Thursday, September 20, 2007

Today In History: H-h-h-h-heresy!

The Church puts Galileo Galilei on trial for saying preposterous things about the Earth not being the stationary center of the universe. The Inquisition looks a little silly when it is unable to subpoena the turtle on whose back they suppose the Earth to rest.

13 comments:

Marko said...

It *was* mighty decent of the Church to apologize to Galileo some twenty years back, though.

The best rationalization attempt of the Flat Earth theory I've ever heard was from an eager young Southern Baptist at Pellissippi State, who reconciled her Holy Book with observed science by claiming that the world was, indeed, flat when the Bible was written, and that it assumed its current spherical shape some time later.

OA said...

"The Inquisition looks a little silly when it is unable to subpoena the turtle on whose back they suppose the Earth to rest."


Hey, damn it, those were some of my kinfolk, not the witch burners after Galileo. And it was an allegory...like I suspect most of the bible is.

ravenshrike said...

Eh, it didn't help that Galileo was a conceited asshole who was wrong on other scientific points and managed to insult pretty much every other major scientist in his field at the time, several of which were right on points he was wrong about. Had he been a little bit more circumspect in his dealings with other people, the scientific issue never would have been put on trial.

OA said...

Presently known as the Martha Stewart School of Assholery.

karrde said...

What's weird about the "Flat Earth" comments is that anyone who studied Aristotle knew that the Earth was a sphere (or at least spheroid).

Indeed, the Church's major problem with Galileo was that he was stomping all over the synthesis between theology and Aristotlean philosophy that Thomas Aquinas had hammered together in the 13th century.

Somehow, the concept of Geocentric solar system gets all wrapped up in the Flat Earth model in people's memory of history.

Of course, I can remember what Galileo got right...I can't remember what he got wrong.

comatus said...

Well, the earth turns out to be summat more turtle-shaped than really spherical, so there's "room for compromise" (tell it to the Inquisition). I strongly agree Galileo was one hard SOB to get along with, so leave us not think ours is the first era to ever have this public-persona issue going on. I sure wouldn't accept Arthur Miller or Bertolt Brecht's word for it (anymore). And y'know what, that Pellissippian theory fits in exactly fine with current hip physicists and whatever it is Heissenberg's not certain about.

I had British bikes for 35 years, so I can't help but symphathize with any other member of the Flat Earth Society.

Jay G said...

And yet it moves...

Anonymous said...

And all things considered, Galileo was treated decently by the Roman inquisition.

The Spanish inquisition would have been less understanding.

I once had a copy of letter from inquisition poobah in Italy read to me, basically telling his colleagues in Spain to, er, "chill out & cut out the shit, because the bad press was making waves" ...in the usual florid and academic prose of the time.

Ben said...

The legal system in Galileo's time must not have been as evolved as ours.

I mean, hey, God himself is on the witness list in that little lawsuit brought by the senator from the great state of Nebraska.

comatus said...

jay, you got it baby, but it really rocks in Italian:

"Eppur si muove."

Starts the barfight every time.

rickn8or said...

jay g, comatus--

Just the perfect thing to mutter after having to prostrate yourself and recant.

Jenny said...

Well of course Marko, did you really think after the Numenoreans landed on Aman that Eru was going to leave the Straight Road open forever? ;)

Byron said...

Galileo mainly got tried for being an asshole. The myriad of people he had pissed off were looking for anything anywhere to hang on him. He's lucky they couldn't find any real stuff to get him with and that the pope of the time was one of his very few partisans.