6 lessons on The Scientific Revolution: sample below
The third part of the lesson plan should help students understand why the Catholic Church voiced opposition to the discoveries of the Scientific Revolution. How did the Copernican model challenge basic teachings of the Church? Have students also consider the ramifications of the Scientific Revolution following on the heels of the Protestant Reformation.
Questions to be answered: Why was there serious opposition to their discoveries? On what grounds was their work criticized? How did the scientists answer these critiques? How did the Church try to stop ideas from being disseminated and how successful were they?
a. Start this section of the lesson by splitting students into two groups: (1) Church leaders, (2) Galileo and his supporters. Based on the documents listed below, have each group summarize the basic arguments of their position.
b. Hold a mock trial of Galileo, assigning students within each group to certain roles. For example: within the group of Church leaders, several can take on the task of inquisitors, while those within the Galileo group can adopt the persona of various members of the scientific community.
The texts of several documents pertinent to the issue of tensions between scientists and the Catholic Church can be found on the following website. This site includes the Dedication of Copernicus' Declaration of Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies, Galileo's Letter to the Grand Duchess, a Critique of Galileo offered by Cardinal Bellarmine and the text of the 1633 Indictment of Galileo. All can be found at the Fordham Unvirsity Internet History Sourcebook: The Scientific Revolution .
As the course continues, make references back to the worldview proposed by the Scientific Revolution, and emphasize when additional scientific discoveries call it into question, i.e. Einstein and Heisenberg. Also, emphasize the connections between the willingness of the scientists to challenge traditional ideas and beliefs and the Enlightenment.
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