How did the Scientific Revolution lead to the Enlightenment?

The Scientific Revolution led to the Enlightenment by showing that it was possible to know more about the world through empirical research and investigation. Prior to the Scientific Revolution, the world appeared shrouded in mystery. Yet developments in natural science revealed a whole new world for us to understand. The thinkers of the Enlightenment were deeply impressed by the methods of natural science, seeing them as the best means of achieving knowledge about ourselves and the world.

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It's no exaggeration to say that the Scientific Revolution completely transformed the way we look at the world. Much of which had previously been strange or mysterious now made remarkable sense, thanks to the ground-breaking discoveries of scientists such as Newton, Boyle, and Galileo. Collectively, they broadened the cultural and intellectual horizons of humankind, making the universe seem a much bigger place.

As the methods of scientific research pioneered during the Scientific Revolution had been so incredibly successful in garnering knowledge of ourselves and the universe in which we live, thinkers of what became known as the Enlightenment believed that natural science was a paradigm for human intellectual endeavor. Where previously there was confusion, now there was clarity; where there was once ignorance, there was now enlightenment.

But that wasn't all. The Scientific Revolution proved to be a powerful weapon in the hands of Enlightenment thinkers in their bitter struggles against organized religion, especially the Catholic Church. Thinkers such as Voltaire and Diderot railed against the Church for what they saw as its hostility to secular learning. They pointed to the suppression of the work of Galileo by the Pope as clear evidence that the Church was an obstacle to knowledge.

Enlightenment thinkers believed that though scientific advances were valuable in themselves, they were also useful as a way of breaking the stranglehold of the Church on public life in Catholic Europe. As science advanced, so they believed, the power of the Catholic Church would wain, and humankind would instead embrace a rational religion, a religion that came to be known as Deism. If it hadn't been for the Scientific Revolution, with its validation of reason and empirical knowledge, this new conception of religion would almost certainly never have come about.

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