Setting the story of the heliocentric conception of the universe in the context of its time is more interesting than TV talking points:
A man of both science and faith, Copernicus lived during a time of great change in Europe. A new flowering of humanist thought was spreading throughout the continent, as scholars and artists looked back to the classical era and brought its influence to bear on art, architecture, literature, politics, and science. After Martin Luther published his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, a religious revolution began that would roil the Catholic Church and form new denominations. Throughout all this tumult, Copernicus held fast at the center, methodically crafting his own astronomical revolution…
A century before Galileo’s persecution, the church’s attitude to- ward astronomy was more open. The Julian calendar, then in use, had become so inexact that it fell out of time with the seasons. Copernicus submitted a statement to a 1512-16 council convened to address the problem, in which he called for more accurate observations. A new “Gregorian” calendar with leap years was introduced under Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and is still in use today.Ernest Kowalczyk, “Copernicus’s revolutionary ideas reorganized the heavens” at National Geographic
The calendar problem was beginning to interfere with agriculture and business. Calendar reform, more than an intellectual thesis, was the astronomy project of the age. Copernicus thought that the calendar couldn’t be reformed using the Ptolemaic system. That, rather than a “war of faith vs. reason” was his driving idea.
Incidentally, if someone had come along and claimed that there is an infinity of infinities of universes out there, including many just like our own, in which anything and anything and nothing can happen, someone else would probably cough politely and say, “Methinks, your worships, that he hath found his way betimes to the mead-cellar … “
See also: What Copernicus Really Thought… Not Your Usual Lecture Room Platitude
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