When did the Church accept heliocentrism?


If this is in the wrong place, I apologize.

But my professor is talking about how the Church emphasized geocentrism, which I’ve heard before, but she says the Church didn’t flip its view until the 1900s??? I thought it came about earlier than that.
Can anyone help me with this?
Thanks in advance.


From Wikipedia
"Pope Benedict XIV suspended the ban on heliocentric works on April 16, 1757 based on Isaac Newton’s work. Pope Pius VII approved a decree in 1822 by the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition to allow the printing of heliocentric books in Rome."

Does this help?


1822 - well, that is the 19th century… and a little bit embarrassing. :o

As partial confirmation of the wikipedia article, the old Catholic Encyclopedia says the following:

On 5 March, 1616, the work of Copernicus was forbidden by the Congregation of the Index “until corrected”, and in 1620 these corrections were indicated. Nine sentences, by which the heliocentric system was represented as certain, had to be either omitted or changed. This done, the reading of the book was allowed. In 1758 the book of Copernicus disappeared from the revised Index of Benedict XIV.



Does this belong in this thread? I think it belongs in the Apologetic thread.


Keep in mind Copernicus was a Catholic priest. The Gregorian calendar was influenced by him. The Gregorian calendar is the one we use today, adopted by Pope Gregory in 1582 IS BASED ON HELIOCENTRICISM.

The Galileo affair would later explode in 1616, a friend of Copernicus published his book adding a controversial preface, but that didn’t happen until several years after Copernnicus’ death, and it wasn’t so much a Church issue but a battle of elite educators and scientists using the courts and political pressure to suppress dissenting views. The state they were living in was the Papal States and the only real inter-state authority was the Church. Opposing scientists would try to lure Galileo into stating heresy yada yada yada. If you’re really interested there are some good books about it and some quick articles online.

Wikipedia quotes

If Copernicus had any genuine fear of publication, it was the reaction of scientists, not clerics, that worried him. Other churchmen before him — Nicole Oresme (a French bishop) in the fourteenth century and Nicolaus Cusanus (a German cardinal) in the fifteenth — had freely discussed the possible motion of the earth, and there was no reason to suppose that the reappearance of this idea in the sixteenth century would cause a religious stir.


Funny, much hasn’t changed. Scientists still game the political system to suppress competing ideas. There are two documentaries in production right now about that.

Even though I thought it was common knowledge it can’t help to remind people that Copernicus was the first person to propose heliocentricism mathematically.


The thing I find funny about this whole debate is that, it is IMPOSSIBLE to PROVE heliocentrism. If you have two objects moving in space one can only describe how they move in relation to each other, or how they move in relation to a predetermined fixed point in space.

Geocentrism ASSUMES that the earth is a fixed point. Heliocentrism ASSUMES that the sun is a fixed point. Comparing the two, the maths is much simpler in the Heliocentric model, but, it is maths based upon an unprovable assumption.

Interestingly those that advocate Heliocentrism as fact, also tend to assert that the sun revolves around the center of the Milky way galaxy and is therefore not a fixed point in space:cool:


Gravity isn’t technically “fact” either, but there comes a point at which the acceptance of a theory is so much easier than the acceptance of an alternative that it becomes almost useless to dispute it.


This reminds me of the anti-evolution argument that evolution is “just a theory”. All explanations of observed facts are theories. If we stick our hand into a fire, our burnt hand is a fact. We don’t actually stick our hands into fires because of the theory that our hand will be burnt.


Those models failed the Scientific Method. Part of a model is to provide predictions on future observations. And a new model should provide better predictions that the current model. Copernicus and Galileo failed that test.

They both portrayed the planetary orbits as perfect circles. As such the predictions of planetary events were even worse than the geocentric model.

What Scientific journal today would even print any equivalently poor model, let alone claim that this new model is the only correct one.

It wasn’t until Keppler came up with the elliptical model that the predictions equaled that of the current model, and Newton provided the explanation for why the elliptical model would be the true one.

So yes, the Church acted correctly. Even down the extent that the Church had no problems with the heliocentric model, as long was it wasn’t presented as being definitive until it was proven by observational evidence to be so. Would any modern Science journal do anything different?

BTW, Keppler, a Lutheran , was given a teaching position at the Catholic University of Prague and an appointment as court mathematician to the Catholic Emperor Rudolph II.


My point remains that Geocentrism works IF you assume that the earth is a fixed point in space, and Heliocentrism works IF you assume that the Sun is a fixed point in space

Imagine you have two ships in space, and they are getting closer. Which one is moving?

