Man's physical universe

xanabras

UNIT II

SECTION 1

MANY IDEAS CONCERNING THE NATURE OF THE UNI-

VERSE WERE DEVELOPED FROM THE TIME OF THE

EARLY GREEKS TO THAT OF GALILEO

Introduction.

Astronomy is one of the oldest of the sciences ; its beginnings are lost

in antiquity. The origin of the arbitrary division of the calendar into

weeks has been lost, but the fact that the days of the week were

associated with heavenly bodies is well attested by their names;

Sunday (sun's day), Saturday (Saturn's day), etc.

Very early in the history of civilization man must have felt the need

for methods of reckoning time, and it is probable that astronomy developed

out of this need. Ancient Chinese, Babylonian, and Egyptian

records show that considerable attention was given to the study of the

heavenly bodies which were visible to the unaided eye.

The Ideas of Ancient Astrology Were Founded on a Little Evidence and

Much Superstition.

Early explanations of natural phenomena all centered around the

idea that everything had a soul like that of man. Every object, animate

or inanimate, had thoughts and feelings and was friendly or unfriendly

to man. This concept called for the medicine-man, or the priest, to

evolve and perform certain occult rites to keep these thousands of unseen

forces friendly. Gradually the belief grew that these priests were

endowed with the powers of foretelling future events; and, as soothsayers

and intermediaries between man and the unseen forces, they

became the valued advisers of the people's rulers.

It is not surprising that man came to consider the stars and planets

as living deities, who controlled the destinies of man, and that he worshiped

them as such.

Long before the time of Christ, astronomical measurements were

made to determine the time for annual national and social events and

to predict positions of the stars favorable to important undertakings.

This growth of astronomy naturally led to the early high development

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