Friday, March 28, 2008

Galileo, Science and the Church

Galileo, Science and the Church

Wanting people to know that there was a double fault in the conflict between Galileo and the Church Father Langford writes an account of the facts in Galileo, Science and the Church.

Langford shows in the before mentioned book that in the beginning of the sixteenth century the geocentric view was accepted in majority by theologians and scientists alike, but by the end of the century scientific ideas started to emerge that were different. Theologians also started to speak of differences in beliefs. With the translation of the Bible into a common language and its greater access through the invention of the printing press individual opinions only increased. Through a serious of events, by the end of the sixteenth century, the Church had developed a stubborn dedication to the status quo, which tolerated no suggestions of flaws in their beliefs.

Galileo had begun to believe the new way of thinking with regard to science and he had begun to write of his beliefs and findings. The controversy of Galileo’s discoveries and what they meant, apropos of the beliefs of the Church, started a great conflict. By the beginning of the seventeenth century the Church felt that they had to defend themselves against the accusations of Galileo. Galileo did not see himself as attacking the Church. He seemed to think once he had his beliefs out that many would understand and just accept them. On the contrary, while liberal-minded intellectuals saw his finding as a great contribution, the theologians claimed that anyone could see how Galileo’s theory was not possible. They stated that the sun rose in the morning continued overhead at noon and set in the evening believing this supported the geocentric views.

Galileo continued to write of his findings becoming more and more apposed to the scriptural normal. The theologians were now forced to retaliate with scripture and the battle began. Without proof Galileo upset the status quo stating that the Bible does not give a scientific explanation of the universe. At this point in the controversy between Galileo and the Church it seemed that the Church was ready to attempt a compromise, but Galileo refused to speak of his beliefs as theory because he wanted his beliefs to either be accepted as fact of rejected completely. This attitude of Galileo’s only worsened matters. Galileo really could not prove his theory, and he refused to speak of it as a hypothesis. The Church now adopts the same attitude as Galileo and demands for Galileo to abandon his ideas or face imprisonment. At this point the facts become vague because of a discrepancy of the authenticity of documents in the Holy files and weather or not Galileo received or even agreed to the conditions of the decree of 1616 is still left unknown. However, Galileo left Rome and lied in abeyance for a couple of years. Then a study of comets emerged which Galileo could not resist writing a refutation on. Langford points out a bit of Galileo’s charter showing that the refutation was written in a matter of fact sarcastic style. The publication of this gave Galileo hope while it struck fear in the hearts of those that were still protecting the old order. Langford points out at this point that although Pope Urban VIII encouraged Galileo’s writings the authority of the Church was at stake and Galileo was to write his beliefs as hypothesis with no attempt of demonstration. Galileo’s writings lead to a Dialogue. It is seen that Galileo made a grave mistake underestimating the strength of the Tychonic system to many of the influential thinkers during this Dialogue. Galileo also rejected the tide theory of Kelper’s hoping his own theory would be some proof of the earth in motion but he did not prove that the earth was in fact in motion. At the concluding of the Dialogue the decision on weather of not to print it was very touchy with the decree of 1616 still standing, but it was allowed. After the printing the Pope was convinced, by others, that he had been betrayed and made fun of. It also became evident that Galileo did in fact betray the decree of 1616 in hopes of proving his point and then the decree would be forgotten. Now, the Church must, to save face, act upon the injustice to their institution. Galileo goes to trial, and the prosecution treated him as an example to those that wanted to go against theology or authority. The prosecution bombarded Galileo with writings of his own that were taken out of context. With the condemnation of Galileo complete he spent most of the rest of his days under house arrest.

Langford gave the facts that explained what led up to the condemnation of Galileo with an optimistic view. Although Galileo was wrongly treated by the Church because of the Churches refusal to allow him to write of his discoveries or to try and prove them, and by the questionable way that the prosecution handled the case. Galileo also wronged the Church by the way he approached this matter. Had Galileo not so recklessly attacked the beliefs of the Church or had he shown a respect for their authority things might have been much different. A little subtlety was warranted but not used on the part of Galileo and the result was thus. So the point of Langford is well taken that there was, as in most misfortunes, fault and bad judgment to be seen on the part of both parties.



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