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Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth

December 1st, 2009 by Matt

A while back I made a passing comment on my blog criticising an advertisement which claimed that, prior to Columbus, the Church taught that the world was flat. In response I received the following email from a high-school student in the US,

I’ve been studying Christopher Columbus in my history class and my history books say that prior to Columbus everyone did think the world was flat……..I don’t know if it was a mistake in the history book or your mistake…..but anyway….I guess I have some things to learn! God bless ~ Katie

We have all heard the story behind this. Prior to Columbus, the Church and its theological scholars taught that the world was flat. For this reason they opposed Columbus’ proposed voyage in 1492 as they believed he would sail off the edge of the earth (or that he would prove them wrong and they would lose standing in society). Despite this Columbus sailed anyway and his rejection of the Church’s position was vindicated, he scored a victory for science and reason.

My correspondent is correct. They do teach this in high school text books. I was taught it at both primary and high-school. In fact, not too long ago Prentice Hall published claims to this effect in their middle school textbook Prentice Hall Earth Science.

At a philosophy conference at Otago University, shortly after I graduated, I recall one speaker using the example of “medieval flat-earthers” in his paper as an example of an irrational belief. Almost everyone in attendance nodded their heads in agreement; no one contested the historical assumptions implicit in the example. More recently Victoria University ran a slick television campaign stating that in the 14th century most people believed the world was flat. The ad showed a picture of a boat sailing across the sea only to fall over the side of the earth and concluded “It makes you think.”

You might have gathered from obvious clues like the title and from the way I have set this article up that I dispute the veracity of much of these historical claims. If I state this publicly there are very few settings where this admission does not at least earn me an incredulous stare (as if I were, in fact, asserting that the earth was flat). Invariably some comment follows, “come on Matt, everyone knows this story is true, didn’t you learn this at school? Haven’t you read any history textbooks?”

It is true that I did learn this story at school and that I have read it in more than one history textbook but because I took the time to research the history of theology when I was at university I know that this story is fiction. It is a slanderous fabrication invented by opponents of Christianity in the 19th century and has been thoroughly debunked by contemporary historians of science.

The definitive study is undoubtedly that of Jeffrey Burton Russell in Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians. Russell summarised his findings, in a paper presented to the 1997 American Scientific Affiliation Conference, as follows,

[W]ith extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat. A round earth appears at least as early as the sixth century BC with Pythagoras, who was followed by Aristotle, Euclid, and Aristarchus, among others in observing that the earth was a sphere. Although there were a few dissenters—Leukippos and Demokritos for example–by the time of Eratosthenes (3 c. BC), followed by Crates(2 c. BC), Strabo (3 c. BC), and Ptolemy (first c. AD), the sphericity of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans.

Nor did this situation change with the advent of Christianity. A few—at least two and at most five—early Christian fathers denied the spherically of earth by mistakenly taking passages such as Ps. 104:2-3 as geographical rather than metaphorical statements. On the other side tens of thousands of Christian theologians, poets, artists, and scientists took the spherical view throughout the early, medieval, and modern church. The point is that no educated person believed otherwise.

Russell traced the story about Columbus and medieval flat-earthers back to the 19th century; it originated in a fictional novel by Washington Irving The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus I (1829). Later it was picked up by two influential books, John Draper’s History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) and Andrew Dickson White’s book A History of The Warfare Between Science and Theology in Christendom. These books famously used the Columbus story plus many others to defend the thesis that the Church, for centuries, suppressed science and worked to prevent its flourishing; this is known as the conflict thesis.

These books and the conflict thesis they spawned, are highly influential in popular science and media coverage of theological and scientific issues today despite most historians rejecting them as propaganda. In The Encyclopedia of the History of Science and Religion, Collin Russell notes,

Draper takes such liberty with history, perpetuating legends as fact that he is rightly avoided today in serious historical study. The same is nearly as true of White, though his prominent apparatus of prolific footnotes may create a misleading impression of meticulous scholarship.

Steven Shapin wrote in the same vein in The Scientific Revolution,

In the late Victorian period it was common to write about the “warfare between science and religion” and to presume that the two bodies of culture must always have been in conflict. However, it is a very long time since these attitudes have been held by historians of science.

Numerous other specialists in the field of the history of science and religion concur that the existence of medieval flat-earthers is a myth. Numbers and Lindberg noted in a journal article, “there was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [Earth's] sphericity and even know its approximate circumference.” In his study of medieval cosmology, God and Reason in the Middle Ages, distinguished historian Edward Grant noted that,

All medieval students who attended a university knew this. In fact any educated person in the Middle Ages knew the earth was spherical, or of a round shape. Medieval commentators on Aristotle’s “On the Heavens” or in the commentaries on a popular thirteenth century work titled “Treatise on the Sphere” by John of Sacrobosco, usually included a question in which they enquired “whether the whole earth is spherical”. Scholastics answered this question unanimously: The earth is spherical or round. No university trained author ever thought it was flat.

Draper’s and White’s books remain widely cited despite being debunked as historically inaccurate. In fact, the kinds of textbooks Katie mentioned have been subject to scathing criticism precisely for making the aforementioned claims. Lawrence S. Lerner, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at California State University who is a member of the panel that wrote the 1990 framework for science education in California’s public schools criticised Pretence Halls history text denouncing it as “ignorant fakery.” In an article entitled “Fake ‘History’ That Is Flatly Wrong,” Lerner described the flat-earth claims as a “popular piece of pseudo historical folklore” he added that it “remains popular today among people who have had little education. These evidently include the people who produce ‘science’ books for Prentice Hall.”

The historical facts are difficult to dispute. During the, so called, “dark ages” Boethius (480-525) cited a well known and accepted ancient Greek cosmological model that affirmed the sphericity of the earth in the Consolidation of Philosophy. Isidore of Serville (560-636) affirmed a round earth in the Etymologies. Bede (672-735) in The Reckoning of Time taught the earth was round; as did Rabanus Marcus in the ninth century.

The late middle-ages are no different. Hemannus Contractus (1013-155) measured the circumference of the world. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) taught the world was round as did John of Sacrbosco (1200-1256) and Peire d’Ailly (1350-1420). Dante’s Divine Comedy portrays the earth as a sphere. In the Summa Theologicae Thomas Aquinas wrote,

The physicist proves the earth to be round by one means, the astronomer by another: for the latter proves this by means of mathematics, e.g. by the shapes of eclipses, or something of the sort; while the former proves it by means of physics, e.g. by the movement of heavy bodies towards the center, and so forth.

Even medieval textbooks taught the world was round. Both the Elucidarium of Honorius Augustodunensis, a twelfth century manual for educating clergy, and On the Sphere of the World, the standard cosmological textbook of medieval universities in the 13th century, taught that the world was round.

As I have delved into religious history further I have found that this had not been the first or only instance where I was fed false propaganda about Christianity. I could document several other false versions of history; the flat-earth story will suffice for now. As New Zealand blogger Contra Celsum wrote, “the flat earthers are those who think they existed.”

I write a monthly column for Investigate Magazine entitled Contra Mundum. This blog post was published in the December 09 issue and is reproduced here with permission. Contra Mundum is Latin for ‘against the world;’ the phrase is usually attributed to Athanasius who was exiled for defending Christian orthodoxy.

Letters to the editor should be sent to: editorial@investigatemagazine.DELETE.com

RELATED POSTS:
The “Dark Ages” and Other Propaganda
More on the “Dark Ages” and Other Propaganda
Things They Don’t Teach you in Public Schools…
The Flat Earth Myth
Guest Post: Dan Brown’s History of Science

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217 responses so far ↓

  • [...] more here: Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth | MandM By admin | category: school books | tags: both-primary, effect, long-ago, middle, not-too, [...]

  • Thanks for sharing this Matt – I hated history in public school.

    Now I cannot get enough of it, Joe Moorecraft III has an excellent series that talks about Coloumbus and his good idea http://hierstaik.blogspot.com/2009/11/ideas-have-consequences.html

  • I went to school in South Africa, and we we’re also taught that in COlumbus’ time everyone thought the earth was flat

  • Off topic, but interesting that Columbus opens his journal of his first voyage with the following:

    “In the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  • HIS, you’re right, someone I know once told me that if you try really hard and put in a lot of effort you can bore people with history. Too many teachers have had this skill.

  • Anon, I knew that too, but its worth reminding people.

  • Well said Matt. A while back I called on people everywhere to contact the Victoria University and complain about their ludicrous advertisement. I doubt that anyone did, but it’s just cringeworthy to see people still saying things like that.

  • Yeah Glenn I remember that, I wrote a similar blog a couple of years ago around the time of the Victoria advertisements, the editor of Salient contacted me to run a story about how there university got it wrong, it but for some reason chose not to publish anything on it.

    I had a much smaller readership then and seeing I have been reading James Hannam’s book at present (see his recent guest post on this blog), I thought of updating the material for Investigate.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth =-.

  • I believe J B Russell was wrong to say “The point is that no educated person believed otherwise” – thats assuming that the Church fathers who believed in a flat earth were not, in fact, educated, which is wrong. in fact, there were probably a number of educated people who believed the world was flat erroneously, just as there aer a number of educated people who erroneously believe that CO2 causes global warming.

    nice article though, I hadnt realised it myself.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth =-.

  • Thanks Matt for an excellent summary on this issue. I spoke about this same issue briefly in a chapel talk I did recently. Your summary here is definitely worth reading. I will encourage others to read it.

  • Wait wait wait….the world isn’t flat? Then why aren’t we rolling around on the surface?
    .-= My last blog-post ..New Philosopher’s Carnival =-.

  • It’s one of histories ironies isn’t it? Those who protested to Queen Isabella about the wisdom of Columbus’s voyage did so because they knew too much, Columbus was seeking a short cut to the East Indies, those objecting did so on the basis not that the Earth was flat, but because the distance to the East Indies was too great, and they were right.

  • [...] The Contra Mundum blog also has a well written article on the subject: http://www.mandm.org.nz/2009/12/contra-mundum-the-flat-earth-myth.html [...]

  • Geoff you write I believe J B Russell was wrong to say “The point is that no educated person believed otherwise” – thats assuming that the Church fathers who believed in a flat earth were not, in fact, educated, which is wrong.

    The full quote from Russell is as follows

    [W]ith extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat. A round earth appears at least as early as the sixth century BC with Pythagoras, who was followed by Aristotle, Euclid, and Aristarchus, among others in observing that the earth was a sphere. Although there were a few dissenters—Leukippos and Demokritos for example–by the time of Eratosthenes (3 c. BC), followed by Crates(2 c. BC), Strabo (3 c. BC), and Ptolemy (first c. AD), the sphericity of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans.

    Nor did this situation change with the advent of Christianity. A few—at least two and at most five—early Christian fathers denied the spherically of earth by mistakenly taking passages such as Ps. 104:2-3 as geographical rather than metaphorical statements. On the other side tens of thousands of Christian theologians, poets, artists, and scientists took the spherical view throughout the early, medieval, and modern church. The point is that no educated person believed otherwise.

    Russell is clear he is refering to the middle ages, he notes there are a few exceptions and notes a few church fathers (between 2 and 5) constitute an exception. So I think his comments take your concerns into consideration.
    .-= My last blog-post ..NIWA, Climategate and Evasive Fallacious Answers =-.

  • Columbus is taught around the world as the man who discovered America. I doubt state schools will ever teach students that Columbus discovered America in the name of Jesus :)

    Instead, students are taught that Columbus proved the Church wrong.

  • There are plenty of places where you can see the curvature of the earth. That sort of observation would have been carefully considered by wise men of any day.

    Trouble is, too many people think that only today we have intelligence – after all, if they didn’t have computers in 50 AD, how clever could they be?

    Not to mention the distinct lack of soil and climate scientists. ;)

    M:- Don’t forget Truffle Scientists!

    .-= My last blog-post ..Innovative Thinking… =-.

  • [...] more from himAssociate of Thinking Matters, Matthew Flannegan has had published an article on the Flat-Earth Myth in Investigate Magazine December 09 issue. This dove-tails nicely with my [Stuart McEwing's] [...]

  • What I find particularly disheartening is that a text-book in the twenty-first century can’t get its facts straight, while a text-book in the 13th century can. Education sure has taken a dive. :-)

  • [...] recommend either getting a hold of the issue or reading it online here. If you’ve been following my recent “Conflict for the conflict thesis” posts, [...]

  • [...] Christians belive in a flat earth during the Middle Ages? Consider this post from Matt Flanagan of MandM. (H/T Thinking Matters New [...]

  • Flat Earth: Mid-Evil Belief?…

    There were no serious scholars (secular or religious) that believed the earth was flat during the Middle Ages. Matt Flanagan has posted an excellent article on his blog MandM that goes through the details of this myth and exposes for the propaganda tha…

  • Gosh this post got a lot of trackbacks!

    A sign that the message is getting through… that the textbooks and pop culture references will be amended in line with the facts perhaps?

    … or hoping for too much…
    .-= My last blog-post ..Anna’s Last Post =-.

  • I sent email to Victoria University about their misleading advertising about Columbus and flat-earth. Got no reply yet.

  • When Matt first blogged on this, at the time the ad was on the air a couple of years ago Victoria University’s student newspaper contacted him and interviewed him on it – not sure what came of that.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Philosophers’ Carnival – Call for Submissions =-.

  • Oh for Pete’s Sake…

    Another sighting of the flat earth myth. In high school textbooks….

  • thanks Matt, that was a great enlightening read.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Pro-Life Training Workshop in New Zealand =-.

  • [...] want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet BoxTurns out that it wasn’t Christopher Columbus’ voyage that affirmed the roundness of the globe to all those ignorant Churchy [...]

  • Yes Virginia, there are flat-earthers…

    There are some good essays online on the flat earth myth — the belief that people thought the earth was flat prior to Columbus. I recently linked to this post by M&M, here’s another, and here’s one James wrote …. The go-to book for all of this is …

  • Yes Virginia, there are flat-earthers…

    There are some good essays online on the flat earth myth … I recently linked to this post by M&M … Rather than add to what they wrote, I’d like to address a parallel issue. Once non-Christians started ridiculing Christianity as promoting a flat ea…

  • Even without the documentary evidence that Medieval Christians didn’t believe or teach that the earth was flat, do things like this — the Orb — even begin to make sense if they imagined the world were flat?

    Not only their words, but their iconography agrues against the “flat-earth” myth.
    .-= My last blog-post ..‘Robin Of Berkeley’ Goes To Church =-.

  • [...] Mundum: God, Proof and Faith Contra Mundum: “Bigoted Fundamentalist” as Orwellian Double-Speak Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice [...]

  • [...] what I consider to be some of Matt’s best blog posts ever (you may have your own favourites): The Flat-Earth Myth Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic Joshua and the Genocide of the Canaanites Series 666 The [...]

  • I voted for you Matt!

  • I voted for a flat-earth to.

  • You got our vote guys, gud luck. xxooxxoo

  • To vote go here.

    Many thanks to those of you who have voted for this blog post:)

  • [...] took me so long was contacting the 2nd place winner… but we all know the first place winner… So, I’ll contact you with the winning gift certificates [...]

  • [...] Flannagan dissects the myth that medievals thought the earth was flat. This post was voted best biblioblog post in the universe, or something like that. It is well worth [...]

  • In the book of Job, in the Hebrew, the Earth is described as a sphere floating in space. The book of Job is the oldest book in the bible.

  • Matt, The Flat Earth Myth of Columbus? 1400s? So what?

    The question of the flat earth cosmology of the Bible arises OVER A THOUSAND YEARS BEFORE THAT TIME.

    Interested readers who wish to obtain a copy of “The Cosmology of the Bible,” recently published, should contact me. I’ll send them a free copy.

    And, note to Darrell, the paper DOES address the verse in Job, demonstrating that it shows no signs of speaking of a spherical planet in space.

  • Edward are you going to pay for that advertising?

    I actually have the article its in Loftus addition.

    One quick point to Darrell, the book of Job might describe a flat earth, and it may well presuppose and use ANE cosmology to express the points it makes. But I think it would be a mistake to say the text teaches this cosmology as true. I suspect the text is not even addressing the question of the shape of the earth is. Jobs concerns are rather different.

  • A Spherical Argument…

    Unfortunately, there are still people, including historians … who believe that Columbus was trying to prove the Earth is round. … There are also some excellent resources online: see here,…

  • A Spherical Argument…

    One way that is still used to denigrate and mock Christianity, as well as the ancients and medievals, is the suggestion that, prior to Columbus, everyone thought the Earth was flat. This belief was rooted in religious dogma and was therefore unchalleng…

  • You know I’ve heard all this before and it is kind of irritating. The simplest way to teach a young person about the roundness of the Earth is to say, “At one time those silly old people thought that the World was flat, isn’t that silly?”

    If you just want kids to accept an idea, you say something like ‘everyone knows’, but to give it a hook, to let the kid have a little story, instead of having to drag out a globe and explain the tilt of the Earth, gravity, including the gravity of the Sun etc. etc., you just say, “Those people in them olden days were so funny, weren’t they?”

    Still, you miss out the ‘funny old Christians’ part, where they insisted that the Earth was the Centre of the Universe, on account of God loving us so much and us being his special creation there, I noticed!!

    How about a nice bedtime story about Giordano Bruno who was imprisoned for years then burned at the stake, 410 years ago for saying that the Universe went on ‘out’ forever!?

    This post is boiler-plate Christian apologetics, “We’re not so simple-minded as ‘they’ say! HAH!”, then go on to poo-poo Flat-Earth theory instead of geocentrism.

  • Still, you miss out the ‘funny old Christians’ part, where they insisted that the Earth was the Centre of the Universe, on account of God loving us so much and us being his special creation there, I noticed!!

    Actually that’s false as well, while its true Church accepted geocentricism . Geocentricism came from ancient Greek cosmology several hundred years before Christ, Second, it was not believed because Christians believed “God loved us” and so man must be the centre of the universe, in fact hell was understood to be the ultimate centre of the universe in medieval cosmology. These are all urban myths widely known to be false in contemporary cosmology.

    How about a nice bedtime story about Giordano Bruno who was imprisoned for years then burned at the stake, 410 years ago for saying that the Universe went on ‘out’ forever!?

    This is also false, while Giordano was executed, the evidence does not support the claim he was executed for his cosmological beliefs as opposed to his occultic practises. In fact much of the cosmological beliefs Giordano peddled had already been proposed hypothetically and defended by medieval theologians without any suggestion of heresy or lack of orthodoxy.

    I see once again sarcasm and snarkiness is considered a substitute for facts.

  • “You know I’ve heard all this before and it is kind of irritating. The simplest way to teach a young person about the roundness of the Earth is to say, “At one time those silly old people thought that the World was flat, isn’t that silly?””

    I see its Ok to lie and potentially slander because school kids are more likely to accept it that way….

    Thanks for making it abundantly clear why I home school.

    Matt

  • “Actually that’s false as well, while its true Church accepted geocentricism . Geocentricism came from ancient Greek cosmology several hundred years before Christ,”

    What is this nonsense? It’s neither here nor there who thought up the notion of geocentrism, is it?

    You say that I’m right, “..its true Church accepted geocentricism.”, but that something I didn’t say, that the Church thought up geocentrism, is wrong.

    “Second, it was not believed because Christians believed “God loved us” and so man must be the centre of the universe.”, you say.

    It WASN’T? Are you saying that you don’t believe that God loves us? Are you saying that you don’t believe that God created the entire Universe, specifically for us?

    Or are you just pointing out that ‘technically’ them silly ofd folks believed that Hell was ‘technically’ at the centre?

    Hey, I could be wrong, it might be that the Church just taught that the Earth(and Hell, if you like) was at the centre of the Universe for observational reasons (that the entire Universe appeared to rotate around the Earth) and no theological/philosophical reasons AT ALL!

    All we seem to be able to conclude from this exchange is how snarky YOU are when it comes to your post being questioned.

    “I see its Ok to lie and potentially slander because school kids are more likely to accept it that way….”

    It’s not a lie AT ALL to say to a child that some silly old people thought that the Earth was flat, some silly people STILL DO!

    Isn’t THAT right?

  • No it is not right. Did you even read the article?

  • Sorry for the double comment, but I feel that i’m being wrongly painted as sarcastic and snarky, and I didn’t cover this:-

    “This is also false, while Giordano was executed, the evidence does not support the claim he was executed for his cosmological beliefs as opposed to his occultic practises.”

    Now, quite frankly, I’m going to respond to THIS as sarcastically and snarkily as I feel you would.

    I said, “How about a nice bedtime story about Giordano Bruno…”

    Now aside from the fact that this is supposedly ‘a nice bedtime story’, there are a list of salient facts.

    1) Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake.
    2) Giordano Bruno did expound that the Universe went on forever, against the Church’s teaching about crystal spheres and levels of Heaven and such.
    3)Teaching stuff which is contrary to the Church’s teachings is called HERESY
    4)No one suggested that Bruno didn’t teach OTHER stuff that was contrary to the Church’s teaching.

    So, technically, saying that Giordano Bruno was burned for heresy, teaching stuff contrary to the Church, one of which we know was that the Universe went on forever, is technically true, no matter if the Church took it into account in their condemnation of him or NOT!

    Isn’t THAT right???

  • @ ropata

    http://www.alaska.net/~clund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm

    These good folks seem to disagree.

    And the sarcastic and snarky, “Did you even read the article?”, is uncalled for, and just seems to be meant to distract from your total wrongness here.

  • To give the excuse that “some” people still believe in a flat Earth is an irrelevant fallacy. Even the most anti-clerical historian has to admit that Clement, Origen, Ambrose, Augustine, Isodore, Albertus Magnus and Aquinas all accepted the Earth was a globe – in other words none of the great doctors of the church had considered the matter in doubt.

    I stand by my earlier comment: perpetuating falsehoods about the church and the history of science is not right. Wikipedia carries more weight than some obscure, probable hoax website.

    If you want to paint the historical church as generally anti science I think you need to do a lot more than cite the regrettable case of Giordano Bruno.

