Galileo vs. the Church

Back to Solar Mythology and the Jesus Story

This is a classic example of why religious entities should not have power to enforce their beliefs.

In the spring of 1633, Galileo Galilei, an Italian scientist, was delivered before the dreaded Roman Inquisition to be tried on charges of heresy. He was denounced, according to a formal statement, "for holding as true the false doctrine . . . that the sun is the center of the world, and immovable, and that the earth moves!" The statement went on to read that "the proposition that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and... heretical, because it is expressly contrary to the Holy Scripture!" Galileo was found guilty and forced to renounce his views. Ill and broken in spirit, he was sentenced to a life of perpetual imprisonment and penance.

Galileo's big mistake was attempting to defend the Bible. He really loved the Bible but would have probably been better off if he hadn't dabbled in religion.

To quote Galileo: "To condemn as erroneous this particular proposition, would (if I am not mistaken) be a still greater detriment to the minds of men, since it would afford them occasion to see a proposition proved that it was heresy to believe."

Galileo knew the Church's interpretation of the Bible had to be altered because science was proving it wrong. At the time the Church felt that only they had supreme authority to interpret the Bible. The Church got pissed off when Galileo started teaching a modified interpretation of the Bible which wouldn't conflict with what he knew science was proving to be true. The new interpretation of the Bible was contrary to what the Church believed, and the Church had complete governing power to enforce its belief and sentence Galileo for heresy.

Paradoxically, those who today still uphold the Bible as the Literal Inerrant Word of God now claim the Bible all along said the earth moves around the sun.

Throughout history, Galileo has been joined by others in what is viewed by many as an ongoing conflict between science and religion. Roger Bacon, a thirteenth-century English priest, spent the final fourteen years of his life in a dungeon for writing that in the quest for truth, experimentation and observation are challenges to the uncritical acceptance of spiritual and secular authorities. In the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin was mocked and maligned for "claiming that all living things evolved from lower life forms." And in 1925, John Scopes, a high school biology teacher from Dayton, Tennessee, was accused and convicted of violating a state law which specified that only divine creation as an explanation for the origin of life could be taught in Tennessee public schools.

Today, in an age in which science and technology have become such dominant forces in human progress, these examples may seem like barbaric remnants of an unenlightened past. The truth, however, is that the conflict between science and religion is still being waged. The “battlefield” has changed, the “weapons” have been updated and the “wounds” inflicted are generally less gaping. But the battle goes on.

All of this would seem to raise two very relevant questions. First, why are science and religion at odds? And second, have they always been and will they continue to be antagonists?

[Parts taken from the Book:
"Science & Religion: Opposing Viewpoints"
Opposing Viewpoints Series
Greenhaven Press
David L. Bender & Bruno Leone: Series Editors
Janelle Rohr: Book Editor
Bonnie Szumski: Assistant Editor]

"As an instance of the malicious and inexorable nature of priestcraft, we note the curious fact, that Galileo's sentence was, in spite of the clearest light, renewed at Rome in 1869!!!" - [From the book Christian Mythology Unveiled, by Mitchell Logan (1862)] The Catholic Church finally acknowledged it's "mistake" in 1992, only 23 years after man first landed on the moon! See The Catholic Church admits a "mistake"

Galileo's Daughter : A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
by Dava Sobel

Back to Solar Mythology and the Jesus Story