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Galileo


3DOP

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As many of you know, I have tried to represent the Catholic faith on this board since 2004, and before that at ZLMB since September of 2000. Over the years I have often seen reports as to an anti-scientific bias in regards to terrible punishments Galileo received at the hands of the Catholic Church. I am not a student of the subject, but have only studied Catholic sources that suggest that it was not his mere espousal of the Copernican theory of heliocentrism that got him into trouble with the ecclesiastical authorities. Copernicus, alongside his scientific inquiries, was himself a Catholic cleric who as late as 1537 was on a short list of probable candidates to succeed to the episcopal see of Ermland in his native Poland. That of course, is according to Catholic sources. What do non-Catholics say about it?

What was the difference, according to those of you who have studied this question from both sides, that caused the "martyrdom" of Galileo alongside the relative calm with which Copernicus was able to propose his views without sanction? Perhaps non-Catholics have evidence that Copernicus was persecuted by the Church as well (although I have never heard that)?

Secondly, I have heard it said that Galileo suffered torture and excommunication. There seems to be unanimity from non-Catholics regarding atrocious treatment of Galileo by the authorities. On the other hand, I read from a Catholic source that not only was Galileo never excommunicated, and denied a Catholic burial, but his remains are to this day interred not only in consecrated ground, but in a Catholic church! I do not need to tell you that that is not an honor that Catholics ordinarily permit to those who have been excommunicated.

Just yesterday, out of the blue of a completely unrelated subject arose another "lesson" to be learned from an alleged excommunication of Galileo here at MD&D. I am wondering if perhaps we could try to clear this up. So where does one go for the sources that refute the Catholic claims as to the moderate extent of his sanctions? The Catholics claim that he was only placed under loose house arrest and was buried in a church after having actually received a papal blessing when it was known he was dying in 1642! Clearly, this is not universally accepted by outspoken students of the Galileo affair.

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I think the Galileo argument is one of the dumbest arguments against Catholicism (en par with the "call no man father" argument and others like them) there is, and those who bring it up just reveal gross ignorance of history, Catholicism, etc, as well as their inability to research claims.

Robert B.

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I think the Galileo argument is one of the dumbest arguments against Catholicism (en par with the "call no man father" argument and others like them) there is, and those who bring it up just reveal gross ignorance of history, Catholicism, etc, as well as their inability to research claims.

Robert B.

I second this. I tire of hearing atheists allude to the "Dark Ages," but I'm even more annoyed with Mormons that devour the Protestant and Enlightenment anti-Catholic propaganda.

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I'm up late. Anybody else watch the Red Sox lose to the Angels at 3 in the morning Eastern Time? What a hoot. I'm a Red Sox fan, and have been since "the Cardiac Kids" of "67. Does anybody else remember Tony Conigliaro's black eye on the cover of Sports Illustrated after being hit by an Angels relief pitcher in August of '67? I think it was Jack Hamilton. Anyway, tonight's "disappointment" was one of the most fun losses I have ever seen. Even if baseball is messed up in a lot of ways, you can occasionally catch a magical moment that is divorced from all the rest. Taken a game at a time, forgetting about the ridiculous structure that pits minor league teams against major league teams with a World Series played in November at night...baseball can still really be great. I should be the commissioner....

I still remember a poem they wrote about the young slugger, Tony C., as he was affectionately known that talks about his beaning in 1967:

One August night

The kid in right

lie sprawling in the dirt

The fastball struck him square

He's down

Is Tony badly hurt?

The doctors say

he'll be okay

but he won't be back this year

If Tony's through

what can we do

who'll carry us from here?

He was the youngest home run king in American League history. He was only 20 in 1964 when he led the league with 32. And he never recovered from his vision problems. There is no telling what he would have done.

Its MY thread! I'll change the subject if nobody wants to argue about Galileo. So who carried the Red Sox after Tony went down? Hint: He won the batting title, and led the A.L. in RBI's, tying Harmon Killebrew for homers with 44.

But back to our astronomer. Of course I agree with the LDS posts affirming that too much has been made of the whole affair. Maybe I should give you all more about the reasons that Catholics say Galileo got into trouble. Maybe I should talk about his daughter. I won't bother if it isn't necessary. I was afraid that we were going to be in complete disagreement about the facts of the case. I hadn't even entertained the possibility of arriving at agreement as to the inferences of agreed upon facts. From the three responses so far, there is no disagreement as to the facts, and nothing but unanimity as to their implications. Great! I'm good! Let the thread die. I have an MRI in the morning on my knee, a dentist appointment in the afternoon, and company tomorrow evening. I'll check in after that. Last call...for Galileo vs. the Catholic Church. Should we just talk baseball?

