The Scientific Revolution
During the Scientific Revolution scientists such as Galileo, Copernicus, Descartes and Bacon wrestled with questions about God, human aptitude, and the possibilities of understanding the world. Eventually, the implications of the new scientific findings began to affect the way people thought and behaved throughout Europe. Society began to question the authority of traditional knowledge about the universe. This in turn, allowed them to question traditional views of the state and social order. No longer was the world constructed as the somewhat simple Ptolemaic Model suggested. The Earth for the first time became explicable and was no longer the center of the universe. Many beliefs that had been held for hundreds of years now proved to be false. In addition to this, the Roman Catholic Church, which had always clarified the movements of the universe with the divine power of God, was now questioned by many. The Roman Catholic Church was naturally set as an opponent of the Scientific Revolution, not so much because of opposition to new ideas but instead because the new information contradicted the model of the world the church had created. Fortunately the revolution did not happen overnight but moderately over a 150-year period.
Nicolaus Copernicus was one of the first astronomers to question the single worldview that the Christian faith supported. Though it was in the later years of his life that the he published On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres, the question was now raised as to the correctness of the mechanics of the world. In his writings, Copernicus was not able to accurately describe the revolutions of the Earth, Sun and Stars, but he was the first man to use mathematics and observation in order to create a more accurate picture of the universe. However, in order to conform to the Roman Catholic Church, Copernicus expressed himself carefully. Copernicus states,
I may well presume, most Holy Father, that certain people,
as soon as they hear that in this book about the Revolutions
of the Spheres of the Universe I ascribe movement to the earthly
globe, will cry out that, holding such views, I should at once be
hissed off the stage… (Aspects of Western Civilization 41)
Through this statement, Copernicus’s expresses his concern that the church will not agree with him. Instead of stating his findings freely and allowing the Roman Catholic Church to...