Aardvark Alley

Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

24 May 2006
  + Nicolaus Copernicus +
24 May AD 1543

Nicolaus CopernicusMikołaj Kopernik was born in Poland in 1473. His parents died when he was twelve and his uncle Lucas Watzenrode assumed responsibility for him and his three siblings. The uncle, soon to be Bishop of Ermland, sent him to the University of Cracow, where Mikołaj studied astronomy. He then matriculated at Bologna (Greek, mathematics, Plato), Padua (law and medicine), and Ferrara (Doctor of Canon Law). At some point during his studies he Latinized his name to the now familiar Nicolaus Copernicus.

He returned home after being elected a canon of Frauenberg Cathedral. There he assisted his uncle until Watzenrode's death. After this, he then opened a free medical clinic for the poor.

Nicolaus's varied interests included theology, poetry, and the natural and social sciences. He seems to have been the first person to formulate what is now known as Gresham's Law, "Bad money drives out good." This means that if there are two kinds of coins in circulation having the same legal or face value, but one is more valuable in terms of its content, consumers will tend to hoard the more valuable coins and spend the less valuable. Soon only the cheaper coins will be in circulation. This idea has been proven out many times, including in the United States, as base metal coins chased their silver equivalents from circulation during the 1960s and beyond.

Above all else, we remember Nicolaus Copernicus as an astronomer. In his day, the common view of the world was the geocentric model — the earth was motionless and all the heavenly bodies revolved around it. However, others held a heliocentric view, believing that the earth moved about the sun. Already a century before Galileo's birth, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa wrote, "When we say that the earth does not move, we mean simply that the earth is the point with reference to which man makes his observations of celestial phenomena."

However, this view was much in the minority and most though that the science proved that the earth sat still amidst all Creation. At the same time, the notion that medieval medieval Christians thought the earth flat has been largely disproved. Among those who never held this view were Dante, who referred to the earth as a sphere in the early 1300's and Thomas Aquinas in the opening portion of his Summa Theologica. Other early "round earth" Christians included the Venerable Bede (see the upcoming post on Thursday) and Irenaeus, already in the late 100s AD. At issue was the motion, not the shape, of the earth.

A unified theory of the cosmos remained a major stumbling block. Because he geocentric model was interwoven with related theories in philosophy, chemistry, physics, music, natural theology, and the like, it seemed that rejecting any single part endangered the whole theory. Ever more accurate measurements ot the celestial bodies, however, imposed ever more increasing burdens upon the defenders of geocentrism. The patches applied by astronomers and mathematicians couldn't cover all the old theory's holes

Copernicus: Planetary OrbitsCopernicus proposed an elegantly simple solution — suppose that the sun, not the earth, was at the center. His first summary of this theory came in 1530 in a paper called the Commentariolus ("little commentary") and received papal approval. He spent the next thirteen years revising it and expanding his heliocentric theory to book length, all the while rechecking his calculations. As he continued, he constantly rewrote his arguments and delayed publication until absolutely certain that he'd not overlooked a thing.

When satisfied that he need add or change nothing, Copernicus entrusted the final draft to Georg Rheticus, a former student who became a professor at Leipzig. Rhaeticus published it there. Lutheran pastor Andreas Osiander added an unauthorized preface stating that the heliocentric model was only a device to simplify computations. He said that Copernicus wrote his heliocentric account as a mere mathematical hypothesis, not as anything containing truth or even great probability. Copernicus received delivery of the printed book, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium ("On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres"), only a few hours before his death in 1543.

His work originally found little opposition. Perhaps it would have slowly entrenched itself throughout Western thought, but De Revolutionibus ran into trouble because of Galileo Galilei. When Galileo quarreled with the Italian University establishment and then with the Pope, the whole geocentric model came into question. Because of this, Copernicus's book was placed on the Index donec corrigetur ("until it be corrected") from 1616 to 1758.

Some of Copernicus's ideas didn't stand the test of time. Because the circle was considered a much more elegant — even perfect — form, he resisted the notion of eliptical orbits (as did Galileo), settling instead for a much more cumbersome system of epicycles. Even after Johannes Kepler insisted that the ellipse was the only orbit that made sense of the data, acceptance of his thought took a number of years.

Collect
Almighty God, who made the heavens to tell Your glory and the firmament to proclaim Your handiwork, we thank You for placing us in a universe governed by Your will according the to laws of Your creation and we bless You for giving us mind capable of studying Your creation and spirits capable of wonder at its majesty; today we praise you especially for the gifts of intellect that You pour out upon your servants Nicolas Copernicus and others, by whom our understanding of the nature of Your creation has been advanced, for our good and Your glory, who live and reign, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
Comments:
Yo, Nic, what's with the girly-looking hair? You look like Austin Scarlett from Bravo's "Project: Runway".
 
In the link to Georg Rheticus it was noted that he "returned to the University of Wittenberg in October 1541, after earlier publishing the trigonometrical sections of the Copernicus De revolutionibus."

Another link in the Wikipedia site points out that Rheticus also included his own tables of sines and cosines (although he did not call them by these names). This was the first published table of cosines, which Rheticus had computed.
 
"Because [t]he geocentric model was interwoven with related theories in philosophy, chemistry, physics, music, natural theology, and the like, it seemed that rejecting any single part endangered the whole theory."

Heliocentrism also was contrary to Scripture according to Lutherans, Calvinists, and Romanists during the Reformation period.

In his _Elements of Physics_, Melanchthon wrote, "The eyes are witnesses that the heavens revolve in the space of twenty-four hours. But certain men, either from the love of novelty, or to make a display of ingenuity, have concluded that the earth moves; and they maintain that neither the eight sphere [the stars] nor the sun revolves. . . Now it is a want of honesty and decency to assert such notions publicly, and the example is pernicious. It is the part of a good mind to accept the truth as revealed by God and to acquiese in it."

