With regard to Galileo and Copernicus. The first thing to say is that the idea of the Earth going around the Sun in the modern West was, like many other basic scientific principles a concept that came from the Church. Copernicus was a Polish monk who was asked to look into astronomy in order to calculate an accurate Church calendar. Mathematically he thought it was more credible that the Earth went around the Sun rather than the other way around. He wrote his findings and presented it, dedicating his book to the Pope. The Church used a calendar based on Copernicus for the best part of a century before the final trial of Galileo.

Even earlier than that,  the very learned Bishop of Lisieux in the 1300’s  posited that the stars he saw in the night sky were probably suns like our own, at great distances from us. He concluded that the movements of the Heavens across the sky could also be because the earth was rotating and said this would be more economical than the whole of the Heavens turning around the Earth each night. He stated that he could not perceive the Earth’s movement because the earth’s turning would also include the air and the water. He admitted that in his time there was no proof either way but that any comments in the Bible regarding the stationary nature of the Earth should not be taken literally because they were spoken in the simple language of everyday speech.

The Catholic priest Buridan (the founder of French natural philosophy and fellow student of Oresme in Paris) drew on the 6th century Christian philosopher John Philoponus to develop the impetus theory which would have implications for a moving earth.

Many in the Catholic hierarchy accepted that Heliocentrism was a fact but there was no proof. Ricci who was a Jesuit priest accepted Heliocentrism and taught the Chinese as much in his role as papal delegate. Father Ricci was the first westerner given access to The Forbidden City and was instrumental in the transfer of Western science to the Orient.

The Pope at the time of Galileo’s trial was also a friend and supporter of Galileo.

Kepler, an astronomer, Lutheran seminary teacher of mathematics and someone Galileo derided also accepted Heliocentrism, believing it to better represent the nature of God and His Creation. Kepler was the one to introduce the idea of eliptical orbits of the planets which helped provide the evidence for Heliocentrism. The Jesuit priests and scientists who were working and supporting Kepler were also the ones to verify Kepler’s measurements.

The scientific communities that Galileo belonged to were dominated by Jesuits and Dominicans. They organised days of honour praising Galileo in front of these Catholic orders. Galileo of course was a Catholic. Two of his three daughters were nuns. His uncle was an Italian Bishop. He was a personal friend of two Popes. You can’t get any more connected to the Catholic Church than Galileo.

Galileo got in trouble for teaching Heliocentrism without proof. His initial trial gave a finding that he could continue to teach Heliocentrism as a theory but not a fact until he had proof. After Galileo’s personal friend became Pope he went back to teaching Heliocentrism as a fact. Now the parallel today would be if someone was teaching in our schools that String Theory is a fact. It may turn out to be true (I don’t think so) but we would not allow someone to teach it as fact unless they had proof. We would,(as the Church decided and remember they were the ones who largely developed and ran the scientific enterprise) tell the String Theorist to only teach it as theory. If later, as with Galileo, he ignored that directive and taught it as fact, our educational bodies today would ban that teacher without a second thought.

At the time of Galileo we could not prove Heliocentrism. One problem was that the Earth needed to be spinning for there to be Heliocentrism. Galileo mainly argued the tides were a demonstration of the Earth spinning.  The scientists who were against him at the trial correctly showed that the position of the moon caused the tides that were observed twice a day. Another main problem with the Heliocentric view was the lack of any stellar parallax recordings at the time of Galileo. This was the main scientific argument which was presented against Galileo at the trial and for which there was not to be an answer for the next 200 years.

Now Galileo was 69 years old at the time of his trial and had been respected and valued and praised as a member of the Catholic Intelligentsia. The Pope for example gave him a Papal pension, presumably for his contribution to science. He continued to receive this pension after his trial and the Pope wrote to ask if there was anything he could personally do to make Galileo more comfortable after his sentence. The Church sentence was to basically tell him to stop practising science and to be confined to his rural villa. We know from letters written after the trial that Galileo did in fact practice science and published his science. He also was not absolutely confined to house arrest because we know he attended parties and an Archbishop offered that he stay with him for 6 months. Now as mentioned, Galileo could not prove Heliocentrism, he was over 69 years old, he was going blind and largely his sentence was a farce. The Tuscan ambassador wrote to his king saying that he had never seen a sentenced man treated so well. Remember that this is the one case that is used to create the idea that the Catholic Church was anti-scientific. It is amazingly hollow.

