Donna Kwon March 13, 2008
Mrs. Hannah Social Studies
Describe some key breakthroughs of the Scientific Revolution of the 1500s and 1600s. Then explain
how these breakthroughs affected European ideas about the universe, human nature, and the role
of religion in society.
The Enlightenment. The height of the scientific epoch, age of reason, and the creator of
the raucous western ‘saloons’. During this time, the eighteenth century, the way of thought was
forevermore altered, changing not only the minds of the unsuspecting people of Europe, but
also leaving an impact on European ideas the size of Jupiter. This was the time of change, and
change was much obliged to enter the playing field. Sweeping through the smallest continent of
the world, an evolution of science that would challenge everything that was stood for then,
What if I told you that the moon was made of cheese? Would you believe me? What if I
said that Ahmadinejad was going to blow MMMS off the face of the planet? Would you believe
me? Of course not, you say. Ridiculous, is it not? What if I told you that the Earth was the center
of the universe? Would you believe this? Would you lock me up in an asylum? Perhaps? Well,
this was one of the beliefs of the poor souls in Europe before the Enlightenment. To them, it was
taken for granted that the universe revolved around them. They hadn’t really given it a second
thought that they might have been mistaken. Until the Enlightenment, of course. The beliefs that
they held seem not only ludicrous to us now, but also cause us to wonder how people thought
back then. How could they not know that the Sun was the center of our solar system? How
could they not know all of the information that we know today? Simple. Scientific knowledge in
that age was merely completely burried under years of neglegence and missuse.
Before the Scientific Revolution, people seemed to think that Earth was the most
important planet; that God had thought of them before all else and created a universe that
revolved around them. Document 1 shows Ptolemy’s view on the universe, a belief that had
been held ever since then. You can see the Earth in the center of the seven rings; seven, because
Unranus, Neptune, and Pluto, which is no longer a planet, had not yet been discovered.
Document 2 illustrates for us the new proposal Copernicus asserted during the early 1500s.
Thanks to years of research and observation of the solar system, Copernicus was able to realize
that an Earth-centered universe did not make sense. His diagram shows a Sun-centered universe,
which baffled Europe. Imagine the people’s shock to realize that God had not, in fact, bestowed the honor of being the center to Earth and instead, to the Sun. This realization was one
significant aspect of the Enlightenment.