In his "Commentary on Genesis," John Calvin also condemned those who asserted that the earth is not at the center of the universe and referred to Psalms 93:1: "The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved." Calvin asked: "Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?"

And, of course, Galileo ran into the opposition of the Roman Church to heliocentrism.
 
Things are not always as clear as they seem...

Geocentricity 101: A beginner's Course

Geocentricity 101, Part I: Basic Principles
Geocentricity 101, Part II: Basic Physics
Geocentricity 101, Part III: Scriptural and Church Position
Geocentricity 101, Supplement: Discussion of Scripture and Church Position

Available on my blog.

Mark Wyatt
www.veritas-catholic.blogspot.com
 
After visiting Mark Wyatt's blog, I must recommend it to my readers.

I, myself, am no foe of such a model. No matter the physical model, however, my geocentrism is most informed my my Christcentrism, especially in His Incarnation.
 
Thanks for the recommendation, and for having an open mind on this topic.

You will be interested to know that Robert Sungenis and Robert Bennett are publishing a book, Galileo Was Wrong, Vol. I, due out any time now. I will likely be announced on Robert Sungenis' site, www.catholicintl.com, soon.

The book is over 1000 pages, and deals mainly with the science of geocentrism; though there is a small amount of eccliastical and Scriptural material. Volume II will deal with the Church view at a future time.

Mark Wyatt
www.veritas-catholic.blogspot.com
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Aurous Effluence
Golden Nuggets from the Aardchives
Fresh Spoor
Recent Posts

Dried Droppings
Complete Archives

2005.06 / 2005.07 / 2005.08 / 2005.09 / 2005.10 / 2005.11 / 2005.12 / 2006.01 / 2006.02 / 2006.03 / 2006.04 / 2006.05 / 2006.06 / 2006.07 / 2006.08 / 2006.09 / 2006.10 / 2006.11 / 2006.12 / 2007.01 / 2007.02 / 2007.03 / 2007.04 / 2007.05 / 2007.06 / 2007.07 / 2007.08 / 2007.09 / 2007.10 / 2007.11 / 2007.12 / 2008.01 / 2008.02 / 2008.03 / 2008.04 / 2008.05 / 2008.06 / 2008.07 / 2008.08 / 2008.09 / 2008.10 / 2008.11 / 2008.12 / 2009.01 / 2009.02 / 2009.03 / 2009.04 / 2009.05 / 2009.06 / 2009.07 / 2010.01 / 2010.10 / 2010.11 / 2011.01 / 2011.02 / 2011.03 / 2011.04 / 2011.05 / 2011.06 / 2011.07 / 2011.08 / 2011.09 / 2011.10 / 2011.11 / 2011.12 / 2012.01 / 2012.02 / 2012.03 / 2012.04 / 2012.05 / 2012.06 / 2012.07 / 2012.08 / 2012.09 / 2012.10 / 2012.11 / 2012.12 / 2013.01 / 2013.02 / 2013.03 / 2013.04 / 2013.05 / 2013.06 / 2013.07 / 2013.08 / 2013.09 / 2013.10 / 2013.11 / 2013.12 / 2014.01 / 2014.02 / 2014.03 / 2014.04 / 2014.05 / 2014.06 / 2014.07 / 2014.08 / 2014.09 / 2014.10 / 2014.11 / 2014.12 / 2015.01 / 2015.02 / 2015.03 / 2015.04 / 2015.05 / 2015.06 / 2015.07 / 2015.08 / 2015.09 / 2015.10 / 2015.11 / 2015.12 / 2016.01 / 2016.02 / 2016.03 / 2016.04 / 2016.05 / 2016.06 / 2016.07 / 2016.08 / 2016.09 / 2016.10 / 2016.11 / 2016.12 / 2017.01 / 2017.02 / 2017.03 / 2017.04 / 2017.05 / 2017.06 / 2017.07 / 2017.08 /

Home of the Aardie
Aardie: The Golden Aardvark Aaward
The Golden Aardvark Aaward

Why the Aardvark?
My Raison d’être
The aardvark is a "down & dirty" critter that spends its life rooting yucky things out of their dark haunts and feasting on their carcasses. Nuff said?

Stay in Touch
Send an E-mail

or
visit aardie on

Create Your Badge

The Big Blogroll O' Vark
& Other Links

Odds 'n' Ends

Site Feed Feedburner
Subscribe in NewsGator Online Add Yahoo News Feed
http://www.wikio.com

eXTReMe Tracker


Aardvark Alley BBOV
CAT-41 Xrysostom
Ask the Pastor Luther Library
Lutheran Confessions The Wittenberg Trail
Cyberbrethren Cranach
Lutheran Blog Directory The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Old Lutheran WorldMag.com
Blogdom of God The G.O.P.
StL Cards Kansas University Jayhawks
Dallas Cowboys KC Chiefs
Wikipedia Bloggernity Search Directory
Spam Poison Blog Universe
Globe of Blogs Blogarama - The Blog Directory
Blogdigger Get Firefox
Blogz Pro-Life Blogs
Listed in LS Blogs Blog Directory & Search engine
PLAZOO Blurt It!
Boing Boing Lileks.com
Coffee Sage January
Luther at the Movies


Lutheran Tidbit of the Day @ www.oldlutheran.com




Terror Alert Level
Terror Alert Level

My Bloginality is ENTP

Add to Technorati Favorites

Technorati search

My Photo
Name:

Ask not what blogging can do for you but what you can do for blogging.


Powered by Blogger