The Scientific Revolution

Here is a timeline for the Scientific Revolution

Readings for the Scientific Revolution:


Please read the recommended sections (you’re invited to read more, but only about 6 pages are required) in that document as well as the required section in your textbook (McKay 486-496).

Then go to 

to answer the questions under the scientific revolution.

Biblical Conceptions of the Universe–from the Hebrew Bible

Ptolemy’s Universe – 2nd Century AD

  • Geocentric
  • Fixed, Motionless Earth
  • All spheres orbit the earth

Copernicus (1473-1543)

(Sources 206-209) On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

  • Heliocentric
  • Immobile sphere of fixed stars

The Renaissance

•Italians realized they were living in a new era.
•They turned away from the gloom of the medieval period and towards the light of human achievement.
•In reaction to superstition they returned to classical Greek and Roman texts, art and culture.
•The study of the classics was encouraged by the fall of Byzantium at the hands of the Ottomans which saw waves of scholars and texts arrive in Italy.
•Reading was encouraged by the evolution of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1440s.
•The press combines the technologies of block printing, metal work and paper manufacturing (recently imported from China).
•Between 1450 and 1500 between 8 and 20 million books were printed in Europe.
What were the consequences of all this reading?
•Reading and Printing became available to a far greater number of people.
•Those who opposed King’s, Government’s, States, Businesses or the Church could spread their opinion.
•Attempts to crack down on printers were unsuccessful.
But Wait!
Was it really so picture-perfect, this revolution of the printing press? Did it really lead to a sudden burst of freedom of speech?
Harvard historian Ann Blair doesn’t seem to think so. Printing presses cost money. Who had money? Kings, nobles, and their ilk. So, as much as we might like to imagine that printing presses unleashed the newly literate masses, it’s equally conceivable (though less romantic) that Kings and Nobles, Knights and Dons were really the beneficiaries of this new technology. It made their messages that much easier to spread. Be suspicious of the easy association of the Printing press and the Enlightenment, as if one lead to the other. Several centuries separates them, and, as we’ll see, the Enlightenment was hardly the hallmark of freedom its often proclaimed to be.
One of the most important of the humanists, Erasmus, decried the new printing press in much the same way some might decry the internet. As Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker puts it: “Everyone complained about what the new information technologies were doing to our minds. Everyone said that the flood of books produced a restless, fractured attention. Everyone complained that pamphlets and poems were breaking kids’ ability to concentrate, that big good handmade books were ignored, swept aside by printed works that, as Erasmus said, ‘are foolish, ignorant, malignant, libelous, mad.'” Sound familiar?


The Humanists

•Christian Humanists argued that man was made in the image of God.
•Humanists emphasized the individual.
•Education was of central concern.
–Latin grammar
–Political Philosophy
•Humanist education became the standard for upper and middle class men.
•Humanism primarily dealt with the observable world.
•In the realm of politics it was realistic, not idealistic.

Martin Luther

Kepler’s Universe

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)