Artifact Politics – Telescope

Usman Khan

A simple, yet amazing technology is the invention of the telescope. The telescope was invented by the Dutch in 1609 and was made up of a tube and and a lens on each end. A great astronomer Galileo Galilei heard of the news and emulated the dutch and created a 20 power instrument he called occhiale or perspicillum. At the time those were the words describing a telescope since the invention of the word telescope had not been invented.

The political dimensions of the telescope at that era was democratic, and used for curiosity and inquiry about the universe leading to what we know as modern astronomy. Galileo would use the telescope and draw paintings on what he saw since he was also an artist. He also then discovered, by the use of the telescope, that the planet Jupiter had little stars next to it, now what we call Jupiters’ moons. The invention of the telescope changed the world during the 1600s because it allowed for a new perspective of understanding the cosmos, and eventually also disproved the notion of the earth being at the center of the universe.

The telescope indubitably supported the claims of an astronomer named Nicholaus Copernicus, that the sun is the center of the universe and not the earth.Which turned out to be the heliocentric theory. At the time this was heresy according to the church, and did not allow for the heliocentric theory to be true which supported the sun in fact is in the center and not the earth. So at the time the telescope managed to disrupt the religious community because the church was worried might all these theories that are being proved by the telescope be going against their beliefs. This fearfulness led to banning the support of the heliocentric theory. Eventually 400 years later the church supported the claims of the heliocentric theory when “Pope John Paul II reopened the case, and stated that ironically Galileo had been a better theologian than those he was contending with, and he repeated the aphorism that “the Bible teaches how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.””(Gingerich). This shows the impact of the telescope, which at the time was seen as a fearful technology by the theologians then eventually led to maybe the curiosity of the divine creators masterpiece.

All this happened by the invention of the telescope and eventually led to a breakthrough in astronomy and further advance science. Now we have various advanced telescopes such as reflecting,radio, and Hubble Space telescopes. All of which are still used today to seek and learn more about the universe. The universe is a great huge outside world, and by the invention of the telescope has helped astronomers and even society learn more about the universe, as well as to understand or maybe even help further advocate some religious beliefs, and also to impact the curiosity of society and further advance science.


Gingerich, Owen. Galileo, the Impact of the Telescope, and the Birth of Modern Astronomy 1 (n.d.): 134-31. Web. 27 Jan. 2015.

Telescope Picture                                                                                                              

3 thoughts on “Artifact Politics – Telescope”

  1. What I think is interesting is the primary advancement of science that come from telescopes and space exploration, and from my perspective at least, the minimization of religion. In my experience religion has tended to fill in our gaps in understanding in the universe, and with the tools available to us to learn more and more, I’m interested to see where the religious views are pushed to – will there always be some aspect of our life that religion seeks to explain? Or, will we eliminate it altogether when we feel our understanding is sufficient?


  2. I always find it interesting that people try to challenge religion with science, or vice versa. It’s like trying to play football with the rules of baseball. It’s a whole different game, neither of which, were supposed to be put together. Science discoveries, such as the telescope, extend our understanding of the “physical” world, not the religious “spiritual” world. I liked your topic, because it has so many dimensions of politics that can be dug into, especially with the religious angle.


    1. Thank you for the comment, I also want to say I believe Pope John put it best when he stated “the Bible teaches how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go”. All though I do not follow the bible, the statement is still valid. Depending on your faith religion and science can coincide, some may think the physical world as we know the entire universe can be created by a creator, religion does not limit your scope to just spiritual it also encourages to use your brain to think and challenge whatever you may, again depending on the faith you believe in.


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