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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 432

Bacon's The New Atlantis can be seen as a melding of two primal ideas that have haunted mankind throughout recorded history. One is the prediction, or the hope, that humanity will advance and create essentially a new world on earth. The other is the belief that at some time in the remote past a civilization existed that was far more advanced than that of the present day and was then destroyed through a natural cataclysm, such as an earthquake or a flood, or through man's own ignorance or mistakes.

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In Bacon's story a European expedition comes across an island in the South Seas that has been kept secret from the world and which has developed technological breakthroughs that have made it a paradise in comparison with the known world. Though Bacon's Christian beliefs are made clear (he states that the inhabitants of the island, which is called Bensalem, are Christians themselves), the advanced civilization is a kind of secular version of the perfect world prophesied in Revelation, the final book of the New Testament. Instead of God having created this new paradise on earth, humans have done so. The scientific inventions predicted by Bacon are like a listing of many of the actual creations and discoveries of the four centuries since Bacon's time—medical advances, refrigeration, skyscrapers, the artificial production of "light" (electromagnetic radiation), and the instant transmission of images over long distances, to name the most important and striking ones.

The Atlantis of myth is mentioned by the leader of the Bensalem society. The possibility that such an advanced world existed in the remote past and was then destroyed was...

(The entire section contains 432 words.)

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