  • 1. You note the Church accepted Geocentricism, that correct, every educated person in the middle ages accepted Geocentricism it was the consensus view in cosmology and had been for several hundred years prior to Christianity, this was because at that time in history the evidence supported this view. Not sure what the issue is supposed to be here, is it that people accepted the scientific consensus based on the best evidence available to them?
    2. You go on to ask “Actually that’s false as well, while its true Church accepted geocentricism . Geocentricism came from ancient Greek cosmology several hundred years before Christ,” this is disengenious, I did not say the Church did not teach God loved us, what I denied is the fairly common story that the Church taught that the earth was the centre of the universe because they believed God loved mankind and put those he loved in the centre. This as I am sure you are aware is a very common claim, its contended the Church persecuted Galileo for this, in fact the Church accepted Geocentricism because that was where the scientific evidence of the time pointed and what majority of scientists said it was actually accepted even by the Inquistion that if scientific demonstration for heliocentricism was forthcoming the Church should accept it. In fact in the 14-15 Centuries, several leading Theologains defended heliocentricism as a plausible hypothesis.
    3. It’s not a lie AT ALL to say to a child that some silly old people thought that theAgain you are being disengenious. The original claim was not that some silly people believe the world was flat. It’s the claim the Church and Medieval Christians believed this, its well documented that this claim is taught even today in school textbooks despite being known to be false and that is called lying. I was taught it at school, I have seen it taught at schools last year, and recent textbooks continue to teach it. That’s called lying.

  • “So, technically, saying that Giordano Bruno was burned for heresy, teaching stuff contrary to the Church, one of which we know was that the Universe went on forever, is technically true, no matter if the Church took it into account in their condemnation of him or NOT!”
    Sorry but its not true, or at least there is no evidence there is . After examining Bruno’s considerable amount of writings Cardinal Bellarmine of the Inquisition drew up a list of 8 propositions that Bruno held which were considered heretical. The records were looted during the Napoleonic wars and a great deal was lost This list has not survived, so we do not know exactly what ideas of Bruno were condemned.
    Some people have speculated that Bruno’s cosmological views were on the list, but this is unlikely the reference to a infinite universe was simply an echo of Nicholas of Cusa’s writings which the Church did not deem heretical.
    It’s far more likely it was Bruno’s occultic views that were the issue.

    So the evidence suggest Bruno was executed for occultism. Some people on the basis of little or no evidence claim he was executed for cosmology so as to support the conflict thesis: the historical claim that Christianity constitently religion oppressed and persecuted science. Unfortunately not only is this claim without any evidential support, the warfare thesis is pretty much rejected as false by contemporary historians of science and religion. The warfare thesis originates is two originates in two works, John Draper’s History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) and Andrew Dickson White in his book A History of The Warfare Between Science and Theology in Christendom.

    Collin Russel notes “Draper takes such liberty with history, perpetuating legends as fact, that he is rightly avoided today in serious historical study. The same is nearly as true of White, though his prominent apparatus of prolific footnotes may create a misleading impression of meticulous scholarship.” (“The Conflict of Science and Religion” in The Encyclopedia of the History of Science and Religion, New York 2000). John Hedley Brooke, the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, writes in Science and Religion – Some Historical Perspectives (1991), “In its traditional forms, the [conflict] thesis has been largely discredited”. Similarly, Edward Grant Professor Emeritus of the History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University writes, “If revolutionary rational thoughts were expressed in the Age of Reason [the 18th century], they were only made possible because of the long medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities” In the same vein Steven Shapin Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego writes, “In the late Victorian period it was common to write about the ‘warfare between science and religion’ and to presume that the two bodies of culture must always have been in conflict. However, it is a very long time since these attitudes have been held by historians of science.”

  • ” However, it is a very long time since these attitudes have been held by historians of science.”

    Since Darwin? Actually, I think that this non-battle is still flaring up in U.S. Courts to this day.

    Anyway, my argument hinged on the idea that it would be easier to teach a child that the Earth was round and that the ancients didn’t have it quite right by encapsulating the whole idea as ‘ancient thinking’, be it geocentrism, Flat Earth or whathaveyou.

    I’m thinking more along the lines of Christian historians pretending to reinvent history to put a wedge between science and religion, now.

    The fundies in the States are very sneaky you know. They’ve grabbed the idea of Intelligent Design and have the public believing that THAT is a ‘controversy’ which ought to be taught in science class!

    If that’s not ‘warfare’ I don’t know what is.

  • Yeah, the so called warfare between science and religion is largely a post darwinian affair . Its also worth noting that it was to a large extent athiests like Huxley and so on who pushed this conflict and insisted on it. In fact even in the early 20th century, stalwart conservatives like B B Warfield were at peace with Darwin, creationism is a very recent phenomena. the “warfare” between science and religion is something that was the norm throughout history, which is why you keep failing back from the medievals did X, to some people did X, to some “fundies” today do X and so on.

    And no you can’t dismiss historical studies by saying the author is a Christian and asserting he is re-inventing history. One can verify thinks by looking at such things as medieval writings and records of the time. As opposed to 19th century novels ( which is where the flat earth and columbus myths came from)

    Oh and BTW the discovery institute are not “fundies” as you say but i am sure sterotypes are politically useful, it saves you having to get your facts right.

  • I know it’s hard to define fundamentalism, but the Disco ‘Tute’s (somewhat secretly) stated aim is to”

    “reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

    Sounds pretty fundamentalist to me.

  • “Oh and BTW the discovery institute are not “fundies” as you say ..”

    I didn’t mention the Discovery Institute at all.

    I was implying that Bible literalists tend to use the Discovery Institute’s assertions as their basis for their condemnation of Evolution by Natural Selection.

    But it’s no secret that that is what they do.

  • “And no you can’t dismiss historical studies by saying the author is a Christian and asserting he is re-inventing history.”

    I wasn’t dismissing anything at all now. I was suggesting that we don’t know the motivation of the people who wrote some drivel in a schoolbook.

    I’m not exactly sure what percentage of people in the Middle Ages were educated, but judging by the state of education in Afghanistan, even today, I’m sure that one might have been accused of heresy for suggesting that the Earth was ’round’ across most of the World, at some point, and they had Bible quotes to prove the total wrongness of the spherical Earth notion.

    Even Christians mused about the impossiblity of people inhabiting the Antipodes, due to reason alone, crossing the Equator being deemed impossible and the fact that anyone living there would not be able to see the Second Coming as prophesied.

    ‘Course that might just have simply been hyperbole on Augustine’s part, what?

    I’m just saying that even though I believe that the general consensus would likely have been that the Earth WAS FLAT, even the learned were inclined to over-analyse the Good Word, and that is no great slur on your religion as such. Just kind of hard to ‘encapsulize’ in a sentence or two in a high school history book.

  • I like this little declaration: “Oh and BTW the discovery institute are not “fundies.” “ It’s funny how theologians think they all they need to justify a statement is to declare it!

    Matt is at his old trick of rewriting history. Again a common theological habit, I guess. His reference to the inquisition’s activity reminds me of Stalinist justification of the Stalin Terror. Their re-writing of history – and blaming the victim for the crimes of the persecutor..

    Does it really matter why Bruno was burned at the stake? He was burned – and under the orders of the catholic Church. Somehow Matt seems to think he can excuse this atrocity by claiming Bruno was “executed for occultism.” The criticism should be made of the persecutors for their execution (burning) of Bruno – not of Bruno for being imaginative.

    Despite the convenient loss of historical records its clear Bruno was accused of heresy and this would have included many ideas he had of which the religious authorities disapproved – including his cosmological ideas.

    Matt has another go at excusing the treatment of Galileo – another fashionable theological pastime these days. (There has even been a recent conference run by theological idiots entitled “Galileo was wrong” - and didn’t one of the blogger who comment here advance the same title for one of his blogs?).

    As for his comment that “The Church accepted geocentricism because that was where the scientific evidence of the time pointed.” One is forced to ask – what would the sky have looked like if heliocentricism was true? That’s right – no different. Nothing to do with evidence at all.

    Geocentricismn was accepted for “reasons of faith.” Heliocentricism ruled “formally heretical” foolish and absurd” and “erroneous in faith.” Don’t give me your crap about the church’s concern with evidence! At the time the evidence didn’t differentiate.

    And, of course, when Galileo had the evidence (eg moons of Jupiter and phases of Venus plus mountains on the moon) the Church imprisoned him for life! Their concern was biblical belief and heresy – not evidence or facts.

    So this leads us to Matt’s rejection of a conflict between science and religion. How can he dispute the fact of its existence when he promotes this conflict by his attempts to rewrite history?

    One can rant about “historians of science” etc. (the old argument by authority – you own authority, of course) but Matt ignores the reality of that conflict today. And it is not “post Darwinian” as he claims. It has always been there. Ever since humans first attempted to understand and change their surroundings there has been a conflict between an approach of logical reasoning and empirical evidence and testing on the one hand and superstition on the other had.

    The philosopher AC Grayling points out that religion and Science have a common ancestors - ignorance. I think that is quite apt.

    The modern scientific revolution (predating Darwin) represented a time when the empirical investigation and logical reasoning approach broke away from religion and idealist philosophy. But that break was not a clean mechanical one. They never are. The conflict inherent in it continues to the present.

    Inevitably that conflict will continue into the future. it is inherent in the different epistemologies of religion and science.

    While Matt (and his tame “historians of science”) may wish to deny that reality – his denial, and his promotion of it, is in fact part of that conflict. As is his rewriting of history and defence for the Wedge Strategy of the Discovery Institute that David referred to.

  • David you write“reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

    I see, so anyone who questions materialism as a world view and believes in God (theism) is a fundamentalist.

  • I see, so anyone who questions materialism as a world view and believes in God (theism) is a fundamentalist.

    No, but surely anyone who seeks to replace a scientific understanding of the world with a theistic one is?

  • David the quote you cited refered to a materialist world view, Your answer suggests you conflate a materialist world view which is a controversial philosophical position with something called a scientific world view.

    This would mean by your definition anyone who is not a materialist or naturalist is a fundamentalist.

  • Ken, again I see you resort to your standard tactic of misrepresent and assert

    1.You write ”I like this little declaration: “Oh and BTW the discovery institute are not “fundies.” “ It’s funny how theologians think they all they need to justify a statement is to declare it!”

    Actually, this is not determined by declaration is determined by the fact that merely believing in an intelligent designer of some sort is not the same thing as fundamentalism. It might be convenient for atheists to paint any one who dissents from their position as an extremist but its simply not honest or accurate.

    2. Asserting that I “rewrite history” or comparing me to “Stalinists” is simply rhetoric. I provided several citations form mainstream historians for my conclusions and numerous citations of primary sources in the above post. You have provided none. Just because many scientists are historically ignorant and like to pontificate on religion and science ( areas outside of their expertise) on the basis of ignorance is really not my problem. The fact that people defend this by smearing others as Stalinists really tells us a lot about their irrationality and poor scholarship, it tells us nothing about the truth of the matter.

    3. I did not “justify” Bruno’s execution or say it was OK as you dishonestly suggest. What I pointed out is the utilisation of the Bruno case as an example of the church suppressing science is not supported by the evidence.

    4 You write “Despite the convenient loss of historical records its clear Bruno was accused of heresy and this would have included many ideas he had of which the religious authorities disapproved – including his cosmological ideas.” Here you note that despite the fact that there is no evidence for your historical claim it must be accepted as a fact any way.

    5. You write “As for his comment that “The Church accepted geocentricism because that was where the scientific evidence of the time pointed.” One is forced to ask – what would the sky have looked like if heliocentricism was true? That’s right – no different. Nothing to do with evidence at all.” This simply shows how out of touch with the facts you are , in fact Aristotle and numerous others had provided arguments as to why geocentricism was the preferred model. Similarly in Galileo’s time people like Tycho Branhe had altered the standard model due to anolmoies with the observational data and arguably provided a more plausible model given what provided by Poltemy. Galileo in fact offered bogus arguments from tides which were widely criticised by contemporaries. Moreover he could not make the predictions work quite right because he held that the orbits were circular and not elipitical as Kepler did. This was probably due to his Platonist sympathies. So there were differences between the models that could be determined by evidence. Again assertion and name calling is utilised instead of engagement with the evidence. Name calling and assertion might pass for reasoning in science, it does not however pass in philosophy or theology.

    6. ”Don’t give me your crap about the church’s concern with evidence! At the time the evidence didn’t differentiate.:” Actually, the Inquistion made it clear in its comments that Galileo could teach heliocentricism as a plausible hypothesis, as had been done for centuries by theologians prior to Galileo ( some which Galileo appears to have plagarised) , but was not to teach it as true with out compelling proof. So the Church was quite clear that evidence was the issue.

    Apparently you think the church should reject the scientific consensus of the day if it has no evidence its wrong. Remember that next time you rant and rave about global warming or evolution.

    7 ”And, of course, when Galileo had the evidence (eg moons of Jupiter and phases of Venus plus mountains on the moon) the Church imprisoned him for life! “ This is simply a distortion of the facts, in 1610 Galileo published his findings about Jupiter and Venus, the Inquistion wrote the the Jesuits and asked if they could confirm his findings, they could and it did not move against him. In fact Galileo was welcomed as a hero in rome in 1611. So he was not arrested for offering these arguments.

    Moreover, these facts did not provide evidence that the earth moved, they showed that other planets such as venus orbited the sun. It was accepted that this was a problem with the Ptolemic model. however other non-heliocentric modes of the day such as that Tycho Brahne could accommodate this evidence, and so these fact not provide evidence that Copernicus was the correct model.

    What Galileo was put under house arrest (not imprisoned as you say ) for was not his work on Jupiter but his latter work “The two world systems” in this work he defended Copernicus with his argument from the tides he maintained , that the tides motion was due to the earth motion. This was false, and was Galileo’s main piece of evidence in the offending work.

    I am sure its inconvenient to acknowledge that Galileo was in fact wrong in the condemned work and had not offered evidence for Copernicus. But unfortunately facts are more important than what’s convenient to secularist agendas.

    8. You write ” One can rant about “historians of science” etc. (the old argument by authority – you own authority, of course)” and then after this immediately make an appeal to authority “The philosopher AC Grayling points out that religion and Science have a common ancestors – ignorance.” The difference of course is that historians of science are experts in the history of science, Grayling has no publications of any merit in Philosophy of religion so is commenting outside of his area of expertise.

    So apparently you think that appealing to the relevant experts is not acceptable if the conclusions are contrary to your own. But when someone who is not an expert agrees with you one can appeal to them.

    But it’s interesting that you think the near consensus of historians of science about the conflict thesis can be simply ignored and you can then assert that what you say is true because it agrees with your religious beliefs. I take it then that creationists are entitled to ignore the consensus of biologists and simply assert that there position is correct?

    9. You write And it is not “post Darwinian” as he claims. It has always been there. Ever since humans first attempted to understand and change their surroundings there has been a conflict between an approach of logical reasoning and empirical evidence and testing on the one hand and superstition on the other had. Here you assert your position without evidence.

    Apparently the demand for evidence only applies to others.

    10. ”While Matt (and his tame “historians of science”) may wish to deny that reality – his denial, and his promotion of it, is in fact part of that conflict.” in otherwords any facts against you are is really evidence in favour of your position. Of course any facts in favour of your position are also evidence in favour of it as well, This shows once again that your position is a priori dogmaticism which has nothing to do with evidence at all.

    11 “the Wedge Strategy of the Discovery Institute that David referred to.” And here we conclude by appeal to a conspiracy. Anyone who disagrees with false claims of theological history, unsupported by the evidence, is really part of a big conspiracy against science.

    1-11 show us quite nicely how irrational dogmatic and unfactual your “rationalism” is.

  • Ken wrote “Inevitably that conflict will continue into the future. it is inherent in the different epistemologies of religion and science.”

    This claim is addressed by Plantinga in the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy
    ” a third area of alleged conflict between religious belief and science has to do with the different epistemic attitudes associated with each. Thus, for example, John Worrall:

    Science, or rather a scientific attitude, is incompatible with religious belief. Science and religion are in irreconcilable conflict … There is no way in which you can be both properly scientifically minded and a true religious believer (Worrall 2004, p. 60).
    In science, the dominant epistemic attitude (so the claim goes) is one of critical empirical investigation, issuing in theories which are held tentatively and provisionally; one is always prepared to give up a theory in favor of a more satisfactory successor. In religious (e.g., Christian) belief, the epistemic attitude of faith plays an important role, an attitude which differs both in the source of the belief in question, and in the readiness to give it up.

    Others (Ratzsch, 2004), however, point out that there isn’t obviously a conflict here. Clearly those two attitudes are indeed different, and perhaps they can’t be taken simultaneously with respect to the same proposition. Does that show a conflict between science and religious belief? Perhaps some ways of forming belief are appropriate in one area and others in other areas. To get a conflict, we must add that the scientific epistemic attitude is the only one appropriate to any area of cognitive endeavor. That claim, however, is not itself part of the scientific attitude; it is an epistemological declaration for which substantial argument is required (but not so far in evidence).

    Furthermore, scientists themselves don’t seem to take the scientific epistemic attitude (as characterized above) to all of what they believe, or even all of what they believe as scientists. Thus it is common for scientists to believe that there has been a past, and indeed they sometimes tell us how long ago the earth, or our galaxy, or even the entire universe, was formed. Scientists seldom hold this belief—that there has been a past—as a result of empirical investigation; nor do they ordinarily hold it in that tentative, critical way, always looking for a better alternative.

    In these areas, therefore, it is hard to find conflict between theistic religious belief and contemporary science.”

  •  Well, I seem to have touched a raw nerve there, Matt. What a torrent. And boy, what a load of BS. Theological justifications along the style of Stalinist apologetics.

    But you have also nailed your colours to the silly “Galileo was wrong mast.” the old Quixote/Pancho team has another lurch at the windmill!

    I am obviously right on the button with my point about fashionable theological attempts to rewrite  the history of science – re Galileo.

    Putting aside the many avoidances and distortions I just want a response from you on the way you use Galileo’s mistaken ideas on the cause of tides. You say “Galileo in fact offered bogus arguments from tides which were widely criticised by contemporaries” – charming. You don’t like these great scientists do you.

     And “he maintained , that the tides motion was due to the earth motion”.

    Of course that last point was Galileo’s mistake. But surely that destroys your first claim.

    Where did Galileo use tides as an argument for a heliocentric solar system? Come on – specifically what was the argument? Quote me the article and text. And give us the argument.

    Galileo’s mistake was in attributing tides to the motion of the earth. He did not attribute heliocentricity to tides. You have it exactly the opposite way around.

    You have used a mistake of Galileo regarding the cause of tides to dishonestly attempt to discredit his work on heliocentricism.

    And on this you base your claim “Galileo was wrong”!

    Well he was wrong about tides. Great scientists do make mistakes. But he was not wrong about heliocentricity. And that is what he was accused of heresy over. That is why he was arrested and yes his life imprisonment was under house arrest.

    And you wish to divert attention by referring to Galileo’s house arrest. But I guess apologists for Breshnev would have said the same thing about his regime’s treatment of Sakharov. He wasn’t arrested or imprisoned, just confined to Gorky in his own apartment. That makes it OK then!

    As I say the Christian apologist arguments are basically the same as the Stalinist apologist ones.

  • I’ve never heard the idea that Galileo was wrong on account of his theorizing that the tides are caused by the motion of the Earth, before now.

    I assume that the Church had a revelation about Issac Newton, had Galileo put under house arrest for ‘being wrong’ about that. Galileo was, apparently put under house arrest for bad science then???

    I’m not willing to dig in to how Galileo worded his idea that the motion of the World caused tides, but the truth is that without the daily rotation of the planet there would be no daily tides, isn’t that right?

    I’m just wondering how Calileo’s notion conflicts with the Church theory of tides and how THAT landed him in trouble. Or does that fly under the ‘occult knowledge’ flag when it suits you?

    Seems to me, Matt, that you’re not willing to admit that theology/philosophy overreached the powers and capabilities of it’s divine revelation and pure reasoning paradigms and was in the overt business of thought control, or at least information control, even though today, philosophers and theologians are determined that their respective fields are NOT scientific theorizing at all, which you have to admit, they’re very bad at.

    Seems to me, also, that there WAS an unsuccessful attempt, by the Church, to harmonize the writings in Scripture with reality. To harmonize the scientific view of Bronze Age scholars with Medieval astronomy.

    I’m just saying that the Church DID have a LOT to say about the scientific musings, and even observations, in those times, and it may well be true that scientific and technological advances are unimportant compared to saving immortal souls, but judging by this very post, religionists are at least as equally inclined to pit science against religion, to stir the polemic, when it suits them.

  • I think what you’ve missed there Matt is the context and the rest of the quote. The Disco ‘Tute want to make science fit their theology, thanks makes them fundamentalists.

  • pboyfloyd – just to be clear why Galileo was sentenced to imprisonment, and then given house arrest for life, by the inquisition. Lets just quote the statement from the sentence passed 22 June 1633:

    “…have rendered yourself in judgement of this Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely of having held and believed the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Sacred and Divine Scriptures, that the Sun is the centre of the world and does not move from east to west and that the earth moves and is not the centre of the world; and that one may hold and defend an opinion after it has been declared and defined contrary to Holy Scripture….”

    As you can see this was not a dispute between cultured gentlemen about scientific evidence (as Matt wishes to imply). It was a punishment of Galileo by the Church because he dared to use logical reasoning and empirical evidence to support heliocentrism which the church had ordered contrary to “holy scripture’ and therefore not permitted to hold as an opinion!

    There are a lot of similarities to the campaign against science launched in Russia under Stalin.

  • Ken wrote “As you can see this was not a dispute between cultured gentlemen about scientific evidence (as Matt wishes to imply). It was a punishment of Galileo by the Church because he dared to use logical reasoning and empirical evidence to support heliocentrism which the church had ordered contrary to “holy scripture’ and therefore not permitted to hold as an opinion!

    Ken here shows his ignorance, first, he suggests the Church and those who opposed Galileo were not cultured scientifically literate gentle men. This is false.

    Second, ken ignores the reason why the Inquistion claimed that the motion of the earth was contrary to scripture. They said this because the consensus was against the opinion, and if that is the case one should not claim it is true unless one provides a scientific demonstration of the claim, otherwise they should affirm it as a hypothesis. This was the hermenutical practise of the period.

    Ken like to cite things out of context ignore facts and make bald assertions based on his own sterotypes. Unfortunately the facts don’t fit the picture he cites which is why most historians of science have abandoned the conflict thesis decades ago.