3DOP

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I'm up late. Anybody else watch the Red Sox lose to the Angels at 3 in the morning Eastern Time? What a hoot. I'm a Red Sox fan, and have been since "the Cardiac Kids" of "67. Does anybody else remember Tony Conigliaro's black eye on the cover of Sports Illustrated after being hit by an Angels relief pitcher in August of '67? I think it was Jack Hamilton. Anyway, tonight's "disappointment" was one of the most fun losses I have ever seen. Even if baseball is messed up in a lot of ways, you can occasionally catch a magical moment that is divorced from all the rest. Taken a game at a time, forgetting about the ridiculous structure that pits minor league teams against major league teams with a World Series played in November at night...baseball can still really be great. I should be the commissioner....

I still remember a poem they wrote about the young slugger, Tony C., as he was affectionately known that talks about his beaning in 1967:

One August night

The kid in right

lie sprawling in the dirt

The fastball struck him square

He's down

Is Tony badly hurt?

The doctors say

he'll be okay

but he won't be back this year

If Tony's through

what can we do

who'll carry us from here?

He was the youngest home run king in American League history. He was only 20 in 1964 when he led the league with 32. And he never recovered from his vision problems. There is no telling what he would have done.

Its MY thread! I'll change the subject if nobody wants to argue about Galileo. So who carried the Red Sox after Tony went down? Hint: He won the batting title, and led the A.L. in RBI's, tying Harmon Killebrew for homers with 44.

But back to our astronomer. Of course I agree with the LDS posts affirming that too much has been made of the whole affair. Maybe I should give you all more about the reasons that Catholics say Galileo got into trouble. Maybe I should talk about his daughter. I won't bother if it isn't necessary. I was afraid that we were going to be in complete disagreement about the facts of the case. I hadn't even entertained the possibility of arriving at agreement as to the inferences of agreed upon facts. From the three responses so far, there is no disagreement as to the facts, and nothing but unanimity as to their implications. Great! I'm good! Let the thread die. I have an MRI in the morning on my knee, a dentist appointment in the afternoon, and company tomorrow evening. I'll check in after that. Last call...for Galileo vs. the Catholic Church. Should we just talk baseball?

3DOP

I'd be interested in learning more about Galileo, if you want to share.

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The wiki article gives no indication of an excommunication: Galileo Affair.

Anecdotally it has been my experience that the anti-theology factions of society have done a fairly decent job in propagandizing this incident as a demonstration of the anti-science attitudes of religion and the non-theology of rational thinkers like Galileo. However, I am more inclined to believe the interpretation of history which suggests that the events surrounding Galileo's trial were much more politically and personally motivated as opposed to reasons of dogma.

I encourage reading of the article for those not acquainted with the events surrounding his trial. The discussion section also has a considerable amount of material making its way through review for possible addition to the article.

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I'd be interested in learning more about Galileo, if you want to share.

Okay Nathair. I'll do so regardless of whether those who sometimes raise the Galileo incident care to dispute the facts of the case as presented by the Catholic position. In connection with this, I'll give a typical example of an accusation against church authority that can be found on the internet. This article seems to me to give a biased view of the clinging dark atmosphere during the Renaissance in Rome. It is an attempt to prove that at the time of Galileo there was a vehement storm of opposition within the Catholic Church against the Copernican theory. To allow you to anticipate how easy it is to turn facts to make them fit your agenda I will give you a preview with the following quote:

On February 17, 1600, the Catholic Church made a most emphatic and brutal statement. Giordano Bruno, a Dominican friar, figure 1, turned philosopher, was burned at the stake in Rome. In keeping with the punishment he suffered the heretic's fork, a cruel Y-shaped object, the branched end of which passed into his jaw while the lower end was positioned behind his breastbone to force his mouth shut. Bruno had been found guilty of heresy and the fork meant that he could not longer "spread the word". His crime? Well, he was a sort of "hippie" and among his rather "way out" views for the time, he believed and maintained the Copernican model of the universe...
---http://courses.science.fau.edu/~rjordan/phy1931/GALILEO/galileo.htm

