Challenges to Church Authority

The Renaissance is an era associated with the breakdown of church authority. Church dogma consisted of fixed truths: There are exactly seven heavenly bodies in the solar system, the earth is the center of the universe, and humans are created in God’s image, for example. Gradually, these “truths” were challenged, and each successful challenge focused suspicion on other “truths.” Once begun, the questioning escalated rapidly, and the church tried desperately to discourage these challenges to its authority. Failing in this, they attempted to impose censorship, but it was too late. Gradually, church dogma was replaced by the very thing it had opposed the most—the direct observa- tion of nature without the intervention of theological considerations. This transition, although steady, was slow and painful.

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