Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English courtier, philosopher, and author. His books (Advancement of Learning, Novum Organum, The New Atlantis) argued that science should concern itself with what could be perceived (anti-mysticism), that inductive reasoning through experimentation (as opposed to Aristotelian deduction) was the way to draw generalizations out of many specific observations. Bacon started the "Experimental Revolution" in England, and founded what eventually became the Royal Academy.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) Italian author and scientist who singlehandedly upset Aristotelian physics by experimentation, by measuring and reducing his observations of the physical world and deriving a mathematical relationship among them, otherwise known as "Mechanics." Founder of telescopic astronomy, the study of the strength of materials, and vindicator of Copernicanism.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English author and scientist, who mathematically quantified forces acting on objects, including the force of gravity, co-founder of calculus, and codifier of the Three Laws of Motion. His work ushered in the Age of Reason, where the use of experimentation would be applied to solve mankind's problems.
Across the 150 years in which these men lived, there's a progression from philosophy to theory to experiment to fact. Newton went so far as to exclaim, "If I have seen further than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants."
"The New Intelligent Man's Guide to Science," I. Asimov, Basic Books, Inc., 1965,
Galileo looked to the stars and saw that they were rocks--in short, that they were not divine indicators of God's will, that they did not mark a line behind which God and the angels moved and through which God reflected His Divine Spirit into the womb, according to the particular constellation formed within the Primum Mobile (blanket of stars) at the time and place of his birth.
Newton argued that man could use reason--math and science--to understand the order of God's created world, of the prevailing divine mysteries by human explanations, calculating that man could use his God given reason to determine the earthly relationships explained the laws of motion in the physical universe.
Bacon looked to the religious and social institutions, arguing that man, so close to the church's explanations of individual and social truth, had stopped doubting the church--that neglecting his reason, man turns over his free will and hope for progress to a force interested in its own power, worth, and survival.
Galileo gave legitimacy to the idea that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the universe; Newton led to clarification of human mystery, to freedom from superstitions; Bacon freed man to value his humanity, to challenge easy answers, and to shape possibility according to his reason.