The 16th Century Ideas That Echo Through Modern Science

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  • Topic: Isaac Newton, Kepler's laws of planetary motion, Johannes Kepler
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  • Published : April 29, 2012
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The 16th Century Ideas That Echo Through Modern Science “The history of science is part of the history of mankind. It is a record of one aspect of the human struggle to achieve security and certainty in an ever-changing universe.” (Levy, 3) Science is an ever expanding subject and reaches out into almost every aspect of our lives. Before the sixteenth-century science as we know it did not exist. Natural philosophy, and astronomy were the main focus of the time. These two fields were highly based on observation and theory. Throughout all of history man has used science to change the world around him. The thinkers of the sixteenth-century established the foundation for modern science. All theoretical scientists must all have a similar way of thinking. The key is doubt - an inclination not to believe or accept (Webster Dictionary). Descartes was one of the first philosophers to use a systematic skepticism when analyzing the works of others. Simply put, Descartes doubted the ideas around him. Richard Feynman seems to have a similar way of thinking. He says, “Once you start doubting, which I think, to me is a very fundamental part of my … soul, is to doubt and to ask. When you doubt and ask it gets a little harder to believe.”(Feynman) Doubt must have been a fundamental belief that the sixteenth-century thinkers had. For science to advance it is imperative that scientists approach an issue with doubt and questions. One of the people at the start of history, Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), a pioneer in logic, metaphysics, ethics, natural sciences, politics, and poetics, profoundly influenced Western thought. He firmly believed that terrestrial bodies naturally move towards the earth (which he alleged was located at the center of the universe). He also claimed there was an unnatural violent motion that moved away from the earth. This view of natural and unnatural motion fit agreeably with the Churches view of good and evil. Claudius Ptolemy (85-165 A.D.) an astronomer, mathematician, and geographer, accepted the ideas of Aristotle, and based his astronomical findings on the belief that all heavenly bodies encircle the earth. These ideas came under strong scrutiny influenced by the thinkers and writers of the Enlightenment. In the seventeenth century, an era unusually full of remarkable intellectuals questioning most aspects of life, the common people also started to question. Prompting this major shift in the docile nature of the people, could have been the realization that the words of the church may not have been all true. "Has the church been saying or doing what will be more beneficial for us to survive and prosper", one might have asked. Or, is their word the law simply because God is speaking through the pope--regardless of what science says or proves? Until this period of true science, the Church was the gatekeeper for all views and ideas. The seventeenth century, however, was a time when modern science emerged, and began to separate its ideas from the ideas of the church and religion. Despite the Church's best efforts to suppress these thoughts from the masses, the faculty of human reason showed it has a problem with signs that say "Do not go there." Human reason is a part of Human Nature, and it is a driving force continually striving for a greater understanding of life. The Church's attempts to try and keep their word as law, regardless of what human reason arrived at, did not exude a solid understanding of Human Nature. One can relate this conflict between the Church and the understanding of Human nature, to a dilemma that stems from taking a vow of celibacy. Sexual desire is also an innate part of Human Nature. When a human being is not allowed to act on certain instincts such as eating, drinking, or procreating, the human psyche will be in constant search mode to fulfill these needs. The shear number of clergy being convicted as pedophiles may be a clear example of just such a search. It seems that the...
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