Heliocentrism: The Vatican Menace


Heliocentrism: The Vatican Menace
The impact of the Heliocentric Theory
Heliocentric: Relating to the sun as a center; appearing as if seen from the sun's center.(Webster,447) The heliocentric theory was first introduced to the world by a Polish astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus.
Copernicus published his views on the heliocentric theory in his book Commentariolus, in 1514, which sparked the time period now known as the Copernican Revolution. Heliocentrism was proven true by the discoveries of Galileo, Kepler, and Newton; through their efforts to prove the validity of the heliocentric theory people began to find truth in science through experimentation rather than religion with no proof. Many scientists went through great ordeals for their scientific beliefs, thus making the heliocentric theory the most electrifying idea in human history.
Ancient people's believed in Gods and deities for causes to nature and the unexplained. Once the fourth century BC rolled around, people began to see astronomical phenomena as natural compound products of simple operations repeated in perpetuity rather than the actions of Gods. (Morphet, p.6) Greeks did not revere celestial bodies very strongly in their religion, despite having deities for the Sun and Moon. (North, p.78) Different peoples beliefs varied greatly in ancient times. Different countries progressed in thought at different speeds. During the Renaissance, many began to toss aside medieval preoccupations with supernatural forces and turned to secular concerns like fame. (Yamasaki, p.50) With the Age of Discovery, people began to think for themselves and ponder truths through philosophy, science, astronomy, astrology, etc.
Philosophers' minds began to turn, the human mind was finally awake.
Plato, a famous Greek philosopher, believed stars were Gods that the creator gave life to. This view was very influential and proved to be sort of a religion for intellectual idealists, no longer for the populace. At the time, the thought of heavenly bodies being divine, and stars being eternal objects in unchanging motion were common knowledge. Thinking otherwise was considered Atheistic. (North, p.78)
Fellow famous Renaissance man, and Plato's pupil, Aristotle, was also a very important figure. Born in Stagira in 384, Aristotle is regarded as the most influential ancient philosopher of the sciences. Aristotle refined Callippus' geometrical and spherical concepts, and developed the geocentric theory, which was believed for two thousand years. (North, p.80)
Aristotle believed that the sphere is the most perfect figure because when rotated to any diameter it occupies the same space; and that circular motions are a sign of perfection, which is why Heaven is considered divine. The spherical nature of the Earth and Universe according to Aristotle, is the natural movement of Earthly matter from all places downwards, to a center, around which a sphere of matter will build up. Only circular motion is capable of endless repetition without a reversal of direction, and rotary motion is prior to linear because what is external, or at least could have always existed, is prior, or at least potentially prior, to what is not.
In Aristotle's book De Caelo (On the Heavens), he speaks of the celestial sphere, the Earth's center being the same shape, and dismissing the idea of the Earth rotating at the center of the universe. He also dismisses the idea of an orbital motion of the Earth. (North, p.81)
Contradicting Aristotle, Heracleides, an astronomer, believed in the rotation of the Earth on it's axis and is known to be the earliest astronomer to stand by it. He was thought to have taken the first step in Copernicanism. It is believed in the years to follow that Copernicus was said to have mentioned Heracleides' name in this connection. (North, p.85)
Aristarchus of Samos was the first astronomer to clearly put forth a true sun-centered theory, learned from Archimedes. (North, p.85) ...Aristarchus' hypotheses are that the fixed stars and the Sun are stationary, that the Earth is carried in a circular orbit around the Sun, which lies in the middle of it's orbit, and that the spheres of fixed stars, having the same center as the Sun, is so great in extent that the circle on which the Earth is supposedly carried is in the same ratio to the distance of the sphere has to its surface. (North, p.85-6) If Aristarchus did believe in heliocentrism, he still could not prove the differences in the Earth's motion and seasons, which explains