Galileo’s nemesis Kepler with his idea of elliptical orbits (which Galileo derided) was the main impetus for the proof of the Heliocentric theory. Also the earlier Catholic priests Buridan and Oresme had better explanations for a spinning earth. This scientific knowledge, largely coming from the Church itself and put together after Galileo’s natural death caused the Catholic Church to do, what any scientific foundation today would do. They accepted the findings and converted Churches across Europe to be astronomical observatories bolstering the gathering of scientific knowledge. For example, many of the craters of the moon are named after Jesuits. As mentioned it was 200 years before the problem of stellar parallax was solved. Also, around that time the Catholic priest Boscovich was the first to be able to give the orbit of any planet given any three points of observation.  I’ll just add an interesting link to do with Stellar Parallax and the possiblilty that Galileo may have suppressed scientific information that was against the Heliocentric model. As mentioned previously, the science at the time of Galileo was not favouring heliocentrism. The Church went with the best conclusions of science that was available at the time. As we do today.

The flagship narrative for the Religious (Christianity) verse Science argument is Galileo. A devout Catholic scientist, like many devout Catholic and Christian scientists of his time working together to try to explain the universe. A man who was deeply ensconced in a Christian scientific community that was actually dominated by clerical scientists. A man that was publicly honoured more than once by Dominican and Jesuit scientists for his scientific reasoning. A man who at 68 years of age fell out with some of his fellow scientific Catholics and after a trial where he could not prove the new scientific theory he strongly argued for (developed by other scientific Catholics) was made to state the current scientific theory. The Pope at the time was a boyhood friend of Galileo and a man himself deeply interested in science.

For people who make this case and realise how tame it is the next usual step is to fall back to Giordano Bruno, a former Dominican who became extremely anti Catholic. This man at least was imprisoned and executed but the obvious problem here is that it wasn’t for any scientific ideas. But hey, why spoil a good story ? For people who claim to be rational and look at the evidence in a dispassionate manner, this type of nonsensical argument for some ‘huge Christian push against science’  looks laughingly poor and reflects very badly on the so-called rationalist.

An example of this embarrassing position is Dan Brown’s anti Catholic movie dealing with the same issues. In reality, the evidence for a Christian opposition to science is so poor that the writer has to take the Illuminati movement, transfer its beginnings back a few centuries so it could include Galileo and make up the idea that the Christian Church somehow persecuted it, which of course they didn‘t. If there was such evidence of Christian opposition to science in history then this anti Catholic book and movie and all who were associated with it would not have to go to such ludicrous lengths to try and provide a coherent case for their story line. The reason so many people argue against all evidence that Christianity has had nothing to do with intellectual development and science is that if you put it in a box of mythical beliefs then you can more easily dismiss it. The more that people articulate the Christian foundations of western civilisation the more difficult it is to dismiss it.


  • tildeb  On September 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    The conflict between religion and science is epistemological: there are those those who arbitrate what’s true on what is believed to be true (the religious) and those who arbitrate what’s true on reality. This divide is not trivial nor able to be accommodated without undermining one or the other.

    Your misunderstanding of why the Galileo Affair (as it has become known) is a watershed event highlights exactly this impassible divide of the linked questions, “Is it true, and how do we know?” Your argument’s emphasis on ‘proof’ rather than evidence reveals a basic misunderstanding of what the scientific method Galileo helped to establish does and this translates into misunderstanding why Galileo is one of the ‘giants’ upon whose shoulders Newton later stood (to see farther). Whereas the Church had absorbed Aristotelian physics to be ‘true’ – in the sense of offering acceptable explanations about the natural world – that presumed inherent natures and agencies for action and movement, Galileo demonstrated through a brilliant thought experiment (the incline plane experiment) how impersonal natural forces could be – supported by excellent astronomical evidence – the cause that created only the illusion of agency for movement. This was the better explanation for all available evidence (not just astronomical), and this explanation that relied on the universe to arbitrate what was true in fact directly undermined the authority of the church to make such rulings on theological grounds (most especially explanations that aligned with scripture).

