Science Versus Common Sense and Theology
In this chapter I point out the fact that sometimes there is a conflict between science and common sense (in Fischbein’s words, primary intuitions). The first conflict is in the impression that the sun moves during the day from east to west. It took several centuries until Copernicus came up with his theory that the sun is stationary and our planet Earth is rotating.
His theory was rejected by the Church. According to the Church our planet was the center of the world. Copernicus’ theory was a blow to this belief. He was not persecuted because his book was published after his death. However, one of the greatest scientists of all ages, Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), was a victim of the Church persecution. He was not allowed to teach the theory of Copernicus, and later on he had to spend his last years under house arrest. Eventually, Copernicus’ theory was accepted. We learned to be humble. This was not so easy. It is hard to accept that you are not the center of the world. Therefore, it took some years before the Church agreed to accept Copernicus’ theory.
Several centuries later, in 1925, a high-school teacher was taken to court because he taught Darwin’s theory of evolution. He was found guilty and had to pay a $100 fine. Fortunately, the inquisition did not exist in 1925. Humanity became more tolerant.