  • Note Ken also omits the context,

    “This Holy Tribunal being therefore of intention to proceed against the disorder and mischief thence resulting, which went on increasing to the prejudice of the Holy Faith, by command of His Holiness and of the Most Eminent Lords Cardinals of this supreme and universal Inquisition, the two propositions of the stability of the Sun and the motion of the Earth were by the theological Qualifiers qualified as follows:

    The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.

    The proposition that the Earth is not the center of the world and immovable but that it moves, and also with a diurnal motion, is equally absurd and false philosophically and theologically considered at least erroneous in faith.”

    The phrase “philosophically false” here refers to the findings of natural philosophy i.e science. So Ken’s claim that scientific evidence was not involved is simply false. Second the text refers to a previous order by Bellemarie, which involved the claim he was to not teach it as true unless he could prove it.

    Again Ken shows how he ignores the evidence.

  • Cardinal Bellarmine of the Inquistion ”

    Third, I say that if there were a true demonstration that the sun is at the center of the world and the earth in the third heaven, and that the sun does not circle the earth but the earth circles the sun, then one would have to proceed with great care in explaining the Scriptures that appear contrary, and say rather that we do not understand them than that what is demonstrated is false. But I will not believe that there is such a demonstration, until it is shown me.”

    From a letter he wrote in 12 April 1615, another text Ken omits to mention.

  • Poor old Ken, for some reason he wants Christianity to be at odds with science.
    It would seem to me that people generally are at odds with change, this is just as evident among the scientific community as anywhere else. NB how thoroughly Wegener’s theory of continental drift was rejected .He had good circumstantial evidence but lacked a mechanism .Rejection of his theory seems to have mostly been a case of the idea being too far outside the current paradigm rather than opposing evidence.

  • Yes Matt. I knew you were going to quote Bellarmine. Irrelevant of course. It was 20 years before the trial and your purpose is purely to try and direct attention away from the actual sentencing. Which makes clear that Galileo was accused of heresy – including daring to hold an opinion the church had ruled that he couldn’t/

    Incredible nonsense on your part. The sort of attitude towards facts that the Stalinists and Maoists had in their days.

    We can see even from this little exchange whey science could not make progress until it broke away from this theological knowledge. And yet that is the significance of the Discovery Institute’s Wedge document which baldly declares the intent to replace modern science with a theistic “science”. Something Matt obviously supports.

  • Matt said, “Actually that’s false as well, while its true Church accepted geocentricism . Geocentricism came from ancient Greek cosmology several hundred years before Christ..”

    Then Matt quotes, “..the sun is at the center of the world and the earth in the third heaven, and that the sun does not circle the earth but the earth circles the sun, then one would have to proceed with great care in explaining the Scriptures that appear contrary..”

    So this wasn’t simply an old scientific(natural philosophical?) position versus a new one, at all.

    The philosphers claimed to be able to deduce facts about the universe(world) by reason alone and the theologians claimed that the propositions about the universe(world) were sacred (to be understood as fact, barring proof to the contrary) on account of divine revelation.

    There may well be different ways of knowing facts about the universe using different ways of knowing than the scientific method, but this Galileo debaucle doesn’t seem to me to be the ‘dead horse’ that theists and philosphers or even lawyers ought to be beating here.

    In fact the Scriptures describe ‘the Heavens’ so badly that since theists have stopped demanding that the Scriptural account of them(the Heavens) be completely accurate, they’re now constrained to decrying historians summing up the Scriptural view of the Heavens as non-scientific(i.e. ‘wrong’), as a bunch of atheistic sh#t-disturbers!

    Hey, I’m willing to ‘forgive’ the Biblical story tellers as viewing the universe from a phenomenological perspective, using much hyperbole when they find it necessary, but I find it hard to believe that historians, writing a blurb about how the Medievals had astronomy wrong, is some kind of atheist-scientific ‘agenda’, as you seem to be posting here.

  • As Matt accuses me of ignoring evidence and context in my quote from Galileo’s sentencing: perhaps he could confirm the origin of the text he quotes at 13.49 am.

    There is nothing like it in the inquisition’s sentence text I have. In fact it is very similar to a “holy office” document from 1616, 20 years earlier!. This was aimed at characterizing the Copernicus model.

    Funny sort of “context”. And a bit loose with the ignoring evidence charge. But I guess that is the nature of theological debate.

    Grow up Matt and accept reality. Even the Catholic church has apologized for their treatment of Galileo (although it took 400 years). You are bearing a dead horse and discrediting yourself in the process.

  • Ken, its at this

    http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/condemnation.html

    btw is the one of the first hits I got when I googled your quote to check the context.

  • Matt,

    Can you explain why if, as you have claimed, the church accepted geocentricsn on (pre-)scientific grounds, Gallileo’s sentence makes no fewer than 10 references to scripture. Or why, for that matter, the church could care less, did the church see its role as protecting scientific orthodoxy?

  • Thanks for the link Matt. It is a useful site also providing the text of Galileo’s “Dialogue” which was prohibited by the sentence and remained banned for 200 years. I had found this difficult to hunt down and ended up printing of those web pages into an eBooks fiom.

    The section you quote is basically the same as the document I referred to and obviously was an expression of their dogma from 30 years previously.

    But while that declared their (incorrect) dogma on the Copernicus model it does not of couse describe the actual charge and sentencing. Nor excuse it any more than similar sentences carried out under the Stalin Terror

    But I recommend people go the the link to get the full text of this sentencing. And while there browse around for other relevant material.

  • David, I think the argument was that the church did accept heliocentricism as an hypothesis but did not permit it’s acceptance as truth. Truth could only come from “holy scripture”. This ordained geocentricism as “truth,” Matt ignores the fact that this position has nothing to do with evidence as that equally uepported both models until Galileo provided empirical evidence from his astronomical observation using telescopes.

    And this is the relevance of the Discovery people’s wedge document. They want a “theist science” where truth is derived from “holy scripture” not realty.

  • David you need to understand medieval approaches to scripture, they are not the same as contemporary fundamentalism..

    1. Early church fathers such as Augustine argued that certain scriptural texts if read literally were contrary to the scientific consensus of his day. He suggested that if it could be shown scientifically that a particular scientific claim was true, then the church should adopt a non literal reading of the passage in question. (Neither the early church or medieval church were excessively literalistic. The emphasis on a literalistic way of reading scripture is a post reformation emphasis.) Augustine’s position remained the standard one for the period.

    2. Several hundred years prior to Christ the Ptolemaic model of cosmology replaced an early heliocentric one. It became the model accepted by all educated people. The Polemic model was adapted by Aristotle whose status in the middle ages was equivalent to that of Einstein and Darwin today. One of the central theological projects of the 13 century was how to relate Christian theology to Aristotelian natural philosophy. Some like Bonaventure took a more critical stance to Aristotle others like Thomas Aquinas took a more sympathetic one. This project lead to Christian theology being merged with Aristotelian ideas, seeing Aristotelian cosmology was Ptolemaic certain passages in the bible were expounded and understood in Aristotelian terms, hence passages in the psalms or Joshua’s long day was understood literally because the scientific consensus suggested they were. medieval theology was a synthesis of the bible and Aristotle.

    3. The late middle ages, saw a rise of criticism of Aristotle beginning with the condemnation of Paris in the 13 century. From the 13 century onwards several leading theologians developed alternatives to Arsitotle, one of these was Heliocentric models where the earth this was openly developed and defending by leading theologians such Burdian and Nicolas d’Oresme all hundreds of years prior to Copernicus. These authors all proposed there theories as hypothetical models, and did not claim they were true. However they argued that they cound be compatible with scripture. Much of Galileo’s arguments appear to be drawn from these writings.

    4. The 17 century saw the rise of the counter reformation. In response to the reformers the catholic church emphasised the role of tradition and adopted the view that one should not interpret scripture in a manner contrary to the traditional consensus, unless one provided scientific proof for the truth of the position.

    So at the time of Galileo the church accepted a (i) literal reading of certain passages on the basis of the scientific consensus around Aristotle, that’s why in the text I cited you see the word “natural philosophy” being used to bolster the scriptural reading.(ii) it also accepted the Augustinian position that if there was compelling evidence for a scientific position a literal reading could and should be abandoned, hence Bellemarines letter I cited (iii) it also accepted that heliocentricism could be advanced as a hypothesis and had accepted it being done for for centuries.

    Galileo during the time of the counter reformation, argued that heliocentricism was true, in his letter to Christina he offered a reinterpretation of scripture along heliocentric lines hence challenged the consensus view. He was ordered by the Inquistion to not defend this hypothesis as true until evidence had been provided for its truth. Though he was allowed to defend it as a hypothesis. In the two worlds systems he argued that heliocentricism was true and did so on the basis of his arguments for tides. This violated the Inquistions order to not challenge the consensus view on scripture without proof.

    What happened to Galileo was wrong, but cannot be portrayed in the simplistic “bible v science” terms Ken wants to paint it in, nor can it be used as a kind of “typical case” of the Catholic Churchs relationship to science. It rather was the result of a complicated synthesis of science and theology, with theologians and scientists on both sides of the issue, it appears to be the only case where a person was condemned for his cosmological views and it would arguably have not happened had it not been the counter reformation.

  • Matt “Matt ignores the fact that this position has nothing to do with evidence as that equally uepported both models until Galileo provided empirical evidence from his astronomical observation using telescopes.” Actually I addressed this above, first the telescopes issue did not prove the earths motion, rival cosmologies like that of Tycho Brahne could accept these findings without holding the earth moved. Second, Galileo’s condemnation was not for his work with telescopes it was for his argument of the tides in the two worlds system which was written decades latter.

    The picture of Galileo proving his case against ignorant theologians with a telescope is an exaggeration historical myth. Which served 19 century propaganda purposes.

  • OK, so this is the bit I don’t get. Why do apologists turn themselves into such knots about the Galileo affair. What would you lose by saying Galileo was treated terribly (I know you did say this, but only 80 whatever comments in) and it was wrong for the church to act as authority on what people get to think about the world. The historical background against which the trial was set help to us to understand what happened, but it doesn’t make it right.

    FWIW, I see the whole thing more as Authoritarianism v Freedom than Science v Religion. Galilieo got in trouble because he went against scripture, but it’s really no different than the Russian geneticists who got into trouble because they went up against another idealogy all together. If someone wants to believe something as absurd as geocentralism or creationism they are welcome to (though I’ll argue with them) but they don’t get to tell anyone else how they are allowed to think.

  • I agree with David. It seems to have been a very very short step from believing that they had cornered the market on TRUTH to imagining that they were the arbiters of truth.

    I don’t imagine the upper eschelons of the church going around making sure that the peasants and farmers understood that the Earth was spherical, for example..

    Since a flat Earth idea was more aligned with the Biblical representation of it, why bother their little ignorant heads about such trivial details?

    Seems to me that the truth you are avoiding here is that the church was in the business of squashing any idea which they deemed to be against their ‘truth’, much more vigourously than the Discovery Institute, the Answers in Genesis people and such could do today.

    Nevertheless, I feel your frustration while discussing your posts, your need to punish the unbeliever, condemning ‘him’ as “Wrong, wrong, wrong!”

    Seems to me Matt, that you never get fed up being right, even when you are wrong.

  • FWIW, I see the whole thing more as Authoritarianism v Freedom than Science v Religion.

    Couldnt agree more, actually i do agree more.

    Galileo got into trouble not for disagreeing with scripture but for promoting a theory [which turned out to be correct] as truth that he couldnt prove and he did so against the specific command of the “authority” of the day. His supporting evidence [namely tides etc] was incorrect and he knew it , as his theory predicted one tide per 24 hours not the two that actually occur.

    Why do apologists get all tied up about it? I dont know that they really do but it is an example continually thrown in Christians faces of “anti-scientific thinking”, when its no such thing. It looks far more like a case of strong willed people in conflict that ended up becoming political.

    I dont even understand why the RC church apologised 400 years later. That seems a case of modern guilt bought on by applying contemporary attitudes to earlier situations where they simply are not relevant. If we did this consistently we would have to apologise [to whom i dont know] for 99% of history.

    This post “The Flat Earth Myth” started by pointing out the history, inaccuracy and historical youth of this myth. This appears to have upset Ken and pboyfloyd [maybe they dont like that christians are not as dumb as they like to think they are] so they have brought up some other examples, Galileo and Bruno, which also turn out to be nowhere near as simple or prejudiced as they might like to think.
    This raises another question, parallel to your own, why do atheists [seem] to need to portray christians as dumb, anti-intellectual, ignorant? Is it to assuage their own doubts?

  • @ pboyfloyd

    are you some kind of historical forensic physchologist that you have expertise in attributing motive to people both now and in the past? Did you go to the same school as Ken cause he is really good at this too?

    Seems a typical case of playing the man and not the ball, usually a substitute for a valid argument.

  • David

    The Galileo story is frequently a linch pin of a broader meta-narrative where the church during the dark ages suppressed knowledge truth freedom and so on, and science had to emerge in the 17 century to free us from this superstition, and when it did the church fought hard as it had for centuries to suppress science.

    The meta-narrative is known as the conflict thesis its historically false but it still holds in popular conciousness and Christians are often castigated and stigmatised as a result of the stero type.

    For this reason its important to get the facts clear, the conflict thesis is false, the church did not suppress science, the Galileo affair was in many ways atypical it and on analysis it was not a conflict between science and scripture, but the Aristotleian theological and Galileo’s more Platonic approach which proved problematic during the political upheaval of the counter reformation. Stillman Drake for example has argued that in fact Galileo’s problems were agressively ticking of the scientific community who turned to the Church to silence a vocal critic.

    I have no problem with saying the RC made a mistake, provided the incident is not exagerated or taken as confirming a false meta-narrative.

  • Pboyfloyd you write ” It seems to have been a very very short step from believing that they had cornered the market on TRUTH to imagining that they were the arbiters of truth.”
    Got any historical evidence for this explanation of what occurred or is it just a bald assertion that you hope others will share.
    One obvious problem with it is it does not explain why the Galileo incident occurred in 17 century Italy. But that Copernicus was not and that earlier Theologians in the 13 century who had defended the motion of the earth were not tried for heresy. Or for that matter no other scientist was tried for heresy. It also fails to make sense of why heresy in general was tolerated prior to the 13th century. And why other religions such as Islam and Judaism were not illegal. The church’s presence was continual in these periods.
    I know sterotypes are politically useful, unfortunately they are false.

    ”I don’t imagine the upper eschelons of the church going around making sure that the peasants and farmers understood that the Earth was spherical, for example..”

    I see so unless you go out and affirm the earth is round you really support the idea that its flat.

    Why not just acknowledge that the Church did not do this and current teaching of it in school is propaganda?

    In fact for much of the early middle ages it was the Church that promoted and kept classical learning alive, those peasants who did get educated did so through Church initiatives. But again don’t let your precious stereotypes take into account facts will you.

    ”Since a flat Earth idea was more aligned with the Biblical representation of it, why bother their little ignorant heads about such trivial details?”

    Sorry, but no medieval theologian would have adopted the interpretation of the bible you do here. That’s a hyper-literalist reading which exists only on contemporary free thinker sites. Caricatures are not terribly compelling evidence either.

    ”Seems to me that the truth you are avoiding here is that the church was in the business of squashing any idea which they deemed to be against their ‘truth’,”

    Problem is this picture of the medieval church is false, its known as the “black legend” Henry Kamen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Kamen for example has a really good analysis of this sort of claim and shows it to be baseless.

    “much more vigourously than the Discovery Institute, the Answers in Genesis people and such could do today.”

    Funny I haven’t seen DI people trying to ban theological criticisms of ID theory being taught in public schools nor have I seen DI people advocating censorship, nor have I seen people loose tenure for defending evolution in mainstream universities. That’s normally how opponents of ID behave.

    But the analogy is not apt, evolutionary theory is the accepted consensus of today, No person could even get tenure in a science department if they don’t accept it, evolution is taught as official curricula in all public schools and universities, ID would not even be allowed a hearing. The scientific community is hostile to ID. All the main denominations including the Catholic Magisterium accepts it. IDers like Dembski are mathematicians outside of the scientific world challenging this consensus.
    Take the case with Galileo, in Galileo’s time geocentricism was the accepted consensus. It was the view accepted in all texts books most instiutions, circula and so on. Galileo was a mathematician not a natural philosopher who challenged the consensus, according to Stillman Drake http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stillman_Drake the scientific community was hostile to Galileo and he was actually allowed to be give a hearing he could teach it as a rival model or hypothesis. So the historical situation is completely different, but again I am sure defamatory sterotypes are politically useful right.

    “Nevertheless, I feel your frustration while discussing your posts, your need to punish the unbeliever, condemning ‘him’ as “Wrong, wrong, wrong!”

    And when in doubt attribute nasty motives to people, its much easier than providing say historical facts for your claims.

    “Seems to me Matt, that you never get fed up being right, even when you are wrong.” Is that right?

  • From Wikipedia: on Galileo

    Cardinal Bellarmine had written in 1615 that the Copernican system could not be defended without “a true physical demonstration that the sun does not circle the earth but the earth circles the sun”.[21] Galileo considered his theory of the tides to provide the required physical proof of the motion of the earth. This theory was so important to Galileo that he originally intended to entitle his Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems the Dialogue on the Ebb and Flow of the Sea.[22]The reference to tides was removed by order of the Inquisition.
    For Galileo, the tides were caused by the sloshing back and forth of water in the seas as a point on the Earth’s surface speeded up and slowed down because of the Earth’s rotation on its axis and revolution around the Sun. Galileo circulated his first account of the tides in 1616, addressed to Cardinal Orsini.[23] His theory gave the first insight into the importance of the shapes of ocean basins in the size and timing of tides; he correctly accounted, for instance, for the negligible tides halfway along the Adriatic Sea compared to those at the ends. As a general account of the cause of tides, however, his theory was a failure.
    If this theory were correct, there would be only one high tide per day. Galileo and his contemporaries were aware of this inadequacy because there are two daily high tides at Veniceinstead of one, about twelve hours apart. Galileo dismissed this anomaly as the result of several secondary causes, including the shape of the sea, its depth, and other factors.[24] Against the assertion that Galileo was deceptive in making these arguments, Albert Einstein expressed the opinion that Galileo developed his “fascinating arguments” and accepted them uncritically out of a desire for physical proof of the motion of the Earth.[25]
    Galileo dismissed as a “useless fiction” the idea, held by his contemporary Johannes Kepler, that the moon caused the tides.[26] Galileo also refused to accept Kepler’s elliptical orbits of the planets,[27] considering the circle the “perfect” shape for planetary orbits.

    Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy,

    Cardinal Bellarmine was willing to countenance scientific truth if it could be proven or demonstrated (McMullin 1998). But Bellarmine held that the planetary theories of Ptolemy and Copernicus (and presumably Tycho Brahe) were only hypotheses and due to their mathematical, purely calculatory character were not susceptible to physical proof. This is a sort of instrumentalist, anti-realist position (Duhem 1985, Machamer 1976). There are any number of ways to argue for some sort of instrumentalism. Duhem (1985) himself argued that science is not metaphysics, and so only deals with useful conjectures that enable us to systematize the phenomena. Subtler versions, without an Aquinian metaphysical bias, of this position have been argued subsequently and more fully by van Fraassen (1996) and others. Less sweepingly, it could reasonably be argued that both Ptolemy and Copernicus’ theories were primarily mathematical, and that what Galileo was defending was not Copernicus’ theory per se, but a physical realization of it. In fact, it might be better to say the Copernican theory that Galileo was constructing was a physical realization of parts of Copernicus’ theory, which, by the way, dispensed with all the mathematical trappings (eccentrics, epicycles, Tusi couples and the like). Galileo would be led to such a view by his concern with matter theory. Of course, put this way we are faced with the question of what constitutes identity conditions for a theory, or being the same theory. There is clearly a way in which Galileo’s Copernicus is not Copernicus and most certainly not Kepler.
    The other aspect of all this which has been hotly debated is: what constitutes proof or demonstration of a scientific claim? In 1616, the same year that Copernicus’ book was placed on the Index of Prohibited Books, Galileo was called before Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, head of the Holy Office of the Inquisition and warned not to defend or teach Copernicanism. During this year Galileo also completed a manuscript, On the Ebb and Flow of the Tides. The argument of this manuscript will turn up 17 years later as day Four of Galileo’s Dialogues concerning the Two Chief World Systems. This argument, about the tides, Galileo believed provided proof of the truth of the Copernican theory. But insofar as it possibly does, it provides an argument for the physical plausibility of Galileo’s Copernican theory.

    I can dig out more when I get home from holiday.

  • Hi Matt
    Who actually put Galileo under house arrest? That would seem to be beyond the authority of the RC church even in Galileo’s day.

  • I said, ” It seems to have been a very very short step from believing that they had cornered the market on TRUTH to imagining that they were the arbiters of truth.”

    To which you replied, “Got any historical evidence for this explanation of what occurred or is it just a bald assertion that you hope others will share.”

    Well, there’s this, “In 1616, the same year that Copernicus’ book was placed on the Index of Prohibited Books, Galileo was called before Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, head of the Holy Office of the Inquisition and warned not to defend or teach Copernicanism.”

    There’s more in your comments if you just look.

    Why accuse me of ‘bald assertions’ then provide the evidence for me? I don’t get it.

    Are you implicitly distancing the Church’s stance on science(instrumentalism) vs. natural philosophy and theology by saying that it was the Holy Office of the Inquisition’s beef then? Am I just not seeing some difference that you are here?

    What else am I not ‘getting’? The difference between the Church’s view being geocentric and Scriptural, and the Church merely “accepting ancient Greek cosmology”?

    This in the face of ‘Mr. Inquisition’ warning Galileo that he better be prepared to prove anything that seemed to contradict both geocentrism and Scripture, and that his proof better be based in philosophy(natural or not, it’s you making that modern distinction) and not just mere instrumentalism(aka. science)

    You’re making much of Galileo’s hypotheses being mistaken to some degree as if the Church really cared at the time.

    Now, briefly, about flat-Earthism, there are many people today, who believe that the Quran describes the same Earth as Genesis, which is flat, with a dome(firmament) of the sky, where God(Allah) opens windows to let the rain in. Considering how many people who live in the West still want to believe this, it’s not hard to imagine how the majority of humankind in them ‘good old days’ would have too, right?