    Your simplistic description of why one can just as easily put Osiris in the same ‘box’ as the christian god fails to appreciate why this is actually true. You attribute that placement to support your garrison mentality that people are out to get, to attack, to belittle, to unjustly criticize your faith-based beliefs. The truth is much simpler and less sinister: the epistemology for belief in either is identical, where you are willing to empower some set of faith-based beliefs (your god or Osiris) to arbitrate what is true in reality. Galileo showed why this is untrustworthy epistemology leading to untrustworthy ontology and you have yet to learn his important lesson. Why you haven’t learned it is a testament to your intervening and impeding trust in your faith-based beliefs: it impedes your ability to learn.

    On another note, honestly look at what knowledge about reality has been produced by faith-based beliefs and you will quickly realize that in spite of being at the control for much of human history, religions that promote these beliefs have in fact produced zero practical knowledge about the universe; instead, religion promotes beliefs about it that are quite often contrary to what is true in reality. This is the elephant in the room of your theological argument, a compilation of evidence that stands in overwhelming opposition to your empty assertion that those who respect reality to be the arbiter of what’s true in the universe are meanies with the “closed belief system that closes off intellectual agreement.” What closes off intellectual agreement is presuming that faith and not reality is the arbiter of whats true.

  • Whatswrongwithatheism  On October 4, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Thankyou for your reply,
    The section on Galileo deals with the many falsities that Atheists have in their concept of history. Many atheists have a belief that Christianity is now, or at least was against the scientific enterprise and Galileo and his arguing for Heliocentrism is a strong part of that. Hence it is entirely justified to concentrate on exposing these beliefs as historically misleading and to provide a fuller picture of what was happening at the time. You have decided to concentrate on Galileo’s refutation of the Aristotelian concept of the world which was the prevailing scientific theory at the time and you continually characterise Christianity (and religion in general) as not questioning reality and not looking for proof for their explanations of the world. This is a belief that you have that is both narrow and is also inaccurate. For example, if we go back to the Heliocentric debate the main arguments against Galileo was an absence of evidence for the Earth spinning (with scientists showing Galileo’s arguments regarding the tides was caused not by a spinning Earth but by the moon) and also the lack of evidence for any stellar parallax. These are scientific arguments that indeed look at reality. This is the kind of world that Galileo was part of and nurtured in.

    Christian Theologian of the 6th century John Philoponus as well as Catholic priest of the 14 century Jean Buridan both challenged the Aristotelian scientific view. For example here is a quote from Father Buridan on impetus, which contradicts the Aristotelian view “

    “When a mover sets a body in motion he implants into it a certain impetus, that is, a certain force enabling a body to move in the direction in which the mover starts it, be it upwards, downwards, sidewards, or in a circle. The implanted impetus increases in the same ratio as the velocity. It is because of this impetus that a stone moves on after the thrower has ceased moving it. But because of the resistance of the air (and also because of the gravity of the stone) which strives to move it in the opposite direction to the motion caused by the impetus, the latter will weaken all the time. Therefore the motion of the stone will be gradually slower, and finally the impetus is so diminished or destroyed that the gravity of the stone prevails and moves the stone towards its natural place. In my opinion one can accept this explanation because the other explanations prove to be false whereas all phenomenaa agree with this one”.

    Galileo was part of a culture that did test things and looked at reality for confirmation. This is the culture that comes down to us today and which we share. Attempts to recast Christianity as non-thinking or non-analytical or non-testing are self serving belief systems.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.

    The Consultor of the Holy Office and Master of Controversial Questions at the time of Galileo wrote to Galileo in April 1615 which amounted to an unofficial statement of the Church’s position. He pointed out that: 1) it was perfectly acceptable to maintain Copernicanism as a working hypothesis; and 2) if there were “real proof” that the earth circles around the sun, “then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary…”)

    Even here in the case of Galileo the Church is talking about ‘real proof’ and how ‘real proof’ trumps interpretation of Scripture. This is the culture of the Church even in Galileo’s time.

