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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Somnium

You want to go to the moon?  Thank Johannes Kepler for his discovery of orbital mechanics and his dream of the voyage:

It is not improbable, I must point out, that there are inhabitants not only on the moon but on Jupiter too....  But as soon as somebody demonstrates the art of flying, settlers from our species of man will not be lacking.  Who would once have thought that the crossing of the wide ocean was calmer an safer than of the narrow Adriatic Sea, Baltic Sea, or English Channel?  Given ships or sails adapted to the breezes of heaven, there will be those who will not shrink from even that vast expanse.  Therefore, for the sake of those who, as it were, will presently be on hand to attempt this voyage, let us establish the astronomy, Galileo, you of Jupiter, and me of the moon....

The conclusion is quite clear.  Our moon exists for us on the earth, not for the other globes.  Those four little moons exist for Jupiter, not for us.  Each planet in turn, together with its occupants, is served by its own satellites.  From this line of reasoning we deduce with the highest degree of probability that Jupiter is inhabited.  Tycho Brahe likewise drew the same inference, based exclusively on a consideration of the hugeness of those globes....

Well, then, someone may say, if there are globes in the heaven similar to our earth, do we vie with them over who occupies the better portion of the universe?  For if their globes are nobler, we are not the noblest of rational creatures.  Then how can all things be for man's sake?  How can we be the masters of God's handiwork?

It is difficult to unravel this knot, because we have not yet acquired all the relevant information....

Geometry is unique and eternal, and it shines in the mind of God.  The share of it which has been granted to man is one of the reasons why he is the image of God.

Kepler, for me as an agnostic, is proof that faith and science are not mutually exclusive.

ntodd

July 20, 2005 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink

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Comments

Some optimism from the same source:
...as soon as somebody demonstrates the art of flying, settlers from our species... will not be lacking. Who would once have thought that the crossing of the wide ocean was calmer and safer than of the narrow Adriatic Sea, Baltic Sea, or English Channel? Given ships or sails adapted to the breezes of heaven, there will be those who will not shrink from even that vast expanse. Therefore, for the sake of those who, as it were, will presently be on hand to attempt this voyage, let us establish the astronomy....
Let the higher philosophy reflect... and glance backward to some extent. How far has the knowledge of nature progressed, how much is left, and what may the men of the future expect?

Posted by: Darryl Pearce | Jul 21, 2005 12:45:45 PM

Tycho Brahe blogging! Ol' Silver Snoot himself!

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement | Jul 21, 2005 9:22:43 PM

Stephen J. Gould makes the point in "Rocks of Ages" that religion and science have two completely different spheres of influence, "Non-Overlapping Magisteria" he called it. Neither contradicts the other, basically. Enlightened faith sees no threat from science; Those who rely on dogmatism alone are the ones whose faith is shaken by scientific argument.

Posted by: Matt F | Jul 21, 2005 11:39:55 PM

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