    Or am I constrained to knowing them and having known them all personally now? I think that I’m allowed to say that it is reasonable to suppose that most uneducated people believed that the Earth was flat since most uneducated people NOW still believe this.

    And this is the reason for my last point about you claiming that everything I say is assertion and/or false, for no other reason than to say, “.. false..”

  • Matt, in his Dialogues day 4 where Galileo describes his theory of the tides he starts by saying (referring to the movement of the earth);

    “up to this point the indications of that mobility have been taken from celestial phenomena, seeing that nothing which  takes place on the earth had been powerful enough to establish the one position more than the other”. He was comparing the Ptolemaic and Copernicus systems.

    He clearly considered that the astronomic observations provided evidence for the Copernicus system and against the Ptolemaic. He says of the Copernicus system “the movements have long been attributed to the earth for every reason except an explanation of the ocean tides.”

    His arguments on the tides and atmosphere he obviously considered as a validation rather than prime evidence for. While he was mistaken it was hardly a fault that he hadn’t developed a theory of gravity, his argument is actually very convincing and he shows that the geocentric system just couldn’t explain the tides. He also shows that arguments of the time about the affects of the moon and sun could not either (these considered effects due to light, heat, the lunar sphere, and miraculous action of a god. Again they could not consider gravity). Galieo’s calculations managed to provide a precise explanation even though we know now that the real basic effect is gravitational.

    Actually his arguments are so thorough that I suspect they may have contributed to modern understanding of tidal effects on the orbits of moons.

    The Dialogues was published in 1632. Days 1 – 3 covered the astronomical evidence. Day 4 tidal and atmospheric effects. The book was banned by the inquisition for 200 years. Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment by the inquisition because of the book.

    Today the Dialogues is considered as one of the classics of the scientific revolution.

    It is dishonest to refer, as Matt does, to Galileo’s work on tides as either “bogus” or the cause of the conflict. After all his astronomical evidence was primary and his tidal work was probably ground breaking before gravitational theory had been developed. Don’t forget that his criticism of Keppler’s arguments for the moon were probably very valid as Kepler was using erroneous ideas like heat, light and miracles (not gravity).. In other words in retrospect we can see that Galileo was wrong with tides but Keppler was even more wrong. Galileo’s explanation of the moon’s effects was actually far more effective.

    Galileo’s mistake with the tides and atmosphere is an interesting story. In science we learn a lot from such mistakes. They are valuable. This particular one needs to be considered more widely for it’s lessons. (And I really enjoy such stories which show that scientists are often wrong and progress is not linear).

    But the story in no way justifies atrocities commited by the inquisition or modern attempts to rewrite the history of the Galileo affair on the way that Matt is attempting.

  • @pboyfloyd
    I think you need to do a quick Wiki search as you have misunderstood “instrumentalism” and ” natural philosophy”

    ” Natural philosophy” is effective the precursor to modern science, “instrumentalism” is a non-realist philosophy of science. I suspect given the stance you are taking here that “instrumentalism” is almost the opposite of what you are meaning to support.

    Can you offer any proof at all that MOST uneducated people do or have ever beleived the world was flat?

  • I have a big book with all their signatures, Jeremy.

  • And as far as instrumentalism, pfft. Guess it was too much to hope that it simply meant using instruments to make measurements, collecting data in order to form scientific theory.

    “instrumentalism is the view that a concept or theory should be evaluated by how effectively it explains and predicts phenomena, as opposed to how accurately it describes objective reality.”

    Yea…”See also
    Scientific method “

  • Geocentrism [ one of the topic at hand ] could make a good example of an “instrumentalist” theory, ie it describes the observable data quite well and is 100% accurate in terms of predicting sunset, sunrise and the next day coming, it just happens to be completely at odds with objective reality.

  • Ken, while i am here why the new double standard? If i’ve noticed anything from your various comments on various blogs its an insistance on evidence [ even if your version of evidence is somewhat narrow].
    Seems to me Galileo had a theory [ which was partly correct, heliocentrism butwith perfectly circular orbits] but he was not able to demonstrate any conclusive evidence for it. Tides as evidence of planetary motion being completely wrong..
    Kepler had some theories which were completely correct
    ie elliptical orbits and the moon as the source of tidal activity, his math on orbits was better but his reasons for the moon causing tides were completely wrong
    By your own standards the RC’s were quite right to reject any change to the status quo without demonstrable proof.

  • “But Bellarmine held that the planetary theories of Ptolemy and Copernicus (and presumably Tycho Brahe) were only hypotheses and due to their mathematical, purely calculatory character were not susceptible to physical proof. This is a sort of instrumentalist, anti-realist position.”

    Now Jeremy, you’re misunderstanding my reason for calling the ‘instrumentalism’ that Cardinal Bellarmine of the Inquistion spoke of, ‘science’.

    Basically Bellarmine is accusing the heliocentrists of this.

    No amount of quibbling that Copernicus or Keppler or Galileo, or even Newton for that matter, didn’t quite get it exactly right, or arguments that these men were merely instrumentalists, makes the Church’s position that they were the final arbiters of truth, a positive thing.

    There were Scriptural reasons why even Aristotle was described as an ‘instrumentalist’. This being that the Bible describes the Earth as flat.

    Seems to me that there is a very thin movable line between the Inquisitors claiming a Scripturally correct flat Earth and them demanding proof of any alternate system ought to be taken as fact, and not, simply ‘instrumentalism’.

  • Jeremy you didn’t read my comments so I am oit going to repeat for you.

    You are completely wrong in your claim that geocentricism is a good instrumentalist model. It is not and Galileo showed how it could not exlain known facts. He produced astronomical evidence supporting heliocentricism and putting an end to geocentricism.

    The tide issue is a diversion as I have explained. Have a read of Galileo’s book and then answer the question what is so wrong with it that the church banned it for 200 years and condemned the author to life imprisonment?

  • By the way, Jeremy, Keppler’s attribution of tides to the effect of the moon was wrong because it was based on light, heat and miracle effects. Not gravity.

    Galileo actually came close to exposing the effect of the moon – he didn’t have a theory if gravity but he postulated that the moon effected the rotational and orbital speed of the earth.

    Your mistake is making an assumption based on modern knowledge rather than reading what was said in the context of the existing knowledge of the time.

  • @Ken and pboyfloyd
    I know perfectly well what Kepler got wrong, that was my point, correct conclusion for the wrong reasons same as Galileo.
    You seem to dislike Kepler for his wrong reasons but cant quite get your head around the fact that Galileo was in the same boat. The RC’s didnt ban Galileo or his work because of the science but because he offended people with his mouth and attitude and then couldnt back himself convincingly [ he got offside with people in power]. Not exactly uncommon even today. You keep mentioning Stalinist Russia

    Geocentrism was a perfectly good model until new observations put up new info that it couldnt account for, this is the way of all science as Ken often points out. People needed a convincing reason to change, Galileo couldnt provide one at the time. An extra 400 yr of accumulated knowledge makes his position look obvious [clarity of hindsight] but it is us who have the extra knowledge not his contemporaries. What happened to Galileo was no different to getting negative peer reviews today. I guess being put under house arrest in 1632 was no worse than losing tenure or being publically humiliated in the press by the scientific community. It was certainly infinitely better than the prisons of the time.

    What gets up my nose is using this kind of thing as an example of christianity being antagonistic to science which is a thoroughly discredited historical theory that you wont [ dont want to] let go of.

    I know you dont like it Ken, but Christianity has been the only historical worldview that expected a rational and orderly universe precisely because it trusted a rational and orderly God. This doesnt mean no-one else ever discovered anything, neither does it mean christians have never got anything wrong, but it did provide the right [ philosophically encourageing] environment for the enlightenment etc. Which you will notice didnt happen any where/time/culture else.

    It seems to me Ken that far from me “making an assumption based on modern knowledge” you continually make assumptions based on your prejudice against Christianity [always taking the most negative slant possible] while totally ignoring the reality of human character and behaviour and politics.

  • Jeremy, no I don’t hate Keppler. He was another great scientist. He got many things wrong (including like Galileo the reason for lunar effects in tides). But all great scientists get things wrong. Especially at the forefront of human knowledge as these guys were. That’s how scientists work. But the fundamental lesson is that we know things are wrong because we map our ideas against reality.  Not scripture. And this is why the church got things wrong with Galileo. They relied in scripture not evidence.

    Galileo did prove geocentricism wrong at the time. He had the astronomical evidence. Despite the efforts of modern theologians to rewrite history. Their claims that he didn’t have evidence are dishonest.

    The problem was that the church clung to geocentricism not as an instrumental theory but as the “divinely proclaimed truth”. Hence their persecution of Galileo and his book.

    While there are people who claim a “divine truth” in contrast to evidentially based scientific theory there will always be a science- religion conflict. It’s inevitable. And there are such people today.

    The idea of the church doing peer review of science is just as ridiculous as the CC of the CPSU under Stalin doing so.

    And your idea of your religion providing the “only historical worldview that expected a rational and orderly universe precisely because it trusted a rational and orderly God” is ridiculous.  A rational and orderly universe was a common philosophical concept before Christianity. The example of Galileo shows how moribund this bit of Christian chauvinism is (the concept of a rational orderly universe was seen as heresy by some previous Christian edicts). And this attitude towards the universe today has absolutely nothing to do with religion.

  • “A rational and orderly universe was a common philosophical concept before Christianity.”

    Feel free to provide examples

    “the concept of a rational orderly universe was seen as heresy by some previous Christian edicts”

    Again feel free to provide examples.

  • Amongst the ancient Greeks, Pythagoru and Anistarchus but I am sure others.
    I will provide a quote on the heresy tomorrow. Currently I am out of town.

  • You are confusing the mathematical and logical ability of some individuals and their followers with Grecian world view not the same thing at all. This hardly shows “common” before Christianity.
    Logical ability in geometry is not the same as a rational and orderly worldview.

  • Pope John XXI instructed Bishop Tempier in 1277 to publish a list of 219 errors and heresies. These included the idea that nature followed laws as this conflicted with his god’s omnipotence.

    The two Greeks I mentioned were involved in proposing a heliocentric universe.

    The sentence passed on Galileo by the inquisition was hardly evidence for support of a rational universe. More the opposite.

  • Ken,

    Once again you are distorting the facts. Little evidence the Pope knew about or instructed Trempiers actions. The letter cited to establish this is actually dated after Trempiers list and calls only for an investigation not a condemnation as you say. This is what the primary sources show. Second, the existence of a “rational universe” or “laws of nature” was not deemed heretical at all. What was deemed heretical was the Aristotleian view that the laws of nature were logically necessary and so God could not in his absolute power created the world with different laws of nature.

    Edward Grant one of the leading medieval historians has noted that in fact this condemnation paved the way for contemporary science. After 1277 many theologians tried to show that God could have made the world with different laws of nature by proposing alternative models to Arsitotle, one of these were early heliocentric models proposed by Buridan and Oresme and others as alternative systems to Arsitotle which were coherent and defensible hypothesis. Moreover, the claim that laws of nature were logically contingent and not logically necessary meant people had to use empirical means to esthablish what laws there were instead of relying on aprori metaphysical reasoning. Finally, the condemnations of 1277 were limited to Paris, they were not binding on Europe as a whole.

    Pope John XXI instructed Bishop Tempier in 1277 to publish a list of 219 errors and heresies. These included the idea that nature followed laws as this conflicted with his god’s omnipotence.

    The Church did not declare heretical the idea that laws of nature exist or that the universe is rational. Ken again his willingness to make false allegations to support his position, a position which majority of historians of science and religion ( not theologians as Ken alleges) have long since abandoned as inaccurate political propaganda.

    “The two Greeks I mentioned were involved in proposing a heliocentric universe.”

    Actually Pythagoras believed that the world reflected a divine mathematical order. he was a mystic who worshiped the mathmatical structure as divine. Plato has similar views, these views are all religious views seeing a divinely ordered mind or structure to the Universe so it tends to confirm Jeremy’s point.

  • @Ken
    Maybe you could broaden your mind by reading this http://www.ldolphin.org/bumbulis/. I would be interested in your response, as long as it is considered and well argued.

  • I seem to have upset you again Matt. Personally I have no interest in pursuing the Tempier issue. This was just a response to Jeremy’s request. However  I don’t think your comments are reliable after your obvious attempts to distort the Galileo affair. So I will leave that issue as it is with the comment you have not convinced me. Smoke and fire after all, however you try to excuse it.

    Similarly your comments on Pythagorus etc show a very naive understanding of the way people can hold conflicting views. There is the same conflict between mystical views and rational scientific (some would say materialist) views in almost all the great thinkers. Clearly that is the case with Galileo, Newton, Kepler, etc. Even the more recent ones. 

    The fact is that consideration of the universe as operating on rational laws preceded Christianity and was actually opposed by Christianity in the early years. For 1000 years Christianity retarded the expansion of  of a scientific attitude that had developed amongst ancient Greek thinkers. That is why science stagnated in Europe after the collapse of the Roman empire. Medieval Islam is recognized as the saviors of science in that period.

    And the Galileo affair itself rather undermines your case. How could an institution that accepted a rational universe ban a book that advocated such for 200 years and condemn to
    life imprisonment a great thinker who was advocating and revealing such a rational universe?

    How could such an institution declare a “holy scripture” to be the determining source of information in a rational universe in contrast to logical reasoning and empirical evidence? Or define a “holy office” decision opposing such evidence as a description of reality, as “truth.”

    In fact this decision was not supported by the church as a whole with several of the inquisitors absenting themselves. I hope more if today’s inquisitors would have the courage to pops such a travesty. but it is clear that you wouldn’t. You are almost the last apologist for such a disgrace.

    I think it is possible for christians to accept a rational universe – but not always and not all. Obviously. God beliefs just make that acceptance harder.

  • “I think it is possible for christians to accept a rational universe..”

    I don’t know about that. Accepting the latest scientific model of the universe might open the door for their philosophers to claim a necessary first cause, but it makes a complete mockery of the Beginning story, which is, even if nothing else in the entire book is, must be supposedly Divinely Inspired Knowledge.(who WAS there witnessing God separating the waters from the waters and such?)

    Surely trying to resolve the two views, one as fact and the other as Divine Truth, leaves us with a very very unsatisfactory definition of Divine Truth as perhaps poetic metaphorical analogies.

    I don’t imagine that Christians can ‘have’ that, so it’s irrational all the way down now, or simpler, just never have the truth and the TRUTH actually meet in their mind.

  • Is there a chance for a public debate between Matt and Ken? Anyone keen on that idea? Might need a time limit though.

  • I popped over to Ken’s blog yesterday and it seems that he’s out of town for a bit. I’m sure he’ll read your ‘challenge’ and respond at some point though.

  • Sorry Ken simply repeating the conflict thesis is not an argument for it.

    The church never condemned the concept of a rational universe, and the greek thinkers you site supported the idea on theological grounds, no distortion there just facts.

    As to Galileo, as has been pointed out to you. First he was not imprisoned for life he was placed under house arrest at his european villa. Second, it does not demonstrate the conflict thesis apart from what I have already pointed out, you cannot prove a trend from a single episode.

    The fact is historians abandoned the idea of a “dark ages” as well as the conflict thesis decades ago.

  • don’t know about that. Accepting the latest scientific model of the universe might open the door for their philosophers to claim a necessary first cause, but it makes a complete mockery of the Beginning story, which is, even if nothing else in the entire book is, must be supposedly Divinely Inspired Knowledge.(who WAS there witnessing God separating the waters from the waters and such?) When skeptics offer the most extreme fundamentalist readings of Genesis and assume blithely that this is the only sensible or rational interpretation of these passages, ignoring all the old testament scholarship to the contrary one can I think safely dismiss them as ignorant.

  • “…have rendered yourself in judgement of this Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely of having held and believed the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Sacred and Divine Scriptures, that the Sun is the centre of the world and does not move from east to west and that the earth moves and is not the centre of the world; and that one may hold and defend an opinion after it has been declared and defined contrary to Holy Scripture….”

    Your reply to this is that the above excerpt is nonsense. You’ve said that others held and defended the heliocentric view and that the Church didn’t bother them. You’ve argued that, “his[Galileo] latter work “The two world systems” in this work he defended Copernicus with his argument from the tides he maintained , that the tides motion was due to the earth motion. This [the tides argument] was false…”

    But there’s no mention of Galileo’s “tides argument” in the above excerpt, there’s only the fact that heliocentrism is contrary to Holy Scripture.

    You can argue about who was wrong about what all day long Matt, but your surely not arguing that the Church was wrong about what it itself accused Galileo of?

    I’m also not familiar with Christian apologetics white-washing away the fundamentalist(as you say) view of Moses Divinely Inspired description of the Beginning, but you can either slough it off as simply a Bronze Age view OR you can claim it is Divinely Inspired by God HIMSELF, much like Saint Bellarmine had to.

    Seems to me that you cannot do both. You want to have your cake and eat it too, because if your argument is that Moses made a total mess of this Divinely Inspired Knowledge of how things began, it doesn’t bode well for any other knowledge supposedly gained by Divine revelation, now does it?

  • Ken
    I have never understood why you think repeating a claim constitutes an argument for it.
    Take your first point “He clearly considered that the astronomic observations provided evidence for the Copernicus system and against the Ptolemaic.” Yes, but as I pointed out twice above, in responding to this very point. Many of the astronomic observations Galileo had offered had been acknowledged and accepted by geocentricists of the 17 century, there were other models of geocentricism, such as that of Tyco Brahne which incorporated this phenomena, so this evidence by itself could reasonably have been considered inconclusive. Moreover, as the Stanford Article points out Galileo’s arguments plausibility depends on assumptions and presuppositions which, while taken for granted by many today, would not have been taken for granted or accepted by the Instrumentalists of the period.
    Your second point is essentially to note that while Galileo was mistaken this needs to be taken in context, with other factors such as “ they hadn’t developed a theory of gravity” I agree it would be unfair to judge Galileo on the basis of scientific knowledge we know have but which was unknown at the the time. The same is equally true of the RC church its unfair to judge its actions on the basis of scientific knowledge which was unkown at the time. Many of the presuppositions of Galileo’s work which we would take for granted today were in fact not taken for granted or accepted in the 17 century. The Stanford Encyclopedia for example notes that “ Albeit mistaken, Galileo’s commitment to mechanically intelligible causation makes this [the arguments from tides] is a plausible argument One can see why Galileo thinks he has some sort of proof for the motion of the earth, and therefore for Copernicanism.” It goes on to state “ Yet one can also see why Bellarmine and the instrumentalists would not be impressed. First, they do not accept Galileo’s restriction of possible causes to mechanically intelligible causes” It then points out “Unfortunately, it was not until after Galileo’s death and the acceptance of a unified material cosmology, utilizing the presuppositions about matter and motion that were published in the Discourses on the Two New Sciences, that people were ready for such proofs. But this could occur only after Galileo had changed the acceptable parameters for gaining knowledge and theorizing about the world.” In other words Galileo’s argument utilised presuppositions which while taken for granted today would not have been taken for granted by his contemporaries. If Galileo’s mistakes are to be taken in context so are those of his opponents.

    Unfortunately Ken, you bias against religion means that when Galileo makes a mistake you say things like, well they did not know X then and , well mistakes like this is sciences great strength. When the Inquistion makes a mistake, this is seen as evidence of Theologies weakness and you refuse to take the context of the day into account dismissing it with pejorative terms. This tactic of pushing a line of argument when it suits and then rejecting the same line of argument when it does not only exposes the hypocrisy of some scientists today.

  • Matt, I am not concerned with any thesis. Just pointing out that there is a fundamental difference between the epistemologies of Christianity and science. (Surely you accept that). This makes conflict inevitable whenever they approach the same subjects. (As they have on any issue about reality, evolution, origins of life and the universe, origins of human morality, etc). While Christianity has been forced to pull it’s head in somewhat (being so atrociously wrong about so many of it’s comments on reality) to the extent it attempts to dictate knowledge of reality the conflict is inevitable.

    (I realise that some Christians do not do this. The accept science and the scientific method. They do not campaign against scientific knowledge or attempt to impose a theistic “science.” I estimate this us the case fir about 60% of NZ Christians. Good on them – they are my sort of people).

    Now Matt I did not say “the church . . .  condemned the concept of a rational universe” as you claim.  I said “the concept of a rational orderly universe was seen as heresy by some previous Christian edicts”. Notice the “some”. I think my reference was sufficient to substantiate my claim.

    Now this us a huge backdown “the greek thinkers you site supported the idea on theological grounds”. Rather discredits the claim that science was a Christian invention doesn’t it. These Greeks were not Christians. Many of them were mystics – some weren’t. And the progress in science they were making was interrupted for 1000 years. This may have been a result of the collapse of the Roman empire but Christianity did nothing to encourage science in that time. It took advantage if the mysticism of the time.

    Your attempt to divert attention away from Galileo’s life imprisonment sentence by reference to the eventual  house arrest reminds my of the Stalinist apologists attempts to divert attention away from Stalinist atrocities by quoting examples where sentences were altered or pardons given. Don’t forget Galileo was forced to recant in a very dehumanizing way.

    I guess it is a change from using tides as a diversion.

  • Matt this is another Stalinist trick – to equate the oppressor and the oppressed. Of course I welcome mistakes in the attempts at progress and I know that many scientific breakthroughs inevitable contain an instrumentalist component. But unlike the Church and the Stalinists and Maoists, science doesn’t imprison people for mistakes ( or in this case showing up the oppressor). Science welcome mistakes and uses them to advance knowledge.

    It doesn’t matter to what extent others had not caught up with current knowledge the Church cannot be excused for their atrocious treatment of Galileo. It is a glaring example if how we should never allow ideologues to dictate science.

    I suggest you read Gaileo’s book. This makes clear that all these disputes had been accommodated. The tides Were not a issue for the evidential support. The influence of the moon had been thoroughly dealt with on the absence of a theory of gravity. And complaints of illusions introduced by telescopes were basically excuses by people who refused to use telescopes. Don’t forget that astronomers had over 20 years experience in telescope use by then. And the book clearly shows a great deal of confidence in these observations.

    Your example of apologetics over the Galileo affair really illustrates what is driving the science – religion conflict. Rewriting history in this way to excuse the behavior of the church and besmirch the science of the time is to promote the conflict.

