Friday, January 18, 2008

The Rest of the Story on Galileo

A fairly pleasant Left-o-Blogger thinks that the Church "persecuted" Galileo.

Well, not exactly.

...Galileo was wrong on two accounts: 1) he gave the wrong “proofs” of heliocentrism and the Earth’s motion (with which the Pope, like all his 13 most recent predecessors, agreed, that’s why they had been and kept funding Copernicanism that was at risk of being destroyed by mass executions of scientists in Calvinist and Lutheran countries). One of such proofs was ebb tides, which his Jesuit adversaries of the Specola Vaticana rightly attributed to the Moon’s magnetic influence. 2) he wanted to make theology starting from his observation which is obviously non-sense.

Galileo was “condemned” to say the 7 penitential Psalms (the horror!), for having satirized the Pope in a very vulgar way in one of his books. The place of the “execution” was his villa in Tuscany, called “the Jewel” and paid for by Papal funds. Galileo continued to work on (and teach, like the Jesuits of his time) heliocentrism, mathematics, physics and related technologies with the Pope’s financial aid.

Not a bad "persecution." Live at home, teach, get paid by the Pope....just recite some Psalms and don't try to tell the Church "where theology begins."


PaulNoonan said...

You are taking lightly the silencing of rational thought by an uniformed quasi-governmental church.

Also, the tides are caused by the gravitational field gradient between two massive bodies (in this case, the moon and the earth) and not the moon's magnetic field.

House arrest isn't death, but it isn't nothing either. The guy did discover 4 of Jupiter's moons, after all.

Dad29 said...


Note well, Paul: he was TEACHING during his "imprisonment." Maybe you teach without talking, but most folks are not "silent"...

I just cut/paste, although I, too, thought it was gravity, not magnetic force.

And since the Church was the money behind most all scientific discovery back then, your "quasi-" whatever yappaflappa is ...detached from a realistic viewpoint.

There was no NSF, NASA--at that time, Paul.

Other Side said...

Hey daddio ... I thought the question had to do with whether Galileo was ordered to recant, not whether he was disciplined.

Was he or was he not ordered to recant? The Catholic Encyclopedia said he was. I am curious to hear if you have a different take.

PaulNoonan said...

He was ordered to recant. He was teaching but his influence was confined to his house. Also, regarding this:

And since the Church was the money behind most all scientific discovery back then, your "quasi-" whatever yappaflappa is ...detached from a realistic viewpoint.

I have 2 points.

1. This allowed them control over what was allowable in scientific research. I'm sure you're familiar with the real golden rule.

2. About the "realistic viewpoint" thing, I don't go in for that kind of cheap moral relativism when I judge other cultures.

Dad29 said...

He was ordered to recant his theological speculations, and re-state his proofs.

Note WELL that the Church was supporting Copernicus, who had the same theory--the difference being that C. did not propose to re-order theology.

Dad29 said...

This allowed them control over what was allowable in scientific research

The Church did not FORCE anyone to take the money.

And, by the way, your hidden assumption is that the Church's authorities were against finding the truth.

Do you have a reason to assume that, or are you just anti-Church?

capper said...

The Church was upset because they thought Galileo's teachings were against theirs.

They also made Galileo recant his teachings, upon pain of death. They threatened his life, made an old, sickly man stand trial, then put him on "house arrest" for teaching the truth.

I am not bashing the Church, Dad, but even you must admit they have made mistakes.

Jeff Miller said...

Galileo even got permission for his daughter who was a nun to say the penitential psalms for him. Pretty harsh!

Dad29 said...

Cap--yes, the Church made mistakes.

Mostly, the authorities were far too kind during the Inquisition.

PaulNoonan said...

I'm against anything that stifles reason. The Church, with its built in assumptions about the world did a great deal to stifle progress.

if reason intersects faith, I am against anything that unfairly tips the scales to faith.

Dad29 said...

Paul, your knowledge of intellectual history is sadly deficient, to say the very least.

For only one example, John Paul II wrote a monograph (encyclical) called "Faith and Reason" in which he re-iterated the Church's position: that the two are completely and ALWAYS compatible.

B-16's "Regensburg" speech (which infuriated the Muslim rabble) was all about the intersection of faith and reason--B-16 pointed out that Mohammedanism is not 'reasonable.'

Anyone who has ANY knowledge of the Church's intellectual tradition would not attempt to make the argument you did.

Publick Screwels, Paul??

PaulNoonan said...

Yes, the last Pope did quite a bit of good actually, as a staunch anti-communist and a positive force in general. The church also deserves credit for accepting evolution where many protestant denominations choose to remain ignorant.

However, if you recall, the topic of this post is Galileo, and Galileo died in 1642, just slightly before JPII became Pope, and trying to argue that the church of the 16th and 17th centuries did not interfere with free inquiry is a bit silly, don't you think? This was, after all, contemporaneous with the Spanish Inquisition.

He also lived during the classical period of European witch hunts, which I mention only to point out that this church that found faith and reason to be compatible was hunting things that did not exist.

(Please don't mention the existence of Wiccans who refer to themselves as witches. That is a relatively modern phenomenon, and it is not what I'm talking about here. It would be embarrassing for both of us.)

You know, there is more to studying intellectual history than Catholic writings. Ever pick up any David Hume?

Also, just because the Pope says something does not make it true. He still needs to provide a decent argument. It's not like he has a direct line to God or anything.

Faithful Catholic said...

Paul, you don't understand, Dad29 seems to think that the Pope does have a direct line to God, at least that's what I've gotten from his blog. And as for your "provide a decent argument," Dad does not believe observation should play a big role in theology, so where would a decent argument fit in. Dad just does not understand, though I have appreciated your comments. They are right on.

Neo-Con Tastic said...

I love how you call yourself a "faithful catholic" - not one attempt to defend the Church.

Dad29 said...

NeoCon: based on what that "Catholic" runs on his own blog, and responses he's/she's made, we can infer that he/she is not Catholic, or that he/she is about 12 years old.

Dad29 said...

As a matter of fact, there's no "direct line." But the Church has maintained that no Pope will err in matters of faith and morals, ever.

And they haven't.

Remembering that the Galileo dispute was theological, NOT astrophysical (Copernicus WAS supported, not "repressed" by the Church), we have the nut of the problem w/Galileo.

G. wished to revise theology based on his discovery. Frankly, that was not part of his charter, and the Church told him to take a 'time-out.'

And Paul, "witch-hunting" was a Prot phenomenon (recall that Massachusetts was NOT a Catholic colony, nor was England "Catholic" at the time.)

Finally, the Church accepts "evolution" only in the physical sense--as a theory, by the way--but not in the metaphysical sense which modern intellectualoids would have it.

If you accept the metaphyisical "evolution theory," you have to demonstrate that the murder rate is going down, e.g.

PaulNoonan said...

I didn't know that Spain was in England.

John Foust said...

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.