The Enlightenment: the door to revolutionary thinking Adriana Delagarza

The Universe in a Nutshell

"... Newton’s scientific revolution changed the way that people thought about the universe, leading them to question the relationship between people and their rulers, helping to light the fuse to the American Revolution of 1776."

The Enlightenment was the popularization of the idea that science, instead of religion, explained the wonders of the world. It marked the beginning of outspoken rational thought and the embracement of scientific theory. Philosophers and researchers who contributed to the ideas of science were John Locke and Isaac Newton in the United States and Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus in Britain. Nowadays, scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku contribute to the explanation of our universe.

Curiosity during the enlightenment

During the Age of Enlightenment, people in England and the United States were astounded to discover that science might have been behind all of the secrets of the universe, putting the idea of a god in a state of controversy. In a nutshell, (luv ya Hawking) the universe might not have been created by a god but by a Big Bang that jolted our universe into existence, essentially proving all of the religious myths wrong. I am led to believe that the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics are just as controversial as a god's existence. After all, they are simply theories, yet they are sometimes considered “real” compared to the “theory” of God. Science, just like religion (because it is a religion), can be proven wrong, and it will be.

Religion (noun): a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe... often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs

Nicolaus Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance mathematician who proposed an idea of heliocentrism- the belief that the Earth revolved around the sun. This contradicted Ptolemy's geometric planetary model where the sun and the planets revolved around the Earth. Copernicus's theories were greatly frowned upon by the Catholic Church, and his maps and drawings were banned from the Church for centuries.

Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei was an influential 16th century astronomer who revolutionized the idea of space and its composition. Galileo invented the telescope and proved Copernicus's theory of heliocentrism to be true. He also discovered the most massive moons of Jupiter and did studies on our moon.

Isaac newton

Isaac Newton was influenced by the philosophies Galileo Galilei, who was also alive in the 1600s during the settlement of the first American colony, Jamestown. Isaac Newton proposed the theory of gravity and the laws of motion.

Stephen hawking

Now, to dig even deeper into the history of the understanding of our universe, Stephen Hawking (1942-present) was born exactly 300 years, to the day, after the death of Galileo Galilei and was said to have been influenced by Galileo’s theories about science. The coincidence of this situation is that, if Galileo Galilei and Stephen Hawking both contributed to the scientific explanations of our universe, is it possible that some supernatural entity or, perhaps, fate - the opposite of scientific explanation - controlled the births and deaths of what were meant to be the most magnificent minds of our world? Is some unexplained force controlling our world as we know it? This proves that nothing can be explained completely, and no matter how many theories are 'proven,' there is no one explanation for anything. Stephen Hawking proposed that black holes could have potentially created the universe, offering that the Big Bang was an aftershock in the formation of our cosmos. Hawking also brought up Albert Einstein’s “theory of everything,”a theory “unifying general relativity and quantum theory,” creating the theory of quantum gravity. He tested beliefs and provided evidence for his theories, taking the side of science.

The Great Awakening

Religious revival speech

The Great Awakening was a reaction to the Enlightenment. The Great Awakening was the realization that, maybe, God was the creator, and science was wrong! This was basically a result of the priests realizing that the church wasn't getting enough money. The Great Awakening benefitted the Catholic church not only religiously but financially. The Catholic Church had lost gobs of followers (money) during The Enlightenment, and it needed a strong recovery.

Copernican-Newtonian Paradigm

Left to right top: Copernicus, Galileo. Left to right bottom: Kepler, newton

Even though God created the Universe, science explains it, and it is through science that we can understand it. The Enlightenment was a time in which the world was divided according to its beliefs. Some groups believed that the world was formed by the Big Bang, where some groups held to their beliefs in God and his everlasting kingdom of life. The Enlightenment instituted the idea of no tradition into the minds of the people and made them believe that they shouldn't be reliant on something simply because it was what they were used to. This realization and the anger caused by it led to the eventual revolution of American citizens.


"Enlightenment." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2017. This website helped me differentiate between the causes of the Enlightenment and the effects of it.

Cline, Kelly. "How Isaac Newton’s Science Inspired the American Revolution." Helenair. Independent Record, n.d. Web. I used this website as an introduction to Isaac Newton. Staff. "Enlightenment." A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. I used this website to gather information about the early enlightenment.

"Sir Isaac Newton." "The Enlightenment". N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. I used this article as a deeper look into the effect of IsaacNewton on the American Revolution.

"Stephen Hawking - Important Scientists - The Physics of the Universe." Stephen Hawking - Important Scientists - The Physics of the Universe. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. This website helped me with understanding Stephen Hawking's theories about relativity and space.

Hawking, Stephen W. A Brief History of Time. London: Folio Society, 2016. Print. This book expanded my knowledge of time and space. I also found interesting Stephen Hawking facts that related to the Revolutionary Era.

Says, William Zhu, . "Basic Concepts of the First Great Awakening." N.p., 22 Dec. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. I used this site to get information about the Great Awakening and how it was a reaction to the Enlightenment. Staff. "Galileo Galilei." A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. This website gave me the necessary information about Galileo Galilei and his role in England during the Enlightenment Era


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