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The Heliocentric Theory Vs. The Catholic Church

2551 words - 10 pages

The Heliocentric Theory vs. The Catholic Church
We view the world today as the Earth and planets revolving around the Sun.
Naturally, this always wasn't the case. Aristotle created a model in which since God
created the Earth and man, therefore everything should revolve around us, creating a
geocentric model of the known universe. This model was widely accepted by the people,
as well as the Church, since the theory was God-centered. It wasn't until Aristotle's time
when scientists started to challenge this model due to advances in technology and
theories, and the heliocentric model was starting to take form, which went againts what
the Church strongly believed. In this paper I will explain the creation of the heliocentric
model, and the Church's reactions and responses to the new works on a sun-centered
During the Renaissance, many began to "toss aside medieval preoccupations with
supernatural forces and turned to secular concerns." (Yamasaki, p.50) During this time,
people began to think for themselves and ponder truths through philosophy, science,
astronomy, astrology, etc. Philosophers' minds began to turn, the human mind was finally
awake. At the time, the thought of heavenly bodies being divine, and stars being eternal
objects in unchanging motion were common knowledge.
A philosopher, scientsit, and one of Plato's pupils, Aristotle, was also a very
important figure. Born in Stagira in 384, Aristotle is regarded as the most influential
ancient philosopher of the sciences. Aristotle refined Callippus' geometrical and spherical
concepts, and developed the geocentric theory, which was believed for many years. Being
under Plato's teachings, Aristotle believed that the sphere is the most perfect figure
because when rotated to any diameter it occupies the same space; and that circular
motions are a sign of perfection, which is why Heaven is considered divine. The
spherical nature of the Earth and Universe according to Aristotle, is the natural
movement of Earthly matter from all places downwards, to a center, around which a
sphere of matter will build up. "Only circular motion is capable of endless repetition
without a reversal of direction, and rotary motion is prior to linear because what is
external, or at least could have always existed, is prior, or at least potentially prior, to
what is not."(North,80) In Aristotle's book De Caelo (On the Heavens), he speaks of the
celestial sphere, the Earth's center being the same shape, and dismissing the idea of the
Earth rotating at the center of the universe. He also dismisses the idea of an orbital
motion of the Earth. (North, p.81) Contradicting Aristotle, Heracleides, an astronomer,
believed in the rotation of the Earth on it's axis and is known to be the earliest astronomer
to stand by it. He was thought to have taken the first step toward heliocentricity. It is
believed in the years to follow that...

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