    In fact we can go way back to the 4th and 5th centuries when Saint Augustine expressed a similar view :

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. ……………. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books.. — De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim (“The Literal Meaning of Genesis”).

    My criticism of you is that you have a caricature view of Christianity and believe Galileo breaks the mold. Galileo is in the great tradition of Christian Faith and Reason. We advance by both. Your writing shows a belief system where Christians have Faith alone. That has never been the position of the Church and such a view, i believe, is ignorant of the Catholic Church.

    Please read the following to increase your knowledge of Christian thought and investigation throughout the centuries :

  • tildeb  On October 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    You write The first thing to say is that the idea of the Earth going around the Sun in the modern West was, like many other of our basic scientific principles a concept that came from the Church.

    This is simply not true.

    The Copernican model is a mathematical model that uses the sun rather than the earth to calculate the equant (the position from which planetary measurements can be made for things like calendars – a very important task church officials to calculate religious events). Copernicus ‘borrowed’ this model directly from the Greek astronomer Aristarchus (310-230 BCE).

    The problem with the Copernican model (in context to why the Galileo Affair was so significantly different about heliocentrism) is based on assuming the truth of the flawed Aristotelian physics used throughout early church teachings about the natural world, namely, that assumes the truth of ‘natures’ inherent in bodies to explain – among other things – motion and why this ‘nature’ of humans revealed divine favouritism. Copernicus in no way departs from this established dogma, and his written work shows us why he falls into the same camp that movement belongs to the bodies:

    “Rectilinear movement, however, is added to those bodies which journey away from their natural place or are shoved out of it or are outside of it somehow. But nothing is more repugnant to the order of the whole and to the form of the world than for anything to be outside of its place. Therefore rectilinear movement belongs only to bodies which are not in their right conditions and are not perfectly conformed to their nature.” (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres)

    Galileo, through the experiment of the inclined plane (the first expression of what we now call ‘inertia’) and his previous evidence that all bodies – regardless of weight and shape and size – fall at the same rate clearly shows that the motion is NOT a property of bodies AT ALL but are in fact bodies subjected to the same cohesive and impartial force that governs it. This was a radical departure from what was assumed to be true, one that effectively undermined ALL Aristotelian physics about the nature of things… for if motion was no longer a property of bodies then it lowered us in the hierarchy used by church officials to ‘prove’ divine favouritism for our species. This – and not your simplistic notion about heliocentrism – is what directly challenged the trustworthiness and reliability of scripture, and why Galileo later argued (using Augustine) that we should incorporate what is true about the universe first and THEN deduce correct interpretations from scripture.

    Imagine being told that we should respect reality over and above scriptural authority as a church official comfortable and confident that the order is the other way around (including the detailed and satisfactory explanations offered up by Ptolemy but whose geocentric equant measurements were not as reliable as the heliocentric ones), with a long and rich history of Aristotelian physics about the nature of things to back you up. This was in effect what Galileo threatened: a revolutionary new way of understanding our universe that replaced everything you thought you knew with a vast chasm of the unknown. Although his good friend the pope was sympathetic with Galileo and respectful of his irrefutable evidence (fascinated as he was with the telescopic sights of the irregularities of the Moon’s surface and the sun spots shown to rotate on the surface of the sun), something had to be done to mitigate the damage Galileo’s writings were having on the foundation of the church’s authority over all matters – including reality. And if we know anything, we know that the church will do whatever the church needs to do to protect its own reputation first and foremost.

    The importance Galileo’s revolutionary contribution to scientific inquiry unshackled from religious interference and consideration cannot be understated, which is why the Galileo Affair is so important to appreciate as the watershed moment that forever severed the church’s authoritative claim to arbitrate reality and our understanding of it from evidence available to all.

  • whatswrongwithatheism  On October 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Firstly, to repeat again – the whole point of the post is to articulate the myths many atheists hold towards Galileo. Now most of the arguments as I said in the previous post are to do with heliocentrism. So in the context of atheistic myths then it is talking about heliocentrism. So even if you were correct in everything you say and believe above then you still are not addressing the point of the post which quite rightly focuses on the atheistic myth of Galileo and his proof of heliocentrism and the Churches opposition to science.