It seems to me like they leave out a LOT of pertinent information in attempt to make the Catholic Church appear to be anti-scientific and uniquely so, and dogmatically intractable in regards to scientific progress if it should conflict with current theology. I am suggesting that we always need to avail ourselves of information FROM the accused as well as the accuser if we could have trustworthy historical information. I do not dispute that Bruno was burnt at the stake. I couldn't say as to the additional gory details. Of course, it is a prosecutor's prerogative to arouse compassion toward the victims and maybe they did use this fork. I'll give more in a day or two from the defendant position as time allows and I hope you'll be able to see that what takes place in this history, as with most history, is a series of accusations and defenses where one cannot get the proper perspective without hearing both sides of the case.

3DOP

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From Wiki

Galileo's championing of Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime, when a large majority of philosophers and astronomers still subscribed to the geocentric view that the Earth is at the centre of the universe. After 1610, when he began publicly supporting the heliocentric view, which placed the Sun at the centre of the universe, he met with bitter opposition from some philosophers and clerics, and two of the latter eventually denounced him to the Roman Inquisition early in 1615. In February 1616, although he had been cleared of any offence, the Catholic Church nevertheless condemned heliocentrism as "false and contrary to Scripture",[10] and Galileo was warned to abandon his support for it—which he promised to do. When he later defended his views in his most famous work, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

As to torture. While it wasn't as gruesome as done in Catholic Spain. House Arrest is still a prison cell with furniture.

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Even if Galileo's execution or torture can be refuted there are still gazillions (number exaggerated for effect) of people tortured or executed for mundane and trivial reasons for centuries at the hands of Catholic leadership.

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Even if Galileo's execution or torture can be refuted there are still gazillions (number exaggerated for effect) of people tortured or executed for mundane and trivial reasons for centuries at the hands of Catholic leadership.

It can be and has been refuted. See the following:

God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, eds. David C. Lindberg, Ronald L. Numbers (University of California Press, 1986).

Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion, ed. Ronald L. Numbers (Harvard University Press, 2009).

When Science and Christianity Meet, eds. David C. Lindberg, Ronald L. Numbers (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton University Press, 2003).

David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale University Press, 2009).

The last two engage the Inquisition more generally as well. The following articles by Thomas F. Madden (one of the top historians on the Crusades) should provide some historical context for the Inquisition:

"The Real Inquisition: Investigating the Popular Myths," National Review Online (June 18, 2004).

"The Truth About the Spanish Inquisition," Crisis (October 2003).

This isn't to say there have been no abuses, but it is to say that the popular tales that pop up in lay circles are largely bogus or incomplete.

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While it wasn't as gruesome as done in Catholic Spain.
Even if Galileo's execution or torture can be refuted...

One subject at a time. Well...two subjects if you want to talk about baseball. Otherwise this thread is about Galileo, the Catholic Church and science. I have written repeatedly on Spanish Inquisition myths and I'll do so again, but not now. Thanks for recognizing that Galileo was never excommunicated, tortured, or executed.

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One subject at a time. Well...two subjects if you want to talk about baseball. Otherwise this thread is about Galileo, the Catholic Church and science. I have written repeatedly on Spanish Inquisition myths and I'll do so again, but not now. Thanks for recognizing that Galileo was never excommunicated, tortured, or executed.

I've got your back on Galileo and the Inquisition.

I find much of the anti-Catholicism I encounter to be similar to anti-Mormonism.

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Copernicus, alongside his scientific inquiries, was himself a Catholic cleric who as late as 1537 was on a short list of probable candidates to succeed to the episcopal see of Ermland in his native Poland. That of course, is according to Catholic sources. What do non-Catholics say about it?

One subject at a time. Well...two subjects if you want to talk about baseball. Otherwise this thread is about Galileo, the Catholic Church and science. I have written repeatedly on Spanish Inquisition myths and I'll do so again, but not now. Thanks for recognizing that Galileo was never excommunicated, tortured, or executed.

Maybe I have been deprived, but I had never heard any assertion that Galileo was tortured, excommunicated, or executed. I have often heard religion in general and Roman Catholicism in particular accused of being anti-science, and the silencing of Galileo the primary example used to prove the point. But that is not true.

