Man vs. Machine

The main reason that political and religious leaders should be afraid of scientific inventions such as the air pump is that it give more power to the average person and undermines their authority. The average person, with the help of technology, can start the explore the scientific world. Johnson mentions this on page 132 when he says that by “expose[ing] as many ideas as possible to as many minds as possible, … the system will ultimately gravitate towards truth.” As they learn about science, they will start to have a greater understanding of how the world works which will lead them to question the supposed authority that both of those institutions have. As we have seen in recent centuries and in this book, the development of technology pokes holes into the stories that the church both tell and once told the average person. This push for truth has a domino effect on politics because monarchs of those days relied on the church to propagate their right to rule. The consensus for monarchies was that their right to rule came from the divine and that it was bestowed upon them by god. If science starts to make the average citizens of a country question god, they will start to question why their ruler has the divine right to rule. This unrest leads to consequences by the person who developed the technologies. We see this in the book when the Church-and-King mob attacked Dr.Priestly and burned down both his house and his laboratory. Once someone’s mind is set, it is almost impossible to change. So when Priestly dissented against the king and the church, he faced the social consequences of his actions which were his exile.

4 thoughts on “Man vs. Machine

  1. I agree with you that scientific inventions and technology give the average person more power within their society. When people have more power, governments have reason to fear not only the technology, but the people the technology is empowering and informing. I think you make a very good observation that science leads to a greater understanding, and that leads people to question religious and government institutions of authority. We saw this fear of the average person being empowered in Johnson’s book through Priestley, but we also see that today. Governments across the world, no matter if they are a democratic government, a dictatorship, or any other type of government, fear people when they gain power and knowledge. It is precisely that empowerment, however, that brings change in a country as people fight for what they believe in based off this new knowledge and empowerment.


  2. I agree with the points you have brought up. The fear of losing control and power over people is a consistent reason that wars are starting and information loses it’s freedom. I found it interesting in Johnson’s writing because the government didn’t have to do much to bring Priestley down. The people took it upon themselves and the government simply didn’t stop anyone. It is a very manipulative way to maintain control over the people. I thought that Huesemann Huesemann piece, speaking about technologies disadvantages was respectable as well. Even though knowledge is freedom, sometimes advancements can still be detrimental, not only to the government’s power. But I think we have seen in the present day that all human’s utilizing the new technology provided to them can lead to an abuse of power, not over each other necessarily but over our world.


  3. This is a very good take on the ideas of how the evolution of scientific ideas can, and do affect the establishments and institutions that we have already in our societies and cultures. I would agree particularly on the part of how science changes how we view religion in our modern world as we learn and adapt to the knowledge on how the world functions and it is not put off as magic or god, as people’s beliefs are proportional to the information that they have available to them at the time that those beliefs are formed and held to themselves.


  4. I have to agree that scientific discovery and its progress would seemingly give an individual would more power causing the church and state to feel threatened that they may no longer be necessary for structure and order. However, the advancement of technology and sciences is not simply for the greater good of a single person rather for the greater good of a society if it is approached right and not used as a tool against any given group rather a road towards making a better life for their citizens. If said church and state have been open with their citizens then the progression of technology or science will only strengthen, not hurt, state, church, and people.


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