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)
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
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
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 . . .
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 . . .