Clearing the air about the Galileo affair
Last weekend I had the pleasure of hearing distinguished historian Prof Peter Harrison’s keynote lecture at the 2018 Conference On Science and Christianity. where he analysed the complex history behind the Galileo affair.
Below is a link to the lecture in its entirely, which I commend to you. Some of the brief takeaway points that I gleaned from this lecture include:
🔸What was Galileo’s chief innovation? His telescope!
🔸What crucial new data did Galileo observe or confirm? Craters on the moon, phases of Venus, moons orbiting Jupiter
🔸Was Galileo treated unfairly? YES
🔸Was he tortured or put in a dungeon? NO
🔸Was the Galileo affair about science vs religion per se? NO
🔸Was it about a conflict between two different camps in the Catholic Church? YES
🔸Did Galileo have undisputed proof of the Copernican model at the time? NO
🔸Was the Pope at the time originally a friend and supporter? YES
🔸Did Galileo help his own cause when he put a direct quote from the Pope in the mouth of a simpleton character in his book? NO
🔸Was the Galileo affair typical of the way the Church conducted such matters? NO
🔸Did Scripture play a role in the resistance to Galileo? YES – but so did science!
🔸What scientific objections were raised against Galileo’s model? Stellar parallax, the Coriolis Effect, the tides, various objections from geometry and mathematics
🔸What was the Church’s doctrine on Scriptural interpretation at the time? That if an undisputed proof or observation conflicted with what was written in Scripture then that scripture MUST be interpreted allegorically and not literally (a method which dates back to Augustine in the 4th century)
🔸How much did Steven Hawking get wrong about Galileo in ‘A Brief History of Time’? EVERYTHING!