As has been pointed out above, Galileo found himself at the point of the spear in a major paradigm shift in science. That is, he challenged the scientific establishment, which was fully convinced of the complete truth of the systematic geocentrism of Claudius Ptolemy (of Alexandria), a pagan scientist from almost 1500 years earlier. Ironically, within less than a generation of the passing of Galileo that paradigm shift away from Ptolemaic geocentrism was complete.

Most well-educated men of Galileo's day had taken holy orders in the course of their education (most were at least ordained deacons), a requirement which even Isaac Newton accepted a generation after Galileo. So the position of Nicolaus Copernicus was not at all unusual. The same applied to the scientific establishment of Galileo's time, most of whom were Jesuits -- the most intellectual of holy orders, then or now.

That scientific establishment merely used the most powerful weapon available to shut Galileo up, the Church. Even in more enlightened England, Newton was very cautious not to allow any whiffs of heresy to come from his laboratory (where he practiced alchemy, along with the mainstream experimental science which he freely discussed at the Royal Society).

The tales of torture and burnings at the stake are unfortunately true (see Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition), and they were freely practiced by both the Roman Catholic Church as well as by such Protestants as John Calvin, and these horrors continued right down to the time of the Salem Witch Trials in the American colonies. Indeed, the Inquisition burned its last heretic at the stake in 1815.

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3DOP:

Galileo was threatened with excommunication. Which was a big deal in his day. http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/journal_of_the_history_of_ideas/v062/62.4rudavsky.html

http://galileo.rice.edu/chr/inquisition.html

Galileo a heretic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

Witches and Heretics didn't fare too well under the Inquisition.

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/esp_vatican29.htm#The%20Tortures

The Jews didn't fare too well under the Inquisition either.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Inquisition.html

The Muslims particularly in Spain faced the Inquisition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition

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It can be and has been refuted. See the following:

God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, eds. David C. Lindberg, Ronald L. Numbers (University of California Press, 1986).

Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion, ed. Ronald L. Numbers (Harvard University Press, 2009).

When Science and Christianity Meet, eds. David C. Lindberg, Ronald L. Numbers (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton University Press, 2003).

David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale University Press, 2009).

The last two engage the Inquisition more generally as well. The following articles by Thomas F. Madden (one of the top historians on the Crusades) should provide some historical context for the Inquisition:

"The Real Inquisition: Investigating the Popular Myths," National Review Online (June 18, 2004).

"The Truth About the Spanish Inquisition," Crisis (October 2003).

This isn't to say there have been no abuses, but it is to say that the popular tales that pop up in lay circles are largely bogus or incomplete.

Thanks WalkerW

It seems like it could be helpful for those who have strong views regarding the alleged mistreatment of Galileo to take note of the sources that have been cited. The University of California, Chicago, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale are hardly biased in favor of Catholicism. Although I think the University of Chicago was founded as a Catholic school, its reputation should not be problematic. This isn't material thrown together by some Catholic apologetic organization on the internet. It seems to me like it is also significant that it doesn't come from non-Catholic religious sources.

I began with a challenge to those who would care to do so, to cite the non-Catholic works that oppose the Catholic sources I have used which insist upon placing the events, Galileo's personality, and the Church's history with regards to science and theology in a light which makes the sanctions against Galileo to seem, if nor fair to our vantage point, at least understandable. It disputes the notion that the Galileo controversy was a deliberate and malicious attempt to thwart further insights into the Copernican theory.

There are clearly those who are reluctant to admit that the Catholic Church is at least less guilty than perhaps they thought. Rather than happily concede the point, they want to move on to some other wild and unsubtantiated accusation against the Church. I am not singling out the two who showed their antagonism to the Church here. They are typical. Really. But I am glad they showed how they feel. I am not sure I understand the mentality. As I said above, I have been on these boards for over ten years. In that time, I have probably seen more than a hundred "Mountain Meadows Massacre" threads. I haven't followed the subject closely enough to even form my own opinion. But I sure don't mind if there weren't any murders or if any crimes that were committed are unconnected to the LDS hierarchy. I don't have anything to gain from vilifying historical figures anymore than I do from vilifying my employer, relatives, or neighbors. But I have noted a tenacity from accusers that seems to extend beyond concerns for accurate history. Because I sometimes sense the same mentality from the accusers of alleged atrocities that might involve LDS leadership, as I often do from those who bring up Galileo, I tend to treat their accusations with skepticism. Just as with astronomy, we need historical views that have been arrived at by dispassionately examining all the evidence. We need astronomy AND history that isn't concerned with protecting this religion or that political philosophy.

