New Atlantis

New Atlantis

Francis Bacon was the founder of the modern scientific method. The focus on the new scientific method is on orderly experimentation. For Bacon, experiments that produce results are important. Bacon pointed out the need for clear and accurate thinking, showing that any mastery of the world in which man lives was dependent upon careful understanding. This understanding is based solely on the facts of this world and not as the ancients held it in ancient philosophy. This new modern science provides the foundation for modern political science. Bacon's political science completely separated religion and philosophy. For Bacon, nothing exists in the universe except individual bodies. Although he did not offer a complete theory of the nature of the universe, he pointed the way that science, as a new civil religion, might take in developing such a theory.

Bacon divided theology into the natural and the revealed. Natural theology is the knowledge of God which we can get from the study of nature and the creatures of God. Convincing proof is given of the existence of God but nothing more. Anything else must come from revealed theology. Science and philosophy have felt the need to justify themselves to laymen. The belief that nature is something to be vexed and tortured to the compliance of man will not satisfy man nor laymen. Natural science finds its proper method when the 'scientist' puts Nature to the question, tortures her by experiment and wrings from her answers to his questions. The House of Solomon is directly related to these thoughts. "It is dedicated to the study of Works and the Creatures of God" (Bacon, 436). Wonder at religious questions was natural, but, permitted free reign, would destroy science by absorbing the minds and concerns of men. The singular advantage of Christianity is its irrationality. The divine soul was a matter for religion to handle. The irrational soul was open to study and understanding by man using the methods of science. The society of the NEW ATLANTIS is a scientific society. It is dominated by scientists and guided by science. Science conquers chance and determines change thus creating a regime permanently pleasant. Bensalem, meaning "perfect son" in Hebrew, has shunned the misfortunes of time, vice and decay. Bensalem seems to combine the blessedness of Jerusalem and the pleasures and conveniences of Babylon. In Bacon's NEW ATLANTIS, the need for man to be driven does not exist. Scarcity is eliminated thereby eliminating the need for money. "But thus, you see, we maintain a trade, not for gold, silver or jewels... nor for any other commodity of matter, but only for God's first creature which was light" (Bacon, 437). This shows a devotion to truth rather than victory and it emphasizes the Christian piety to which the scientist is disposed by virtue of his science. As man observes and brings the fruits of his observations together, he discover likeness' and differences among events and objects in the universe. In this way he will establish laws among happenings upon which he can base all subsequent action. Bacon realized that sometimes religious ideas and the discoveries of nature and careful observations were contradictory but he argued that society must believe both.

The NEW ATLANTIS begins with the description of a ship lost at sea. The crew "lift up their hearts and voices to God above, who showeth his wonders in the deep, beseeching him of his mercy" (Bacon, 419). Upon spotting land and discerning natives the sailors praise God. When a boarding party comes to their ship to deliver messages, none of the natives speak. Rather, the messages are delivered written on scrolls of parchment. The parchment is "signed with a stamp of cherubins' wings... and by them a cross" (Bacon, 420). To the sailors, the cross was "a great rejoicing, and as it were a certain presage of good" (Bacon, 420). After the natives leave and return to the ship, they stop and ask "Are ye Christians?" (Bacon, 421). When the sailors confirm that they are, they are taken to the island of Bensalem. On Bensalem, the sailors are 'confined' to their resting place and are attended to according to their needs. The sailors reply, "God surely is manifested in this land" (Bacon, 424). Upon talking to the governor the next day, he exclaims "Ye knit my heart to you by asking this question, [the hope that they