Man has consistently feared two things throughout history: change and the unknown. During the 16th century the church became the direct and indirect authority on multiple levels affecting the everyday lives of all citizens. So in a strange way for all the good religion is responsible for such as stability, cohesiveness, harmony, uniformity and overall guidance; the same could be said concerning all of the misery created. It is fair to say the church is responsible for civil wars, revolutionary wars, impeding the progress of science, political, social, cultural gains and murder until the era of Enlightenment. During the years of Enlightenment, the church evolved from an undisputed divine authority to one that lacked credibility, thus creating a more tolerable and understanding institution due to indisputable facts and ambiguous interpretations. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the contradiction of religion from the 16th century to the years of Enlightenment and to answer the question: Did greed and power motivate religious leaders to hold on to power or was it a fear of change?
Throughout Europe the church was viewed as a source of infinite power and wisdom. Because kings were anointed by the church, it ensured the monarchy had a higher power to answer to and recognized by all citizens. Kings were recognized as divine representatives because the oil used to anoint them was blessed by the church. Having the monarchy as a recognized subordinate, and given the various forms of government practiced by various kings, for example absolutism; the church directly or indirectly influenced politics, science and culture.
Because King Louis XIV practiced absolutism and his religious leaders, through subtle suggestion or direct interpretation of the word of God, could dictate his policies to benefit the church or hinder anybody or anything considered blasphemous. His two advisors or ministers advised him on foreign policies and military strategy. At one point and time, because he wanted to insulate himself with religious uniformity, Louis gave one million Protestants the choice of either converting to Catholicism or leaving the country. The political field was not the only area filtered by religion; scientist and astronomers were censored as well.
For example, Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler disagreed with the church stating all celestial bodies revolved around the earth; making the implication the earth was the center of the universe. For God created the earth and it was His intention to make the earth the beginning of all life in the universe. These astronomers made several discoveries which disputed the churches interpretations of God. Because of their spoken and published works, the church condemned these astronomers as heretics and could have had them arrested, exiled or put to death. Galileo spent his final days confined to his home diligently continuing his work but branded with an antireligious stigma....