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 God’s wisdom. Galileo wanted to bridge the gap between religion and science, as documented in his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina. It was in this letter that he pleads his case to the Medici family, his patron, for the church and modern philosophers to harmoniously coexistence (502). His celestial discoveries put him at odds with the Catholic Church, who found his teachings to be heretical. An Inquisition forced Galileo to recant his Copernican beliefs and not to share these findings. What Galileo sought to accomplish furthered the rift between science and religion and pushed scientific advancement back in Protestant northwest Europe (501–503).
Outside of northwest Europe, the theories of Galileo and Copernicus had major influences on future thinkers. The English philosopher Bacon strived for knowledge. His famous phrase “Knowledge is Power” described the changing perspective for thinkers of the 17th century (503). His approach of gathering evidence through specific observations to draw general conclusions to be repeated and verified was known as the inductive approach. Two images that illustrate his beliefs were Novum Organum, which demonstrated how mathematics and physics could be applied to understand human...