Modern Science/Atheism is intent on proving that Christianity, and religion in general, is anti-science. Although I cannot speak for everyone, this is just plain silly.
But, in an attempt to ridicule the other side (a common tactic of insecurity, by the way), the Church is accused of having believed in the Flat Earth and rejecting Heliocentric astronomy, etc.
However, if a person gets past the rhetoric and examines the accusations, you will realize that many of these attacks are fabrications.
The whole Flat Earth thing appears to be entirely invented by later generations to bash the medieval Catholic church. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to bash the Catholic Church, there is no need to invent more.
Many have said that Columbus’ voyage was ridiculed because he’d fall off the end of the earth. This appears nowhere in historical evidence. Rather than fearing Columbus would fall off the end of the earth, they were concerned the globe was too large for him to make it around before running out of supplies.
The Columbus falling over the edge myth seems to have been invented by Washington Irving in 1828. In fact, Professor Jeffrey Russell in his book Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians, says “No one before the 1830s believed that medieval people thought that the Earth was flat.”
So, what about Copernicus and his Revolution that the sun was the center of the universe and not the earth? Yes, the Catholic Church had a problem with him. The Council of Trent, which had a problem with everyone not Catholic, laid down rules to handle heretics. Copernicus was lumped in there with Luther and the rest of the “heretics” of the day.
Having the sun be the center of the universe did shake things up. It would be similar to suggesting today that Darwinian Evolution was wrong. Everyone knew the earth was the center, as sure as we know your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandma was a monkey.
The Catholic higher-ups, who were quickly losing power and influence, freaked. There is an account in Joshua where it says “the sun stood still.” Clearly it is the sun that moves, not the earth. Some also pointed to Psalm 93:1, which says in part, “the world also is established, that it cannot be moved.” A simple understanding of how figures of speech work can explain these phrases.
There is even a supposed commentary by John Calvin that says of this verse, “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?” Problem is, no one has ever found anywhere where Calvin ever said this.
Andrew Dickson White is the originator of this “quote.” In his book, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, written in 1896, is where White makes this accusation. He also, incidentally, invents other myths about Christian hostility and supposed scientific facts. No one takes his work seriously.
However, these lies get told and retold, and after a while they become cited reality. Now, it is true that the Catholic Church tried to censor Copernicus. I will not defend the Catholic Church because the vast majority of their history is entirely insane.
But to assume that the Catholic Church represents all Christians is like assuming Joseph Stalin and company represent all atheists.
The Catholic Church actually never banned Copernicus’ book. They gave out edits that were to be made in copies. The problem is that Copernicus did the church a massive favor. Since he understood orbits and so forth, he more accurately predicted the timing of Easter than even the Catholic system! Their deal was not to ban the book, but to edit it, to tone it down.
For instance, The title of Chapter 11 in Book One of his On The Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres was “The Explication of the Three-Fold Motion of the Earth” was to be changed to “The Hypothesis of the Three-Fold Motion of the Earth.”
I am currently reading a book by a professor who traveled all over the world looking at copies of Copernicus’ Revolutions. He notes that hardly any contain these corrections. Pretty much the only people that took the corrections seriously were a few people in Italy. No one else seemed to bother. In fact, Copernicus’ book made it to China because of Jesuit missionaries (Jesuits are Catholics, incidentally.)
Summing it all up, although the Church is routinely bashed for denying science, the reality is that many who bash the church deny history. They invent ideas and then repeat them so it looks like their statements are adequately cited. But when you trace the sources back, you realize many of the charges are inventions.
Again, the Catholic Church did have a messy history with science. But keep in mind, they also have a messy history with Jews, Muslims, Lutherans, Protestants, Baptists, governments, people who want to read the Bible, and many other supposed enemies. I do not defend them. They have not done us any favors.
But next time you hear an accusation against the church, just like I encourage you to do when someone throws a Scripture reference at you: LOOK IT UP! You might be surprised what you find.