Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Absolutely Enlightening

Our third unit in Social Studies is called Absolutism and Enlightenment. Absolutism is a system of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator; this means that the monarch, or whoever is the ruler, has complete power over the nation's land and citizens.

You may be wondering what Enlightenment is, because Absolutism sounds so dreary and unfair. Thankfully, Enlightenment is the movement that pushed for reason and individualism rather than tradition. This means that people started wondering why they let the King, who had the supposed "Divine Right", rule them unquestioned.

For example, one of the ideas that sprang up from this movement was Galileo Galilei's: what if the Earth revolved around the sun, and not the other way around? The Church was scandalized at how Galileo could suggest that the Earth was not the center of the universe.

Here is how Galileo's theory came to be:

In 1609, he switched from being a physicist to an astronomer. He observed four moons of Jupiter, and showed that not all celestial bodies orbit earth. He then observed the phases of Venus, which proved that Venus orbits the sun, rather than the earth. He also predicted that the universe is a lot bigger than we think judging from what we can see with the naked eye.

But even though Galileo's theory proved to be right, the Catholic Church was not happy with his ideas. Galileo got a trial before the Inquisition, and was accused of heresy. His punishment was house arrest for the rest of his life.


Though in 1616, Galileo promised to renounce his ideas, he published a book that made fun of the Church. He was put on trial in front of the Inquisition again and was charged with heresy, with the likely punishment of death.

Some people believe that Galileo was tortured; others think that he was just shown the torture room to scare him.

To save his own life, he recanted his ideas. Legend says that he then muttered "but it still moves" under his breath. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in his house, where he went blind and had to give up his scientific studies.

The church found his findings dangerous. Why is that?

I think that the church found Galileo's findings dangerous because if people began to believe them, the Church would lose its support. They didn't want to lose that support, and since they held the power, they did everything in their will to keep it quiet.

I find Galileo and his story absolutely enlightening! No wonder he was a leader in the Enlightenment movement. 

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