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There have been many remarkable ages in the history of mankind. All of these periods and achievements have undoubtedly assisted in shaping our present and impending future. However, there is one period in our time which has shaped our modern world simultaneously with the advancement of the scientific disciplines. This period of time is known as the “Scientific Revolution” and what allows it to stand out from all others is the affect it had on societal views of the natural world. The progression of astronomy, physics, and mathematics alone figuratively transformed the natural world in to a tangible, observable, and experimental playground for ideas. From the explosion of these new ideas, the world merrily moved towards a period of intellectual collection of social thought, marking us as a more civil people.
There is no definitive process in determining which age was the most influential during its period. The discussion of importance and significance is generally demarcated by the historians’ scientific desire. Of course, there is little argument against the idea that all knowledge gained generously aids in the conception of other innovative ideas. This is the elegance of scientific thought in conjunction with the natural world, the aforementioned operates in a symbiotic fashion. But ideas generated during the Renaissance truly came to fruition and culmination during the Scientific Revolution.
The Scientific Revolution occurred from the 17th until the late 18th century in Europe. However, there is no specific period in which can be definitively established. The revolution was brought on by the ushering of pre-modern scientific ideas and theories. So, the definitive timeline will differ from person to person depending on their perception of revolutionary achievement. The participants of this time period were some of the most astute and determined scientists of any period before or after. In order to achieve what was shaped for modern-science, these intellectuals had to fight against ideas that were established over a millennium earlier. The Catholic Church was an unavoidable and ruthless enemy to the sciences early in the revolution. For example, Galileo Galilei was forced to condemn his scientific discoveries on a heliocentric universe, which he had so proudly sponsored. Though, Giordano Bruno an Italian Monk was burned at the stake by the Catholic Church for the same promotion of ideas. This was the beginning of modern science and the inevitable but shaky truce between science and God.
Notably there were many men and women who deserve accolades and awards of immense proportions. But there was one man who made the universe tangible and observable to every one of us, Isaac Newton. Isaac Newton was many things to include a mathematician, astronomer, physicist, and Christian. None of his ideas specifically contradicted the church, so he was free to work as he pleased. Though, he did reject the idea of the holy trinity, he did not make it public. This was likely due to possibly losing funding and being condemned which would have severely hindered his research. All of his achievements are of the utmost significance to the present, but his theories are not specifically what had the most impact during his period. His ideas were commendable but they also reinforced the theories of his predecessors.
When the contender is evidence based the opponent will always be human emotion and bias. This was surely the case in the 1600s when information and knowledge was generally disseminated by the clergy. Only in the case of scientific advancement was this unfortunate scenario. During these times men of the cloth were a figurative enforcer of Gods commandments; but much of science contradicts their beliefs. Before Isaac Newton and his theory on gravity and the laws of motion there was a man by the name of Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus was developing the theory of heliocentricity which was considered heresy by the church. Heliocentricity is the theory that is now common knowledge, the Earth and all other celestial objects in our system orbit around the Sun. The church however believed that the Earth was the center of the Universe. His ideas were only whispered amongst the people until his death. His book “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” was then published which described an alternative view of the Universe. This was not published until his death because of the possible criticism and apprehension that he may have received from the church. However, Newton took Copernicus’ idea of heliocentricity and refined it further by creating a new branch of mathematics called calculus.
Isaac Newton continued refining ideas from his predecessors by observing the natural world. Johannes Keppler developed the Laws of Planetary Motion which took the orbiting objects in our system from a circular orbit to an elliptical one. This could be seen as a foundation or a culmination of Isaac Newton many years later with his Laws of Gravitation. Gravity, inertia, and force maintained Kepplers’ theory and could not exist without it. However, without planetary motion gravity would have no purpose for existence. Even though he was a brilliant originator of new and amazing ideas; his contribution to science and society was much more.
For his entire life Newton was a devout Christian who used this theologian roots to influence his adventure into discovery. He could be described now as a creationist vice an evolutionist. That being said, he utilized his intellect to describe and unravel the mechanics of the Universe but insisted that it not be defined as a machine. To quote he said, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done”. His conviction was to his God but his desire was the observation and explanation of the unknown. Though, he wasn’t a conventional Christian of that time and spoke most of his beliefs in private. This led to the designation as a natural philosopher during his lifetime. Religion has been undeniably a significant hindrance to the advancement of science. That is to say that ideas of those who rejected the idea of an orthodox omnipotent being were rejected and disavowed. This is a blatant occurrence of bias as those under the church that developed ideas were used to explain the Universe as the church believed.
Fortunately, regardless of Newton’s religious beliefs, his findings are still accurate and relevant today. Many would contest that the success of an era is established by the accomplishments and advancements alone. On the contrary, it’s the further development of previous ideas, especially those that were rejected by the ignorant majority. This challenge against the establishment is what allowed for Isaac Newton to pave the way for the societal changes leading to the Enlightenment. Albeit, there were numerous contributors to the subsequent change in the shift in society. But none were as prominent or effectual as the man who unraveled the mystery of gravity whom inspired Albert Einstein himself.
Not only was he a pioneer in multiple scientific disciplines and ensued that those martyred before him were not murdered in vain. His work remains commonplace in the modern era and are ever enduring. Unfortunately like many accomplishments, it is unlikely he could perceive the future of his work and how he eventually shaped the future for his species. When studying theoretical ideas and reaching conclusions, it is generally the generation or next that benefit from the labor. This differs in respect to said fields such as medicine where the discovery of sanitation could be implemented immediately and near instant results would confirm the success. It is quite unlikely that the desire for instant reward was as ingrained into society as it is today.
Some of the greatest accomplishments will not always be observable, quantifiable, or probably even perceivable. That is to say that not all success is measured and tangible presently. To fully appreciate and realize how an invention, theory, or person has affected an era simple remove the abovementioned from it’s present. Depending on what was removed it is likely that said element would still have been discovered clearly later in the timeline. But if Isaac Newton were removed from his timeline his previous present would look much different as would the future. His ideas were both standalone and supporting of previous scientists that also created and merged foundations in the scientific community. The way that he challenged the church non-confrontationally with his religious and scientific beliefs helped to transform society. By showing the masses that you can believe in science and have faith in religion while allowing them to support one another, was likely the Scientific Revolution’s greatest achievement.
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