Galileo and the Catholics

From the BBC, as Benedict celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s discoveries:

Galileo used his scientific methods to demonstrate that the Earth revolved around the Sun and not the other way around.

His view directly challenged the church’s view at the time – that the Earth was static and at the centre of the universe.

Galileo was accused of heresy in 1633 and forced to publicly recant his theories.

Unfortunately, this is wrong. The Catholics condemned Galileo for other reasons, namely calling the Catholic Church a liar. It wasn’t the idea that the earth was at the center of the universe — in fact, the Catholic hierarchy supposedly welcomed the discovery — it was Galileo’s insistence to immediately and widely publish his findings, rather than a slow dissemination that the magisterium wanted, and then saying the Catholics lied about the sun standing still on Joshua’s day (the final straw).

I’ll be the first to say that Christians at times can be really, really annoying and daft, especially when dealing with science and the enlightenment (particularly the Catholics… heh, sorry, I couldn’t resist). But lets first set the record straight. Its important to note that the saints of science are just as human as the saints of the church. And on the historical and theological note, perhaps we can rethink the science/religion discussion.


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