  • By the way, Matt, Tyco Brahne’s model and his work was thoroughly dealt with in Galileo’s book. It’s problems revealed.

    This is the book prohibited by the church for 200 years.

    It is you who are making unsubstantiated apologetic assertions. And refusing to deal with the evidence presented to you showing where you are wrong. You are the one trying to rewrite history. Promoting the conflict.

  • pboyfloyd You write ”But there’s no mention of Galileo’s “tides argument” in the above excerpt, there’s only the fact that heliocentrism is contrary to Holy Scripture.”
    This assumes that this document is the only one we have which relevant to this issue. That this is pretty evidently false. We know what the position of the RC church was towards science, we know the kind of hermeneutic they adopted, we know what Cardinal Bellemarine’s position was, and we know a bit about the previous order Galileo had been given, and we take all this into account when determining what occurred. We know what the Pope of the day’s position was (Galileo paraodied it in the 2 worlds system) When we are asking a question about a historical episode we don’t take one document in isolation ignore all the rest and then argue that whatever is not in that one document did not happen. That would be to put it bluntly stupid.
    Then you write “ I’m also not familiar with Christian apologetics white-washing away the fundamentalist(as you say) view of Moses Divinely Inspired description of the Beginning, but you can either slough it off as simply a Bronze Age view OR you can claim it is Divinely Inspired by God HIMSELF, much like Saint Bellarmine had to. Seems to me that you cannot do both.
    This is a fairly obvious false dichotomy, you suggest that either it’s a divinely inspired “description of the beginning” or merely its not divinely inspired but merely a bronze age text. But one position which has been widely held throughout history is that it’s divinely inspired, but not intended to be a literal description of the beginning. Why assume that any text God inspires must be a literal description of the events it mentions. No one considers Jesus’ parables to be intended as literal descriptions of a sower or a walk to Jericho. No one considers Revelations reference to 7 headed beasts as a literal description, people don’t consider references to Jesus as the lamb of God as affirming that the man from Nazareth is white with wool? So your simply assertion that this text is supposed to be a literal description. A false dichotomy which simply assumes this assertion and then dismissing the numerous arguments to the contrary as “a white wash” really does not count for much.
    Take the “waters above and below” you mention, many scholars have argued that in its context this was a not intended to be an eyewitness description but a polemic against other ANE texts which had the world made out of water gods that fight and dismember each other. They draw on what we know about ANE literary motifs of the time and the kind of literature of the Genre. Do you have counter evidence that Moses actually intended to write an astronomical text such as exists in the 21st century? What is it? Or is simply calling positions you disagree with names like “white wash” suffice for you.

  • @Ken
    from your continuing comments to Matt i see you didnt bother to look at the web site i suggested.
    To your discredit it explained some Greek thought and philosophy of science, which your comments now show you to be quite ignorant of.
    Whats more you and pboyfloyd continue to show a complete lack of understanding of human character. The formal ruling against Galileo isnt going to say “Hear yea, hear yea, Galileo got up our noses and offended some people in power therefore we have screwed him over. Case closed” Its going to be presented in the acceptable language of the court and of course pretend it had nothing to do with getting up peoples noses.

    ” But unlike the Church and the Stalinists and Maoists, science doesn’t imprison people for mistakes ( or in this case showing up the oppressor). Science welcome mistakes and uses them to advance knowledge”

    Ken, which reality do you live in !!!. Scientists are more than happy to publically ridicule others who make mistakes, or make claims not currently acceptable. More than happy to destroy each others reputations to maintain their own pre-eminence [ref my previous ex wrt plate tectonics] The social situation may have changed but human weakness hasnt.

  • @ Ken
    I know Wikipedia is not the worlds ultimate authority on anything but its article on Galileo is particularly well referenced. You should read it. Galileo’s problems were primarily politcal and he never got imprisoned.

  • Jeremy I have the same reservations about Wikipedia, but i noted this

    “The dialogue does not treat the Tychonic system which was becoming the preferred system of the Catholic church at the time of publication. The Tychonic system is a motionless Earth system but not a Ptolemaic system; it is a hybrid system of the Copernican and Ptolemaic models. Mercury and Venus orbit the Sun (as in the Copernican system) in small circles, while the sun in turn orbits a stationary Earth; Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn orbit the Sun in much larger circles, which means they also orbit the earth. The Tychonian system is mathematically equivalent to the Copernican system, except that the Copernican system predicts a stellar parallax, while the Tychonian system predicts no stellar parallax. Stellar parallax was not measurable until the 19th Century, and therefore there was at the time no valid disproof of the Tychonic system on empirical grounds, nor any decisive observational evidence for the Copernican system. The Copernican system is deducible from Newton’s laws of motion and gravity, but these were not published until 1687.
    Galileo never took Tycho’s system seriously, as can be seen in his correspondence, regarding it as an inadequate and physically unsatisfactory compromise. A reason for the absence of Tycho’s system (in spite of many references to Tycho and his work in the book) may be sought in Galileo’s theory of the tides, which provided the original title and organizing principle of the Dialogue. For, while the Copernican and Tychonic systems are equivalent geometrically, they are quite different dynamically. Galileo’s tidal theory entailed the actual, physical movement of the Earth; that is, if true, it would have provided the kind of proof that Foucault’s pendulum actually provided two centuries later. With reference to Galileo’s tidal theory, there would be no difference between the Ptolemaic and Tychonic systems.”

    The same point about the two worlds systems not addressing Brahe is also in the more scholarly work of James Hamman on the history of science.

  • @ Ken
    “Rather discredits the claim that science was a Christian invention doesn’t it”
    Wasnt aware that anybody here had made this claim.

  • Jeremy, Its been pointed out to Ken several times that Galileo was not “imprisioned” he continues however to repeat this inaccurate exageration… in almost every post.

  • Ken wrote I suggest you read Gaileo’s book. This makes clear that all these disputes had been accommodated. The tides Were not a issue for the evidential support. The influence of the moon had been thoroughly dealt with on the absence of a theory of gravity. And complaints of illusions introduced by telescopes were basically excuses by people who refused to use telescopes. Don’t forget that astronomers had over 20 years experience in telescope use by then. And the book clearly shows a great deal of confidence in these observations

    I see, Galileo proved his case totally, and those who failed to see were dogmatic idiots. how do we know this because Galileo said so. Because he has confidence in his conclusions and he attributes bad motives to others it follows that they actually had these motives.

    Do I really need to spell out what’s wrong with this method Ken..

    We can ignore the more objective studies which look not only at what he said but also at what others actually said, can critically bracket his rhetoric propensity to insult and ridicule others and so on, and examine the facts. this is just “apologetics and rewriting history” got it.

    .

  • Oh Dear Ken goes on to repeat more falsehoods,

    Galileo did prove geocentricism wrong at the time. He had the astronomical evidence. Despite the efforts of modern theologians to rewrite history. Their claims that he didn’t have evidence are dishonest.
    Here Ken falsely claims that its Theologians who have made the claims I refered to. In fact its historians I cited in fact two secular encyclopedias. The conflict thesis is rejected by mainstream historians not theologians. Here Ken relies on name calling and prejudice against theology rather than evidence.
    That’s how scientists work. But the fundamental lesson is that we know things are wrong because we map our ideas against reality. Not scripture.
    Here Ken shows his famous double standard, because scripture was misinterpreted in this one instance it shows scripture does not track reality. However Ken also says that when scientists like Galileo misinterpret the natural world this is a great strength which aids progress. Ken is again however ignoring the facts, first Galileo did attempt to argue from scripture for his theory, his letter to Christina is an example. Second, as I noted scriptural exegesis of this period in fact was strongly dictated by the science of the period. Anyone who has bothered to read Medieval theologians will know this. So the Galileo followed science church followed scripture statement is simply inaccurate, and rests only on a caricatured and misinformed understanding of the intellectual context in which Galileo wrote.
    “The problem was that the church clung to geocentricism not as an instrumental theory but as the “divinely proclaimed truth”. Hence their persecution of Galileo and his book.”
    Actually this is false, in fact both Bellarmine and Pope Urban held to an instrumentalist view of both Polemy and Copernicus. In fact one of the reasons Galileo so offended the Pope, who had been a supporter of his till that time is he ridiculed the pope as a simpleton for being an instrumentalist.
    ”While there are people who claim a “divine truth” in contrast to evidentially based scientific theory there will always be a science- religion conflict. It’s inevitable. And there are such people today.”
    As noted the conflict thesis has been discredited in contemporary history. In fact for 2000 years of church history only two cases can really be cited Galileo and the condemnation of 1277. Ken has cited both, distorted both and assumed that because something happens twice in history it must happen all the time. By this logic of course we should assume that if one plane crash occurs in 1000 years it follows planes are dangerous forms of transport that crash all the time and can’t be trusted.Of course we also know of incidents where scientists have suppressed dissenters. So by Kens logic science is oppressive
    ”The idea of the church doing peer review of science is just as ridiculous as the CC of the CPSU under Stalin doing so.” That might be true today but not necessarily in the 17 century, when science was not yet a separate discipline from philosophy and most experts in natural philosophy were theologians, most schools were run by the church and most universities were church run, most lecturers and scholars theologians and church men. In that context the idea that theologians would engage in peer review is quite plausible who else hould do it?
    ”The example of Galileo shows how moribund this bit of Christian chauvinism is (the concept of a rational orderly universe was seen as heresy by some previous Christian edicts).”
    As noted this claim is false, its based on a misreading of the condemnations of 1277 which did not attack the idea of laws of nature but a particular Aristotelian philosophical understanding of such laws.
    ” And this attitude towards the universe today has absolutely nothing to do with religion.” Here ken simply ignores and dismisses the arguments of Ratzch, Swinburne and others that the existence of laws of nature is best explained by theism. If Ken If Ken thinks this view is wrong he needs to offer an argument. Again however Ken is contend simply with making unsubstantiated assertions, dismissing other views as “rewriting” or being authored by “theologians” and repeating falsified claims over and over.

  • Matt, reliance on secondary sources like Hannan and Wikipedia makes you captive to interpretation.

    Read the dialogues, for Christ’s sake. That will clear it up for you. Galileo does take issue with a number of mistakes of Tycho’s such as his estimation of star size, distance of the stellar sphere from the earth and anomolous rotation speeds of the different spheres. He points out that despite Tycho’s excellent instruments he was unable to get the required precision of, for instance, the orbit of Mars. They could never make it accurately fit their Ptolemaic models.

    In the Dialogues Galileo constructs the known solar system using available evidence. He clearly starts by placing the 5 other planets to rotate the Sun as in Tycho’s model (although I am not sure he specifically refers to Tycho in this discussion. It is Figure 4.

    He then goes on to discuss evidence placing the earth in the position of the 3rd planet rotating the sun. Effectively this contributed to the books critique of Tycho’s model.

    So I don’t think either Hannan or your other quote are correct on this issue. I detect a bias there.

    In his discussion of tides he is very thorough – he clearly showed that the Pythagorean/Copernican system could explain them whereas the Ptolemaic one couldn’t. We of course now know that despite the precision of his result the real primary effect is gravity. This is what I meant by this part of his model being instrumentalist.

    But this attempt to discuss the science and evidence of the time is silly. This wasn’t the issue for the inquisition. They sentenced him for heresy, daring to suggest or believe something contrary to “holy scripture” and the decisions if the church. Nothing to do with evidence or science.

    The church used revelation, authority and brutal force. Not evidence. That is why we condemn the affair. As well as gif the human tights issues.

    Apologists for that behavior are clearly campaigning against science (and at a time when the rest of the world commemorates Tje important contributions Galileo made to science). They are promoting the conflict. On this issue even the catholic church has apologized and lifted the prohibition on the book. And all you can do us refer to Galileo’s work ad “bogus,”

    Perhaps you still obey that prohibition and therefore cannot consult the actual book and so rely on your choice of convenient secondary opinion.

  • Matt – you refuse to consult Galileo’s Dialogues but “confindently” cast aspersions on it and him. For example: “I see, Galileo proved his case totally, and those who failed to see were dogmatic idiots. how do we know this because Galileo said so. Because he has confidence in his conclusions and he attributes bad motives to others it follows that they actually had these motives”

    What is your degree in, now? Oh, theology. I guess that level of scholarship is the standard then? Can’t have a comfortable prejudice threatened by real facts, can we.

    This us what I call the “apologist ghetto”

  • “Why assume that any text God inspires must be a literal description of the events it mentions.”

    I wasn’t assuming anything at all now. I said that Saint Bellarmine felt that the Church was constrained to believe that heliocentrists had an “opinion (after it has been declared and defined) contrary to Holy Scripture”.

    After reading this, http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/evolution/galhrsy.htm, I am wondering if you yourself agree that the universe is, in fact, Geocentric, because, once again, you can’t be partially in agreement with the Catholic Church’s views, hermeneutics etc. when it suits you and NOT in agreement when THAT suits you.

    You can read that that apologist’s reasoning, quotes from the period and such, back up HER claim that the Earth is, in fact, the centre of the Universe, it’s impossible for me to believe that you and this other Christian apologist can both be right.

    I’m inclined to agree with her that there is indeed a war on science, by the religious, on her stated grounds.

    “Why assume that any text God inspires must be a literal description of the events it mentions. No one considers Jesus’ parables to be intended as literal descriptions of a sower or a walk to Jericho.”

    Oh, come on now, parables are allegories. There is some kind of moral lesson or overarching truth being explained there.

    What would be the moral lesson or overarching truth in a blow by blow(day by day) account of what God supposedly did up to, and including, the time he separately created ‘Man’?

    So you guys have put a LOT of thought into white-washing this over and are suitably impressed with it?

    Read the apology I linked to and tell me that modern science ISN’T just Satan influencing us, as he was, presumably, influencing Galileo. I dare ya!

  • Ken, you are a qualified soil scientist. Yet you, in your latest comment confidently case apersions on Theologians, Theology, and make confident claims about the history of theology, the relationships theologians have taken towards science, the theological reasons they did so, the methods they used and so on. You in fact do this quite regularly on this blog and your own. The only primary source you have refered to is Galileo’s two worlds system, the work of a 17 century mathematician who was well known for ridiculing and insulting his opponents. I note you did not cite primary sources from the 1277 condemnations but simply repeated a secondary source and then cast aspersions on a Theologian when he pointed out you misunderstood the theological issues in the condemnation.

    Moreover you mention an “apologists ghetto” yet I have repeatedly pointed you not to theologians or apologists but mainstream historians of the science. Once again you sole response is to simply defame the academic credentials of others and then fake outrage that everyone else is doing it to you.

    I suggest you once again put your arbitrary double standard to one side. And try being consistent for once.

  • “I’m inclined to agree with her that there is indeed a war on science, by the religious, on her stated grounds.”

    The war is not on science, it’s on materialism and scientism.

  • @pboyfloyd
    “I am wondering if you yourself agree that the universe is, in fact, Geocentric, because, once again, you can’t be partially in agreement with the Catholic Church’s views, hermeneutics etc. when it suits you and NOT in agreement when THAT suits you.”

    Of course we can, do all atheists believe the same things about everything? No, where do you get off making out that all Christians have to believe the same about everything?
    You are an atheist i’d guess, is it fair to assume you have the same attitude to those who disagree with you as Lenin, Stalin, Mao. Or can i assume you have the same moral qualities as the Marquis de Sade? I expect you dont want to be characterised in either of those ways

    Protestants and RC’s disagree on lots of things, thats where the name Protestant came from

  • Matt – this comment is strange:

    “The only primary source you have refered to is Galileo’s two worlds system, the work of a 17 century mathematician who was well known for ridiculing and insulting his opponents.”

    Bloody hell Matt – Galileo was the person sentenced by the ninquisition (or at least a majority of it) to life imprisonment (yeah go on excuse that by referring to house arrest) for writing that book and for having the audacity to hold a belief contrary to “holy scripture” and the dogma of the church. On matters of reality!

    You refuse to consult that readily available source but rely on biased comments like Hannan’s. I am just pointing out that any honest scholarship requires you to actually consult the source – and not “tell us what is in the source” without consulting it.

    The fact remains that Galileo does discuss what is essentially the Tycho model (without referring by name). So Hannan was wrong to claim that he didn’t (based on the fact that Tycho’s name isn’t included in the title of the book) and you are wrong to rely on Hannan.

    Now, Matt – please let me know what qualification I have in soil science . I am not aware of any – but then you might know my history better.

    I do have degrees in science, though, a career in scientific research and an interest in the scientific process and the philosophy of science.

    It is this interest, as well as a concern at the current fashion by some theologians, to misrepresent and attack science, which encourages me into discussions like this. (And surely you should welcome the challenge??)

    The Galileo affair, and its current misrepresentation, is fascinating to me. Not only because of this attempt to rewrite history but also because of the way this process works in academia, and particularly in philosophical and theological circles.

    Give up the 1277 issue, Matt. I said “some” edicts” (How this becomes “cast[ing] aspersions on a Theologian” you don’t explain). I think you all agree that is true. You just deny it is representative (as I do to – at least superficially).

    My reference to the apologetic ghetto describes the common practice of having “tame” people to use at references (And yes these may be non-believers, like Ruse, as well as tame historians like Hanan and tame theologians). Christ it’s even got so bad that your mate Stuart describes people like Meyers, Dembski and Johnson as front line scientists shaking up science. (And he listens to them before all the many thousands of scientists actually researching evolutionary science!). That’s a ghetto view if there was ever one.

    Be assured this form of ghettoisation is common. Theologically inclined are not the only ones guilty of this. The problem on the internet is often described as “silos.”

    But I think your volubility on the Galileo affair, referencing your own tame sources (like Hannan), and ignoring the obvious primary source – the book for which Galileo was sentenced and which was banned by the church for 200 years, is bad scholarship. And a classic example of the ghetto mentality.

    Anon – when you guys talk about your war being on “materialism and scientism” you always avoid the meaning of these words. Scientism is a derogatory term to label scientists with when they don’t support your own religious beliefs. Materialism is never defined but inevitably is a code word for evidence and mapping against reality.

    The Wedge document uses the term in that sense. They want a “theistic science” where religious dogma is accepted as “scientific” without any requirement for evidence or testing against reality.

    So you can see why I consider that an attack on science. A manifestation of the science-religion conflict.

  • I am wondering if you yourself agree that the universe is, in fact, Geocentric, because, once again, you can’t be partially in agreement with the Catholic Church’s views, hermeneutics etc. when it suits you and NOT in agreement when THAT suits you.”

    Err No, I think its fairly obvious that the passages refered to do not teach geocentricism any more than colloquial references to sun rise and sun set in english today mean the speaker is affirming geocentricism. I doubt outside of a context where Ptolemy is taken for granted many people ( except hyperliteralistic skeptics) would have an issue here.

    Moreover the RC churches position on hermenutics does not commit them to geocentricism, as was pointed out centuries earlier by the theologians I refered to. Outside of the Political turmoil of the counter reformation its debatable Galileo would have got in much trouble at all.

    Try understanding issues before you shoot your mouth off.

  • Ken again tells falsehoods he states ” when you guys talk about your war being on“materialism and scientism” you always avoid the meaning of these words. Scientism is a derogatory term to label scientists with when they don’t support your own religious beliefs. Materialism is never defined but inevitably is a code word for evidence and mapping against reality.” Really Ken, do you have primary source evidence that theologians always do this ( see my references to consistency and double standards above.

    Here is one primary source, in Plantinga’s “Reply to Fodor” Naturalism Defeated, he notes the standard definition of the word scientism is the claim “whatever knowledge is attainable is must be attainable by scientific means, and whatever cannot be attained by scientific means cannot be known” he cites Bertrand Russell as the source for this definition. Here is a Christian Philosopher, using the term scientism and giving it a definition. So again you are simply mistaken. I could give you numerous other examples from the work of Theologians and Philosophers.

    As to materialism the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Physicalism notes “As the name suggests, materialists historically held that everything was matter — where matter was conceived as “an inert, senseless substance, in which extension, figure, and motion do actually subsist” “ So this term has a standard definition as well one widely used.

    I note also that on Glenns blog recently http://www.beretta-online.com/wordpress/index.php/craig-v-dawkins-sort-of/comment-page-1/#comments you made the claim you just did above. Several people refered you to definitions of the terms you say are never defined. Despite this you repeat the claim in hear, hoping perhaps a new audience will let you get away with it.

  • Ken wrote Give up the 1277 issue, Matt. I said “some” edicts” (How this becomes “cast[ing] aspersions on a Theologian” you don’t explain). I think you all agree that is true. You just deny it is representative (as I do to – at least superficially).

    Primary source Ken? remember what I said about double standards and being consistent.

  • Matt, I notice you choose to speak for Anon and ignore the critique I have made of your position.

    Perhaps Anon could elaborate and respond to my criticism of her comment. My criticism is based on personal experience of how the word “scientism” is used and the discussion you refer to Matt is an example of such use.

    I guess your nose is a little out of joint because I pulled you up
    on your persistent ignoring the primary source in this discussion. So it should be.

  • I said, “Read the apology I linked to and tell me that modern science ISN’T just Satan influencing us, as he was, presumably, influencing Galileo. I dare ya!”

    To which you reply,, “Try understanding issues before you shoot your mouth off.”

    So, is Satan to blame for modern science, or isn’t he?

    I understand that the theologian you keep bringing up, Cardinal (Saint Robert) Bellarmine, has a letter quoted in that Catholic Apology I linked to saying, “But to want to affirm that the sun really is fixed in the center of the heavens and only revolves around itself [turns upon its axis] without traveling from east to west, and that the earth is situated in the third sphere and revolves with great speed around the sun, is a very dangerous thing, not only by irritating all the philosophers and scholastic theologians, but also by injuring our holy faith and rendering the Holy Scriptures false.”, almost the exact thing that Galileo is convicted of.

    You are using the same double standard as the Church was to pronounce them tolerant enough of the Heliocentric Hypothesis, to ‘ease calculations’, except you’re trying to gloss over the fact that they were completely intolerant of describing the Solar System as physical reality, aka FACT.

    Paula Haigh goes to great pains include Cardinal (Saint Robert) Bellarmine’s point of view to back up her own.

