The Heliocentric Theory

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The Heliocentric Theory Galileo did not discover that the earth goes around the sun, nor did he prove it. At his time there were two theories about the universe, the most common of which was the geocentric theory based on Aristotle and Ptolemy. This theory taught that the earth was the center of the universe around which the sun and other bodies revolved. The other theory was the heliocentric or Copernican theory which held that the sun was the center of the universe and that day and night were due to the rotation of the earth. This theory was named after a Catholic canon, Nicolaus Copernicus, who published a book on it 21 years before Galileo was born. Copernicus dedicated his book to Pope Paul III with his knowledge. Long before Galileo was born the heliocentric theory was freely taught in the Italian universities. In 1533, Albert Widmanstadt lectured on it before Pope Clement VII. The popes were well aware of this teaching and were in no way opposed to it. Many other Catholics also began to teach it. If the Catholic Church wanted to condemn Copernicanism, she had plenty of opportunities to do so before Galileo’s time. The first opposition to the theory came from the Protestants, including Luther, Melanchthon and Calvin, who were violently opposed to it. Luther called Copernicus a madman because, as Luther said, Josue in the Old Testament stopped the sun, not the earth. Johannes Kepler, a contemporary of Galileo, wrote a work supporting the Copernican theory. In 1596, the Protestant Faculty of the University of Tubingen unanimously condemned Kepler’s book as damnable heresy, because they believed it was contrary to Scripture. As a result he was forced to flee his country. He went to the Jesuits and was given a teaching position in astronomy in a Catholic university by the pope
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