Astronomy/ Scientific Revolution term paper 9987

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The Scientific Revolution

The Scientific Revolution was a major milestone for the mental evolution of man. This milestone was so astronomical that it may have been the largest historical event since the rise of Christianity. The Church originally felt threatened by scientific advancements. This was because it threatened their God s creations. However, could it be that with the progressive rate of science that science will help us to find God?

The Scientific Revolution was such a major milestone for mankind because it "changed the way people looked at the world of nature and man." "Nicolaus Copernicus formulated mathematical calculations that provided the basis for a new conception of the universe, and humanities position in it." Changing the way that man views his existence in the universe would be like getting everyone in Canada to say they love Quebec. It would be impossible. Copernicus theory of the universe differed from Ptolemy s theory in that the sun was in the middle of the universe and not the Earth. This theory was not believed by the Catholic Church. Two leading Protestant clergymen also agreed with the Catholic Church by saying that this theory did not agree with the literal interpretation of the bible. John Calvin a French theologian said, " The fool is trying to turn the whole science of astronomy upside down." I think what Calvin meant by this statement was that the scientific community of astronomy had come so far, now this Copernicus fool is taking us ten steps backwards. Calvin also said, " The world is so established that it cannot be moved." This statement could not be further from the truth. At this time in history they did not have near the infrastructure that we have today. They were just beginning to expand new horizons, they needed to be open to new and exotic ideas. I m not saying that we are

so scientifically advanced today that we should not believe or investigate extrinsic ideas but we are able to research them in a systematic, analytical manner that will lead us to the facts. They were more of a trial and error scientific community. They could not rely on stats they needed more physical proof. Such as when Copernicus used his telescope to study the universe and come up with his heliocentric theory. Copernicus revelations were the basis of modern astronomy that were built by Galileo and Newton.

Galileo Galilei is considered to be the father of modern scientific method. Galileo confirmed Copernicus heliocentric theory through experiments and observations. He constructed many practical devices. The telescope is the best known of these devices. This was an extraordinary invention. It could be used for the navigation of vessels and also for warfare. His invention was so highly regarded that he was asked to show it to the Venetian Senate. Galileo was a pioneer in space exploration. Some of his key discoveries include: Jupiter s satellites, irregularities in the surface of the moon, star clusters in the milky way, and spots on the surface of the sun. These findings, along with the discovery of Venus phases, are evidence that supports the heliocentric theory. These conclusions were monumental for the astronomical world because they sparked interest and intrigue among the rest of the non-scientific community.

Isaac Newton was another instrumental player in the Scientific Revolution. In a time of intense religious emotion, and nowhere was that feeling more intense than in Great Britain, there, a devout young man, Isaac Newton, was finally to discover the way to a new synthesis in which truth was revealed and God was preserved. Newton followed Copernicus and Galileo s works. From studying Copernicus and Galileo s "revolution of the planets" Newton combined their works into his own theory. His theory was the three laws of motion. The three laws of motion are:

1. A body will continue in a state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, until compelled to change its state by some external force imposed upon it.

2. Every change of motion or acceleration of a body is directly proportional to the force that makes the change.

3. To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.

The significance of his three laws of motion was that along with the principle of universal gravitation these theories would regulate the cosmos. While wondering about the force of gravity he concluded "that the moon stays in orbit around the Earth because the force exerted between the Earth and the moon, combined with the central force of the moon s movement around the Earth. This is an example of the three laws of motion in use. Newton went on to combining his works into one theory. This theory included the free fall of apples and the course of cannon balls but it also combined the motions of the planets. This new theory was called "Law of Universal Gravitation." Newton also said that energy can neither be created or destroyed. Since this statement is true, where did this energy come form? Could God have created it?

The Scientific Revolution radically altered the conditions of thought and of material existence in which the human race lives, and its effects are not yet exhausted. All this was caused by Copernicus' daring in placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the cosmos. Copernicus reduced a complexity verging on chaos to elegant simplicity. I think that these findings could very well be the largest historical event since the rise of Christianity. These laws allow us to go to the moon, fly in airplanes and do countless other technical things that the people (non-scientists) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries could not even comprehend. Maybe these advancements will eventually lead us to God. I think the Scientific Revolution was the largest historical event since Christianity, because without it where we would be today?

Text: Modern Western Civilization

Authors: J.R. Christopher and W.F. Jackson, Copyright 1986.


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