Francis Bacon: New Atlantis- a Utopian Vision from 1627

The first step in finding a solution to a problem is defining the problem, which many naively refuse to recognize its existence, but prefer to welcome into the midst of their Brave New World the gift of the Trojan Horse with open arms. One may learn of the problem by others’ mistakes, such as the flood of Muslim immigrants in Europe which is rapidly changing its demographics and causing havoc and increased tension and terrorism there. In America, Donald Trump has suggested temporarily suspending Muslim immigration from countries where terrorism abounds until clarity can be made, which makes sense in a war-torn world where the enemy has openly stated its plans to infiltrate and attack and undermine. If one takes a glance at not-too-distant history, nobody wished to listen to Churchill’s early warning, forgetting the old adage of “a stitch in time saves nine,” but preferred instead the good-hearted liberal Chamberlain in appeasing Hitler, which only led to the devastations of World War Two.

Interestingly, Francis Bacon’s 1627 utopian New Atlantis (when the Plymouth Colony was first being settled by the Pilgrims in the New World) defines a very careful but compassionate program for immigration to the utopian land, where immigrants are carefully screened (vetted) in order to preserve and not destroy the good thing they had found and cultivated.

New Atlantis is an imagined island nation discovered by some lost seafarers who are welcomed, but very slowly, as the happy inhabitants’ laws of immigration deemed, until the newcomers could be studied as to their intentions. After a period of care and recovery from their sea voyage, the visitors were given insights into the marvelous ways of the society that had brought happiness and stability to its inhabitants. It was a wise scientific research and discovery of the creation, treasuring of the institution of family, and a sincere Christian worldview that had brought its felicity. Surprisingly, Bacon introduces a Jew as a citizen of the community, as one of those describing their lifestyle in his text, and that written in a period when the Jew of Europe was not looked well upon. In that imagined utopian society of Bensalem, the Jew is honored for his religion and wisdom, which there includes the Jew honoring Jesus as a great individual, more than a man but less than God, and accepting the Christians as fellow heirs of Abraham. Whereas Bacon’s view of Islam was somewhat different, as he writes, “But we may not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet’s sword, or like unto it, that is, to propagate religion by wars or by sanguinary persecutions to force consciences.“

As a member of the British parliament, Bacon was instrumental in the colonization of the New World, and many of his ideas passed to those early pioneers who eventually created the Land of the Free. Even Thomas Jefferson, the third American president, cited Bacon as one of the three greatest men who ever lived, along with Isaac Newton and John Locke.

For some historical perspective, New Atlantis is definitely worth the read.