I admit, I really doubted that anybody here who raises Galileo as an example of Catholic persecution against science has read a credible historian that is either Catholic or secular. I could still be wrong about that. We will see. Maybe there IS information that has been withheld by the Catholic sources that I have dabbled with. So where is it? Here is a big thread in General Discussions. It is about Galileo. You would think that those who have been mentioning his name would, if they had sources that they were confident about, bring them forward for examination. Here is the chance to show that they aren't just mouthing a false axiom picked up somewhere in an anti-Catholic education. If you use a word search on Galileo you will find that his name comes up on this LDS oriented discussion board with surprising frequency. I can't figure out how to locate every post and I don't want to anyway. It is enough to know that many persons here seem to have drawn lessons from his case. Who publishes the books that refute Catholic sources that give evidence that point to the strong possibility that the Catholic Church can be exonerated as a whole for the suppression of Galileo's work? What unbiased and reputable authors can be recommended which would make me re-evaluate the position that I am currently holding which permits me to believe that rather than serving as a hindrance, the Catholic Church was a booster and patron of scientific endeavor in the centuries immediately preceding the Galileo event?

3DOP

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3DOP:

I have no antipathy toward the Catholic church or its members. They do a commendable job of keeping the faith alive in their members, and the world is better off for them. But the history of The Inquisition is one of unmitigated horror and atrocity. It was created and abetted by the highest counsels of the Catholic church and its Popes. It lasted for hundreds of years. Sadly the Protestants were no better, and in some ways worse than the Catholics.

MMM was a sad moment for the LDS. No defense of the participants is possible. I feel sorry for its victims. My only defense of the Church is that MMM occurred without Church authority or permission.

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Robert F. Smith

Maybe I have been deprived, but I had never heard any assertion that Galileo was tortured, excommunicated, or executed. I have often heard religion in general and Roman Catholicism in particular accused of being anti-science, and the silencing of Galileo the primary example used to prove the point. But that is not true.

3DOP

This thread was prompted most recently by these two comments:

Would the Catholic church still be around if they were still excommunicating people for believing the earth revolved around the sun?
and
The problem with judging whether the church is doing "Gods will" based on the dogma of the church has always had fatal flaws. For example the persecution of Galileo because he disagreed that the sun rotated around the earth.

One of these arose in a thread about the Virgin Birth and another in a thread about homosexual marriage. Nothing particluarly remarkable, just false presumptions which are probably held by many. Why do I make an issue of it? I believe that a misunderstood historical event has misinformed centuries of individuals who are doing the Catholic Church a misservice by failing to appreciate important nuances surrounding the Galileo case. Lessons are being drawn that aren't necessarily false, but they are drawn at the expense of placing the truth about the position of the Church in a much worse light than the facts warrant.

Robert F. Smith

As has been pointed out above, Galileo found himself at the point of the spear in a major paradigm shift in science. That is, he challenged the scientific establishment, which was fully convinced of the complete truth of the systematic geocentrism of Claudius Ptolemy (of Alexandria), a pagan scientist from almost 1500 years earlier. Ironically, within less than a generation of the passing of Galileo that paradigm shift away from Ptolemaic geocentrism was complete.

3DOP

I have understood that Aristotle had also "proven" geo-centrism, and this was accepted universally, but it was based on geometrical failures to appreciate the vast distances of space. Something like that. Not until the advent of the telescope, and speculation that the universe was larger than previously thought, could helio-centrism "leap the hurdle" of Aristotle's geometry. And so, as you say, resistance stemmed even more strongly from the scientific community than the theological.

Robert F. Smith

Most well-educated men of Galileo's day had taken holy orders in the course of their education (most were at least ordained deacons), a requirement which even Isaac Newton accepted a generation after Galileo. So the position of Nicolaus Copernicus was not at all unusual. The same applied to the scientific establishment of Galileo's time, most of whom were Jesuits -- the most intellectual of holy orders, then or now.

