The New Atlantis Essay

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The New Atlantis is a novel that tells the story of European explorers who come upon a utopian island civilization in North America named Bensalem. The author of this book, Sir Francis Bacon, is often considered the father of the scientific method and likely wrote this book to give us an idea of his perfect world devoted to the sciences. Society on the fictional island of Bensalem focuses on a scientific institution known as Salomon’s House, where scientific experiments of all kinds are conducted using Bacon’s scientific method. Despite this deep devotion to science, Bensalem also closely follows the Christian religion, and much of the book is devoted to talking about the island’s Christian culture and customs. This summons an intriguing question: What role is there for religion in Bacon’s ideal society devoted to the sciences? This essay will attempt to discover what role religion has in Bacon’s ideal society and the connections between religion and science.

While the Christian religion plays an important part in Bensalem, certain peculiarities of Bensalem’s religious system suggest that Bacon thinks that religion’s role should be limited in society. In Bensalem, once a man lives to see thirty descendants, the government is required to pay for a feast for the man with a ceremony, that Bacon spends three pages describing (Bacon 12-14). This part of Bensalem’s religion seems to be unimportant to the good of the utopian society and just seems out of place in Bacon’s ideal world. Therefore, this could be Bacon’s way of quietly telling us his opinion that certain practices of religion are a waste of people’s resources and are unnecessary for the good of society. Despite Bensalem’s official religion of Christianity, many Jewish people still live in Bensalem and are left to their own religion. The protagonists of the story meet a Jewish resident of Bensalem named Joab, who in charge of entertaining the father of Salomon’s House. Even though Joab is not a Christian, he is still accepted by the society of Bensalem and holds an important position as the entertainer of the father of Salomon’s House. Religious affiliation is not important in Bacon’s society, which implies that Bensalem’s commitment to religion is not as important as it might seem. Odd parts of Bensalem’s religion system suggest that Bacon is giving subtle messages demoting the importance of religion.

Thorough praises of Salomon’s House in the book, imply that Bacon is trying to say that the true focus of his ideal society is towards science instead of Christianity. When Salomon’s House is first described to the visitors, a citizen of Bensalem describes the place as, “the noblest foundation, as we think, that ever was upon the earth, and the lantern of this kingdom (Bacon 10).” This quote makes it very clear that Salomon’s House and scientific research is the most...

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