I don’t get lost anymore. Whenever I travel, I simply type my destination’s address into my dashboard GPS system, and the electronic lady’s pleasant (albeit monotoned) voice directs me step-by-step from here to there. GPS is a wonderful invention, and it’s saved me from driving off the edge of the world more than once. It’s also saved my marriage. The most heated arguments my wife and I have ever had cluster around a series of navigational decisions made at sixty-five miles per hour on the highway. “Turn here!” she’d command from the passenger’s seat. “Where? Where?” I’d holler in response. And we’d invariably get lost.
In the year 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus gave the world a bad case of vertigo. That year, his book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres was published. The book took the universally-held model of the solar system, and exactly reversed it. For fourteen centuries, the Ptolemaic understanding had held sway. It was geocentric. It contended that the earth stood at the center of the cosmos, with all the other heavenly bodies revolving around it. But Copernicus studied astronomy with great care, and he became convinced that the earth was not at the center of things. The cosmos was not geocentric, he argued, but heliocentric. All revolves not around us, but, rather, all including us revolves around the sun. Copernicus shared his views with only his friends for thirty years before finally allowing his work to be published widely. Upon publication, it immediately became obvious that his apprehension was well-founded. The great German reformer Martin Luther reacted with ridicule, saying, “There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody [who was] moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth.” [i]