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Transcript
Cartoon History [Part I]:
Galileo vs. The Church (Science battles Religion)
Caricature:
Galileo: noble, modern, rational scientist
pursuing truth for truth's sake
Catholic Church: ignorant, dogmatic
Churchmen waving Bibles and ignoring the
evidence of their senses
Result: Science (truth, freedom, reason)
lost a battle to Religion (oppression,
ignorance, dogma)
Immediate Complications:
1) Galileo desired to reconcile astronomy
with Scripture, not throw away the Bible
2) Pope Urban VIII earlier defended
Copernicus' book, although disagreeing
with it
3) Cardinal Bellarmine, Galileo's main
opponent, was thoughtful & knowledgeable
about astronomy
Broader Complications:
1) Scientific: Galileo retained circular orbits, no better fit with data than the best geocentric
competitor; no stellar parallax was observed; no physics yet developed to explain a moving earth
2) Epistemological: What constitutes a "demonstration" was still being worked out and debated.
3) Hermeneutics: How should Scripture be interpreted? Who had authority to determine the
range of permitted readings?
4) Political: Counter-Reformation context; Dominicans versus Jesuits within the Church; Thirty
Years' War
5) Personalities: Galileo lacked tact and diplomacy, angered even those sympathetic to his views
Question:
Is Galileo's confrontation with the Church best described as "science" battling "religion"?
"Science" versus "Religion"?
1) Excerpts from A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1900)
by Andrew Dickson White
On this new champion, Galileo, the whole war was at last concentrated. His
discoveries had clearly taken the Copernican theory out the list of hypotheses, and had placed it
before the world as a truth. Against him, then, the war was long and bitter. The supporters of
what was called “sound learning” declared his discoveries deceptions . . . Semi-scientific
professors, endeavouring to curry favour with the Church, attacked him with sham science;
earnest preachers attacked him with perverted Scripture . . .
The first important attack on Galileo began in 1610, when he announced that his
telescope had revealed the moons of the planet Jupiter. The enemy saw that this took the
Copernican theory out of the realm of hypothesis, and they gave battle immediately . . .
In vain did Galileo try to prove the existence of satellites by showing them to the
doubters through his telescope: they declared it impious to look, or, it they did look, denounced
the satellites as illusions from the devil . . .
The whole struggle to crush Galileo and to save him would be amusing were it not
so fraught with evil . . .
2) "Galileo and the Church," (1986) by William R. Shea
The condemnation of Galileo is perhaps the most dramatic incident in the long and varied history
of the relations between science and religious faith. Honest seekers after truth have been
shocked by the attempt to suppress the claim that the earth moves and have seen in the trial of
Galileo decisive evidence that religion is dangerous . . . But Galileo's condemnation must be seen
in historical perspective . . . The opposition he encountered can only be understood if it is related
to a period in which modern liberal values were far from commanding the assent that we have
come to take for granted.
3) Excerpts from Letter to Christina (1615) by Galileo Galilei
[In] disputes about natural phenomena one must begin not with the authority of scriptural
passages but with sensory experience and necessary demonstrations. For the Holy Scripture and
nature derive equally from the Godhead . . . moreover, to accommodate the understanding of the
common people it is appropriate for Scripture to say many things that are different from the
absolute truth; on the other hand, nature is inexorable and immutable, never violates the terms of
the laws imposed upon her . . .
However, by this I do not wish to imply that one should not have the highest regard for
passages of Holy Scripture; indeed, after becoming certain of some physical conclusions, we
should use these as very appropriate aids to the correct interpretation of Scripture and to the
investigation of the truths they must contain . . .
[The] Holy Spirit did not want to teach us whether heaven moves or stands still, nor whether its
shape is spherical or like a discus or extended along a plane, nor whether the earth is located at
its center or on one side . . . the intention of the Holy Spirit is to teach us how one goes to heaven
and not how heaven goes.
4) Excerpts from A Defense of Galileo (1622) by Thomas Campanella (1568- 1639)
The first argument against Galileo is that it seems that theological doctrines would be
completely overthrown by anyone who tries to introduce new ideas which are contrary to the
physics and metaphysics of Aristotle, on which St. Thomas and all the Scholastics based their
theological writings.
2. Further, Galileo publishes opinions which contradict all the Fathers and the Scholastics. For he
teaches that the earth moves and is not in the center of the world, and that the sun and stellar
sphere are at rest. But the Fathers, the Scholastics, and our senses testify to the contrary.
3. Further, he clearly contradicts Sacred Scripture. . .
5. Further, in Joshua 10 there is related the most astonishing miracle that Joshua stopped the
motion of the sun with his words . . . "and the sun stopped in the middle of the heavens . . ."
8. Further, Galileo maintains that there is water on the moon and on the planets. But this is false .
. . since Aristotle and all the Scholastics testify to the eternity and immutability of the heavens
for all ages. He also maintains that there are mountains on the moon . . .
9. Further, from Galileo's opinion it follows that there are many worlds and earths and seas . . .
and that there are human beings living there . . .
10. Further, it does not seem possible to debate these matters without creating an immense
scandal . . .
On the other hand, in Galileo's favor there is the authority of the theologians who
permitted the publication of Copernicus' book. . . because it did not contain anything contrary to
the Catholic faith. . . if Copernicus' book does not disagree with the Catholic faith, then neither
does Galileo.
2. Also, Copernicus' book was approved by Pope
Paul III . . . to whom the book was dedicated, and by certain cardinals . . .
3. Also, after Copernicus' time Erasmus Reinhold . . . Michael Maestlin, Christopher Rothmann,
and many others defended the same opinion. These more recent astronomers found it impossible
to establish astronomical tables correctly without using Copernicus' calculations . . .
4. Also, the most learned Cardinal Cusa has accepted this view . . . Other defenders are the
illustrious Johannes Kepler . . . [and] William Gilbert in his book on magnetic philosophy, as
well as numerous other Englishmen . . .
5. Also, the Jesuit Father Clavius, in the last edition of his writings, advises astronomers to work
out a new system of the heavens . . .
9. Also, sunspots and new stars in the starry heavens and comets above the moon clearly show
that the stars are other world systems . . .