Zygon 51 (2):431-449 (2016)

Astronomers of the first half of the nineteenth century viewed our solar system entirely differently from the way twentieth-century astronomers viewed it. In the earlier period the dominant image was of a set of planets and moons, both of which kinds of bodies were inhabited by intelligent beings comparable to humans. By the early twentieth century, science had driven these beings from every planet in our system except the Earth, leaving our solar system as more or less desolate regions for the most part bereft of intelligent life. This essay traces this extinction and its relation to religious thought, noting the role played in it by Sir John Herschel and especially by William Whewell. The inverse square laws for gravitation, heat radiation, and light receive special attention, as does the question of the relevance of the Christian notions of a divine incarnation and redemption.
Keywords solar system  Christianity  incarnation  John Herschel  plurality of worlds  William Whewell  redemption  principle of plenitude  astrobiology
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DOI 10.1111/zygo.12265
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Alone in the Universe.Howard Smith - 2016 - Zygon 51 (2):497-519.
The Great Chain of Being.Arthur O. Lovejoy - 1937 - Science and Society 1 (2):252-256.

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William Whewell's Theory of Scientific Method.Robert E. Butts (ed.) - 1969 - University of Pittsburgh Press.


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