A Simple Reversal at the Beginning Simplifies Everything
If we were living in Europe just 400 years ago, the established and often indistinquishable authorities of church and state would have taught us that the Sun revolves around the Earth. And yet, as Niclolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei would soon show, the beliefs of the "authorities" could not have been more backward.
But why should they believe their thinking was backward, even fight against contrary opinion and evidence? After all, words in their "holy texts" told them the Earth was the center of the universe...the great Greek philosopher Aristotle supported an earth-centered, or geocentric, universe 2,000 years earlier.
Quick Glances at the rEvolution of Thoughts
And yet the knowledge or idea of a sun-centered view is nothing new. A number of ancient Greek thinkers, such as Aristarchus of Samos, proposed a heliocentric universe as did thinkers from other lands such as India and the Middle East. Just another lesson which goes to show that the knowledge of Western society, including its science, is not always correct or even the first to arrive on the cutting-edge.
In any event, the science that followed Galileo and continued through Newton, Hutton, Lavoisier, Darwin, Faraday and many others made great advances in our understanding of the universe and life within it. During this great time of "enlightenment"...which bloomed in the 17th and 18th centuries and came to full blossom by the end of the 19th century...the major disciplines of science---physics, chemistry, geology and biology were developed.
The renowned astronomer Ptolemy furthered the geocentric view, with mathmatics no less, offering a very complicated scheme of planetary cycles and epi-cycles---that is, orbits within orbits---to account for the observed, sometimes "backwards" (retrograde), movements of the and planets.
Of course, 400 years of advancing science has indisputably disproved the geocentric view and proved the heliocentric, or sun-centered view. Which goes to show that it is entirely possible to be surrounded by beliefs and views which are---however popular and/or long they've been around---completely false.
In the last decades of the 19th century it seemed that science was on the verge of explaining the entire universe, and progess would be just a matter of filling-in the gaps. But a young patent clerk and highly imaginative thinker by the name of Albert Einstein would change all that.
Einstein's Theories of Relativity along his ideas on space, time, matter and energy would present a very different view of the universe than the one science had just spent three centuries bringing into focus. And this new view of the universe---when combined with the strange, even counter-intuitive and often hard to swallow ideas of quantum theory developed in the early 20th century---would literally push our notions of reality to the limit.