by Kyle Griffith
Excerpted from War in Heaven
They were things with immediate practical use, like better plows, harness, wagons, water mills, spinning and weaving devices, sails and rigging-plans for ships, etc. They included gunpowder, the eyeglass lenses that led to the telescope and microscope, better methods of preserving food, and many other things. Taken together, they produced profound demographic, economic, and political changes in European society. A full description of the sudden progress of European society at that time is beyond the scope of this book.
The change that interests us here is the shift in the balance of power from the Catholic Church to secular institutions of all types. When the northern half of Europe became Protestant, organized religion in that region lost direct control over government, the economy, education, science, and most other important social institutions.
The Protestant churches still exerted major influence over society in Northern Europe, but they didn't control the crowning of kings, the running of schools and universities, the certification of doctors and lawyers, the writing and circulation of books, etc., to nearly the extent that the Catholic Church had dominated them in the Middle Ages.
The series of events that I call the Copernican Compromise, which created the materialistic bias in Western science, is an example: it is easy enough to see what happened, but harder to figure out why. Until the first half of the Seventeenth century, when Galileo was prosecuted by Pope Urban VIII for supporting the Copernican astronomical theory, European scientists had not yet been put in a category separate from other intellectuals doing research into the nature of the universe.
They were all called simply "philosophers," and one person might do research in many different fields: botany, medicine, astronomy, astrology, theology, and even ceremonial magic. Individual philosophers were sometimes persecuted, even put to death, for publishing or teaching ideas that displeased the Church authorities, but there was no generalized prohibition of research into what is now called occultism. Philosophers could study the "natural" and "supernatural" aspects of the universe with equal freedom as long as they remained good Catholics and didn't challenge the doctrines, customs, or political structure of the Church.
The books written by the medieval alchemists show they experimented with sex magic and psychedelic drugs to develop their psychic powers as well as doing primitive experiments in chemistry.
Much of this research did not involve scientific experimental techniques in the modem sense; but when such methods were employed, they were just as commonly applied to studying spiritual and psychic phenomena as to studying purely physical phenomena. The Copernican Compromise changed all this. In 1600, the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned for heresy.
It's widely believed that the reason for his immolation was his support of the Copernican theory, but this was not mentioned in the charges against him. It is true he was a Copernican; but what the Church executed him for was not his scientific views, but applying empirical methods of research to occult and religious subjects. He wrote treatises on Hermetic Magic and general philosophical works that challenged both the infallibility of the Pope and the omnipotence of God.
The persecution of Galileo a couple of decades later is widely regarded today as a victory for science, not for the Church, and this same attitude was expressed by many intellectuals at the time. The Pope made Galileo recant formally; but that actually helped popularize his ideas, not suppress them. However, one of the first steps in making my personal breakthrough was to realize that Galileo's victory was a hollow one.
Galileo was not only one of the founders of modern science because of his contributions to physics and astronomy, he was also one of the instigators of the materialistic bias that has plagued science ever since.
Galileo never tried to challenge the Pope's right to interpret the Bible on spiritual matters, but felt that he, as a natural philosopher, shouldn't be overruled from the Papal Throne on enquiries into phenomena that are physical rather than spiritual.
The whole debate over the the Copernican Theory hinges on the interpretation of a single Biblical passage, Joshua 10:13, which describes a miracle by Jehovah in the middle of a battle:
Since the time of Saint Augustine, this had been interpreted by the Catholic Church as proof that the Sun moves around the Earth. Augustine himself had been a bishop in Egypt not long after Ptolemy, another Egyptian, had published his astronomy texts endorsing a geocentric model of the Solar System.
However, it was obvious to Galileo that the original passage in the Bible could just as easily refer to a subjective description of the Sun as to an objective one. In other words, observers saw the sun appear to stop moving in the sky and simply said, "The Sun stood still." This effect could just as easily happen because a spinning Earth stopped as because a moving Sun stopped. Above all, he never argued that the passage was false because it involved a miracle. Miracles were part of the supernatural, and not the business of a natural philosopher.
Colin Wilson's STAR SEEKERS (1980) states that Pope Urban was afraid to execute Galileo, as his predecessor had Bruno, because he knew that such an outrage would seriously damage his reputation and undermine his power.
The fact that the Pope didn't carry through and effectively silence Galileo is evidence he didn't consider the debate over the Copernican theory important in itself. He was punishing Galileo for openly challenging his political and spiritual authority, not for doing scientific research.
The Pope was sending a very clear message to all of the early scientists without saying it in so many words:
The earlier immolation of Bruno had already sent the 3 negative half of this message:
I call this unspoken, unwritten agreement "The Copernican Compromise," and believe it's the origin of the whole materialistic bias in western science.
The Copernican Compromise was never openly discussed by either the scientists or the Catholic hierarchy, and it is likely that both sides simply drifted into it without being consciously aware that the Church was still actively persecuting scientific occultists while becoming increasingly tolerant towards scientists who avoided research into psychic and spiritual phenomena, especially those who claimed such research was impossible.
Even though their motivations were mostly subconscious, more and more scientists adopted a materialistic bias during the 16th and 17th centuries; and if they also were involved in occultism or other spiritual research, they hid their activities in secret societies.
The Copernican Compromise came about because of an unspoken attitude on the part of many Catholic leaders over a long period of time, interacting with hundreds of different scientists and philosophers.