The Minds behind the method
Discovery: A function of context and time
Social and religious influences on investigation and discovery
For as long as the Church has been established, it has had a major influence on philosophers in regards to their progression or stagnation of science or any other form of study they attempted to pursue. These philosophers, dating back to the ancients all the way up to the founders of modern thought, had to constantly tip toe their way around any major breakthrough that they came across. If any piece of their new discoveries or thoughts contradicted the Bible in any way, whoever started the fire would immediately be extinguished through torture and public execution.
Copernicus was very active within the church and had a good relationship with the church. Despite his admiration, Copernicus did not have his hypotheses that the Earth is in motion while the sun sits immovable at the center of the universe, published until 36 years had passed. He noted that, “They will immediately shout to have me and my opinion hooted off the stage.” It was only the encouragement from a cardinal and a bishop that Copernicus considered publication at all. Copernicus says in his letter to Pope Paul III, “But my friends made me change my course in spite of my long-continued hesitation and even resistance. First among them was Nicholas Schonberg, Cardinal of Capua, a man distinguished in all branches of learning; next to him was my devoted friend Tiedeman Giese, Bishop of Culm, a man filled with the greatest zeal for the divine and liberal arts: for he in particular urged me frequently and even spurred me on by added reproaches into publishing this book and letting come to light a work which I had kept hidden among my things for not nearly nine years, but for almost four times nine years.” Even in Galileo’s Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, he spoke of Copernicus’s respectable affiliation to the church. “Having reduced his system into six books, he published these at the instance of the Cardinal of Capua and the Bishop of Culm. Since he had assumed his laborious enterprise by order of the supreme pontiff, he dedicated the book On the Celestial Revolutions to Pope Paul III. When printed, the book was accepted by the holy church, and it has been read and studied by everyone without the faintest hint of any objection ever being conceived against its doctrines.”
In the case of Copernicus, the church played a strong advocate in the progress of Copernicus’s ultimate publication and study of his work.
However, for Galileo it was very different. There was a constant back and forth between him and the Church. As he sought to prove the Copernican theory, which the Earth rotated around the Sun while spinning on its axis by the motion of the tides, the church voted against it and threatened Galileo to be silenced if he continued to pursue the matter. It was Pope Paul V that gave the order to Cardinal Bellarmine, also known as the “hammer of the heretics”, to warn Galileo against defending the Copernican theory. The church then banned all books regarding the Copernican theory and Galileo agreed to keep his mouth shut. He was then given a second chance after traveling to Rome to speak with Pope Urban VIII. Pope Urban granted Galileo permission in continuing to pursuit the Copernican theory on the strict condition that Galileo would only write hypothetically. Of course being the arrogant man that he was, Galileo still strongly endorsed the Copernican theory and further sabotaged his book by using a character that represented the Pope, which Galileo called “Simplicio” or the simpleton. Not appreciating his sense of humor, the church had Galileo brought before the Inquisition. Galileo plead guilty in order to gain a lenient sentence, and was thrown under house arrest for the remainder of his years. It…