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View Full Version : Was Copernicus "Accepted" by the Church?



Starshark
2006-Aug-18, 04:26 PM
Hello, all. I'm a history student, currently I'm studying the Renaissance (and the Vietnam War... but there isn't a lot of astronomy in that course...).

I'm doing a tutorial presentation (I don't know how you do it in the US, but at my university, students take it in turn to present the weekly tutorial with a 'topic for the week'. A bit like 'show and tell' for University students.) on Copernicus, Galileo, and the Scientific Revolution.

Now, I had once heard that Copernicus's theories were accepted, privately, by the Church because they allowed for a more accurate calendar. In fact, I had heard that Copernicus was in fact recruited by the church to try to make the calendar more accurate. Publicly was a different matter, of course - we couldn't admit that the Bible isn't the True word of God, now, could we?

Does anyone know where I could find info on this? Failing that, any good resources on Copernicus and reactions to his theories? Sites with primary evidence would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help.




(I am doing my own research on this, but I like to ask BB's for additional information as it increases my chances of finding that odd bit of detail no-one else has considered.)

Gillianren
2006-Aug-18, 04:55 PM
If it's secret, it's really secret--as in, the Church hasn't released it even now. However, given Copernicus's own fears--which he told several people--I should say it's very unlikely. After all, how would the Church have known what he was working on? He didn't publish until he was dying.

George
2006-Aug-18, 11:41 PM
Now, I had once heard that Copernicus's theories were accepted, privately, by the Church because they allowed for a more accurate calendar.
There is a bargain priced book out at Barnes and Noble on six great scientists. I think it is even named something close to that. Also, click the Universe Today icon above and there is a new book out on Copernicus being plugged by Fraser. It looks great.

Allow me a little slack on the following, because I could be off a little....

Copernicus was very educated, thanks to a benevolent Uncle (I think). Power, politics, and the "church" were highly integrated back then. Most everyone of power were favorable in action toward the church, ignoring the reformation issues. Copernicus, however, grew up on the fringe of this society which afforded a little more freedom, I believe.

He studied under an astronomer of acclaim, though I can't recall his name, and became respected himself. He did help greatly with the calenders per the request of the church. However, he may not have used his heliocentric approach to prepare them. Ptolemy's geocentric version was slightly more accurate, but more complicated. Copernicus did not know about eliptical orbits, so his simple approach was not more reliable, but more pragmatic. Also, he had the conviction that his model was the truthful representation.


I had heard that Copernicus was in fact recruited by the church to try to make the calendar more accurate. Publicly was a different matter, of course - we couldn't admit that the Bible isn't the True word of God, now, could we?
I am not aware that he felt the Bible was the problem; it was the church's adoption of Aristotle and Ptolemy (neither Christians) that evolved into a polemic dogma. However, your suggestion that he would not wish to voice opposition is still correct.

You should find where Martin Luther had met him. Albeit, Luther vehemently rejected the heliocentric views. I haven't seen anyone offer any specifics on this meeting.

There is another book out there entitled something like "the greatest book no one read". It is about the author's search for copies of the masterpiece of Copernicus and how the "scientists" of his day responded. It appears few ever studied Copernicus' limited publication.

It does appear Copernicus deliberately postponned his publication till his death bed. He did recieve a copy, but was quite upset when he saw the unapproved introduction by his "friend" which downplayed the idea that heliocentrism was a possible truthful representation of the solar system.

papageno
2006-Aug-18, 11:54 PM
It does appear Copernicus deliberately postponned his publication till his death bed. He did recieve a copy, but was quite upset when he saw the unapproved introduction by his "friend" which downplayed the idea that heliocentrism was a possible truthful representation of the solar system.
It seems that the "It's just a theory, not a fact" disclaimer saved the book from being put on the Index immediately. So its ideas could spread for a few decades.
It's only with the mess with Galileo that the Church decided forbid Copernicus's book.

hhEb09'1
2006-Aug-19, 01:25 AM
Ptolemy's geocentric version was slightly more accurate, but more complicated. Copernicus did not know about eliptical orbits, so his simple approach was not more reliable, but more pragmatic. Also, he had the conviction that his model was the truthful representation.He used circular orbits, so in order to fit the paths of the planets, he also had to use epicycles--more, in fact, than Ptolemy's method, according to Koestler. His insistence upon circles also led Galileo astray, as Galileo seemed to refuse to acknowledge Kepler's work.

George
2006-Aug-19, 04:37 AM
He used circular orbits, so in order to fit the paths of the planets, he also had to use epicycles--more, in fact, than Ptolemy's method, according to Koestler. His insistence upon circles also led Galileo astray, as Galileo seemed to refuse to acknowledge Kepler's work.
I had not heard he had more epicycles than Ptolemy. It is my understanding he had to use them, for the reason you gave, but he did not use the equants of Ptolemy which added to Ptolemy's complexity.

It is also my understanding he was surprisingly indifferent toward Kepler. I think there was at least one correspondence between them, but I could be wrong. Galileo acquired more fame than I had assumed. His popularity may have made him a bit big-headed. His battle over sunspot discovery with the Jesuits may have precipitated much of his headaches; up till then, he had been pretty tight with the pope.

adamsoltan
2006-Aug-20, 05:48 PM
In stead of guessing why not look it all up. The following links should be of help:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copernicus
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04352b.htm
The first one is to Wikipedia and the second one is to The Catholic Encyclopedia. Both articles should clarify all the misunderstundings about the catholic church's role and involvement in the whole matter too, ie Copernicus was never denounced by the Church.

Good luck with your work, Starshark.

/Adam

George
2006-Aug-21, 03:06 PM
Was his famous book ever translated to English?

adamsoltan
2006-Aug-21, 07:23 PM
A quick search on the net rendered this: http://webexhibits.org/calendars/year-text-Copernicus.html . I don't know whether this really is the full text but it looks that way to me. Amazon.com seems to have something (look for "On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres") but I can't get an answer from their server right now.

Regards,
/Adam

hhEb09'1
2006-Aug-21, 08:54 PM
A quick search on the net rendered this: http://webexhibits.org/calendars/year-text-Copernicus.html . I don't know whether this really is the full text but it looks that way to me. [/SIZE]I'm not familiar with the actual text itself, but that seems to say that it is only the intros and book one, of six.

George
2006-Aug-21, 10:24 PM
A quick search on the net rendered this: http://webexhibits.org/calendars/year-text-Copernicus.html . I don't know whether this really is the full text but it looks that way to me. Amazon.com seems to have something (look for "On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres") but I can't get an answer from their server right now.

hhEb09'1 seems to be right - one of six, maybe. You would think, however, they would have stated how complete, or incomplete, their text was compared to the original.

It is rather cryptic. Just when I see him going one direction, he turns and dashes down a dark hole. It's like chasing a rabbit. :)

It wouldn't happen to be in "On the Shoulders of Giants" would it?

George
2006-Aug-22, 02:01 AM
I found a copy of it, in English!!!

It was on my bookshelf. :wall: :o It's in Hawking's On the Shoulders of Giants. It is about 355 pages long, too.

adamsoltan
2006-Aug-22, 05:25 AM
I'm not familiar with the actual text itself, but that seems to say that it is only the intros and book one, of six.
Darn! When they say "full text" (title of the document) you'd think it actually is full text.

/Adam