Galileo and Aristotle’s and their effect on the Science and Religion Debate
Many people believe that science and religion are separate although scientific theory roots can be linked to religion and the church’s view of the world. Religious people and scientist have disagreed for years about what is considered truth when it comes to science and religion but some scientist and religious people with moderate views believe they both can coexist in the world as we know it today. However there are still people that believe the two are mutually exclusive because of theories that have been tested which proves what we once thought was truth could not be, therefore it’s not (Burke). In the paragraphs that follow we will take a closer look at science and religion and how early astronomers Aristotle and Galileo affected how people view the church and science.
Defining Science and Religion
Before the modern period science was not considered a separate from religion. The scientist were known as natural or experimental philosophers. They observed phenomena in nature to categorize data and generalize from specific observations to general observations (Sickler). Science aims at understanding the behavior of the natural world and any propositions that does not pertain to the study of natural empirical objects should not be considered.
Religion can be defined as a collection of beliefs, cultural systems and views that relate humanity into an order of existence. Members of religion are united by a shared belief and according to Sickler it that outwardly recognizable aspect of religion that draws a clear distinct line because science has no ritual behavior.
The troubled relationship between science and religion dates back to the 1600’s when Galileo Galilei, an astronomer, philosopher and mathematician that is known by all because of his development of his own version of the telescope after learning about a simple telescope made by Dutch eyeglass makers discovered the earth revolved around the sun. With his telescope, Galileo compiled observable features of our solar system that were in conflict with early claims of Aristotle. He discovered there were four moons in Jupiter’s orbit, Venus had phases like the moon and the moon was full of peaks and valleys and not smooth as Aristotle claimed (Sickler).
Galileo supported Copernican science and his theory was based on heliocentrism. This discovery shook the church because its foundation was based on Aristotle’s science. Aristotle was philosopher who believed that the universe was finite and spherical with a stationary earth at its center (Anderson). During that era science and church were intertwined which meant if Aristotle’s theory was wrong then Christianity as they knew was wrong. This began a conflicted relationship between science and religion or Copernican science vs. Aristotelian science. The church was faced with making a decision between two models and to settle the dispute they swayed toward the Aristotelian because it naturally fit the claims of the Bible and a broader scientific framework. Though both seemed to fit, only one fit the holy word naturally therefore requiring less radical change and a retooling of the of an entire body of scientific knowledge. It was that decision by the church not empirical superiority which many believe that set the stage for a debate that is still being argued today.
Galileo/Aristotle on Motion
Galileo attended the University of Pisa where he had the opportunity to study the works of Aristotle. He began to question what we call the Aristotelian approach to physics. This was the belief heavier objects fell faster through a medium than objects with lighter weight (Burke). The Aristotelian approach offered a framework and a powerful methodology for thinking and writing about cosmology, meteorology, psychology, matter theory, motion,