One of the most accomplished and influential scientists of his time, and a passionate defender of the Christian faith who believed he had been called by God to glorify Him in the study of His Creation. He was a man immersed in both the Scriptures and his exploration of the heavens such that his scholarly writings often burst forth with biblical quotations and songs of praise for God the Creator.
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Smallpox nearly claimed his life as a youth and probably caused the visual impairment he endured from boyhood on (Baumgardt, p. 22). He was raised as a Lutheran and developed a profound love of God and the Scriptures which would characterize him as an adult.
At Tubingen Kepler studied philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy in addition to theology. Two sightings as a boy had piqued his interest in the heavens: the great comet of 1577 and a lunar eclipse in 1580 (Caspar, pp. 37-8).
Kepler held that man, having been made in God‟s image (Gen. 1:26, 27), comes to know His goodness more fully through a systematic investigation of His works: For He Himself has let man take part in the knowledge of these things and thus not in a small measure has set up His image in man. Since He recognized as very good this image which He made, He will so much more readily recognize our efforts with the light of this image also to push into the light of knowledge the utilization of the numbers, weights and sizes which He marked out at creation. For these secrets are not of the kind whose research should be forbidden; rather thy are set before our eyes like a mirror so that by examining them we observe to some extent the goodness and wisdom of the Creator" (Harmonies as cited in Caspar, p. 381).
Kepler married Barbara Mueller, the twice-widowed daughter of a wealthy mill owner, in 1597, and became the doting step-father of her seven-year-old daughter Regina. The next two years would see the couple bury two infant children,
Still worse tragedies were to befall Kepler in 1611. Six-year-old Friedrich succumbed to smallpox in January and the grieving Barbara contracted typhus and died in July (Caspar, pp. 202, 206).
No less remarkable than the profundity of his scientific thought was his perseverance through unrelenting trial and hardship. He suffered the loss of his first wife and seven of his children and was plagued by a frail constitution and a host of chronic illnesses, including poor vision, fever, stomach ailments, and boils (Caspar, p. 369). Nevertheless, he found time to author eighty books and numerous other smaller works (Tiner, p. 194). Ongoing religious persecution had disheartened him but could not break his resolve to follow his conscience. Undaunted by the innumerable laborious calculations he must perform, he succeeded in discovering the orbit of Mars, the first step in his transformation of astronomy.
KEPLER'S Personal Creed:
I believe . . . that the World of Nature, the World of Man, the World of God - all three fit together. We see how God, like a human architect approached the founding of the world according to order and rule and measured everything in such a manner.
I believe . . . that together with the Holy Scriptures came the book of Nature. Should the kind Creator who brought forth nature out of nothing deprive the spirit of man . . . of every heavenly delight. I had the intention of becoming a theologian . . . but now I see how God is, by my endeavors, also glorified in astronomy for the heavens declare the glory of God.
I believe . . . that our Creator has given us a spirit in addition to the senses, for another reason than merely to provide living for ourselves . . . Man's soul is something quite different from the others part of man, and the soul is kept alive, enriched and grows by that food called knowledge. I am eager to publish my observations in God's honor who wishes to be recognized from the book of Nature. I am a Christian.
I believe . . . only and alone in the service of Jesus Christ . . . in Him is all refuge and solace.