AP European History (2)
17 November 2014
DBQ: The Scientific Revolution
Imagine life as we know it without science. This may be hard to do, considering that scientific technology is now a perpetual symbol of modern-day life. Everything we see, everything we touch, and everything we ingest—all conceived of scientific research. But how did it come to be this way? Was it not only centuries ago that science began to surpass the authority of the church? Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, natural philosophers, now known as scientists, founded a new world view on science, which was previously based on the Bible and classic philosophers like Aristotle and Ptolemy. Both people connected their natural studies directly to God and the Bible, creating ideas like a geocentric earth. With time and new ideas, scientists managed to develope methods for creating and discovering things in nature, and with enough resources and patronage, were able to answer asked and unasked questions. Science, however, was not supported by everyone, and had to face many challenges to achieve the power it maintains in today’s world. Due to the strong authority that politics, religion, and common social order controlled in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, science was subjectively held in the hands of those who could utilize it or reject it.
Religious authority typically rejected scientific ideas. In Document 12, Gottfried Leibniz stated in his book that he believed God “governs minds as a Prince governs his subjects”. The ideas that God puts forth in the Bible are that of truth—despite the science that strenuously prove it incorrect. Scientists had to keep their scientific studies and experiments secretive because much of what they proved contradicted Church teachings. In Document 1, Nicolaus Copernicus speaks to Pope Paul III in his 1543 book, On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres, asking for his support of the sciences, and telling him that the fate of scientific research lies in his hands. “You, by your influence and judgment, can readily hold the slanders from biting,” Copernicus claims, “Mathematics are for mathematicians, and they, if I be not wholly deceived, will hold that my labors contribute even to the well being of the Church.” This being, Copernicus hopes for the Church’s adoption of science, but knows that it is an obstacle to scientific research. Similarly, Document 3, a letter written by Giovanni Ciampoli to Galileo in 1615, contains a monk asking Galileo to defer his followers to religious authority when examining scientific matters. “It is indispensable, therefore, to remove the possibility of malignant rumors by repeatedly showing your willingness to defer to the authority of those who have jurisdiction over the human intellect,” Ciampoli claims as he knew science would constantly be questioned. He believed the church had the ultimate, final say in what was scientifically accurate, therefore limiting the credibility of proven scientific research. In conclusion, the church had little acceptance of the new teachings of natural philosophy.
Society, for the most part, also rejected scientific ideas. In Document 5, for example, Marine Mersenne, a French monk and natural philosopher, writes to his noble patron asking for none else but approval of his research, which he and hundreds of other scientists have already painstakingly and carefully proved true. In this, the nobleman who funds his work has total control over what is published as scientific fact. “My book is still in your hands and subject to your private judgment. If you object to anything, I am ready to remove it entirely,” Mersenne vows his patron, “At least I am assured my experiments have been repeated more than 30 times, and some more than 100 times, before reliable witnesses, all who agree with my conclusions,” he adds on knowingly. Even if scientific research is proved to be correct, its “validity” is still subject to...
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