    Here you are saying that the secular historians of science have the Conviction of Galileo for heresy completely wrong, yet Paula Haigh, using the same evidence seems to come to a rather different conclusion.

    But I might be wrong here, which is why I asked you if you believe that the universe is Geocentric. I’m not sure if you anwered a definite ‘no’ to this, in your reply.

    So, once again, Geocentric Universe, yes or no?

  • # Jeremy

    You ask, “..do all atheists believe the same things about everything?”

    Quite right, I’m sure not all atheists agree, especially concerning such things that have little or nothing to do with atheism at all, such as those you mention.

    For example, are all atheists totalitarian, like Stalin, Mao and the Medieval Catholic Church and all the Divinely Appointed kings, queens emperors, pharoahs etc. back through history?. Well no.

    All I was saying to Matt was that he IS vehemently AGREEING with their position, surely he cannot turn around and say that he doesn’t REALLY agree with it.

    After all, the Scripture hasn’t changed IT’S position on this issue at all, now has it?

  • After all, the Scripture hasn’t changed IT’S position on this issue at all, now has it?

    Probably not, what is scripture’s position on this subject, does it even have one?

  • Further, i havent understood anything Matt has had to say as necessarily supporting the RC position or actions. Rather he has made the point that the story as recounted is quite different than what actually happened. Also that the incident is far more complex than the very simplistic portrayal of a science vs religion conflict

  • All I was saying to Matt was that he IS vehemently AGREEING with their position, surely he cannot turn around and say that he doesn’t REALLY agree with it.

    Well I did not say I agreed with the RC position, I simply insisted people actually understand what it was.

    But for the record what you say does not follow the position of Belleramine was that if the consensus of scholars interpret a passage in as affirming X, then we should understand the passage to affirm X unless there is compelling proof that X is false.

    One can accept this principle without affirming geocentricism, one simply has to grant that there is proof for this claim. Moreover one could even accept that the RC’s judgement in 17 C was correct by simply noting that the evidence in existence back then is different to the evidence now. Given what was known in the 17 century a rational educated person could affirm geocentricism many informed educated people did. Today with what is known now no informed educated person could affirm this. To suggest however that because today no educated person can hold to a view it follows that anyone who held this view 300 years ago could not is simply a bad inference.

    Ken’s suggestion that Galileo’s case was, given what was known and rationally believed in 17c , absolutely compelling so that only dogmatic blindness could lead one to disagree with it, is implausible. I know of few intellectual historians who would accept this claim.

  • Lets put it this way, suppose that today the vast majority of scientists accept a particular theory, lets say climate change lets assume, also that this position has become the basis of public policy and the political consensus emerges around this. Then suppose an academic with who is not qualified in the relevant sciences or the relevant public policy disciplines, begins promoting a denial view which is rejected by pretty much every one except everyone, suppose he does this in an extremely abrasive manner ridiculing, insulting and attacking other scientists. How would Ken respond, how would David respond, how would the political community respond.

    I am absolutely certain Ken would denounce the person as a quack call into question his academic credentials claim he was anti science and express horror that he was defaming good scientists.

    Its not inconceivable that a person who did this would be censured, if the outcry and complaints were significant the university might even ask him to tone it down and be a bit more tentaive in his presentation. Imagine he then responded by ridiculing the university officials as morons and published a book which painted them as idiotic simpletons. Would he, even in todays liberal secular society keep his job???

    Now replace climate change with geocentricism and public policy with theology, and accept that the universities were patronaged by the church and so functioned a bit like university officials, and you’ll get something of what Galileo did.

  • And is that really so hard to understand, especially since its pretty much what the history books say. Unless of course you want the situation to have been something different. Which raises a question—Why?

  • The facts are that the Catholic Church were using verses from the Bible as if they explained how the world must be, which was that the Earth stood still while the Heavenly Bodies moved around it.

    Everything down here on Earth was deemed natural and everything up there was deemed supernatural, that is, we can plainly see that the universe is dualistic, the Earth and the Heavens.

    According to Paula Haigh, Galileo while attempting to demonstrate the heliocentricity, the naturalness of the ‘universe’, he also tried to interpret the Council of Trent to allow him this leeway.

    At the same time we have the Catholic Church and all it’s philosophers and theologians demanding compelling evidence that the Heavens were NOT supernatural and not some mathematical model which simplified the measurements of the movements of the Heavenly bodies.

    Not sure what you imagine ‘compelling evidence’ would have been in those days, considering Paula-baby is adamant that the evidence we have today is basically lies told by scientists under the influence of Satan.

    Certainly the Catholic Church, with all it’s power and all it’s philosophical and theological backing, including the supposed words and actions of God in the Scripture, had the right to do as they saw fit.

    But so what? Looking back on this, we are not constrained to bow to the power of the old Catholic Church or to revere their old philosphers or their reasoning, as you seem to be implying that we do.

    Simply ‘shading’ the Church officials as ‘not as wrong as they’re made out to be’ and ‘shading’ Galileo as ‘not as right as he’s made out to be’, doesn’t, in my mind, make Christianity any more true than it is, or the notion that the Sun is the primary element in our Solar System any less true than it is.

    Still, as the Catholic philosophers and theologians of the time noted repeatedly, the notion of heliocentricity did, and still does question the validity of some verses of the Bible, including the notion of Divine Knowledge being imparted through this tome.

    What we know today, IS, that the Heavens are NOT supernatural, the Sun does NOT move relative to the Earth and so on and THIS is exactly what the Church officials of the time were railing against with their demand for compelling proof and their propensity to convict anyone who claimed such things as truth or let slide anyone who simply claimed such things as mathematical conveniences.

    I just don’t see any point in assailing kids with this whole ‘can of worms’ as if it some blurb about people thinking the Earth was flat or people thinking that the Earth was the centre of the Universe is going to be crucial in kids worldview and might increase the amount of atheists in North America form 12% to 13% or somesuch.

    Not only that, your point of view here, opens the door to Paula Haigh’s one too. Do we really need the kids wondering if astronomers are lying to everyone because they’re under the influence of Satan?

    I don’t think that the literalists need any more ammuniton, and you seem to have a double standard when it comes to someone making an off-hand comment about Flat-Eathers as compared to someone writing that God commanded entire tribes to be eliminated, for example. You can dismiss one as hyperbole but the other is a slap in your face?

  • “till, as the Catholic philosophers and theologians of the time noted repeatedly, the notion of heliocentricity did, and still does question the validity of some verses of the Bible, including the notion of Divine Knowledge being imparted through this tome.”

    this is the problem, i simply do not believe this, i think you would be hard pressed to find anybody much [ who was reasonably representative of Christianity as a whole] who does nowadays, so why do people such as yourself and Ken keep bringinging it up?

    “I just don’t see any point in assailing kids with this whole ‘can of worms’ as if it some blurb about people thinking the Earth was flat or people thinking that the Earth was the centre of the Universe is going to be crucial in kids worldview ”

    Again you have hit the point on the head, which raises the question why do contemporary text books in schools and even universities still perpetuate the myth that Christianity and medieval thinkers thought the earth was flat, even uneducated sailors knew it wasnt. What is to be gained by teaching young people this falsehood?

    “Simply ‘shading’ the Church officials as ‘not as wrong as they’re made out to be’ and ‘shading’ Galileo as ‘not as right as he’s made out to be’, doesn’t, in my mind, make Christianity any more true than it is, or the notion that the Sun is the primary element in our Solar System any less true than it is”

    And guess what, you are right again, and of course this applies in both directions. Making out the RC’s to be more wrong than they were or Galileo to be more right than he really was doesnt make Christianity any less right and equally has no effect on the sun.
    So why do people like yourself and Ken feel so compelled to do so, what do you want to achieve. Why do you seem to object to the facts coming out rather than perpetuating a myth?

  • Matt, do you guys have no scruples? Your characterisation of me is not only insulting it is completely a figment of your imagination. Your claim:

    “Ken’s suggestion that Galileo’s case was, given what was known and rationally believed in 17c , absolutely compelling so that only dogmatic blindness could lead one to disagree with it” perhaps accords with your imagination but not with reality.

    With such a disregard for the truth no wonder you think you have a god-given right to re-write the history of the Galileo affair. And you certainly have the theological motive.

    To describe Galileo as an “academic with who is not qualified in the relevant sciences or the relevant public policy disciplines” shows the extent of distortion you guys will go to.

    The Galileo affair has a lot of similarities with the treatment of Sakharov by the Soviet regime. He was a nationally recognized and respected scientist – similar to the equivalent for Galileo. The church’s problems in handling Galileo arise from his social/academic standing as a national respected and known philosopher/astronomer/natural philosopher of the time (what we now call a scientist). The church’s 1616 ruling and banning of books shows that support for the Pythagorean/Copernicus model was at least significant. Why bother otherwise. Your characterisation of Galileo as a” loner” is not justified.

    The exclusion of Galileo’s books from the banning shows something of his standing.

    The trial and sentence was not directly about the science. It was about the church’s insistence that one was not allowed to hold a view or belief which conflicted with “holy scripture” as determined by the church hierarchy. It was about Galileo’s publishing a book which offended the church because ti was full of evidence which showed why the Copernicus model was better than the Ptolemaic one.

    Matt – you have not read the book but you describe it as “ridiculing . . . officials as morons and published a book which painted them as idiotic simpletons.” How can you say that? Well because your tame historians make that claim. It is just not true. Read the book and you will see how the evidence and philosophy is discussed. The fact that some of the arguments for the Copernican system were pretty childish (especially from our perspective) is not a fault of the evidence or the author.

    Galileo’s right to present evidence, and to advance knowledge on the basis of evidence was the fundamental issue and represents the basic conflict between science and religion. Should our knowledge be determined by free enquiry, evidence and logical reasoning and mapping against reality? Or should it be determinedly diktat, “authority”, biblical “Truth”, “revelation”, etc.

    That is the basic conflict which has largely been one by science but still continues today. The conflict is represented by the Wedge people’s arguments about “materialism” and “scientism.” It is also represented by attempts to rewrite the history of science as you are trying, Matt.

  • Hi Ken,

    Science is a way to collect and verify facts

    Materialism says that matter is all there is … which is not scientific

    Scientism says scientific facts always speak for themselves … which is dead wrong, because facts need to be interpreted

    See, they are all different.

  • Sorry for my spelling mistakes.

    Meant to add that some historians speculate on whether Galileo was actually tortured or threatened with torture during his interrogation. Something the inquisition often used.

    It appears that the threat may well have been there but was not used because of Galileo’s national standing. He was not any old nutter or loner as Matt is suggesting. He was well respected (something he probably traded on in daring to publish his book) and well known so torture was really not an option.

    Mind you it appears that considering Galileo’s advanced age the actual treatment of him amounted to personal insult and intentional imposition of harsh treatment.

  • Jeremy, you say, “this is the problem, i simply do not believe this..”

    What is it that you don’t believe? There’s ample evidence of the Catholic’s position on this, in these comments and the link to Paula’s page on what they believed and what they believe the Scripture was saying and so on, what’s not to believe about that.

    It doesn’t matter to you that Matt is apologizing for the Church’s position at all? Matt is the one saying that the Church had other reasons than Scriptural inerrancy to convict Galileo of promoting Scriptural inerrancy, because we have to look at it from their point of view.

    Well, it turns out their point of view DID include Scriptural inerrancy as the only component of their condemnation of Galileo and these other considerations, such as their leniency towards heliocentricity as mathetical conveniences were of no actual importance as far as that condemnation was concerned.

    We surely cannot be constrained by Matt to view this from a Medieval position and constrained by you to view this from the Modern Church’s(i.e. your) view??

    Surely.This is some kind of ‘heads we win tails you lose’ point of view, taking both sides of the issue.

    If the Medieval Church’s position was wrong, it’s okay for everyone, modern Church AND modern historians to say that they WERE wrong, and not try to make Galileo out to be anti-Christian for opposing Geocentrism(which we mostly believe is wrong today) or historians writing passing blurbs about it as myth creators for glossing over it.

    As Matt notes in his commentary, anyone with a computer with access to the internet can find the ins and outs of the Medieval Church, Cardinal (Saint Robert) Bellarmine et al’s position on this issue if he/she desires.

    I wonder how easy it is to access George Washington’s view on slavery and the truth about his wearing some of his slave’s teeth as opposed to the myth that his teeth were made of wood?

  • Yes, Anon – you had better battle that our with Matt – he’s the one laying down definitions that don’t agree with yours.

    Your materialism definition is circular because you don’t define “matter.” Nor do scientists. They just get on with the job and study reality – all that exists. No preconceptions. (Mind you that is a workable definition for matter isn’t it: “Matter is that which objectively exists and interacts. it’s one I have always used but I think the interactions part is superfluous. Objective existence is a form of interaction).

    As for your “scientism” definition – first time I have heard that one. And people around here have been accusing me of “scientism” for a long time. I will go with my original.

    Really shows the problem of using labels like this. They are OK if you want to abuse someone but no good for rational discussion.

  • “Scientism says scientific facts always speak for themselves … which is dead wrong, because facts need to be interpreted..”

    Aww, Anon-baby! This is your way of calling unbelievers heretics?

    We can have all the scientific facts we like, but they mean nothing unless they’ve been approved by some theological authority which, of course, you get to decide, is that about right?

    Yet ANOTHER, “Heads we win, tails you lose.”, I see.

  • @ pboyfloyd ‘“Scientism says scientific facts always speak for themselves … which is dead wrong, because facts need to be interpreted..”

    Aww, Anon-baby! This is your way of calling unbelievers heretics? ‘

    No; more likely simply stating that science is a process.

    The process is Measure -> Interpret -> Conclude.

    The delineation between ‘fact’ and ‘scientist’ vary from instance to instance.

    No body is suggesting that the interpretations and conclusions are not reasonable, simple that they do not just turn into fact.

    So no, the facts don’t speak for themselves.

  • WHAT?

    Look up ‘fact’ and ‘process’.

  • So cj_nza who the hell ever said (literally) that facts speak for themselves.??

    Who??

    We certainly wouldn’t need people with the ability to research the universe if that were true, would we. We could have done without Galileo, couldn’t we?

    That has not been the issue here. The issue is do we rely on evidence, logical reasoning and checking and validating against reality. Or do we rely on “holy scripture” and its interpretation by “theologians.” Under the pain of imprisonment if we actually think for ourselves.?

  • Ken

    ”To describe Galileo as an “academic with who is not qualified in the relevant sciences or the relevant public policy disciplines” shows the extent of distortion you guys will go to. The Galileo affair has a lot of similarities with the treatment of Sakharov by the Soviet regime. He was a nationally recognized and respected scientist – similar to the equivalent for Galileo. Actually, Galileo he was a mathematician and not a natural philosopher. Moreover, Galileo wrote tracts on Theology such as his letter to Christina, despite not being a theologian. So the analogy is apt.

    Comparing the roman catholic church to a dictator who murdered millions of dissenters without trial and sent them to gulags, because they tried one scientist and he was sentenced to house arrest in an itlain villa. Is clearly just insulting defamatory rhetoric.

    “The trial and sentence was not directly about the science. It was about the church’s insistence that one was not allowed to hold a view or belief which conflicted with “holy scripture” as determined by the church hierarchy. It was about Galileo’s publishing a book which offended the church because ti was full of evidence which showed why the Copernicus model was better than the Ptolemaic one.” Mere assertion proves nothing, especially when leading historians who have studied the primary sources have come to rival conclusions. Take Stillman Drake one of the world experts on Galileo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stillman_Drake. His study of the primary sources published by oxford is summarised as follows: Stillman Drake advances the hypothesis that Galileo’s prosecution and condemnation by the Inquisition was caused not by his defiance of the Church but by the hostility of contemporary philosophers. Galileo’s own beautifully lucid arguments are used in this volume to show how his scientific method was utterly divorced from the Aristotelian approach to physics; it was based on a search not for causes but for laws. Galileo’s methods had an overwhelming significance for the development of modern physics, and they led to a final parting of the ways between science and philosophy. Now, in this extraordinary and concise introduction, Drake provides a stimulating view of Galileo’s life and works, providing a fresh perspective on Galileo’s methodology and his final incrimination.
    Drake draws from primary sources and suggests in fact it was the natural philosopherswho opposed Galileo and put pressure on the church to silence a critic of the scientific orthodoxy of the time. An all to familiar phenomena. I am sure you can dismiss this by accusing Drake without evidence of rewriting history, calling him “tame” a theologian, an apologist dishonest, and then accusing everyone else of name calling and making assertions without evidence. Unfortunately contradictions don’t count for much.

    Neither does text book cases of the ad hominen fallacy.

    ”Matt – you have not read the book but you describe it as “ridiculing . . . officials as morons and published a book which painted them as idiotic simpletons.” How can you say that?”
    Because Galileo did this, one of the main characters of the book is Simplicio. this in the language of the time had the connation of “simpleton” he caricatured the arguments of the pope and put it in simplictus mouth. This was the same Pope who had supported and backed Galileo up till then and actually encouraged him to write the book. Get your facts straight, this is noted in every history I have read on the topic. You welcome to ignore the facts and call historians names if you like.

    ”The fact that some of the arguments for the Copernican system were pretty childish (especially from our perspective) is not a fault of the evidence or the author.” This actually proves my point, he portrayed his opponents as childish. Who claim this is because they were, well how do you know this, have you read (in latin) these other writers works compared the arguments they gave with those Galileo attributed to them? Can you verify this with primary sources? Or is this again you simply contradicting yourself.

    “Galileo’s right to present evidence, and to advance knowledge on the basis of evidence was the fundamental issue and represents the basic conflict between science and religion. Should our knowledge be determined by free enquiry, evidence and logical reasoning and mapping against reality? Or should it be determinedly diktat, “authority”, biblical “Truth”, “revelation”, etc.” Do you have a representive sample of primary sources for your characterisation of RC Theology, I have read Anselm, Aquinas, Ockham, Scotus, Vitoria, have you? Can you please show me where in there writings they do not engage in logical reasoning, but merely assert things on the basis of authority? I doubt anyone who has actually studied medieval theology can with honestly characterise it the way you did. So ken where are your primary sources? Remember you criticised Theologains for not doing this why then you do it. You can also give me the primary source for that condemnation of laws of nature and a rational universe you have mentioned on this thread several times now. Funny how we are supposed to read Galileo’s primary sources and yet ignore the writings of everyone else you want to make judgements about.

  • @ Ken

    Thanks Ken,

    Who said this post is about whether we rely on evidence, logical reasoning and checking and validating against reality. Or do we rely on “holy scripture” and its interpretation by “theologians.” ?

    Who?

    The post is about the evidence that the church did not believe in a flat earth during the middle ages.

    Sure you turned the comments into something else (but that is neither here nor there).

  • Well, it turns out their point of view DID include Scriptural inerrancy as the only component of their condemnation of Galileo and these other considerations, such as their leniency towards heliocentricity as mathetical conveniences were of no actual importance as far as that condemnation was concerned.

    Unfortunately this claim is false, because the 1610 order to Galileo did refer to his position as being opposed to scripture and to natural philosophy, as I showed above.

    Second, Galileo himself in testimony before the Inquistion stated that Bellarmine had said he could teach it as a mathmatical model, and Bellarmine wrote around the same time as the order that if proof was forthcoming then his interpretation would change. This is all documented by the primary sources. It also fits with what we know from medieval and counter reformation exegesis. These are all facts.

    Of course you welcome to find some webpage where a person holds an extreme view and decide this is compelling evidence of what occured in 1610 and 1633, but that only shows the intellectual dishonesty of your position.

  • Meant to add that some historians speculate on whether Galileo was actually tortured or threatened with torture during his interrogation. Something the inquisition often used.
    Actually this is false, the claim Galileo was tortured is an urban legend. Perhaps Ken can provide some primary sources from the trial to substantiate this claim? Or is he again only demanding that level of proof when it’s suits him. Edward Peters in his study of the Inquistion claimed unequivocally that the claim Galileo was tortured is a myth.
    Second, primary sources , which Ken loves to cite when it suits him and then ignore when it does not shows the Inquisition rarely used torture, though it was common in the secular courts. So both these claims are false.
    It appears that the threat may well have been there but was not used because of Galileo’s national standing. He was not any old nutter or loner as Matt is suggesting. He was well respected (something he probably traded on in daring to publish his book) and well known so torture was really not an option. Here Ken simply asserts, funny how he gets so up in arms about people making assertions about Galileo yet feels free to do this to the Church and theologians every opportunity he can. Ken’s continual contradictions aside. So again I am going to demand Ken provide evidence from primary sources for this claim.
    Where in the records of the trial does it show Galileo was only spared torture because of his “standing” ?
    Funny Ken to date every request I have had for documentation of your claims has been ignored. We have heard a lot from you about how people should not make claims about Galileo without primary sources, and we have heard a lot about how you a scientist unlike myself rely on evidence not authority/ So where is it?
    Please document from primary sources
    1. Your claim the church condemned belief in a rational universe and laws of nature
    2. Your claim the Inquistion frequently used torture
    3. Your claim that the only reason Galileo was not tortured was his reputation.
    If you can do none of this you have shown the clear arbitrary nature and hypocrisy of what you write.

  • Matt says, “Do you have a representive sample of primary sources for your characterisation of RC Theology, I have read Anselm, Aquinas, Ockham, Scotus, Vitoria, have you? Can you please show me where in there writings they do not engage in logical reasoning, but merely assert things on the basis of authority?”

    Is this deliberately ironic? Seems to me this is Matt supposedly answering Ken by appealing to the authority of Anselm, Aquinas, Ockham, Scotus and Vitoria.

    LOVED that (in Latin) thang! Guess we’re beat Ken. If we cannot read Latin ‘there must be a God!’ (hehe)

    Oh yea, and cj_nza, when you looked up ‘fact’ and ‘process’ did you notice any difference in the meaning of those two words at all?

    You DO understand that the ‘scientific’ part of ‘scientific fact’ is an arbritary distinction and not implying a special kind of ‘fact’ pertaining only to ‘science’, right?

    To emphasize that a fact is ‘scientific’ underlines point that it has likely been tested or proven by the scientific method.

    You know, as opposed to a theological fact like, “I saw a four hundred foot tall Jesus standing in a field on my way to Church this morning!” (which I’m sure fellow Christians are constrained to believe)

  • Matt, get back in your tree.  I think you have let anger get away with you. You are having trouble reading at the moment.

