Effects and reactions that the Scientific Revolution brought up with churches during the seventeenth century

Effects and reactions that the Scientific Revolution brought up with churches during the seventeenth century

Sixteenth century to the early Seventeenth century was a continuation of religious conflicts. As a result, two major branches of Christianity departed. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox on one hand and Protestantism including Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Puritans, et al. The subtle development of science during the Seventeenth century, as a revolutionary act itself, affected European Church pretty much similarly. However, due to their conflicting ideals and pursuing goals, their reactions towards science was different where Catholics and Orthodox rejected contrary to Protestants who accepted.

The Scientific Revolution first came as a big shock to many Europeans. Europeans, before Scientific Revolution and seventeenth century were dependent on ecclesiastical views that the churches imposed on them. The only sciences that they were allowed was at most Aristotelian views adapted by Christian theologians such as Aquinas to suit the Christian purpose, to explain God’s divinity. However, with the increase of maritime exploration, navigational technology was demanded and with the increase of general population, agricultural technology was called for. This resulted in lots of institutions being established regarding advanced education and research. Numerous universities were established during the fifteenth century to seventeenth century to tackle competition for marital colonies and English Royal Society as well as French Royal Academy of Science were developed in European Countries to devise new technologies to be used in agriculture. Even the pope sponsored scientific research to prove God as shown in the case of Galileo. It was in the arms of those institutions that scientists such as Copernicus to Newton were able to grow. When these scientists devised revolutionary theories and discoveries, the institutions were affected first and with most impact. Firstly, Newton with the help of English Royal Society and the Cambridge University was able to create the basics of modern physics. Due to Newton’s accomplishment, the English Royal Society was able to adjust itself to suit the necessities of scientists in England. This can be seen in increase of experimental fields of research as Newton developed further into his theories. This also influenced numerous other scientists in England to carry out further researches. Additionally, Galileo, with the sponsorship of the pope, was able to prove the new understanding of the relationship of the Heaven and the Earth first developed by Copernicus. However, his discoveries disproved the previously believed Aristotelian understanding of the Universe where Sun revolved around the Earth. This discovery was detrimental to the church because of several stories in the scripture regarding the movements of the stars as mentioned in the bible where it says that “… sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” (Joshua 10:13) Furthermore, René Descartes also familiar with the church, since he was educated in France, a Catholic country, develops new theories of scientific way of thinking, skepticism. In his explanation of skepticism, he has established ideas of atoms and materialism which contradicted with the Christian values of what things are made of. This not only irritated the Christian clergies but also even lay believers affecting most parts of Europe.

The church in turn reacted to the Scientific Revolution strictly with their belief. As more and more scientists brought up discoveries that contradicted and disproved original Christian ideas, the church divided into two parts to react differently to the crisis. Catholic church, along with the Eastern Orthodox church strongly opposed the newly developing technology and theories. This can be very easily seen from the pope’s reaction towards Galileo’s heliocentric model of the Universe. As soon as Galileo published his work on his research on heliocentricism, Dialogue Concerning Two World Systems-Ptolemaic and Copernican, the church condemned him by the Inquisition so that he was punished by house arrest. Furthermore, Descartes’ theory of materialistic world made up of atoms were also brutally oppressed by the Catholic church. This shows how Revolutionary movements were harshly banned by the Catholic Church. On the other hand, under the control of Protestantism, Scientific Revolutionists were able to perform in their full potential. Newton as the major example, carried his research out in Britain where the Anglican church mixed with Puritans and Quakers existed. The protestant Christians believed that it was up to the individual to decide what he or she wants to believe in. This allowed more freedom to scientists to question and experiment about the natural world not being limited by the bounds of Christianity. Thus, to increasing discovery, the protestant Christianity not only allowed scientists to skeptically view but also sponsor them carry out research to further develop the theory.

On the contrary, the scientists effected by the church authority also acted in varieties of ways. If the traits of Scientific Revolution were to be tracked, it would be easily found that many of the scientists published their works in Germany, Netherland, and England. One surprising aspect of the analysis is that there are a lot of French Revolutionists, but works of them are rarely found to be published in France. This shows that on account of oppression of science in strict Catholic countries such as France and Italy, numerous scientists such as Descartes and Galileo had to travel to relatively liberal country, Netherland to publish their work. Descartes published Discourse on Method and Galileo carried out further research on sunspots and other planets of solar system in Netherlands. This shows how Netherlands became a center of publication of science papers. One major reason that allowed Netherlands to be like this is its political structure. Netherlands in the seventeenth century was compromised of confederacy in which all provinces agreed to join together to work for utility. However, the reason they were able to establish a liberal government was because they claimed their religious and political independence from Catholic Spain during the Spanish war of succession. The liberal government also was very tolerant towards religion and also supported protestants if they had to. This shows that Scientific Revolutionists in Netherlands would have achieved more than Catholic countries under the protestant government explaining the reason for massive movements made by French thinkers to Netherlands.

To conclude, the Scientific Revolution has affected not only a minority group but most of the European population by impacting the church. However, because of the conflict in ideas within churches, the reaction that the church took in viewing of the Scientific methods differed from church to church. Lastly, due to the churches’ reaction, the scientists too reacted accordingly, by seeking for better work condition. The Scientific Revolution, the step that Europe took to break free from religious control, was successful since at the late seventeenth century, most of European countries including Catholic countries were accepting about the new theories to further develop navigational, agricultural and military technology.


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