The Scientific Revolution was a period of intense debate between science and religion. Prior to the Scientific Revolution, a majority of the European population was uneducated, and the little schooling that was accessible was closely regulated by the Roman Catholic Church. Their scientific teachings were heavily influenced by biblical theory and the science that had been provided by the Ancient Greeks. For example, the geocentric system– which was accepted by Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Ptolemy– argued that Earth was at the center of the universe and that the Sun, Moon, stars and other known planets all orbited Earth. This way of of thinking was prevalent up until the Scientific Revolution, during which Nicolaus Copernicus developed the Copernican system that stated that the earth orbited the sun which was located at the center of the solar system. In addition, the Bible also stated that the Sun and the Moon were perfect in form because they had been created in God’s image. This idea was debunked by Italian philosopher Galileo who built a telescope which he used to examine sunspots and the craters of the moon. The church, however, did not take these findings lightly as they continued to disregard the laws established by natural scientists throughout the Scientific Revolution.
This debate continued long after such period in European history. When Charles Darwin released his On the Origins of Species in 1859, he sparked a debate between the concepts of evolution and creationism that would carry on long after his death. In 1925, the infamous Scopes Trial, where a highschool teacher named John T. Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in a public school in Tennessee, brought attention to the rejection of evolution and whether or not it should be taught in schools.
Today it is appropriate to say that we have entered another Scientific Revolution; however, the central debate revolves more so around science with respect to political ideals. A primary example is the ongoing dispute over the ethics of abortion. This debate fosters two opposing views: pro-choice which believes that the woman has the right to terminate the fetus, and pro-life which believes that the fetus has the right to be born. Many differences stem from the abortion debate such as when the fetus should be considered living and what methods of abortion are considered humane.
The most influential and perhaps controversial debate is the argument over climate change. Although a minority of the U.S. population does not believe in the legitimacy of rising temperatures on the surface of the Earth, most accept this to be unequivocal, and therefore the dispute focuses more so on whether or not human activity can be held responsible for the rising amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The pro-side argues that the burning of fossil fuels by humans should be responsible for this increase and that a halt in the usage of fossil fuels is essential to stopping climate change. The con-side argues that greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity are to small to affect earth’s climate and that the increase in temperature is rather due to the sun. The argument has been further stimulated after the United States, controversially, withdrew the from the Paris Accords under the presidency of Donald Trump.
As we undergo this modern scientific revolution it is important to remember that science will always be met with some sort of opposing force. In this sense, the scientific revolution is not finite. The purpose of science is to discover the new–and frankly the new may seem daunting– but without change, the human race cannot improve on the mistakes that it has made in the past.