    I think it is a mistake many hold today to somehow view the Christian Church stumbling across science and then trying to stifle and control it. I personally believe it has more to do with creating an artificial atheist identity where reason rescues science from the big bad Church. I can’t emphasize enough how much i disagree with this thinking.

    To address the issues. Firstly, yes the Christian monk Copernicus was not the first to say the Earth goes around the Sun. Aristarchos, a few centuries before Christ postulated the idea in Greece. That is why I said ‘the modern West’. What Copernicus did was present the first comprehensive model including orbits of the planets, their planetary orbits and revolution timings, relative distances from the Sun, the incline of the Earth which gave the seasons and the explanation for the variation in the brightness of the planets. Copernicus cited Aristarchos in his works. What is very important to understand here is that Copernicus being a monk that attended Church run Universities (they were all Church run) was obliged to study the ancient Greek language and to study writers such as Aristarchos. This is not an organisation trying to stifle inquiry or debate. The Church facilitated the study of philosophy and scientific concepts all over Europe. When Copernicus’ writings circulated for example there was a lecture given by Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter on Copernicus’ theories. Johann was none other than the secretary to the pope. He gave the lecture to the pope and cardinals (amongst others) who were very impressed. A letter from one of the cardinals (Schonberg) written to Copernicus in 1536 stated :

    “Some years ago word reached me concerning your proficiency, of which everybody constantly spoke. At that time I began to have a very high regard for you… For I had learned that you had not merely mastered the discoveries of the ancient astronomers uncommonly well but had also formulated a new cosmology. In it you maintain that the earth moves; that the sun occupies the lowest, and thus the central, place in the universe… Therefore with the utmost earnestness I entreat you, most learned sir, unless I inconvenience you, to communicate this discovery of yours to scholars, and at the earliest possible moment to send me your writings on the sphere of the universe together with the tables and whatever else you have that is relevant to this subject …

    This was the Church. Running Universities, running scientific talks and lectures, facilitating the exchange of knowledge, teaching priests and keeping alive the knowledge from past eras to teach the next generation. This is why Western culture developed as it did along scientific lines. In the case of Galileo the Inquisition was petitioned several times to get involved and only did so at the last reluctantly.

    As far as the topic of inertia, much of Galileo’s work in this subject happened decades before his trial. Remember he was 70 years old at the time of his trial. If the Church was furious with him for his work on inertia then he would not have received a papal pension for his science nor would he have been celebrated by religious orders for his science. Of course as stated above the Church facilitated science. Galileo was not only paid by the Church but taught by them also. Galileo’s work on intertia was based on the work of other Christian scientists, many of them clergyman. This is what the Church did. Those in the Church who blazed a trail before him with regards to impetus theory and which formed part of his education and led Galileo to the concept of inertia include John Buridan (priest), Nicole Oresme (Bishop), Domingo de Soto (priest) and Albert the Great (Bishop).

    If you would like to present a case for the Church condemning Galileo for his work on inertia and undermining something you call ‘divine favouritism’ then I’ll respectfully hear your case.

  • tildeb  On October 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    The facts of the matter – and I apologize for their inconvenience to your thesis – are that:

    1) Galileo’s scientific work was judged not on its own merits but (and sentenced) by the Inquisition, which is central to why this affair is so important: it’s this order of who can judge what that finally causes a real schism between those doing science for the sake of honest inquiry and those who do science for the approval of the Church.

    2) Galileo’s conviction was for the “vehement suspicion of heresy”. Please consider this seriously for a moment: this is a theocratic charge. What do you think the ‘heresy’ involves if not a conclusion contrary to the Church’s theocratic dogma? Your opinion makes no sense in light of this specific charge.

    3) Two distinct heresies were mentioned in the conviction. The first was the cosmological thesis that the earth rotates daily on its axis and orbits the sun yearly. The second was the methodological principle that one may believe and defend as probable a thesis contrary to the bible (See Finocchiaro 1986 for an excellent historical review of all the documents pertaining to the Galileo Affair).

