Heretic or Hero?

(above two images used by permission from NASA under Contract NAS5-26555,


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During the 15th and 16th centuries a new thought pattern was emerging. For years the set belief of the Catholic Church and of the scientists of the time was that everything in the Universe, including the Sun, rotated around the Earth. But, a young scientist named Copernicus put forth a theory stating that this was just not true. He believed that the Earth rotated around the Sun. As time went on, and new technology was discovered, (e.g.. telescope) scientists began to discover more evidence that the Earth did in fact rotate around the Sun. This was in direct conflict with the theory of the Catholic Church that the Sun rotated around the Earth. We call this, along with all the other new scientific beliefs of the time, the Scientific Revolution. A time when the accepted scientific and religious beliefs of the time were being challenged by new scientific theories. People of the time labeled these scientists who proposed these new scientific theories as heretics and did not believe in their new theories, including the theory that the Earth rotates around the Sun. These scientists were sometimes called to trial before an inquisition of the Catholic Church to explain their theories. These trials led to the imprisonment of many scientists.


Bill Reese
Menifee Middle School
Menifee U.S.D.