The scientific revolution was a time of radical change throughout Europe. This rapid development of man leads to our modern concept of science. Changes in religion and thought also developed the scientific revolution. Many prominent figures were leaders in this time of growth including Robert Bacon, who developed the scientific method, and Galileo who was able to use the telescope to make important observations. However, only two can be considered the “fathers” of the scientific revolution, and Newton and Descartes laid the foundation of science. These two are the fathers of the scientific revolution because of their questioning of religion, their respective laws that they developed were advanced for the time and their ideas on the heavens were a radical change from the natural philosophy.
Newton believed that our observations determine the truth. His method of reasoning leads him to question church authority by claiming there was no trinity (Newton 343). Newton’s questioning of the church was occurring during the protestant reformation. People in Europe were beginning to look at scriptures for themselves and praying without mediators. Finding our truths can be hard, it’s in human nature to follow people in power. Newton took the first steps in looking for his truth of the world and not a blind truth is given to him by others. Questioning the church also lead Newton to believe that we should love and worship God with all our souls and to worshipping anything else, including saints, was a sin (Newton 345). Newton wanted people to not place so much power in things that weren’t God. We also have a duty to our fellow man and Newton stressed the importance of loving your neighbor (Newton 347).
Newton’s law of gravity was a modern concept that he developed that is still taught today. His contributions to the scientific revolution also played a part in the enlightenment. His law of gravity claims that the universe is ruled by rational law, so in theory, society should be rational as well. Newton’s laws of objects and how forces acted on them set the foundation for modern science and an understanding of the universe that is still being followed today (Newton 269).
The movements of the heavens that Newton developed also strengthened his title of being one of the fathers of the scientific revolution. The heavens are fluid, free of resistance, but follow certain motions caused by the gravitational pull of the planets and sun (Newton 257-259). This changed the way people thought about the universe. This force that was unseen to the eye was powerful enough to cause the motions of the universe. Newton also developed modern ideas of centripetal forces being drawn to the center of the planet.
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Descartes’s challenges of orthodox religious ideas also lead to his contributions to the scientific revolution. His perception and psychological impressions of the universe lead to his reasoning was that there must be a creator because we have this concept of imperfection. The only way we can know that we’re imperfect beings is to know what perfection would be. Our knowledge of perfection comes from God (Dear 85). We know of imperfection because God gave us the understanding of perfection.
Descartes’s laws that he developed lay a foundation of certainty for his method (Dear 83). He claimed that we should never accept anything we can’t know, divide each issue into as many parts as possible, start with simple objects and move to the more complex, layout as many examples as possible and be extensive in discussions. Descartes’s laws are still a modern way to organize scientific thought and his contributions lead to the scientific revolution. He says that our senses deceive us and the knowledge that we gained through our senses will always lack certainty (Dear 84). His ideas on how to look for truth critically and in tiny details enabled him to become a father of the scientific revolution. He said it is easy to find doubt, but also easy to reject if you’re wrong (Dear 85). Science will never be exactly the first time you try an experiment, it takes people repeating the same thing over and over to see if the results are the same. Trying the same thing over and over to prove something’s truth is what science is all about, but it is so easy to reject those truths too if you’re wrong.
Descartes also made his work easy to understand for the common person by using analogies and giving characteristics to objects. His work appeals to common experience by using everyday concepts and mechanical analogies (Dear 91). He used wine grapes to help describe pressure and compared it to how light is like a liquid and a blind man can’t perceive this because the light is like pressure on the eye. His work was also made more available to the public because during this time the printing press was moving away from secular sources. Descartes’s deliberate novelty and easy to imagine explanations lead him to be a father of the scientific revolution (Dear 100). He was able to let common people seek out their truth and his contributions make him one of the fathers of the scientific revolution.
Newton and Descartes’s methods and ideas helped move the scientific revolution forward. They became the fathers of the scientific revolution by questioning what was already given as fact. Learning with their own eyes and ears instead of relying on others leads to their radical change from past ideas that made them prominent figures during the scientific revolution. Newton and Descartes are still seen in the foundations of modern science and they undoubtedly are the fathers of the scientific revolution.