A paradigm is one’s world view in which one understands his place in it. Copernicus, Galileo, Vesalius, Linneaus, Luewenhoek, and Newton were all medieval scientists, whose work changed people’s lives and the world. The way man viewed the universe in which he lived, the world of nature that surrounded him, and even his own physical anatomy changed right before him.
Scientists, like Galileo, disproved the heliocentric model as new instruments like the telescope were invented. The way in which man saw his own physical anatomy changed when Andreas Vesalius completed detailed studies of the human body. Due to these new, groundbreaking studies man began to view himself as insignificant and as a machine.First came the Geocentric model that showed the earth as being the center of the universe, the sun and other planets were shown revolving around the earth, with heaven shown beyond the crystalline shell. It wasn’t until Nicholas Copernicus published his writing, “On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres,” that people began to question this idea. The writing was so complicated that the vast majority of the population of Europe could not understand its meaning and ideas that it contained.
This writing stated that the earth was not the center of the universe, and the sun and other planets did not revolve around it. The writing did state, however, that the earth and other planets revolved around the sun. Since very few Europeans could understand the writing, it was not considered a threat to the Catholic Church at the time. To be safe the Catholic Church did ban Copernicus’ ideas. It was not until an Italian scientist named Galileo Galilei published a book and redisplayed the idea of a heliocentric universe. This time the idea was expressed using simple language, and this time the Church felt an immediate threat.
The Catholic Church believed that Galileo was mocking the Church-approved ideas of Ptolemy and their geocentric model. The Catholic Church sentenced Galileo to house arrest for the remainder of his life, but his ideas of a heliocentric universe remained strong. This idea changed man’s whole view of his significance and place in the universe. Now, man was no longer the center of everything. Man was not as important as he originally thought. This also meant that the Church was not preaching the truth, and that the Bible and Aristotle were wrong.
This raised questions about the validity of the rest of the Bible and Aristotle’s teachings. During the Scientific Revolution, scientists developed ways to make more precise, and more reliable observations. The new scientists challenged the assumptions of past scientists. Zacharias Janssen invented the first microscope.
Anton van Leuwenhoek used a microscope to observe bacterium and red blood cells. Galileo made the first thermometer using alcohol for measuring temperatures. Later, a German physicist named Gabriel Fahrenheit developed the first thermometer using mercury. In 1655, Evangelista Torricelli developed the barometer.
The barometer measured atmospheric pressure. The barometer proved that the weather could be predicted, and therefore God did not control the weather. This new information disturbed the Catholic Church. Again, they were caught preaching the wrong information. Galileo proved Aristotle wrong when he rolled balls down a slope, measuringthe speed at which they moved. This data led him to the conclusion that a falling object accelerates at a fixed and predictable rate.
Aristotle stated that a falling object accelerated in accordance with its mass, again Aristotle was proved wrong. These new discoveries disturbed man, and the way in which he viewed and understood nature. New scientists and their experiments were disproving everything that man had previously known to be true. Andreas Vesalius did not accept the Roman Galen’s authority of human anatomy since it was based on animal dissections. Previous knowledge of the human anatomy was quite inaccurate. Drawings studied by Medieval medical students were not proportional, and showed incomplete structures of the human body.
During the 11th and 12th centuries, dissections were common. Despite this, faulty pictures were still used to instruct young doctors. Vesalius performed many human dissections, and would strip each layer away from the body one at a time. As he performed these dissections, he would draw and document what it was he saw. These documentations led to new ways to treat ailing people and anew understanding of the human body.
Before, the human body was considered a temple, now it was seen as more of a machine. As new discoveries were made, man felt more and more insignificant in the vast world.”Knowledge,” and the expectations of those who seek “knowledge,” was greatly transformed from the years 1200 AD to 1500 AD. Now, instead of simply believing in what someone previously said to be true, people experimented and searched for the truth themselves. Like machines, man, nature, the universe, and medicine were starting to be viewed as things that were adjustable and undefined.
Science in the medieval times was based on two main sources: the Bible and Greek scientists, especially Aristotle. The Bible was the first place anyone looked for answers to specific questions. If the answers were not found in the scriptures, people would look to Aristotle. Whatever he said, if it wasn’t contradicted in the Bible, was considered fact. Man’s traditional reliance on religious faith was demolished when the teachings of the Bible and Aristotle were disproved.
Their paradigm was shaken, and thepeople were confused as to who and what to believe. They were thrown into an age of the unknown. New science and new technology contradicted everything they previously believed to be true. Scriptures from the Bible were wrong, and so were the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The belief in the special “divinely inspired” nature of man was also proven to be wrong. Man was no longer considered the center of the universe. In all actuality, man was quite insignificant. The paradigm in which man was most comfortable had once again shifted. All of the new innovations left the human society in a state of confusion. Who is right? Should they believe the writings and teachings of the Bible, or should they believe the facts presented to them by the new scientists? The Catholic Church’s strict influence over the people did not allow them to answer these questions on their own at this period of time in history.
For the most part, the people still believed what the Church said was the truth. The Church remained a strong influence by leading their people to believe that if they wanted to go to Heaven they would not believe the new information unless the Church recognized it as the truth. Therefore, they would continue to believe what the Bible, Aristotle, and the Church said was true.