3DOP

Sure. St. Albert the Great, the Dominican teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas, was a leading naturalist. I was thinking Newton would have been in England after the Reformation. Am I wrong on that? As for Copernicus, my sources suggest that it is probable that Copernicus was also a priest, else he wouldn't have been nominated for the episcopate. Being the first to so speculate, Copernicus as well as Galileo were more subject to ridicule than persecution, and that from their colleagues in academia. It wasn't until the opponents of Galileo began citing Scripture that the Church began to look into the matter. Even so, the great and widely respected Jesuit theologian, St. Robert Bellarmine, was willing to re-examine the assumed evidence of Scripture, if the Copernican theory could indeed be proven:

I say that if a real proof be found that the sun is fixed and does not revolve round the earth, but the earth round the sun, then it will be necessary, very carefully, to proceed to the explanation of the passages of Scripture which appear to be contrary, and we should rather say that we have misunderstood these than pronounce that to be false which is demonstrated.

Given the fact that the natural science of the day had supported the view that the sun revolved around the earth, seeming to ratify a literalistic approach to certain Scriptures, a firmly literalistic interpretation of "the sun standing still over Jericho" was naturally held throughout all of Christendom. But wiser heads knew that science and theology don't conflict, and if we have sure proof, not theories regarding natural science, that it must inform our understanding of Scripture. According to my sources, it wasn't until Galileo began to infer the Scriptures to possibly be in error, that the trouble began to brew. Strictly speaking, and this seems important, it wasn't scientific theory that got him into hot water with the Church, it was his willingness to accept the possibility that Scripture might be wrong at the same time, failing to maintain the necessary Catholic faith in the veracity of Sacred Scripture. That, not science, got the attention of ecclesiastical authority, and rightly so given Galileo's celebrity and notoriety. It couldn't be thinkable that science trumps Scripture. Some may disagree with that, but a Catholic of that time or today, is not so permitted, and if they are famous teachers, they might still be subject to censures similar to those received by Galileo.

Robert F. Smith

That scientific establishment merely used the most powerful weapon available to shut Galileo up, the Church. Even in more enlightened England, Newton was very cautious not to allow any whiffs of heresy to come from his laboratory (where he practiced alchemy, along with the mainstream experimental science which he freely discussed at the Royal Society).

3DOP

I had not heard this kind of emphasis before. Isn't it interesting how a religious or scientific community can feel threatened at having to re-evaluate widely held points of view? There is no question in my mind that certain churchmen erred in affirming unnecessarily a literalist interpretation of Scripture. I suspect that in both religion and science, we are no different today than then. We still seek to ridicule and silence that which questions the majority view. I don't know anything about Ptolemaic or Copernican theories of science, but there are a handful of Catholic thinkers who propose that Galileo was wrong and they today hold to a geo-centric universe. I truly would not know how or where to learn how to debate the question. So I don't have much of an opinion. I tend to helio-centrism, but only because everybody else does. I have no basis for a strong view of the matter. Why do we sometimes have such strong opinions about what we don't completely understand whether it is historical or scientific? I am confident that the geo-centrists are shouted down and ridiculed by people who don't know any more about it than I do. We get overly confident and even fiercely so, in what we and our peers take for granted, not on the basis of understood principles, but simply on the basis of unfounded authority.

Robert F. Smith

The tales of torture and burnings at the stake are unfortunately true (see Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition), and they were freely practiced by both the Roman Catholic Church as well as by such Protestants as John Calvin, and these horrors continued right down to the time of the Salem Witch Trials in the American colonies. Indeed, the Inquisition burned its last heretic at the stake in 1815.

3DOP

Yes. Yes. Certainly. I hope I am not a whitewasher. I don't want to exonerate the guilty. But I hope I would seek to exonerate the innocent whether they are Catholics, Mormons, or Communists. But did you see that I already raised the question of Bruno in connection with Galileo? I am thinking that it will be very enlightening to compare the way the internet site tilted facts to make them fit a theory against the Catholic Church. It is so sadly typical. How can those who really aren't completely informed be so cavalier when it comes to judging figures in history? They would never dream of passing judgment on an accused criminal in such a way, and yet we convict historical figures with abandon, without attempting to gain any evidence to the contrary, and suppressing evidence that might at least mitigate inexcusable actions. Its kind of scary if you believe in Judgment Day. We know we will be accountable for it if we falsely accuse those in our acquaintance. why do we not have the same fear when it comes to slander, calumny, and vilification of figures long dead? Shouldn't we tread more circumspectly, trying, just as we would with an accused neighbor, of finding ways of excusing questionable or criminal behavior?

Thanks for your comments Robert. Very interesting. The part about the scientific community hadn't occurred to me as much as it should have. Good.

