The Protestant Reformation
The writings and actions of Martin Luther form a critical piece of history
relative to the Astronomy Revolution, even though he was a Catholic monk desiring
reforms within the Church. While he did not directly affect the science of Astronomy,
his courage to speak out against the institution of the Roman Catholic Church.
His courage to take such a stand was part of the reason why a Polish Canon named
Nicholas Copernicus was able to take his stand. The material contained in this
section is as unbiased an attempt as possible to present the truth in the history
of the intervening years between Ptolemy's Almagast and de Revolutionibus ...
a period of almost 1400 years. Whenever I teach this material in the classroom,
I try to take every precaution to offend no one's religious beliefs or to cast
my opinion in any fashion. I only hope to present the truth as accurately as
possible. It is my greatest hope that you will be encouraged by the reading
of the accounts of Martin Luther and Copernicus to believe that you too can
make a difference in the world.
Reformation is the result of the Martin Luther's 95 Theses in 1517 against the
sale of indulgences.
It began at Diet of Wurms, Germany in 1521 because Luther would not recant his
negative writings against the sale of indulgences as well as the papacy. He
fled to Castle Wartburg for refuge, translated the Latin Bible into German,
and the people read Scripture for themselves, and came to conclusions based
upon what they read instead of what they were told. It was this act of courage
against such a formidible institution as the Church that brought ab out a new
attitude among the people and a willingness to look at the work around them
in a different manner.
To see a more detailed account of the life of Dr. Martin Luther with nice
pictures and anecdotal references, click on the image at right to go to the
Wittenberg, Germany website and follow the links on that page or go
forward to the story of Martin Luther.
Why is this account so central to the teaching of Astronomy. It is my strong
opinion as a teacher that Martin Luther's boldness encouraged other people to
take similar bold steps too. Martin Luther essentially translated the Bible
from Latin into German and encouraged people to read the account for themselves
and draw their own conclusions. Instead of taking the words of a priest or bishop
as sole and final authority, one now could open a Bible in their own language,
read and study, and make self-determination of the import of Scriptures. Soon
afterward, Nicholas Copernicus was to make a bold statement contrary to the
teachings of the Church. His rethinking of the order of the solar system opened
the door for all mankind to study the world around them in a scientific manner.
One needed only to look at the evidence in the natural world and make their
own conclusion about how things above were ordered.
Two men, Martin Luther in 1521 and Nicholas Copernicus in 1543 encouraged people
to look at the evidence for themselves and draw their own conclusions. The Protestant
Reformation and the Copernican Revolution were perhaps one of the greatest turning
points in the history of man. No longer would church leaders be called upon
to interpret the creation from merely a Biblical foundation. Science leaped
from the Dark Ages. Copernicus
would rethink the geocentric model of Ptolemy,
Kepler would correctly interpret the sky maps of Tycho
Brahe and validate Copernicus, Galileo
would visually confirm the Copernican model, and Isaac
Newton would lay down the physical laws which govern the motions of the
planets and their moons.
Now that you have finished this reading about the Protestant Reformation,
you should return to the continuation of the history of Astronomy and learn
what contribution Copernicus made, emboldened by the writings of Martin Luther.
Click on Copernicus
to continue this study, or return to the History
Introduction, the Syllabus
or even the Home page.
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