Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment Periods
The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were times of great emphasis on reason and questioning of faith. The scientists and philosophers of these eras discovered and taught new ideas that often contradicted with what the church and former thinkers had taught and believed before them. Most of the intellectual, political, economic, and social characteristics associated with the modern world came into being during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. During the Scientific Revolution, people began to question beliefs that they had always taken for granted. Scientists changed people's views of the world they lived in through discoveries such as the theory of the heliocentric universe. During the Enlightenment, philosophes challenged beliefs formerly held by the church and government by insisting that human reason would lead to the solution of all problems. They believed that man should live his life, make his own decisions, and believe what he wanted based on his own experiences and what he believed to be true. These two revolutions lead to a movement away from the church and faith, and towards a belief in more scientific and mathematical explanations for the way things worked and created a new path the world was hungry to take and evolve.
One of the aspects of the Scientific Revolution was the popularization of the belief in a sun-centered universe. Before this time, both Aristotle and Ptolemy supported the theory that the earth was the center of the universe and that the stars and planets revolved around it. Also, the realm of God was believed to lie just outside of this universe. This was known as the geocentric theory and the Catholic Church also strongly supported these beliefs.(Rogers 9) This theory of a geocentric universe held firm until a Polish astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus proposed that the sun was the center of the universe. His use of mathematics in his theory eliminated many of the inconsistencies that existed in the geocentric theory such as the elliptical movements of the planets. Copernicus said in his Heliocentric Statement, which was written sometime after 1520, "What appears to us as motions of the sun arise not from its motion but from the motion of the earth and our sphere, with which we revolve about the sun like any other planet. The earth has, then, more than one motion."(Rogers 3) Copernicus was considered a brave scientist standing alone, defending his theories against the common beliefs of his time.
Another contributor to the Scientific Revolution was Galileo Galilei. A professor at the University of Padua, Galileo, like Copernicus, began to doubt the theories of philosophers and scientists, such as Aristotle, and using his self-built telescope, Galileo studied the skies and came to support the Copernican theory. Galileo considered himself a devout member of the church, but he disagreed with the Bible's teachings...