Jean Leon Huens
Religion & Astronomy: From Galileo to Aliens
Leslie Mullen, Astrobiology MagazineDate: 21 January 2011. Click Here to Read PART 1.
One of the most famous examples of the clash between religion and science is the trial of Galileo Galilei. Galileo supported Copernicus' view that the Earth orbited the sun, a "heliocentric" theory which the church declared contrary to Scripture. Galileo was warned to abandon his support for this theory and instead embrace the traditional "geocentric" notion that the Earth was an unmovable point around which the universe revolved.
Instead, in 1632 Galileo published "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems." The book was structured as a conversation between Salviati, a heliocentric philosopher, Simplicio, a geocentric philosopher, and Sagredo, a neutral layman. Pope Urban VIII had actually given Galileo permission to write the book as long as he didn't promote one viewpoint over the other. However, Salviati forcefully argued Galileo's beliefs, while Simplicio was often ridiculed as a fool.
An often-repeated view about the furor which followed the publication of Galileo's book is that the pope was insulted by having his words expressed by Simplicio. Not only was the character made to look ridiculous, but the name itself likely was a double entendre for "simple-minded" (simplice in Italian). However, Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno disputes this analysis.
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