    I did not claim Galileo was tortured – just that historians had speculated. What I said was:

    “It appears that the threat may well have been there but was not used because of Galileo’s national standing. He was not any old nutter or loner as Matt is suggesting. He was well respected (something he probably traded on in daring to publish his book) and well known so torture was really not an option.”

    You repudiate any hint of a threat of torture. Well from a source you have already recommended:

    Hannan says  ” On 21 June, the Inquisition gave Galileo a final chance to admit he did hold to Copernicanism. When he refused he was reminded that the evidence against him was sufficiently strong for torture to be justified in obtaining a confession”. Hannan provides a source “The Galileo Affair”.

    Matt, check your history. Sakharov was treated harshly by the Soviet regime of the 1970s. Stalin was well gone by then. But his treatment was similar to that meted out to Galileo, although not as harsh (He was banished to Gorky). It was similar wrong.

    I don’t know what your point was for quoting Drake. The comments (not from a primary source I notice) seem spot on to me. Galileo was a significant figure in the history of science.

    When I quote from the inquisition’s sentence I am accused of “mere assertion”. I guess this is because you aren’t familiar with the concept of primary sources.

    You continue to refuse to confront the actual sentence. This states the actual reasons for the imprisonment and heresy decisions as well as banning the book. They clearly state Galileo had no right to believe something they ruled as contrary to “holy scripture.”

    Your comments on the book are clearly made from a position of ignorance. You refuse to consult the book (unfamiliarity with the concept of primary sources again) and instead tell us what “Galileo really said” based on that ignorance.

    Galileo had specific people from real life in mind for the characters in his book Simplicio was named after Simplicius of Cilicia an ancient supporter of Aristotle (who came in for both criticism and commendation in the book). You and others choose to read something more sinister into this. Mind you you also choose to refuse to read the book so you are not a reliable informant here.

    It all tends to confirm that you are promoting
    a hostility towards a key and respected figure on the history if science. Natural for a theologian steeped in the science-religion conflict mentality.

  • “You DO understand that the ‘scientific’ part of ‘scientific fact’ is an arbritary distinction

    To emphasize that a fact is ‘scientific’ underlines (sic) point that it has likely been tested or proven by the scientific method.”

    Could you please explain how the scientific part of fact is both “arbitrary” as you say and not arbitrary as you say?

    Not sure what definition of “fact” you use; but something that passed through the Scientific Method does not become fact on strength of doing so.

    Scientific study has concluded that the sun consists mostly of iron and also that it consists mostly of hydrogen.

    Both conclusions scientific, but only one can be accurate as a matter of fact.

  • Ken

    1. you quote Hannam but omit the context, in the same book in the same section notes there was no evidence he was tortured and no evidence he threatened by being “shown the instruments of torture” which is commonly asserted . What Hannam, states is that Galileo was reminded that there was sufficient evidence to obtain a confession by torture if necessary. That’s very different to what you said above, which was that some historians say Galileo was tortured. What I said in response was that quote “Actually this is false, the claim Galileo was tortured is an urban legend.” And when you read what Hannam actually says taking into account everything, in the context, he agrees with me.

    Sorry distorting sources and quoting out of context is not an argument. So my original claim stands you are exaggerating without evidence.

    I note you ignored by other point which is that your claim the Inquisition often used torture was false.

    I also note you failed to provide any evidence to substantiate this claim despite repeatedly demanding evidence from others for any claims they make.

    2“I don’t know what your point was for quoting Drake. The comments (not from a primary source I notice) seem spot on to me. Galileo was a significant figure in the history of science.”
    I agree in the history of science Galileo was a significant figure. Had I argued he wasn’t that might be a legitmate point. But in the thread above, I was not addressing that question, as I noted in the highlighted text you asserted
    “The trial and sentence was not directly about the science. It was about the church’s insistence that one was not allowed to hold a view or belief which conflicted with “holy scripture” as determined by the church hierarchy. It was about Galileo’s publishing a book which offended the church because ti was full of evidence which showed why the Copernicus model was better than the Ptolemaic one.”
    And Drakes comment addressed that claim, he relying on primary sources, argued in fact it really was about attacking scientific orthodoxy. So Drake quite directly addresses your point. Again reading in context helps.
    “ You continue to refuse to confront the actual sentence. This states the actual reasons for the imprisonment and heresy decisions as well as banning the book. They clearly state Galileo had no right to believe something they ruled as contrary to “holy scripture.”
    Sorry but this is false, first the sentence does not say he was convicted of heresy he was convicted of “ suspected heresy” this is not the same thing. Second, in 1633 Galileo was condemned for violating an order he had been given in 1610, the sentence and trial notes are clear about this, and that order claimed that he was not teach copernicianism because it was contrary to “scripture and natural philosophy” I noted that very fact in the part above. Moreover if you read Galileo’s testimony at the trial he contends the order allowed him to teach it as a hypothesis, and the implict suggestion that if he proved it he would reconsider. Hannam whom you quote above all notes this. Finally Galileo was not imprisioned as has been noted repeatedly above, yet despite this you keep repeating the false claim Seeing you have read Hannam pretending this is all not the case is hardly honest.

    3. ”Your comments on the book are clearly made from a position of ignorance. You refuse to consult the book (unfamiliarity with the concept of primary sources again) and instead tell us what “Galileo really said” based on that ignorance.”
    This is less than honest Ken, First, I have challenged you to provide primary source evidence for several comments you made above. You have refused to do so, now you claim I don’t understand the concept. Second, I did cite Galileo I said he used a character called Simplicus, I noted that in the language of his day this entailed the person was a simpleton. I also noted he put Pope Urbans argument in this characters mouth. Primary sources claim the Pope was deeply offended by this. Which of these claims do you deny?

    Have you studied what the Popes argument was, studying the documents which state he told Galileo to publish it, and compared that with Galileo’s comments in the book? Simply reading the English version of the 2 worlds system will not establish or refute this. If you think the historians are wrong here what evidence do you have?

    4 Galileo had specific people from real life in mind for the characters in his book Simplicio was named after Simplicius of Cilicia an ancient supporter of Aristotle (who came in for both criticism and commendation in the book). <You and others choose to read something more sinister into this. Mind you you also choose to refuse to read the book so you are not a reliable informant here. well what a term meant in 1633 cannot be ascertained by reading an English version of the book in 2010 but the fact is almost every historian I have read notes that Simplictus had a double meaning and also entailed the person was a simpleton, the evidence suggests strongly that those who read the book understood it this way. I have never read a single historian who denies this. Can you cite one? What evidence do you have that all these historians are merely malicous?

    Funny how your so willing to attribute bad motives to others and yet scream blue murder when anyone says anything negative about a scientist. Why is the evidential standard different when it suits you?

    5 ”It all tends to confirm that you are promoting a hostility towards a key and respected figure on the history if science. Natural for a theologian steeped in the science-religion conflict mentality. Again Ken can you compile primary sources demonstrating the conflict thesis. Duhem’s study of primary sources showed the opposite. Do you have a representative study that shows he was wrong? he was a scientist after all and one should not question scientists without evidence right?

    But then your demand for evidence and demand that people not insult others without evidence is very selective isn’t it.

  • ” the notion of heliocentricity did, and still does question the validity of some verses of the Bible, including the notion of Divine Knowledge being imparted through this tome.”

    @pboyfloyd

    Having trouble reading mate?
    I do not believe that the notion of heliocenticity in any way calls into question the validity of some verses in the Bible.. I am at loss to know what you meant by Divine Knowledge but maybe you are waffling on about Gnosticism or some such thing. Nothing to do with orthodox Christianity.
    The fact that some people in the 17c RC church in Italy in particular [which is not the same/equal to/equivalent to Christianity in general now or then] may have had problems withe heliocenticity is absolutely irrelevant to me.
    With respect to Paula? anyone can find oddball extremist views on the internet on almost any subject inluding but not limited to religion, atheism, eugenics, aliens, chanelling, sex, man-boy love etc. SO WHAT?

    Which brings us back to Ken
    Yes i have been reading” Dialogue” and its pretty clear from the first few paragraphs how Galileo managed to offend a whole bunch of people in power. People being people, i suspect that no matter how persuasive and compelling his arguments were , he basically didnt have a hope after starting out like that.
    You may be so objective that you can see past insult to pure fact and cast off all your education, social conditioning etc when confronted by ideas which contadict them, but that would make you a truly extraordinary human. So far you can seem unable to give up your “conflict thesis” even though all serious historians have left it behind as false.
    Without taking sides on the issue but by way of example, there seem to be plenty of well qualified, reputable scientists who dont agree with the IPCC findings and reccomedations. From your comments and blog site, it seems that you are firmly in one camp on this issue and that you cope very badly with science that challenges the currently acceptable paradigm.

  • “Scientific study has concluded that the sun consists mostly of iron and also that it consists mostly of hydrogen.

    Both conclusions scientific”.

    Care up quote the scientific source for these conflicting statements. Why do you says they are both scientific?

    Or are you dreaming again?

  • Jeremy, you are welcome to discuss the issues related to climate science with me. Yes I do support the science against the political attacks and am quite happy to discuss this science and the evidence for it. Bit silly to bring it up here though. My most recent post at Open Parachute provides opportunities on that issue.

    So I take it you have read the first few paragraphs of the Dislogue – “To the Discerning Reader”. Of course some powerful people were upset – do you think that excuses the Inquisition’s sentence? The science of climate change upsets some powerful and rich people – should we be silent then?

    Scientific debate does raise emotions – that’s all to the good. But to be told we cannot believe evidence because it conflicts with “holy sctipture” is disgusting. It’s clear where you should be directing your anger- to the church not Galileo.

    Matt, care to comment on the fact that Galileo used the same characters in his later book “Two New Sciences”. Nothing to do with the Copernicsn system. Why should he be trying to upset the pope in that book? Or perhaps you have imagined all this? Perhaps those characters were based on real people as I suggested.

  • “Could you please explain how the scientific part of fact is both “arbitrary” as you say and not arbitrary as you say?”

    Okay, it might be that that is not clear. I said that the ‘scientific’ part of ‘scientific fact’ is arbitrary on account of all facts are facts.

    A fact may be considered ‘sciencey’ if it has anything to do with ‘the sciences’, something about astronomy or biology for example. It may be that it has little interest to anyone but scientists in a particular field.

    Nevertheless every fact is a fact

    Example, For me to say, “I am not you.”, is a fact. It’s just as much a fact as the scientific fact(biological) that living organisms are made of cells.

    Now we can be just as sure that if something is not composed of cells, it is not a living organism as we can be sure that I am not you, because both of these statements are facts, you see?

    What I’m saying is that living organisms are always composed of cells whether we are mentioning that the fact of it is ‘scientific’ or not.

    In comparison to this we might say that, “Jesus rose from the dead.”, might be a Christian fact, yes? Taken out of it’s Christian context though, it ends up being just something that Christians believe. No more Christians, no more ‘fact’ of Jesus’ resurrection, yes?

    On the other hand, if there were no more biologists doesn’t mean that suddenly living organisms wouldn’t be made from cells.

    This is where you have to love the English language, where we can describe something which is obviously not a fact as fact, and on the other hand, perhaps paint facts as less factual by other qualification of them.

    In my next comment I’m going to teach you which is the correct fork to use depending on which dish you are eating.

  • Another historian Matt might like to check:

    Dan Hofstadter’s book “The Earth Moves” says on the Simplicio issue:

    “it has sometimes been claimed that Simplicio is a literary caricature of the pope, an extreme contention that dios not follow from the sense of the text and would assume that Galileo was a self-destructive madman.” Historians are not as unanimous as you suggest Matt and I agree with the comment about the sense of the text.

    This historian also says that the “trial transcript for June 16, 1633, holds a clear pontifical order to interrogate Galileo. . . . ‘also under the threat of torture.'”

    Mind you he is referring to a primary source.

  • @Jeremy.

    You ask, “Having trouble reading mate?”

    Thank you for your concern, my eyes are a bit blurry tonight. I put in some eye-drops and sprayed my eyeglass lenses. I’ve even upped the magnification of my page to 125%, that ought to help tremendously.

    “I do not believe that the notion of heliocenticity in any way calls into question the validity of some verses in the Bible.”

    Ah well, my friend, it’s too bad that that is neither here nor their in this semi-digression into whether the Church, the one and only Church which condemned Galileo is concerned, because obviously THEY DID.

    ” I am at loss to know what you meant by Divine Knowledge but maybe you are waffling on about Gnosticism or some such thing.”

    No.

    “The fact that some people in the 17c RC church in Italy in particular [which is not the same/equal to/equivalent to Christianity in general now or then] may have had problems withe heliocenticity is absolutely irrelevant to me”

    Right. So you just put your two cents worth in because your fingertips where a bit itchy then?.

    “With respect to Paula? anyone can find oddball extremist views on the internet on almost any subject inluding but not limited to religion, atheism, eugenics, aliens, chanelling, sex, man-boy love etc. SO WHAT?”

    Jeremy, we’re discussing the trial and conviction of Galileo for heresy by the Catholic Church. Paula is a Catholic and a Geocentric apologist. What a bonus, like a twofer one there! I apologise that she didn’t want to discuss sex and man-boy love with you. Not my call Jeremy.

    I’d like to finish responding to your wonderful comment, Jeremy, but these drops, the clean specs and even the magnification are just not cutting it.

    Thanks again for your concern about my eyesight and my advice to you is to stay away fromthose man boy love sites. Judging by Dateline NBC’s, To Catch a Predator, they are quite serious about putting people in prison for even thinking of such an offence these days.

    Plus, in general, you wouldn’t want some old geezer taking after your kin, would you? ‘Nuff said.

  • Ken, Why should he be trying to upset the pope in that book? Or perhaps you have imagined all this? Perhaps those characters were based on real people as I suggested.

    Actually Ken, the point about Simplicito having the conation of simpleton and Galileo putting Urbans argument in Simplicito’s mouth causing offence. Is noted in Moss, Jean Dietz; Wallace, William (2003). Rhetoric & dialectic in the time of Galileo. Washington D.C.: CUA Press, p11

    and also the standard translation of the two worlds system, Finocchiaro, Maurice A. (1997). Galileo on the world systems: a new abridged translation and guide. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. P 82

    The Encylopedia of Earth http://www.eoearth.org/article/Galileo

    The biography “Galileo A Life” james Restonhttp://books.google.co.nz/books?id=eK0f0HtEGAkC&pg=PA209&lpg=PA209&dq=Simplicio%2BUrban%2BGalileo%2Bsimpleton&source=bl&ots=raQkkAIA3g&sig=lu7LWzxLRKy3ISrgV5fI_Kxn9FU&hl=en&ei=sRkHTaOCG

    The Astronomy text book Astronomy the Evolving Universe, Micheal Zeilek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

    http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=f2Xjzu0qR7IC&pg=PA67&lpg=PA67&dq=Simplicio%2BUrban%2BGalileo%2Bsimpleton&source=bl&ots=eaYB8w

    The American Scientists also mentions this http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/trial-of-the-centuries

    The American Scientist also notes several cases where Galileo ridiculed his opponents.

    I guess these science mags, textbooks and commentators are all imagining it. Perhaps they are rewriting history or closet theologians or something Ken, Perhaps the american scientist and authors of science text books are really anti science.

    or perhaps they are aware of certain facts you are not.

    Still waiting for your answers Please document from primary sources:
    1. Your claim the church condemned belief in a rational universe and laws of nature
    2. Your claim the Inquistion frequently used torture
    3. Your claim that the only reason Galileo was not tortured was his reputation.
    4. Your claim that Medieval Theologians merely cite authority and never used reason or argument.

  • Ken, again distortion. If you read what I wrote I responded to your suggestion that Galileo was tortured. I said there is no evidence for this occuring I also said that there appears to be no evidence he was shown the instruments of torture. I actually acknowledged that he was informed he could be tortured if he did not confess.

    What i did do was ask you for primary sources that the inquistion regularly used torture and the only reason they did not in this case was because of his fame as a scientist.

    I also asked for primary sources to back up your other numerous claims.

    None has been provided, instead you offer a source for something I never disputed.

    So again ken where is the evidence for the claims you actually made?

  • Matt, this is what I meant by your trouble reading. I did not claim he was tortured – only that some sources speculated on this. My assertion was that he wasn’t tortured. This is ag least the 3rd time I have had to tell you this.

    But clearly the pope gave a specific command thst the threat of torture be used. You have now agreed with me on this so it’s not an issue.

    I must say I find your references to primary sources amusing.

  • Lets sum up so far

    1.Ken said that Galileo was condemned for heresy.

    Actually the text of his condemnation shows he was found guily of being Vehemently suspect of heresy” this “ was a technical term of canon law and did not necessarily imply that the Inquisition considered the opinions giving rise to the verdict to be heretical. The same verdict would have been possible even if the opinions had been subject only to the less serious censure of “erroneous in faith” Fantoli 2005 p 140 .

    Ken however repeats this claim despite the primary sources showing otherwise.

    2. Ken said Galileo was imprisoned

    Actually Galileo was not imprisioned he was put under house arrest in a villa in Italy. Despite this being pointed out Ken continued to repeat the claim.

    3. Ken said the Inquistion regularly used torture

    I pointed out this was false and asked for substantiation,

    none given

    4. Ken said historians claim Galileo was tortured.

    I said there was no evidence for this, cited a historian and asked for evidence

    Ken then disputed it citing Hannams work

    I noted Hannam said Galileo was not tortured.

    Ken cited another author who said he was “threatened with torture” but did not claim it was carried out

    Ken then provided no further proof that Galileo was tortured.

    4. Ken said the only reason the church did not torture Galileo was his fame

    I asked for evidence Ken provided none.

    5. Ken said the church had condemned belief in natural laws as heresy.

    When asked for proof he provided the condemnation of 1277.

    I pointed out the condemnation did not say this and asked for a citation

    Ken provided none but despite this repeated the claim.

    6. Ken claimed the conflict thesis is correct

    I asked for evidence, he has repeated the claim and provided none.

    I mentioned Duhems study to the contrary.

    Ken has repeated the claim but offered no evidence.

    7. Ken said suggested that Simplicto did not mean simpleton and suggested malice is the reason for thinking otherwise, he also suggested I imagined this claim.

    I provided several historians who note this and are not malicious.

    Ken merely noted that one historian he knows of thinks Galileo did not intentionally attack the pope. This does not address the claim he made.

    I provided a article from American scientist which documents Galileo often ridiculed his opponents.

    Ken has provided no evidence that American scientist is mistaken and only motivated by malice.

    8. Ken said the churches condemnation was only based on the bible and not science.

    I noted the text actually cites science as a reason.

    He continued to make this claim.

    I noted Drakes study which suggests science was the major issue.

    Ken responded by changing the subject noting that Drake shows Galileo was a historically significant scientist.

    Despite this Ken has repeatedly claimed that theologians unlike scientists are dogmatic because they make claims without evidence, the irony is I am sure not lost on many.

  • In comparison to this we might say that, “Jesus rose from the dead.”, might be a Christian fact, yes? Taken out of it’s Christian context though, it ends up being just something that Christians believe. No more Christians, no more ‘fact’ of Jesus’ resurrection, yes?

    On the other hand, if there were no more biologists doesn’t mean that suddenly living organisms wouldn’t be made from cells.

    That is all clear now; no Christian – no fact of resurrection, no microscope – no cell.

  • Matt, the little tirade in your last comment is childish.

    However it stands there as evidence of the religion- science conflict. A theological attempt to distort the history of the Galileo affair to blame the whole persecution on Galileo himself. This level of comment is typical of what I used to hear from Maoists in the 60s when they justified the “Great Leap Forward” and the “cultural revolution” with all the persecutions involved.

    It serves as an example of the prejudice and poor scholarship which seems to be common in theology because of the emotional commitment to an ideological position.

  • @ pboyfloyd
    ” Paula is a Catholic and a Geocentric apologist. What a bonus, like a twofer one there! ”

    Again, so what.
    Is she in any way representative of the contemporary RC church? Does she have any authority to speak for them? Because unless she is and she does,then you bringing her as an example to the discussion is utterly irrelevant. I am sure i can find an extremist weirdo atheist of somekind who supports your anti-christian position. I’m equally sure you would be unimpressed by me pointing out how weird and extreme they are as if it was relevant.

  • @Ken
    “Matt, this is what I meant by your trouble reading. I did not claim he was tortured – only that some sources speculated on this. My assertion was that he wasn’t tortured.”

    Well Ken, you did raise the issue of torture in the first place, so one has to assume you had a reason. What was it? Some historians speculated on it, is that relevant. Most historians have stopped speculating on your “conflict hypothesis”, have given up on the idea of the “dark ages” and even given up on the idea that the church/christianity suppressed science. Do you cling to outdated theses because it suits you, need a windmill to tilt at?

    Matts original post was about the false history that is the Flat Earth Myth and how this is essentialy a fiction from the mid to late 1800s, which is still perpetuated in educational texts today. Did the popularity of this post offend yo?. It wasnt anti-science.
    Who raised Galileo and why, what was the relevance?. And why are you so upset if it turns out that closer inspection of the historical evidence shows the RC’s werent as bad as popularly made out or that Galileo turned out to be tactless and politically naive as well as a pioneering scientist [lack of social skill is rather well documented in brilliant highly focused people]. I think you have some need to cling to the science vs religion thing. I find it sad that you seem to need to be against Christianity and that you so often see the worst in people. Its so thoroughly at odds with your so innocent hope concerning mankinds better characteristics triumphing over the dark side to develope an “objective morality”.

    As i think this through it seems to me your insistence on seeing a science-religion conflict could grow out of an inability to recognise the human- human conflicts and the base human motives that so often lie behind these conflicts. Then perhaps you confuse whatever theatre the conflicts are played out in with the actual conflicts themselves. Maybe its why you so often see religion as the cause rather than as just one of many excuses.

  • Jeremy, you ask, “Is she in any way representative of the contemporary RC church?”

    She doesn’t have to represent contemporary RC church at all now. She represents Modern Geocentrism :- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_geocentrism

    What I was saying is that she is representative of modern geocentrics, and that she uses Matt’s same source to make her point. She quotes what Galileo was convicted of, and an earlier letter of Bellarmine’s to demonstrate the Church’s anti-heliocentrism position.

