Kepler: Scripture vs. Astronomy
Johannes Kepler was one of the first natural philosophers that defended the design of the cosmos created by Nicolas Copernicus. Kepler argued that Copernicus’s system of the universe was not only the correct structure that man had been searching for, but also that by knowing this, he was able to more fully understand the thinking of his Creator. In this paper I will demonstrate how Kepler was able to use Christian theological principles in order to connect the physics and astronomy that defined the Copernican cosmos. Kepler did not see a separation between science and religion; inversely, he believed that astronomers must always remember the divine goodness and wisdom of the Creator, and acknowledge the gift of more penetrating vision for man to discover what God has created.
Kepler was born on December 27,1571 in Wurtenburg, Germany to well known, but not wealthy family. As he grew up, his talents were recognized at a young age and he received a scholarship to the University of Tubingen in order to become a Lutheran minister (Donahue ix). During this time in the 16th century, all Lutherans were required to sign a statement of faith called the Formula of Concord, but Kepler was not able to bring himself to endorse this document (Barker 96). Because all Lutheran ministers were required to subscribe to the formula of Concord, Kepler’s brave decision changed his career path. The consequences of Kepler’s choice was to either become a Catholic, or flee the city and leave everything behind. In 1594, Kepler took an assignment of teaching high school mathematics in Styria, Austria (Barker 96). While teaching, he was able to begin researching and writing his first book, Mysterium Cosmographicum, which was published in 1596 (Donahue ix). Kepler’s first book, translated to mean “Sacred Mysteries of the Cosmos,” drew the attention of a prominent astronomer of the time, Tycho Brahe. Impressed by Kepler’s knowledge, Tycho Brahe...
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