From the point of view of someone studying science, religion is regularly portrayed as having continually hindered and limited the progress and growth of science. Beit by persecution of non-believers or complete denial of plausibility, religion has had quite an effect on the evolution of science. However, through examination of the ways in which religion sought to affect science and with strong consideration placed on the resultant effects thereof, we can arrive at some intriguing and unconventional conclusions: religion played an important role in the steering of scientific development, both by the church’s attempts to rein in science’s growing defiance of the church’s hold on tradition and authority and also by the church simultaneously pushing science to improve in response.
One of the first conflicts between the church and science occurred when the understanding of the universe, and especially the earth’s place therein, began to shift. At the time of this conflict, geocentrism served as the prevailing belief about the heavens. God had made the universe for man and God had made the earth as man’s home, and under these beliefs reason indicated that earth was situated at the center of the universe due to earth’s importance to man and man’s importance to God. The conflict in question pertains to this geocentric belief and the field of astronomy. Before this conflict, astronomy served solely as a way to model the stars, and any new models proposed to more accurately describe motion of the celestial objects was only made to “save the appearances.” These models were no more than mathematical devices and representations, and had no implications on the reality of the subject. The model commonly cited to have spurre...
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...h theories pointed out a lack of measurable changes inside windows of time that were actually observable, and lack of mechanism for how this change could occur. These criticisms called for the large gaps (largely due to conjecture to cover a lack of information) in the theory to be filled in for the theory to have weight in the growing science, and required the search for more tangible or believable mechanism to cause these changes. Despite the intended effects of bringing these flaws and weaknesses to light, the criticism eventually yielded the opposite of that intention; the critique served more to hone the theory than it did to extinguish it. Scientific development in understanding the age of the earth and the growth of life thereon was persistent, and that development was in part due to its opponents, often religious, continually supplying constructive criticism.
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