Francis Bacon\'s 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 might meet heaven], in the first place, for it
showeth that you first seek the kingdom of heaven" (Bacon, 427). This is not
true. The sailors have already sought food, shelter and care of the sick.