Thursday, July 30, 2015

History: The Year is 1615

I've uploaded year 1615 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Galileo vs. the Inquisition, Round 1 -- The Church is unhappy with Galileo's observation of the heavens and his discussion of a Sun-centered model of the universe, but they are allowing it for now. I discuss the balance of science and religious claims... mostly from a Jewish perspective but it applies across the board.

The Virginia Company and the Summer Isles -- Bermuda gets a formal British Colony instead of the accidental colonists from the Virginia Company.

Galileo vs. the Inquisition, Round 1

Galileo has been making observations of the heavens and coming up with a lot of questions. Copernicus had argued for a heliocentric universe where the Earth, the planets and the stars rotate around the Sun. Galileo agrees, but the Church does not. Tycho Brahe argues for a model where the Sun and Moon orbit the Earth but everything else orbits the Sun. Tycho's model works reasonably well given their imprecise measurements and their assumptions. They assume that the stars are close enough so that as the Earth changes its position in orbit, the stars should appear to shift position. No shift then no moving Earth. THEY SEE NO SHIFT! This shift is called parallax. You can see parallax yourself by looking at a tall building two miles away. Now walk a block to your left or right and notice how the building seems to shift it's position relative to the buildings behind it. With precise measurements you can estimate how far away the building is. If the scientists can't see parallax for the stars, that means the stars are an ungodly distance away, and no one wants to think about that. The Church allows Galileo to discuss the Copernicus model as long as he doesn't state it as fact. Currently, he can't even convince his fellow scientists. That will take some time. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I often jump between a modern mindset and a medieval one in order to accommodate my religious obligations. I know people who say that the universe rotates around the Earth. For a while they were teaching this medieval idea to the kids at their religious school. They stopped when the parents insisted that the school teach proper science. The clergy didn't put up much of a fight. I don't think they believed it either. (You can often tell what people really believe by watching what they do and not always by what they say.) For religious purposes, I count the years since creation as 5,775. Do I believe it? Hmmm... I can see a path there, but it requires too much hand-waving and leaps-of-faith, so no. Not really. Scientists measure the age of the universe from 10 to 13 billion years old. Their methods are not perfect, but they make sense to me. Even though they change the age of the universe from time to time, the bottom line is that is it definitely not 5,775 years... not even close. For an intelligent discussion about reconciling religious claims with scientific theory I suggest reading "The Science of God" by Gerald Schroeder. He gives science a fair hearing while treating religious claims as serious questions... including how old the universe is. [6]

The Virginia Company and the Summer Isles

This year Admiral Somers returns to Bermuda under a new charter. The Somers Isles Company is made up of the same investors as the Virginia Company but their charter is to colonize Bermuda... on purpose this time. A few years ago Admiral Somers had struggled against a storm to bring a properly supplied group of colonists to Jamestown but the Sea Venture was sinking. He wasn't going to make it to Jamestown so he drove his ship into the reefs of a nearby island to stabilize the ship and bring the colonists ashore. That was how the Virginia Company came to colonize Bermuda. A century before, Bermuda had been seeded with pigs by a Spanish captain. He was trying to provide food and a safe haven for lost ships in a storm. Admiral Somers finally made it off of the island along with the future Governor of Virginia and John Rolfe who would soon marry Pocahontas. The Admiral also he left a few people behind to maintain England's claim to Bermuda. The King of England has plans for Bermuda, and the Somers Isles Company is part of that plan. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
One wonders why there was a need to establish a separate company, but the Virginia Company's original charter didn't extend to Bermuda. Of course, acts of God and such made it reasonable for the Virginia Company to maintain a colony there, even without a proper charter. The Somers Isles Company fixed that technical issue. It also helped later on when the Virginia Company was dissolved and the King took official control of the Virginia colony. Bermuda maintained a more independent existence. On a side note: some historians believe that Admiral Somers and the wreck of the Sea Dragon was the inspiration for Shakespeare's play, The Tempest.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1615, Wikipedia.

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