Science Revolution: Separating Modern Science With Theological Speculations

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During the 17th century, European philosophy and religion was challenged with the introduction of the scientific revolution. Through the three factors that incorporate science: a body of knowledge, a system of inquiry, and thinkers to support their findings (494); old and new worldviews were being questioned. While some thinkers of the era were not intentionally trying to separate religion and science, their ideas created controversy, which in some areas slowed down the growth of scientific experimentation and knowledge. The narrative that best describes this period was that it ‘marked a crucial break separating modern science from an earlier period… of superstition and theological speculation’ (498).

Early astronomers had their faith influence their findings. Ptolemy’s belief, based on the astronomical devices like the armillary sphere, proposed that ‘heavens orbited the earth’ in an Earth-centered universe, which influenced Christian beliefs of other scientists (495–496). Copernicus attempted to denounce these ideas with his conception of a Sun-centered universe. This conflicted with his faith, and to avoid religious persecution he noted in his treatise On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres that he wanted his findings to be viewed as instruments for astronomy and not answers about Heaven and Earth (496–497).

Tycho followed up by reverting to a more Ptolemaic view, suggesting that planets orbited the Sun, which in turn orbited the Earth (497-498). His assistant, Kepler, returned to and augmented Copernicus’ theories, applying mathematics to calculate Earth’s movements. His theories still supported his religious beliefs, since he believed that mathematics was God’s language, and understanding this would make people share ...

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...hematical formulations to deduce his theories on gravity. His reliance on hypotheses as opposed to deductive reasoning is noted in The Scientific Background to Modern Philosophy: Selected Readings, where he states ‘In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction’ (509-512).

The exploration of scientific experimentation opened up a vast wealth of knowledge and technology to the 17th century. Those philosophers who had the faith in their religion were tested to harmonize religion and science. Through politics, religion, and modernization during the Scientific Revolution, today’s modern standards of science can be traced back to the roots of this period.

Works Cited

Coffin, Judith G, et al. Western Civilizations: Their History & Their Culture. 17th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 2011. Print.

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