Factors Affecting Natural Philosophy Essay

871 words - 4 pages

Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries was exploding with scientific advancements, and the field then known as natural philosophy was rapidly growing. The 16th century brought forth Nicolaus Copernicus’s heliocentric model and detailed astronomical observations from Tycho Brahe, among other things. Not long after, Johannes Kepler described the first two laws of planetary motion, Galileo Galilei made significant improvements to the telescope, Robert Hooke discovered the cell, and Newton described the laws of motion and universal gravitation, as well as developed calculus with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz all in the 17th century. However, there were many factors that influenced this scientific revolution; many of the developments were thought to contradict the Bible, monarchs were concerned about how these developments reflected upon them as leaders, and unfortunate social norms prevented many women from contributing to the field.
To start, the scientific revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries was influenced by the way it contradicted with the Bible. Many religious figures rejected scientific developments because they feared that they would shake the faith of an entire continent. In fact, an Italian monk by the name of Giovanni Giampoli asked Galileo Galilei to “remove the possibility of malignant rumors” by denying the significance of his work in a letter in 1615 (Document 3). However, some counteracted the claim that scientific developments contradicted with the Bible by suggesting that these discoveries emphasized God’s power and intelligence. Nicolaus Copernicus even went as far to dedicate his studies to Pope Paul III in his book, On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres in 1543, claiming that his work contributed “even to the well being of the Church” (Document 1). Others defended scientific advancements by explaining that religion only appeared to contradict with the Bible. In John Calvin’s Commentaries on the First Book of Moses in 1615, he explained that Moses wrote in a way that would make sense to the people of his time. Since then, he believed that we gained knowledge that helps us unfold the “wisdom of God” (Document 2). Overall, the scientific revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries was influenced by the fear that scientific developments contradicted with the Bible.
Additionally, the scientific revolution was also affected by the way monarchs believed the scientific developments reflected upon them as leaders. In the early stages, many leaders were worried that natural philosophy reflected poorly on them, so they decided not to support it as a result. Thomas Hobbes was aware of this phenomenon, and mentioned it in his masterpiece, Leviathan, in 1668: “[I]f Euclid’s proposition...

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