My favorite scientist has always been Johannes Kepler. Kepler lived during the late 16th and early 17th centuries and was considered the father of Astronomy. When he was alive, Astrology was the accepted ‘science’ and the views of Copernicus, in which the Sun was the center of the solar system, were considered heretical and in direct opposition to theology and the Bible. Kepler struggled with his theological teachings and what observations and mathematics said. He attempted, in vain, to reconcile the two but eventually realized that the contemporary theology didn’t agree with observations and physics.
He eventually succumbed to physics and developed his three laws of planetary motion that to this day are still used when sending satellites up into space or launching rockets to the moon. It is amazing that someone could derive these three equations based on observations made before computers, calculators or even sophisticated telescopes but it stands as a testament to the human potential. It should also be noted that while his discoveries disagreed with the contemporary theology, Kepler still maintained his Faith in God and stated that this was a more accurate representation of the Universe that God created.
Once Kepler published his three laws and proved that the sun was the center of our solar system, Astronomy was born and Astrology was relegated to the trash heap that includes psychics and fortune tellers. It is amazing that most major newspapers still publish Astrology predictions but you’ll be hard pressed to find stories related to Cosmology and Astronomy on a daily basis. It blows my mind that people think the gravitational pull of Jupiter at their birth determines their fate when the gravitational attraction of the nurse in the delivery room is greater than any object in our solar system.
More importantly, Kepler made his discoveries while leaning into strong headwinds from the scientific, political and theological elites. This is a lesson to us all that science is not conducted by a consensus vote but by applying the scientific method to answer questions. This should be an inspiration to Climate Scientists who hold contrarian views and believe the science is telling us that Earth’s Climate is not driven primarily by CO2. I have written two pieces on this topic here and here that explains why the science isn’t settled and that CO2 isn’t the major driver of our climate. Let us all take a lesson from Kepler and approach the tough questions of our age with boldness and apply the scientific method to arrive at our answers. No matter how troubling the answers are.