    There’s no use in Matt insisting that Bellarmine was ambivalent about heliocentrism if Bellarmine repeatedly, and in writing explains to heliocentrists that their opinion cannot be taught as truth since it would be contrary to the Scriptures.

    Now the only reason that Galileo wasn’t convicted of heresy is that he would not admit to teaching heliocentrism as physical reality, and the only reason that teaching heliocentrism would be heresy is that it is contrary to their understanding of the Scripture.

    There are no ins and outs of who was partial to what system or who served who spaghetti with the wrong fork here.

    “..you bringing her as an example to the discussion is utterly irrelevant.”

    It’s not irrelevant if she is using the exact same authority as Matt to show that the universe is Geocentric now. I think that her essay is very relevant.

    ” I am sure i can find an extremist weirdo atheist of somekind who supports your anti-christian position.”

    I take exception to this. I never said that I was anti-Christian. It’s not my fault if your religion constrains you to believe that anyone who is not with you must be against you. Ask Matt about false dichotomies.

  • @pboyfloyd
    I will quote Matt from an earlier comment…

    “The Galileo story is frequently a linch pin of a broader meta-narrative where the church during the dark ages suppressed knowledge truth freedom and so on, and science had to emerge in the 17 century to free us from this superstition, and when it did the church fought hard as it had for centuries to suppress science.

    The meta-narrative is known as the conflict thesis its historically false but it still holds in popular conciousness and Christians are often castigated and stigmatised as a result of the stero type.”

    In this on going discussion you appear to to have been a proponent of this position, if in fact you are not then you can hardly be offended when your comments point in that direction and that is all others such as myself have to go on. What is more comments of yours have suggested you do not think it worthwhile to correct this false narrative, which is also very confusing. If you dont want to take exception to others understanding of your comments then it is up to you to better and perhaps more honestly express your point of view.

    ” It’s not my fault if your religion constrains you to believe that anyone who is not with you must be against you.”

    Apparently you know some Christian doctrine i dont, my understanding of Christian doctrine is that you are free to choose to believe or not. With respect to you being anti-christian, i am just taking your comments at face value.

  • “The meta-narrative is known as the conflict thesis its historically false but it still holds in popular conciousness and Christians are often castigated and stigmatised as a result of the stero type.”

    So, you didn’t bother reading the Wiki about Modern Geocentrism then?

    “In a Poll conducted by Gallup in 1999, 18% of Americans said that they believe the Sun orbits the Earth. In two polls conducted in 1996, 16% of Germans,and 19% of Britons responded that they also believe the Sun orbits the Earth.”

    Now these people can mostly be sloughed off as ignorant, but if you read through the article, you’ll notice that it’s not simply incidental that proponents of Geocentrism are Christians, it’s not incidental that they happen to use the same authority as Matt to make their case, and so on.

    The leaders of these organizations are determined to use this as a wedge issue, contraining Christians to believe what their leadership TELLS them that they ought to believe.

    So you can see here that the fight between science(not scientism) and religion is far from over, because, as you can read for yourself, these Modern Geocentrists want to hook their cause to the so-called Evolution/Intelligent Design controversy.

    Once again, we are in the position that some Christians are saying that it is okay to teach Evolution on the basis that it reflects the mechanics of life just so long as no-one dares use it to question the Scripture. Others are saying that Evolution is CERTAINLY wrong because it (at least appears to) questions Scripture (including Paula Haigh).

    Now Matt is arguing that ‘educated’ Christians of that period didn’t believe that the Earth was flat, and that is likely true as far as that goes. He goes on give his circumstantial reasoning why ‘educated’ Christians were simply irritated by Galileo’s insistence on this hare-brained heliocentrism on the one hand, and the idea that ‘educated’ Christians were almost convinced heliocentrism was a fine idea, on the other hand.

    You say, “Apparently you know some Christian doctrine i dont..”

    Jesus Christ, in Matthew 12:30 and Luke 11:23 of the New Testament of Christianity, said, “He who is not with me is against me…”

    (please don’t give me some drivel about this being out of context and that I ought to read the Bible from front to back before quoting it, please. You’d just be being disingenuous.)

  • I’d like to give Matt my reasoning that the Earth is indeed flat.

    From a Newtonian perspective, pictures from space-craft and such, we can ‘plainly see’ that the Earth is a globe, much like anyone stepping outside their house, discounting the mountains and valleys, can plainly see that the Earth is flat.

    Now a certain fellow by the name of Einstein came along and clued us in to the fact that spacetime itself is curved in the presence of a gravitational field, that is that a flat surface, in a gravitational field would curve back on itself, and would appear to be spherical from a Newtonian perspective.

    So, not only does the World appear to be flat from a phenomenological perspective, it is also flat from an Einsteinian perspective.

    Who are you going to believe, you’re own instincts plus Einstein, or Isaac Newton, a known Deist and alchemist???

  • I hope some of the readers here got something from the discussion of the Galileo Affair. I realise these sort of internet discussions often generate more heat than light and this may turn some people off.

    However, I encourage those who may still have an interest to read Galileo’s book (“Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” by Galileo Galilei (1632) ). It can be accessed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law web site (in HTML format). Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

    I have converted this to a pdf format so that it can be downloaded and read at leisure (works well on a eReader.). Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.

    The book is surprisingly approachable for a modern reader considering its age (although there are some missing figues and some of the text recognition failed). One gets an idea of both the ground-breaking evidence and ideas arising from Galileo’s telescopic observations and also the way that theological and philosophical arguments (which seem silly to us today) were seriously considered at the time).

    At only 92 pages long its well worth investing the time in such a significant work which is often misrepresented in discussions about the Galileo Affair – even by people who should no better.

    The web site contains other documents relating to the trial of Galileo – including the full text of the inquisition’s sentence (Papal Condemnation (Sentence) of Galileo ) which prohibited the above book (This prohibition lasted for 200 years).

  • @pboyfloyd
    so by your own understanding of the Bible you are anti-Christ, why the earlier complaint?
    However your understanding of two verses does not constrain me in any way, its your problem not mine.
    This seems to be a very typical atheist technique, quote the bible, make an interpretation and then insist Christians are constrained to the same interpretation. As usual i am unimpressed.

  • “This seems to be a very typical atheist technique, quote the bible, make an interpretation and then insist Christians are constrained to the same interpretation. As usual i am unimpressed.”

    So, you can interpret this, ““He who is not with me is against me…”, differently from how I, and a helluva lot of Christians ‘interpret it then?

    Being simply as statement saying, “He who is not with me is against me…”, I’d imagine that was really, really hard to misinterpret.

    Nono, Jeremy, if you can interpret this to have some other meanings, I wouldn’t constrain you, especially you, to have any real sense of the meaning of anything at all really.

    Would you?(I doubt it)

  • Wow, I just realised that that is yet another example of, “Heads we win tails you lose.”, from the Christians.

    Jeremy accuses me of being anti-Christian.
    When I point out to him that his Saviour said, basically that anyone not worshipping HIM is his enemy. i.e. anti-Christian, he turns tables on this and accuses me of misinterpreting a simple statement, once again putting the onus on me of being anti-Christian.

    Why is it that I imagine you, Jeremy, writing comments with a really sour candy in your mouth??

    I think that the ‘explanation’ for lack of a ‘suitable’ interpretation of this verse is that there just isn’t one that doesn’t have Jesus explaining that you are either with him or against him.

    Sadly, Jeremy isn’t much of a proselytizer.

    Bad Christian! BAD!

  • “Wow, I just realised that that is yet another example of, “Heads we win tails you lose.”, from the Christians.

    Jeremy accuses me of being anti-Christian.”

    No not really, it is you who seek out a Christian philosophy blog, as a platform, you who post comment in conflict with the gist of the discussion, you who launch ad hominem attacks against everybody who relates or identifies as Christian.

    I don’t think there is any accusation in Jeremy’s statements, more a case of pointing to the “facts”.

    Since you believe that Jesus is not real, He could not have said anything to affront you, so why do you keep on manufacturing objections?

    Or are you now claiming that the Saviour exists?

  • pboyfloyd,

    I see you support pedophillia because you say I apologise that she didn’t want to discuss sex and man-boy love with you. this insinuates that failure to discuss sex with boys is something one should apologise for.

    Please don’t give me some drivel about this being out of context . You’d just be being disingenuous.

  • @pboyfloyd
    ” It’s not my fault if your religion constrains you to believe that anyone who is not with you must be against you.”

    That fact that you chose to take a position against Jesus Christ does not constrain me to beleive you are against me. The bible does not teach this constraint. My belief that you are anti_Christ comes entirely from reading your comments, not as a result of any doctinal constraint or previous assumption.

    And inspite of the fact you didnt want context etc, i feel compelled to point out that if you and God are at odds with each other ["He who is not with me is against me",.... i agree its not hard to understand, you are against Christ] then its you who has the problem, not me.

  • “No not really..”

    Yes really.

    “I am sure i can find an extremist weirdo atheist of somekind who supports your anti-christian position.”, said Jeremy, starting off this whole diversion from the topic, which is the accusation that some blurb about Medieval Christians believing in a flat Earth is an affront to present day Christians.

    This moved the discussion on to Matt defending the Catholic Church in the face of their own words.

    That fine, but now there you two(or is it three), who seem to imagine a fine defense of this would be accusations of anti-Christianism(?), and friendly comments such as, “.Having trouble reading mate?”, feigning inability to discern fact from scientific process, in short, diversions.

    These little diversions are what I ‘live for’, so I’m happy if you are, but please don’t complain that I’m somehow abusing Matt’s hospitality. If he simply wanted to dictate the ‘truth’ to you with no dissent at all, he could make this blog ‘by invite only’ and learn nothing at all of any opposition to this ideas on the subject, isn’t that right?

    “Since you believe that Jesus is not real, He could not have said anything to affront you..”

    Now I have never said that Jesus said, or even that it is written that he said anything that affronted me. I was simply pointing out that HE is claimed to have said, in two of your Sacred Good News Books that HE preaches that if you are not with HIM (gathering people to your religion), then you are against HIM, and with Satan.

    For some strange reason Jeremy took exception or affront to this notion.

    I actually agree with Matt that there ought not to be some anti-Christian slant placed in history books telling outright lies about their beliefs, no matter what denomination of Church they might be.

    Still, when it comes to a blurb in an Astronomy text, saying that the Church in Galileos’ time was anti-science and specificaly against heliocentrism, well that’s just the plain truth, isn’t it?

    And it’s the truth whether you’re an atheist or a Christian.

  • “I see you support pedophillia because you say I apologise that she didn’t want to discuss sex and man-boy love with you. this insinuates that failure to discuss sex with boys is something one should apologise for.

    Please don’t give me some drivel about this being out of context . You’d just be being disingenuous.”

    Really Matt?

    This has been the style of your defense of your post all along, hasn’t it?

    I missed the part where I took Jesus’ words out of context though.

    I’m sure I took quite a bit of the nastiness out of the context of Jeremy’s comment though.

    This is a Christian Philosophy blog then? Okay, I’m getting a ‘feel’ for it.

    Guessing you guys, you regulars, will never actually see what you’re like though.

    WWJD?

    He’s likely ‘pass’.

  • “This has been the style of your defense of your post all along, hasn’t it?”
    perhaps you verify this by showing how I took the quotes in my post out of context? Can you show the writers in question actually supported a flat earth or did not think the world was round and my citations are out of context. I look forward to seeing the evidence of this. I suspect I’ll be waiting a long time.

    I missed the part where I took Jesus’ words out of context though.

    Its not hard to find, all you have to do is read,

    “Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
    24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house. 30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. ”

    So in context Jesus was not refering to those who do not worship him and saying they were his enemies such people are not even refered to in the passage.

    He is responding to the claim that he casts out demons by the power of satan. he pointed out this makes no sense because it would mean satan was defeating satan, notes one cannot rob a strong man (satans) house they have rendered him powerless. Its in this context he says that those who are not for him are against him, in other words, clearly the power of satan are not on his side in this instance and so for the reasons he has already elaborated they must be against him.

    Now I find it hard to believe that anyone who reads this in context can think Jesus is refering to those who do not worship him, because its very clear from the context who those who he is being opposed by. The whole point of the discourse is to respond to the charge that he is working the power of satan.

    What you have shown again is how you think insults, out of context quotes and sarcasm constitutes a valid argument. Your quite right in Philosophy, secular or Christian we expect arguments to follow the rules of logic. and we expect citations to be accurate and in context.

  • Matt, you say, ““I see you support pedophillia because you say I apologise that she didn’t want to discuss sex and man-boy love with you..”

    I most certainly did not say that you apologize that she didn’t want to discuss sex and many boy love with me..”

    What would you need to apologize for again? Her not wanting to discuss sex or man boy love with me?

    Think nothing of it Matt, I didn’t want her to discuss it with me either.

    It’s Jeremy. I’m thinking, since he brought up the whole sordid thing, and seems not to want to just ‘let it go’.

    Guilty conscience?

  • @pboy
    “These little diversions are what I ‘live for”
    I am coming to understand this, trouble is each of the diversions come about because you chose to twist our comments just a little and imply we have said something we didnt. You create the diversions.
    For example you said
    ” It’s not my fault if your religion constrains you to believe that anyone who is not with you must be against you.”
    I pointed out that nowhere biblically or doctrinally does my religion in any way constrain me in this manner. [ 3 times now]
    You quoted some verses concerning Jesus and i am happy to agree with you in the simply straight forward meaning of them, ie If you are not for Him then you are against Him, no problem. You can chose to be against Him thats your privilege [ we call it Free Will] its what makes you a person not just a biological robot.
    However please dont try and tell that this constrains me to think non-Christians are against me, it doesnt.
    Wrt to
    ‘having trouble reading”, i’m sorry , clearly i should have said “having trouble with reading comprehension”. However you own words have answered the question. You ” live for these little diversions”, i guess thats why you feel the need to manufacture them.

    Last for the moment and maybe least..
    “Why is it that I imagine you, Jeremy, writing comments with a really sour candy in your mouth?”
    i really dont know, limited imagination perhaps? I can however assure you that i have never developed a taste for these modern “Sours” that the younger generation seem to like, rather defeats the purpose of candy to my thinking. I have fairly simple tastes, Barley Sugar lollies, Mars bars and L&P preferably chilled. But never at the keyboard, sticky fingers, spilled drinks, keyboards, they just dont mix.

  • “.. clearly the power of satan are not on his side in this instance and so for the reasons he has already elaborated they must be against him.”

    I see.

    So, anyone imagining that Jesus is against Satan overall, is mistaken.

    You must know. .

  • Sorry, that might have been a tad brief.

    You say, ““.. clearly the power of satan are not on his side in this instance and so for the reasons he has already elaborated they must be against him.”

    I understand what you’re saying here is that I’m ‘taking this out of context by applying it ‘in general’, that Jesus isn’t trying to tell his followers that they ought to be gathering people together as opposed to dividing or scattering them.

    “He who is not with me is against me…”, has a specific intent here.

    How specific are we talking here? To make you right and me wrong? A broader definition? To make Jesus right in THIS particular instance and the Pharixees wrong? Is there no way we can extrapolate this to a more general scenario?

    NO! LISTEN TO THE MASTER! (Matt, you’re up!)

  • I just want to repeat my final comment in the discussion on the Galileo affair. It got held up in moderation (probably because of the 4 links) and has been lost. So here it is again without the hot links:

    I hope some of the readers here got something from the discussion of the Galileo Affair. I realise these sort of internet discussions often generate more heat than light and this may turn some people off.

    However, I encourage those who may still have an interest to read Galileo’s book (“Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” by Galileo Galilei (1632) ). It can be accessed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law web site (in HTML format).www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/dialogue.html

    I have converted this to a pdf format so that it can be downloaded and read at leisure (works well on a eReader.). openparachute.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/dialogue-concerning-the-two.pdf
    The book is surprisingly approachable for a modern reader considering its age (although there are some missing figues and some of the text recognition failed). One gets an idea of both the ground-breaking evidence and ideas arising from Galileo’s telescopic observations and also the way that theological and philosophical arguments (which seem silly to us today) were seriously considered at the time).

    At only 92 pages long its well worth investing the time in such a significant work which is often misrepresented in discussions about the Galileo Affair – even by people who should no better.

    The web site contains other documents relating to the trial of Galileo (www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/galileo.html) – including the full text of the inquisition’s sentence (Papal Condemnation (Sentence) of Galileo – http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/condemnation.html) which prohibited the above book (This prohibition lasted for 200 years).

  • @ All involved in this discussion,

    I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and express my hope that the coming year is full of blessing and fulfillment for all of you.
    Christmas is part of God’s way of enabling us to fulfill our purpose, “To know God and enjoy Him forever”

    God Bless and Shalom

  • Thanks for the link on that Ken, I’ll consider that a Christmas present from you. :o)

    .. and Merry Christmas to you too Jeremy.

  • The flat earth myth: still alive and kicking — and it’s no accident…

    Men in Black … “Five hundred years ago,” the Tommy Lee Jones character informs the Will Smith character, “everyone believed the earth was flat.” Well, no they didn’t. One thousand years ago they didn’t either. In fact, almost every educated person fr…

  • [...] Mundum: God, Proof and Faith Contra Mundum: “Bigoted Fundamentalist” as Orwellian Double-Speak Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic Contra Mundum: The Judgmental [...]

  • The Flat Earth Myth…

    The Flat-Earth Myth By Matthew Flannagan…

  • [...] Mundum: God, Proof and Faith Contra Mundum: “Bigoted Fundamentalist” as Orwellian Double-Speak Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic Contra Mundum: The Judgmental [...]

  • [...] a few Christians that your side used as evidence to put all Christians in one group on this issue. Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth | MandM The Myth of the Flat Earth Myth of the Flat Earth Who invented the idea of a flat Earth? Still [...]

  • So how does observing that many people of antiquity believed the earth is flat turn into an attack on Christianity? To be a flat-earther is to resist letting go of a familiar paradigm and embracing a new one. How can you argue that the church has not historically done this? It doesn’t mean others have not also done so.

  • [...] can find the quote above and a lot more context over at the blog Contra Mundum, http://www.mandm.org.nz/2009/12/contra-mundum-the-flat-earth-myth.html. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. from → Creation, Truth ← Interruption [...]

  • So how does observing that many people of antiquity believed the earth is flat turn into an attack on Christianity? To be a flat-earther is to resist letting go of a familiar paradigm and embracing a new one. How can you argue that the church has not historically done this? It doesn’t mean others have not also done so.

    This misunderstands the post above. I did not say that the observation that many people of antiquity was an attack on Christianity. What I said was that the claim that historically Christian theologians and the Church believed the world was flat, is fiction which originates in anti Christian propaganda, and was used ( and still is) to illustrate the now discredited thesis that Church and theologians in general opposed science.

    In a similar way never said anything about whether or not the church has historically “resisted” letting go o familiar paradigms. (I actually don’t think doing that is necessarily a bad thing). I said the church never taught the world was flat, and nor was this typical or even a common view amoungst Christian theologians.

    Columbus’s voyage was not opposed by Theologians in spain because he was a pioneer who realised the world was round in a flat earth age. The real story here deserves to be told to high-school students. One would hope the idea that demonstrably false history should not be taught in history texts of high-school was uncontroversial.

  • People are actually using this to impugn Christianity? Really? They claim that theologians, centuries ago mind you, taught that the world is flat and this is supposed to show that Christians are necessarily stupid? Nope. Not impressive at all.

    They should focus on the current-day folks who insist that God created the universe in six 24-hour days and then crafted Adam and Eve out of clay. Now THERE are some good illustrations of their point.

    Don’t get me wrong. Their argument would remain invalid, but at least their straw-man would have two legs to stand on.

  • People are actually using this to impugn Christianity? Really? They claim that theologians, centuries ago mind you, taught that the world is flat and this is supposed to show that Christians are necessarily stupid? Nope. Not impressive at all.

    Not quite, It’s used as an example to make a historical claim, that throughout Christian Theologians resisted and suppressed scientific knowledge. Its known as the conflict thesis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_thesis. The books by Draper and White are definitive examples. The point is supposed to be that Christianity is inevitably opposed to science and reason.

  • People are actually using this to impugn Christianity? Really? They claim that theologians, centuries ago mind you, taught that the world is flat and this is supposed to show that Christians are necessarily stupid? Nope. Not impressive at all.

    Not quite, It’s used as an example to make a historical claim, that throughout Christian Theologians resisted and suppressed scientific knowledge. Its known as the conflict thesis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_thesis. The books by Draper and White are definitive examples.

  • I think it’s important to distinguish between what educated people believed in the Middle Ages, and what ordinary people believed. Many of the mariners on Columbus’ ships, for instance, were doubtless men of little education, and may have thought the earth was flat. Farmers plowing their fields would have thought that the earth was flat. A person today who has no access to modern education would think the same thing, and there may be some isolated tribal societies that still do. But the important point is that the Church did not teach this position, and the medieval universities didn’t either. Great article!

  • […] “Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth-Myth” is the article much of my piece has been summarizing.  It goes into greater depth, and gives references.  I highly recommend it. […]

  • When I was growing up in Indiana, in the 1970s, the public school I attended took great pains to teach us that Christopher Columbus did not travel to prove that the Earth was round, nor was he opposed because the King of Spain’s experts thought the world was flat. He was opposed because the King of Spain’s experts thought that Columbus severely underestimated the distance between Europe and Asia. Indeed, the revival of “You Are There” with Walter Cronkite in 1971-1972 had an episode on Columbus that stressed this specific point. The issue was not belief in a flat earth but a disagreement over distances.

    In an attempt to debunk a lie, do not dive into an equally vile lie that there has been an unremitting war between “secular” and “religious” forces in the USA. Some of us remember that, even in the 1970s, the “mainstream media” was not like it currently is.

    However, people prefer to presume that today’s conflicts are eternal, having begun with the universe, instead of ephemeral.

  • […] As I have delved into religious history further I have found that this had not been the first or only instance where I was fed false propaganda about Christianity. I could document several other false versions of history; the flat-earth story will suffice for now. As New Zealand blogger Contra Celsum wrote, “the flat earthers are those who think they existed.” *~MUCH MORE AT LINKhttp://www.mandm.org.nz/2009/12/contra-mundum-the-flat-earth-myth.html […]