Regards Doc


Well neither heliocentrism nor geocentrism is correct totally. We haven’t discovered the true center of the universe which everything else is going around. But for our specific solar system the earth goes around the sun and not vice versa.


True, but when you try to describe the relative motions of three or more gravitationally attracted bodies you have several possible models you can construct, one considering each of the bodies as the center of the system (plus an infinite number of models based on arbitrary points in space outside any of the bodies. These can be ignored.)

Any of these models can be considered just as valid as a heliocentric model or a geocentric model. So we can also have a model of the Earth/Moon/Solar/Planetary System with Mercury at the center, with Venus at the Center, with Pluto at the center, Comet Halley, etc. All these models show most if not all of the orbiting bodies moving around the chosen Primary in insanely complicated configurations, zigzagging back and forth, toward the primary then back away.

One model avoids this though, the model centered on the mutual centers of gravity of all the bodies in the system. This is not identical to the center of the Sun, but it is inside the surface of the Sun, so it is not a gross oversimplification to say the Sun is at the center of this model. In practically all mathematical or logical operations involving the motions of bodies in any model of the Earth/Moon/Solar/Planetary System, the heliocentric model is by far the easiest and most practical one to use, and as such may be considered the most true.


I wasn’t denying this for a second, just pointing out that

… many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon one’s point of view


The one with the flames shooting out the back of its engines, of course! :smiley:


That is a very good observation because both theories are foundational for modernism in an attack on the Church and Sacred Scripture with theoretical science. The attack on the Scriptural world view started with Galleleo. Evolution is just a continuation of it.


What about the mass and density of an object? The heavier the object, the harder it is to move it. I just think it is impossible for the Earth to move all 9 planets (Pluto’s a planet, no questions asked…) and the Sun. Also, we must point out to Einstein’s theory of general relativity. On a two-dimensional model, the planets and the Sun exert force, which bends the fabric of space. The Sun, having the most mass, exerts the most force and has the biggest hole. The planets are circling around the Sun the same way a quarter rolls along the neat round thing you find in malls for charity. The quarter drops to the hole because of gravity. If the quarter moved at the right speed, it would remain in the same alignment. With the solar system, the planets are going at the right speed to not be drawn towards the Sun. They remain in their orbits.

Within a planetary system, such as the Earth-Moon, the Moon is going too fast. Every year, I believe the Moon is increasing in distance from Earth by a few feet. Move too slow, a moon could collide with their planet, as we see with Mars and one of its moons.

Also, gravity is different on Mars than it is on Earth. Earth’s gravity is stronger, so Mars could theoretically revolve around Earth. Earth could also theoretically revolve around Jupiter, since its gravity is much stronger. The Sun’s gravity is the strongest, which is why the planets revolve around it.

Science and religion are compatible. The end result of each is God. In science, we have M-Theory or the most advanced form of String Theory, which tries to explain the theory of everything. We know that the everything is God. Religion offers theology, which also tries to explain everything, God. Can’t have one without the other.


I heard that Cal Tech did a study where they analized all known forces in the universe and determined the location of the earth to be a force zero point. Perhaps the whole universe revolving around the earth is balanced in space and time.


Started with Galileo? lol…I think you of course missed the point but once again.


Relativity is such a beautiful thing…

If two spaceships are moving toward each other at 5 m/s which is moving…

To a outside observer, the are both moving toward each other, each at 5m/s

To the observer on spaceship A, (A) appears to be motionless, and Spaceship B is moving towards it at 10m/s

To the observer on spaceship B, B appears to be motionless, and Spaceship A is moving towards it at 10m/s

Relativity is a beautiful thing…

All three are true…

An observer on earth can, legitimately based on relativity, say that every thing revolves around the earth. And, from the perspective of the observer on Earth, he is right. TO an observer on Mars, Earth revolves around the sun.

Again, both based on relativistic points of view are correct.

I can, in theory, say the universe revolves around me…

The problem is, there is no set universal fixed point, everything moves with respect to everything else.

An object could be moving in a local star group at only 100 mph, but to us, it could be moving away at nearly the speed of light…

I know it confuses matters, but, No one can say one or the other is the perfect answer (that was actually part of Galileo’s problem, he insisted his model was perfect and that the Church accept it. The Church had no problem with his model, just his assertion that it is perfect.)

Hope that helps

In Christ


lol , No, I decided to make my own point. Too bad you can’t understand it. But, your understanding was not my objective.

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