is Easy But Because It Is Hard

Why should governments and religions fear air pumps and electrical machines? Why climb the highest mountain? Why does Rice play Texas? For those of you who didn’t get the Kennedy reference…well that just makes things awkward…the real question here is why do governments and religions fear anything? Or, why does anyone fear anything? In short, the answer is control. We all, but especially governments and religions, fear things that might gain control of us, or that might take from us our own control over, well, whatever it is we’re controlling. In the case of governments and religions, these types of complexes might fear things like revolutions (scientific revolutions perhaps?), because a revolution is unashamedly aimed at stripping them of their control. Priestly was a really cool guy. His discoveries were absolutely world-changing, but is this kind of thing a red flag to those in control? Regarding religion, Priestly was seen by the Christian community as “a religious man forced to alter and reinvent his beliefs-and challenge the orthodoxies of the day” (Johnson, 172). Priestly wrote The Corruptions, which was just all too threatening and unorthodox for the British government. Even fellow scientists saw its publication as an opportunity to challenge Priestly’s reputation, in order to promote their own, which clicks us right back into the notch of control. Governments and religions alike were worried about Priestly’s enlightened way of thinking and its ability to cause previous beliefs to be, in Priestly’s own words, “overturned in a moment, and so effectually as that the same foundation can never be built upon again” (Johnson, 178).

Priestly being the lovely guy he was, fell a victim to others’ fears of losing control and therefore had his ideas rejected by many (but not good ‘ol President Jefferson). His discoveries’ consequences were not unlike those of many modern scientists trying to make the world a better place in ways that some just don’t see as “better”. Think about genetic engineering or artificial intelligence, for example. What do we have control over if we can’t control the natural characteristics of our own babies? Or is this too much control? How much control do we have over a computer that’s decidedly close to being human? What about the advancement of Social Media? Sure, we’re connected to one another but so much can go wrong and we often lose some integrity in our offline relationships, so is it worth it? Stem cell research…is killing an innocent person acceptable if it means finding ways to save the lives of other individuals? Long story a whole lot longer it’s just all about control and the acceptance of ideas will almost never be universal because somebody’s control is always on the line.

1 thought on “We Choose To Advance Science, Not Because It Is Easy But Because It Is Hard”

  1. Hi Madalyn. I think you and I have come to the same conclusion in regards to why governments and religions fear science. Namely, that they’re afraid of being usurped. However, the one aspect I didn’t consider is the feeling of control. A loss of control is a frightening thing for anybody, myself included (I guarantee my fear of airplanes stems from the fact that I have to place all my control in the hands of the pilots). I agree that ideas will never be accepted by everybody. We’re all individuals, and even people who are close to one another disagree on some things. There are talks of progressing towards a utopian society, but what makes a utopia exactly? Most would say a society free of status, but that carries with it its own problems. What if a person’s dream is to be rich, but everybody in this society makes the exact same amount of money? To that person, the “utopia” they live in really isn’t a perfect society at all. For some, that kind of restriction might even seem dystopian. My point here isn’t to argue that striving for riches is a good or a bad thing, but rather how you measure success or happiness is dependent on the individual, and if even one person views a society as imperfect or unfair, then a utopia cannot possibly exist.

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