On this episode of ID the Future, host Jay Richards interviews historian of science Michael Keas about a new documentary claiming that Copernicus’s heliocentric model of the solar system “demoted” humans from the place of honor at the center of everything. Neil deGrasse Tyson champions this persistent myth in episode 8 of the new National Geographic series Cosmos: Possible Worlds. The reality is quite different. As Keas explains, in Copernicus’s day, the Earth was thought to be at the bottom of the universe, the “sump” where all the filth collected, while the starry heavens were considered the place of honor. Keas and Richards trace the history of the demotion myth and discuss how Copernicus, Kepler, and other luminaries of the scientific revolution saw the Copernican revolution very differently, as a glorious promotion of humanity’s place in the cosmos.
On this episode of ID the Future, Andrew McDiarmid again hears from science historian Michael Keas about another science myth exploded in Keas’ new ISI book Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion. This time it’s the belief that Copernicus’s sun-centered cosmos demoted humans from our privileged position at the center. As another pioneering early astronomer, Galileo, noted, under the old astronomy the center was no privileged place. Instead it was viewed as the bottom of the universe, the “sump where the universe’s filth and ephemera collect.” So Copernicus’s discovery, if anything, elevated Earth’s place in the cosmos.