    Your argument is based on cherry picked notions that simply favour what you wish to believe. But the facts stand differently, and you have utterly failed to deal with them in an honest fashion in your quest to present atheism as supporting its own mythology. But this Affair is not a myth. It really happened and it did so for very anti-scientific reasons. It really does highlight why science judged by theology is a perversion of how we can know what’s true in reality and this specific case has to undergo a tremendous and intentional historical revision to make it appear as you wish: tame. It’s not. It highlights what’s fundamentally dishonest about religious belief… presuming that belief rather than reality should be the arbitrator of what’s true.

    As someone who has done a post grad thesis on exactly why the Galileo Affair was such a watershed moment between religion and science, I happen to know quite a bit about it and know that what you’ve presented does not serve what’s true in that reality we happen to share.

  • whatswrongwithatheism  On November 27, 2011 at 9:43 am

    With respect, for someone who has done a post grad thesis your argument is light and ad-hoc. Firstly, I note that your previously strong derogatory line that the Galileo affair was all about the overthrow of the Aristotle worldview was nowhere to be seen in your last post. As I mentioned, Galileo’s work in this area came long before his trial and was based on other Christian thinkers. I mentioned John Buridan (priest), Nicole Oresme (Bishop), Domingo de Soto (priest) and Albert the Great (Bishop).

    You can also throw in Thomas Bradwardine (priest) who helped form the “The Law of Falling Bodies” centuries before Galileo. Many of the older physics textbooks however still mistakenly credit Galileo with its discovery. The Catholic Church was so against Bradwardine and his science that they gave him the then highest Church office in England by making him Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Having been challenged on that point (which was the main one according to your preceding post) I notice you simply drop that tact completely and now say that the whole Galileo affair was a watershed event between science and religion because it was (now) really about the Church being the one to judge science and that it wasn’t judged on its merits but to support the Church.

    This again, to repeat myself is completely wrong. The scientific merits of heliocentrism were discussed and the simple fact is that the science did not prove Galileo’s case at the time and so he was in breach of a former ruling that he not teach the theory as fact until there was proof. As far as subverting truth I again refer you to an excerpt of the letter sent to Galileo before the trial by none other than The Consultor of the Holy Office and Master of Controversial Questions in April 1615. He pointed out that: 1) it was perfectly acceptable to maintain Copernicanism as a working hypothesis; and 2) if there were “real proof” that the earth circles around the sun, “then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary…”).

    Again I repeat the obvious, even here in the case of Galileo the Church is talking about ‘real proof’ and how ‘real proof’ trumps interpretation of Scripture. This is the culture of the Church in Galileo’s time and earlier.

    The inquisition was involved in this case reluctantly. It was only when Galileo was 70 years of age they finally agreed to get involved when there was argument about the unproved theory being treated as fact. I point out to you that Galileo lost the scientific debate fair and square. The inquisition being the hearers of the case (which made sense from the viewpoint of the Church being the main educator and supporter of science) gave a split decision of a suspicion of heresy. I ask you to think about that. Consider ‘a suspicion of theft’ or ‘a suspicion of impersonation’. This is a very weak pronouncement which went hand in hand with a very weak sentence. It is probable that not even the split decision of the inquisition thought it should definitely be deciding such matters. Again, as I mentioned earlier the inquisition had resisted hearing the case for years and three of the judges would not even sign this weak pronouncement.

    As far as the Galileo event being a watershed, this cannot be defended and looks more like a retrospective claim to support an atheist argument. Galileo did not object to the Church’s involvement. No other body objected before the trial, during the trial or afterwards. Please tell to me the scientific bodies that grew up as a response to the Galileo event 100 or even 200 years afterwards. The Galileo event did not come into prominence until centuries afterwards when some of the anti-religious turned it into the atheist foundation myth it is today.

    Please consider : when the Protestants left the Catholic Church they did so over the issues of the Bible, grace and faith. They turned around and tried to say the Catholic Church was against the Bible and was based on works not grace or faith. This is of course incorrect because the Bible came from the Catholic Church and its Theologians pondered and instructed about faith and grace for centuries before the Protestants decided to leave. Stories of sinister Catholics keeping the masses illiterate, not writing the Bible in host languages and chaining up Bibles in sacristies were only too easily accepted and politically used up to and including by 20th century tertiary education.

