Before discussing the science of the 17th century, it is important to give a definition to the term itself. Science is a combination of at least three areas, such as a body of knowledge, a system (or method) of inquiry, and a community of practitioners and institutions that support the work of science (Cole et al. 384).
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The scientific revolution of the seventeenth century involved all three of the mentioned areas. The key to the understanding of why science made a revolution in the 17th century is associated with the fact that it displaced the Earth and humans from being the center of the universe, with the emergence of new scientific views and practices that confirmed the discovery. Moreover, it is noteworthy that the scientific revolution developed an inquiry method for establishing a clear understanding of the natural world.
This innovative approach placed emphasis on the importance of observation, experiment, and hypotheses testing. Science was revolutionary in the 17th century because it became a separate and distinct branch of knowledge. Before that, natural philosophy was a designation for areas such as motion, optics, and the circulation of blood. Societies’ expansion and the development of new institutions contributed to the progress of scientific research. Science required only the most forward-thinking people to be involved in the research, which progressed into religious, cultural, and social transformation (Cole et al. 386).
The scientific revolution of the 17th century marked a definite break between the Middle Ages and the modern world; although it started earlier in the previous developments, At least starting from the 12th century, medieval artists and scientists observed and illustrated the natural world with precision. Nevertheless, the connections between experiment, invention, and observation emerged only in the 16th century. The efforts to understand the natural world was associated with the conviction of societies that nature was created by God (Cole et al. 385). Therefore, scientific studies originated from the curiosity about the nature of the religious belief.
For instance, Neoplatonists were convinced that nature was created by God so that humanity understands the ways of the divine good. With a conviction that nature reflected the perfection of God, Neoplatonists searched for the perfect structures, with mathematics (especially geometry) being important tools in their search (Cole et al. 385).
When discussing the scientific revolution that completely changed the society, it is crucial to mention the contribution of the Copernican theory regarding the position of the Earth in the planetary system as well as Kepler’s laws. Before Copernicus’ discovery, it was generally accepted that the Earth was stationary and was the center of the solar system. Despite the fact that Copernicus was a conservative thinker in many ways, the implications of his discovery had on the religious ideologies.
Regarding the opposition of religious ideologies, Kepler believed that everything that existed on the planet had been the result of the creation of mathematical laws, the understanding of which could allow societies to share the wisdom of God and go deeper into the discovery of the secrets of the Universe. Kepler’s contribution to the scientific revolution is noteworthy since he managed to break down the distinction between earth and heavens (the real and the divine) that had been a center of the physics approach proposed by Aristotle.
Galileo’s contribution can be considered the most significant when it comes to the discussion of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. By starting his career through the discoveries with the telescope and ending with the discovery of evidence that supported the model proposed by Copernicus, which laid a foundation for modern physics, Galileo became the main opponent of the Church, which did not agree with his belief that science and religion could go hand-in-hand (Cole et al. 390).
Despite the battles with the religious authorities, Galileo did not put an end to his scientific search. He managed to refine and perfect the theories of motion that were developed at the beginning of his career, such as the theory of inertia, which stated that the motion of an object stayed the same until an outside force change it. When it comes to analyzing Galileo’s standpoint on nature, scripture, and truth, he argued that the humanity had to begin solving physical problems not from the standpoint of scripture’s authority but from sense-experiences. Also, the scientist argued that religious authorities had to speak about phenomena that were different from the absolute truth presented in the Bible t o educate their societies (Cole et al. 391).
To conclude, the science was revolutionary in the seventeenth century since it shifted the focus from the theological orientation of the world to discoveries that completely changed the way the society perceived the outside world. Despite the fact that some scientists wanted to establish connections between the religious teachings and their discoveries, the church opposed anything that even slightly undermined the teachings of the holy scriptures. Nevertheless, contributions of such scientists as Galileo or Copernicus shaped the way modern science is functioning today.
Cole, Joshua, et al. Western Civilizations: Their History & Their Culture. 3rd ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2012.