Raphael’s account of our solar system displays Milton’s knowledge of the conflicting scientific theories and beliefs of his time. Milton was well aware that the organization of the universe was hotly disputed. Some astronomers thought that the universe revolved around the Earth, and others, including Milton’s contemporary Galileo (to whom he alludes by name in Book I), felt that the Earth revolved around the sun. While Galileo’s theory was widely denounced by religious authorities, Milton does not take either side of the issue in Paradise Lost, having Raphael assert that the debate is unimportant because it concerns matters that do not pertain to humankind’s relationship with God.
Similarly, Raphael’s message to Adam about the limits of human knowledge functions as a warning to scientists in Milton’s time. Many believed that science could yield incorrect and misleading answers to questions about the universe. Milton argues that humankind should resist making theories about the universe and other incomprehensible things, and focus rather on pragmatic issues of their daily spiritual lives. Milton believed in the necessity of scientific questionings and pursuits, but he also believed that the pursuit of truth through science would yield dangerous results. Truth, according to Milton, should only be pursued through faith and religion; humans should tend to their more Earthly practical matters and have faith that God will manage the metaphysical matters of the universe.