Regards,

3DOP

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3DOP:

I have no antipathy toward the Catholic church or its members. They do a commendable job of keeping the faith alive in their members, and the world is better off for them. But the history of The Inquisition is one of unmitigated horror and atrocity. It was created and abetted by the highest counsels of the Catholic church and its Popes. It lasted for hundreds of years. Sadly the Protestants were no better, and in some ways worse than the Catholics.

MMM was a sad moment for the LDS. No defense of the participants is possible. I feel sorry for its victims. My only defense of the Church is that MMM occurred without Church authority or permission.

I guess I am glad that you approve of the so-called modern Church. I think you mean well toward me personally. But I could wish that you would try to see the trap that I think all of us fall in to from time to time. This thread is more about the trap of using less scrutiny in evaluating dead people than we would use with evaluating the living. It is about understanding human nature and seeing why false assumptions can wrongly destroy reputations and distorts things that are good, and beautiful and true that could otherwise be benefits to society and individuals.

The past is as important as the present. I am sorry to have to put it this way, but I want you to understand the full force of what it is like to a Catholic when somebody uses harsh and careless words against the Catholic Church. It is like you say that you like my mother now, but you can't approve of the fact that she murdered my brothers and sisters a long time ago. But I don't believe my mother ever killed my brothers and sisters, so how can I take solace in the fact that you think she is nice now, but used to be a monster?

So I must express my sad and complete disagreement sometimesaint. There is always a defense for anyone. We can say that there is guilt, but if we look more deeply we can see beyond the crimes and into the circumstances, the motives, and of finding ways of seeing what good thing caused a criminal to err. I couldn't more vehemently disagree and I will use your words. There ARE ALWAYS "mitigating" factors. There are historical figures that I hold to be villains. I could name the names and some you would agree with and some may be your heroes. I don't know. But it is my duty to find mitigating factors for every institution or individual that I will publicly accuse of villainy. I will say that I have done this with the Communists in Russia. I still do not have a high opinion of V.I. Lenin. But I have sought to understand why and how he could be so ruthless with his enemies. It was a traumatic experience for him in his youth to understand that his beloved brother was hanged for treason. The love of his brother helped to fuel Lenin's violent and ruthless career. There are always, always mitigating factors. We have to get into the habit of looking for them. I hate communism as an ideology, but that does not mean that as a Christian I may wantonly make Lenin appear worse than he was, ignoring mitigating factors. Assuredly, just as we hope God will lovingly seek for mitigating factors for our sins, so should we toward our neighbors, whether living or dead, all of whom will one day face the same high tribunal.

With regards to history as well as the present, I am suggesting that if we get into the habit of trying to mitigate crimes, we may at the same time even be happy to discover that no crime was committed. Surely anyone of good will would always be happy to discover that they were wrong about the extent or even the fact of guilt toward any person or institution that could be so excused?

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I will say that I have done this with the Communists in Russia. I still do not have a high opinion of V.I. Lenin. But I have sought to understand why and how he could be so ruthless with his enemies. It was a traumatic experience for him in his youth to understand that his beloved brother was hanged for treason. The love of his brother helped to fuel Lenin's violent and ruthless career. There are always, always mitigating factors. We have to get into the habit of looking for them. I hate communism as an ideology, but that does not mean that as a Christian I may wantonly make Lenin appear worse than he was, ignoring mitigating factors. Assuredly, just as we hope God will lovingly seek for mitigating factors for our sins, so should we toward our neighbors, whether living or dead, all of whom will one day face the same high tribunal.

Two books I plan on picking up in the near future:

Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision (Yale University Press, 1998).

David Priestland, The Red Flag: A History of Communism (Grove, 2009).

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3DOP:

I find it difficult sometimes to separate what someone does and what they are. I know the Godlike attribute of loving the sinner while hating the sin. I'm still working at becoming a Saint.

I'm not a moral relativist, nor a Presentism believer. I believe that God calls us to be better than we are. To NEVER use force or the threat of force to try to change someones elses' beliefs. In my very LDS construct it is: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

I appreciate your attempt to defend the indefensible. But it is ultimately doomed to failure. The Inquisition was a dark spot on Catholics, and no amount of "Whitewash" will ever remove that stain. To recognize that good people sometimes will do the unthinkable, is just part of the learning curve. The Catholic Church has stated that persecuting present day Jews for the wrongs of some ancient Jews is wrong. I take the same position on modern day Catholics.

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