Copernicus , 1473-1543 Prussia, turning the universe inside out in faith and science

Hi Max,

Here is a Christian canon in the church who followed Buridan’s idea that observations are better than speculations. He discovered that the earth revolved around the sun! It may be obvious to us now but it definitely wasn’t back then. Caused no end of strife, but you see that in a lot of these stories. He is another in the series of pioneers of science who were also people of faith. We are getting closer a nd closer to present day, so stay with me on this. Cheers.

Nicolaus Copernicus 1473-1543 Prussia

was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center.[a]

Copernicus was born and died in Royal Prussia, a region of the Kingdom of Poland since 1466. Copernicus had a doctorate in canon law, that is, the law of the church, though not himself a priest) and, though without degrees, was a physician, polyglot, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, and economist. In 1517 he set down a quantity theory of money, a principal concept in economics to the present day.

The publication of Copernicus’ book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), just before his death in 1543, is considered a major event in the history of science. It began the Copernican Revolution and contributed importantly to the scientific revolution.

He withheld publication of his theories for fear, not of the church authorities as is commonly stated, but from other astronomers who were wed to Aristotle and Ptolemy, according to Alvin Schmidt (226). Indeed, Copernicus wrote:

Therefore, when I considered this carefully, the contempt which I had to fear because of the novelty and apparent absurdity of my view, nearly induced me to abandon utterly the work I had begun.
Copernicus – De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543)

Arthur Koestler called Copernicus ‘the timid canon’. Though a Catholic, it was his Lutheran friends , Rheticus and Osiander, who persuaded him to publish and gave great help to do so, and that the Lutheran prince (Duke Albrecht of Prussia) subsidized the publication. It is said he held the published work in his hands only on his death bed.

To know the mighty works of God, to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power; to appreciate, in degree, the wonderful workings of His laws, surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge. As quoted in Poland : The Knight Among Nations (1907) by Louis E. Van Norman, p. 290.

To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.

How exceedingly vast is the godlike work of the Best and Greatest Artist!

The Universe has been wrought for us by a supremely good and orderly Creator.

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