How would you explain the struggle between science and religion during the scientific revolution?
The scientific revolution was a time of great scientific advancement during the 16th and 17th centuries. The scientific revolution was, however, greatly oppressed by the church. Scientific advancements such as heliocentricity and atomism were made and formerly believed doctrines such as geocentricity and other Aristotelian ideas were disproved. Many of the Aristotelian views were strongly supported by the Catholic church and the scientists who dared to oppose those beliefs were instant targets of the pope and his followers. Punishments were often severe, including house arrest, and this greatly discouraged scientific advancement–though some of the greatest minds refused to give in.
Many scientists were persecuted, the most notable of these was Galileo. Upon inventing one of the first telescopes, he was able to see many areas of space never visible before such as Jupiter and Earth’s moons. The most notable of these observations was Venus’ celestial pattern, which could only be explained by its revolution around the sun. This was a risky point of view if publicized. The Aristotelian belief the Earth was the center of everything, tied well into the church’s misunderstanding of several bible verses which caused them to strictly promote the idea of an Earth-centered universe. Galileo’s views contradicted that of the Catholic church and he was immediately put on trial after a letter he wrote to a duchess of Tuscany was discovered.
Galileo represented himself well in court and he was able to get out with little punishment for his first trial, though at his second trial for publishing his book he was sentenced to house arrest where he remained for the rest of his life. Of particular importance, the church wasn’t defending a Biblical world view in the first place. The Bible never explicitly states that everything revolves around earth. Ironically, the idea was actually from pagan Greek philosophy.
Much of the Catholic churches scientific doctrine came from pagan Greek philosophy. Examples of these were Aristotelian physics: the idea that there were only 4 elements, fire, earth, air, and water. He also believed that all light bodies rise up, and all heavy bodies fall down. These ideas were disproven during the scientific revolution. This led to less credibility of the Catholic church, which was already weakened by the Protestant reformation.
Galileo famously quoted Cardinal Baronius, saying “The Bible was written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” The scientific revolution was a time when the human race advanced greatly in our knowledge of the universe, though the Catholic church did their best to oppress it. Though going against all the obvious evidence reduced the credibility of the church, leading to the eventual subordination of the church to science which still continues today.