Physics, Earth & Space Icon Physics, Earth & Space

Copernican Revolution Promoted Man’s Place in the Cosmos

Image: Nicholas Copernicus, via Toruń Regional Museum / Public domain.

On this episode of ID the Future, host Jay Richards interviews historian of science Michael Keas about the National Geographic series Cosmos: Possible Worlds, with its claim that Copernicus’ heliocentric model of the solar system “demoted” humans from the place of honor at the center of everything. Download the podcast or listen to it here.

Neil deGrasse Tyson champions this persistent myth in episode 8 of the series. The reality is quite different. As Keas explains, in Copernicus’ 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.