|It should be said that Galileo was not the first to propose that the Earth orbited around the sun but until the publication of his observations, Copernican theory, as it was known, had been tolerated by the church as a theory that aided scientists in their calculations and not the physical truth. This seems like a silly distinction but it cost Galileo his liberty. |
One morning in 1613, Cosimo de' Medici and his mother, the Grand Duchess Christina began discussing the topic of Jupiter's satellites, of which Galileo was an expert as his observations had discovered them. Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's student, who was present, asked Galileo to comment on the central point of that conversation, the conflict between the Bible and Copernican theory. Galileo replied to this in his 'Letter to Grand Duchess Christina' which quickly circulated widely in manuscript form. In it, Galileo famously declared that the Bible teaches how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. Galileo's belief in the truth of the Copernican hypothesis alarmed the church, and the Inquisition carefully examined Galileo's letter.
And so Galileo's problems with the church began.
Galileo was called to Rome about the Copernican theory on two occasions, in 1616 and in 1632. On the first occasion, in February 1616, it was agreed by the Inquisition that:
-The immobility of the Sun at the centre of the universe was absurd in philosophy and formally heretical, and that......
-The mobility of Earth was absurd in philosophy and at least erroneous in theology.
In February 1616, by authorisation of the Pope, Galileo was then summoned to Rome and warned not to speak out in defence of the Copernican theory. Rumours immediately began to circulate that Galileo had been condemned and prosecuted but wisely Galileo had secured a letter stating that this was not the case but that he had had been notified of the Papal decision to censor Copernicus' De Revolutionibus because a heliostatic claim was contrary to the literal meaning of Scripture.
Galileo duly kept away from writing on cosmological matters, concentrating instead, on applying his discovery of Jupiter's satellites for determining longitude at sea.
Galileo: The Suppression of Knowledge.
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