Copernican Principle

What is the Copernican principle?

According to Ruhmkorff (2018), the Copernican Principle refers to a basic statement in physics that there ought not to be “special” observers.  In physical cosmology, this principle states that humans in the solar system or the universe are not privileged observers of the earth.  For instance, the Aristotelian model of the solar system during the middle ages put the earth at the middle of the solar system a unique place because it “appears” that all things turned around the universe. Nicolaus Copernicus established that this opinion was not correct and that the sun was in the middle of the solar system with the earth rotating around it (Ruhmkorff, 2018). The Copernican principle is named for Copernican heliocentrism thereby making it an assumption which rises from an improved cosmological extension of Copernicus’s opinion of a moving earth.

Beste, Larena & Bishop (2017) argue that the suggestions of the work of Copernicus can never be overstated. Copernicus’s opinions challenged the factual interpretation of scripture, the metaphysical and philosophical foundations of moral theory not forgetting common sense itself. The outcome was considerable opposition to Copernicus’s reported thoughts. It was the slow and sure approval of the heliocentric model by natural philosophers which eventually silenced the general clamour. Zhang, Zhang, Wang & Ma (2015) argue that the name of Copernicus remains a battle cry against the establishment in science, philosophy and religion. Later on, with Freud, man lost his God-like mind, with Darwin his dignified place amongst the creatures of the universe; with Nicolaus Copernicus man lost his advantaged position on earth.

Lastly as discussed above, the Copernican Principle refers to a basic statement in physics that there ought not to be “special” observers.  The principle (Copernican) has not yet been proven and cannot be determined although it is understood in several modern models of physics.




Ruhmkorff, S. (2018). The Copernican principle, intelligent extraterrestrials, and arguments from evil. Religious Studies, 1-21.

Bester, H. L., Larena, J., & Bishop, N. T. (2017). Testing the Copernican principle with future radio-astronomy observations. arXiv preprint arXiv:1705.00994.

Zhang, Z. S., Zhang, T. J., Wang, H., & Ma, C. (2015). Testing the Copernican principle with the Hubble parameter. Physical Review D91(6), 063506.