Essay: Nicolaus Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei

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  • Subject area(s): Religious studies and Theology essays
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  • Nicolaus Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei
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Nicolaus Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei are 4 major thinker that impacted our view of the universe and our place in the universe. The church was against their views because God and the Bible were of upmost importance at the time and anything that questioned that was wrong. Copernicus was a devout canon of the Roman Catholic Church. He is known for his theory of heliocentrism. This states that the earth revolves around the sun. “Within the church, to challenge the geocentric theory was to challenge church dogma and was therefore heretical” (Hergenhahn p.89). Since the heliocentric theory challenged the church he faced the inquisition in a trial. Later he was put under house arrest indefinitely and spent the rest of his days at his villa in Arcetri, near Florence, before dying on January 8, 1642. Bruno was a former Dominican priest who converted to the ancient philosophy of Hermetism. “Hermetism professed the divinity of humans, the existence of magical forces that can be used to benefit humankind, and a harmony among humans, stars, and planets” (Hergenhahn p. 89). This philosophy stated that there are many uninhabited solar systems and that in each (including ours) the sun is divine. Bruno accepted Copernicus’ theory because it restored the divine status of the sun. Bruno also believed that Hermetism was the only true religion and that Judaism and Christianity had obscured and corrupted it. His views led him to be Brough before the Venetian inquisition on May 26th, 1592, and charmed him with eight counts of heresy. Later he was convicted as a relapsed heretic and was burned at the stake on February 17th, 1600.
Kepler was a German, mathematician and astronomer. He as well embraced Copernicus’ theory because he “was a platonism seeking the simple mathematical harmony that describes the universe… a sun worshiper and was attracted to the greater dignity given the sun in the Copernican system” (Hergenhahn p. 91). Kepler made some significant contributions to Astronomy and worked on further proving the Copernican system. He found that the paths of the planets around the sun were elliptical, the velocities of the planets vary depending on the distance between the sun (gravity), and demonstrated that all planetary motions could be described by mathematics. His most significant contribution was his belief that all mathematical deductions can be verified by empirical observation. Galileo was an Italian mathematician. “Like Copernicus and Kepler, Galileo viewed the universe as a perfect machine whose workings could be understood only in mathematical terms. He set out to fix the many misconceptions about the world and heavenly bodies. Galileo accepted Copernicus’ theory and wrote a book where he diminished counterarguments of the theory. In 1609, he modified the telescope and discovered the mountains of the moon, sunspots, and learned that the Milky Way is make up of many stars that are not visible to the naked eye. Also, he discovered four moons of Jupiter, meaning that there are 11 bodies in the solar system not 7 like the church believed. “Galileo discredited one Aristotelian ‘truth’ after another thus attacking the very core of the church dogma” (Hergenhahn p. 93-4). At age 70 he was brought before the inquisition and lived his years under house arrest. He later died on January 9th, 1642.

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