Scientific revolution

The science of the middle ages was dominated by dogma, scholasticism, and traditions of the church. All of this was about to change. Enter the scientific revolution. The scientific revolution challenged the authority of the past by changing the traditional way of pursing scientific knowledge, undermining the religious limitation and control of scientific discovery, and broadening how science was to be used.

First, the scientific revolution changed the traditional way of pursing scientific knowledge. Before the time period of the scientific revolution, scientific studies were handled in the context of a library instead of a laboratory. Many fields were controlled by intense study of classic writings. In the later 1500s there was a shift towards how classic authority was viewed. Scientists were no longer content to simply rely on ancient writings for the truth. Men like Descartes and Brahe explored scientific thought with their own iterations of study and observation. Sir Isaac Newton invented his own mathematical system and established theories on how science is related to identifiable laws of nature. All of these methods of study and thought contributed to the shift from obtaining scientific knowledge from past authority to determining scientific knowledge from experimentation and observation.

Second, the scientific revolution undermined the religious limitation and control of scientific discovery. In the middle ages the church dominated everything from private life to determining those who ruled countries. As nation’s leaders began to throw off the authority of the church, so science began to throw off the supposed scientific authority of the church. The most obvious example of this seen by the church’s attempt to silence Galileo’s findings. Galileo confirmed that the heliocentric theory was true via his invention of the telescope. Galileo was tried by the papacy and forced to confess that he was wrong. By the time of Sir Isaac Newton, England had thrown off the shackles of the papacy and Sir Newton was able to flourish in his attempts to explain the natural universe. As more countries departed from the Roman Catholic Church’s leading, the more open their citizens were to seeking their own scientific answers. Observation and fact was seen as more rational instead of the church’s opinion.

Lastly, the scientific revolution broadened how science was to be used. During the Middle Ages, scientific knowledge was mainly used to support the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching and further scholasticism. All this changed in the scientific revolution. Now, men wanted to develop their own explanations for how things worked. Kepler used mathematical equations and theory to explain planetary orbits while Descartes used his own mind to question the world around him. The Royal society directly combated dogma by employing laboratory experiments and natural observation. The crest of the Royal Society reads Nullius in verba or “On the word of no man.” The society directed their own exploration of the sciences through repeated experimentation, gathering of concrete evidence, and the creation of practical things such as botanical gardens. The scientific revolution effectively broke the mold of controlling entities and early scientists themselves were able to use methods as they saw fit.

As the scientific revolution challenged the authorities of the past, it gave rise to new methods and theories that have dominated the core of what we call modern science. The desire for tangible proof, repeatable experimentation, and facts determined by the senses are all valued contributions from the scientific revolution. These contributions could not have been made without challenges presented by the scientific revolution.

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