Clever Humans


Clever Humans do the darnedest things!


27 October 2006

Psalms 93:1, Psalms 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:5

by Patrick

Psalms 93:1 and Psalm 104:5, and Ecclesiastes 1:5

These passages from the Bible are the ones that got Galileo Galilei into trouble with the Roman Catholic Church. These passages talk about, in some sense, the firm and established position of the earth. Galileo’s argument was that the Bible is a guide for spiritual matters and not one for physical matters. It boils items of a physical nature down to simplest terms so it can spend the most time on spiritual items. Galileo, of course, held that the earth is what rotated around the sun and that the sun was the center of the universe.

From Galileo’s Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany:

Hence I think that I may reasonably conclude that whenever the Bible has occasion to speak of any physical conclusion (especially those which are very abstruse and hard to understand), the rule has been observed of avoiding confusion in the minds of the common people which would render them contumacious toward the higher mysteries. Now the Bible, merely to condescend to popular capacity, has not hesitated to obscure some very important pronouncements, attributing to God himself some qualities extremely remote from (and even contrary to) His essence. Who, then, would positively declare that this principle has been set aside, and the Bible has confined itself rigorously to the bare and restricted sense of its words, when speaking but casually of the earth, of water, of the sun, or of any other created thing? Especially in view of the fact that these things in no way concern the primary purpose of the sacred writings, which is the service of God and the salvation of souls – matters infinitely beyond the comprehension of the common people.

Galileo went to prison, was branded a heretic, and publication of any of his work was forbidden. For a theory that was ultimately wrong! Yet Galileo today is remembered as one of the greatest scientific thinkers in history.

Was heliocentrism a religious belief to Galileo? I would not consider it so. But it was certainly a belief he felt strongly enough about to try and fight against the status quo. Could he have done that and also recognized that he may be wrong? Maybe Galileo could not do that. But I think scientists of today have no problem conceiving that they are probably wrong. …but that is ok. Because they are advancing science. Not staying stuck in a rut.