    When the atheists left Western culture they did it over the issues of reason and science and just like the Protestants they came up with the idea that the Church is anti-reason and anti-scientific. Just like the earlier breakaway this foundation myth cannot be justified by an honest look at history although again up to and including the 20th century, tertiary education provided books which heavily argued for it.

    The uneducated and the mis-educated of last century easily fall for this science verse Christian paradigm. These people have never studied the great thinkers John Buridan, Nicole Oresme, Domingo de Soto, Albert the Great (Bishop) and Thomas Bradwardine mentioned in this discussion. (There were scores more notable clerical omissions in 20th century tertiary education reading material).

    Hopefully the new information age will encourage the universities of this century to provide a more comprehensive education than the narrow minded one of last century. That system created an oversupply of ‘educated’ activists arguing for a cause that has proved itself to be historically inaccurate, scientifically untenable, logically incoherent and socially destructive.

  • Arkenaten  On June 23, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    The supposed ‘myths’ are really irrelevant. Galileo was turned over to the Inquisition, charged and placed under house arrest because he taught something contrary to what the CHURCH claimed was fact!

    If one simplifies it it immediately shows it for what it is – ridiculous. The Church couldn’t handle such a belief – proved or not – that contradicted what it claimed was truth.
    And there are many other instances.
    Truth does not need defending in this manner. Lies do.

  • whatswrongwithatheism  On July 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Your assertions are not true whether simple or not.

    • Dave  On October 22, 2013 at 2:58 am

      Firstly, as someone who has studied all of the thinkers who you mention, especially Kepler (one p not two), I think it’s commendable that you are trying to defend the church’s actions for they truly did play an important role in the development of science as a whole. Though they did consider his point, and encourage him to provide the proof, they were clearly determined to scare Galileo into not publishing (they even showed him the torture weapons they would use on him!). It must also be remembered that there was a slight “mix-up” in Osiander’s sneaky addition of a preface to Copernicus’ de Reb which attempted to say that this was merely a model for calculations, and not an accurate reflection of reality. Nevertheless I think that although there were many christian theologians who questioned the Aristotelian cosmology and the Ptolemaic astronomy adopted by the church, the amount to which you downplay the inquisitions dislike of heliocentrism that get’s me; for, it is not the fact that the earth moves that they didn’t like, but the fact that the earth is no longer seen as the center of God’s creation. Furthermore, I think that you are overzealous in your attempt to connect atheists to something which is solely the result of the church’s disdain for philosophy is actually a reflection of your own lack of faith in the religious scriptures, for as Romans 2 illuminates: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” I think this is likely to do with the fact that you cannot come to grips with the idea that the church can often so clearly illustrate the evil nature of man within us all.

      • whatswrongwithatheism  On October 26, 2013 at 12:42 am

        Hello Dave, thankyou for your response.

        Just regarding the last part, I would respond to say the opposite is actually the case. I was only too willing to accept the accusations against the Church without fully investigating. If I can use your phrase, what get’s to me is that I accepted such accusations without actually studying them in any great depth. Hence, in part, this blog.

        Could you please explain more fully what it is, that I am connecting atheists to in my overzealousnous? Thankyou.

        Thankyou also for the spelling correction regarding Kepler’s name. I have made the necessary changes.

        I would like you to discuss a little more who in the Church was determined to have Galileo not publish.

        Also when was Galileo shown the torture weapons? Was not the showing of the weapons part of the usual judicial process of that time? Was there any real suggestion that they would be used on Galileo?

        Regarding the centrality of the Earth’s position. I have heard people say that in previous times the centre was considered supreme. Others claim the centre was considered the worst place. Examples are the direction of prayer to God in a heavenly direction (away from the Earth) and Dante’s position of Hell at the centre of the Earth. I know that when the Catholic Church made representation to the Chinese court and taught the world map the Chinese rulers did have trouble accepting it on the grounds that China was not at the centre. It would be great if possible if you could discuss more on this point.

        As far as downplaying the inquisitions dislike of heliocentrism, I think it pretty much stands for itself, when the leader of the inquisition writes to Galileo and expresses his position that if any real (scientific) proof could be found for heliocentrism he would have to change his thinking. I would argue that you couldn’t get a more reasonable (and scientific) expression of position than that.

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