Francis Bacon’s Scientifically Revolutionary Utopia
The New Atlantis is a seventeenth century depiction of a utopia by Francis Bacon. In this novel, Francis Bacon continues on More’s utopian ideas. Unlike More, however, Bacon relied on societal change via advancements in science and ones own awareness of his environment rather than through religious reforms or social legislation. The seventeenth century marks a period in history where drastic social change occurred. This change, however, was not as much political or technological but religious. During this time, the introduction of ideas and theories, starting with the renown Galileo and Isaac Newton, spread a wave of enlightenment across Europe as people began to question the teachings and the overall infidelity of the church.
Beginning in the seventeenth century Europeans began seeing a shift from the med-evil teachings of the church to a more enlightened scientific world. Although the Catholics were still against science and political democracy, a wave of new Protestants were very progressive. With the Catholic Church becoming aware that it was loosing some of its following to science, it tried desperate measures such as the inquisition where they questioned and tried to get rid of people not committed and devout to the church. Despite these measures, however, the church was basically trying to hold back the tide as a plethora of knowledge began to flow into society.
Galileo was born in 1564 in a time where society was very conforming to the teachings of the church. Despite his discoveries, Galileo was very religious though he tied religion and science into his life. Galileo’s great contribution to science was the telescope, however his greater contribution was the gift of awareness and knowledge. Before Galileo, it was generally accepted that the earth was the center of the universe. This was not based upon data or facts, but merely because the church said so. Prior to the seventeenth century, Europe was stuck in the med-evil era of church teachings. With Galileo’s telescope, however, he was able to show that the sun rather than the earth was the center of the universe. Although this new discovery had a large scientific value, it had a larger impact to society on a religious level.
... middle of paper ...
...ls. This is exemplified in the book when the servants and priests refuse to be paid twice for their civil duties. These basic ideas are carried on into the nineteenth century and the period of the enlightenment.
During the nineteenth century, skepticism about Christianity is formulated and people begin to look for rationality and reasoning behind every day life. Furthermore, the concept of “tabula rasa” or “blank slate” is formed and people begin to realize that positions should be filled based on qualifications and skill rather than bloodlines.
All in all, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis is the first of the scientific utopias and his ideas are definitely indicative of seventeenth century and the scientific revolution. Bacon’s ideas for utopia are more realistic than other communistic utopias in that he proposes to satisfy people’s wants for material possessions through scientific advances rather than through coaxing them into higher moral states. Bacon urged his readers to actively seek out this perfect world and in many ways, though not actually occurring, society gravitates towards this ideal in the eighteenth century.