D’Souza and Galileo
Posted: 27 November 2007 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Some people I just don’t like, but not always can I quite pin down what irks me about them.
With D’Souza, I have no such problems.
I hate the bastard and I know why too.
He is an arrogant, petulant little cocksucker, if I have to put it nicely.

It pains me therefore that he may have a point in his recent article on Galileo.

I always thought he was made to recant his statements under torture but D’Souza claims this did not happen.
I Googled this a bit and I am still not sure. Some say he was threatened with torture.

Are there any scholars around that can confirm or hopefully debunk D’Souza’s claim ?

Article is below.


Dinesh D’Souza

Is there an irreconcilable conflict between science and religion? Today’s outspoken atheists, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, seek to set science and religion at odds largely by invoking the Galileo case. For example, Harris, in his book The End of Faith, condemns the Christian church of the Renaissance for “torturing scholars to the point of madness for merely speculating about the nature of the stars.”

I intend here to reopen the Galileo case to expose the atheist argument as completely misguided.

Before the 16th century, most educated people accepted the theories of the Greek astronomer Ptolemy, who held that the Earth was stationary and the sun revolved around it. The geocentric universe was a classical, not a Christian, concept. The Christians accepted it - though not because of the Bible. The Bible never says that the sun revolves around the Earth. Christians accepted Ptolemy because he had a sophisticated theory supported by what seemed like common sense (i.e., everything does seem to revolve around the Earth) and that gave reasonably accurate predictions about the motions of heavenly bodies.

The data right up to Galileo’s day favored Ptolemy. Historian Thomas Kuhn notes that throughout the Middle Ages, people proposed the heliocentric alternative. “They were ridiculed and ignored,” Kuhn writes, adding, “The reasons for the rejection were excellent.” The Earth does not appear to move, and we can all witness the sun rise in the morning and set in the evening.

Galileo was a Florentine astronomer highly respected by the Catholic Church. Once a supporter of Ptolemy’s geocentric theory, Galileo became convinced that Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was right that the Earth really did revolve around the sun. Copernicus had advanced his theory in 1543 in a book dedicated to the pope. He admitted he had no physical proof, but the power of the heliocentric hypothesis was that it produced vastly better predictions of planetary orbits. Copernicus’ new ideas unleashed a major debate within the religious and scientific communities, which at that time overlapped greatly. The prevailing view half a century later, when Galileo took up the issue, was that Copernicus had advanced an interesting but unproven hypothesis, useful for calculating the motions of heavenly bodies but not persuasive enough to jettison the geocentric theory altogether.

Galileo’s contribution to the Copernican theory was significant, but not decisive.

Having developed a more powerful telescope than others of his day, Galileo made important new observations about the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and spots on the sun that undermined Ptolemy and were consistent with Copernican theory.

It may surprise some readers to find out that the pope was an admirer of Galileo and a supporter of scientific research being conducted at the time, mostly in church-sponsored observatories and universities. So was the head of the Inquisition, the learned theologian Cardinal Robert Bellarmine. When Galileo’s lectures supporting the heliocentric theory were reported to the Inquisition, most likely by one of Galileo’s academic rivals in Florence, Cardinal Bellarmine met with Galileo. This was not normal Inquisition procedure, but Galileo was a celebrity. In 1616, he went to Rome with great fanfare, where he stayed at the grand Medici villa, met with the pope more than once, and attended receptions given by various bishops and cardinals.

Bellarmine proposed that, given the inconclusive evidence for the theory and the sensitivity of the religious issues involved, Galileo should not teach or promote heliocentrism. Galileo, a practicing Catholic who wanted to maintain his good standing with the church, agreed. Bellarmine issued an injunction, and a record of the proceeding went into the church files.

For several years, Galileo kept his word and continued his experiments and discussions without publicly advocating heliocentrism. Then he received the welcome news that Cardinal Maffeo Barberini had been named Pope Urban VIII. Barberini was a scientific “progressive,” having fought to prevent Copernicus’ work from being placed on the index of prohibited books. Barberini was a fan of Galileo and had even written a poem eulogizing him. Galileo was confident that now he could openly preach heliocentrism.

But the new pope’s position on the subject was complicated. Urban VIII held that while science can make useful measurements and predictions about the universe, it cannot claim to have actual knowledge of reality known only to God - which comes actually quite close to what some physicists now believe regarding quantum mechanics and is entirely in line with modern philosophical demonstrations of the limits of human reason.

So when Galileo in 1632 published his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the church found itself in a quandary. Galileo claimed to have demonstrated the truth of heliocentrism. Oddly enough, his proof turned out to be wrong. But the book amounted to a return to open heliocentrism, which he had agreed to avoid.

In 1633, Galileo returned to Rome, where he was again treated with respect. He might have prevailed in his trial, but during the investigation someone found Cardinal Bellarmine’s notes in the files. Galileo had not told the present Inquisitors - he had not told anyone - of his previous agreement not to teach or advocate Copernicanism. Now he was viewed as having deceived the church as well as having failed to live up to his agreements. Even his church sympathizers, and there were several, found it difficult to defend him at this point.

But they did advise him to acknowledge he had promoted Copernicanism in violation of his pact with Bellarmine, and to show contrition. Incredibly, Galileo appeared before the Inquisition and maintained that his new book did not constitute a defense of heliocentrism. “I have neither maintained or defended in that book the opinion that the Earth moves and that the sun is stationary but have rather demonstrated the opposite of the Copernican opinion and shown that the arguments of Copernicus are weak and not conclusive.”

It has been widely repeated that Galileo whispered under his breath, “And yet it moves.” Pure fabrication. There are no reports he said anything of the sort. One should be charitable toward his motives here. Perhaps he issued his denials out of weariness and frustration. Even so, the Inquisitors can also be excused for viewing Galileo as a flagrant liar. Galileo’s defense, Arthur Koestler writes, was so “patently dishonest that his case would have been lost in any court.” The Inquisition concluded Galileo did hold heliocentric views, which it demanded he recant. Galileo did, and he was sentenced to house arrest.

Contrary to the claims of Sam Harris and others, Galileo was never charged with heresy and never placed in a dungeon or tortured. After he recanted, Galileo was released into the custody of the archbishop of Siena, whose terrible punishment was to house him for five months in his own episcopal palace. Then he was permitted to return to his villa in Florence. Although technically under house arrest, he was able to visit his daughters at the Convent of San Mattero. The church also permitted him to continue his scientific work on matters unrelated to heliocentrism, and Galileo published important research during this period.

Galileo died of natural causes in 1642. It was during subsequent decades, Kuhn reports, that newer and stronger evidence for the heliocentric theory emerged, and scientific opinion, divided in Galileo’s time, became the consensus we share today.

What can we conclude about the Galileo episode? “The traditional picture of Galileo as a martyr to intellectual freedom and a victim of the church’s opposition to science,” writes historian Gary Ferngren, “has been demonstrated to be little more than a caricature.” The case was an “anomaly,” historian Thomas Lessl writes, “a momentary break in the otherwise harmonious relationship” that had existed between Christianity and science.

The church should not have tried Galileo. But his trials were conducted with comparative restraint. Galileo himself acted in bad faith, which no doubt contributed to his fate. Even so, that fate was not so terrible. Alfred North Whitehead, the noted historian of science, concludes from the case that “the worst that happened to men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his bed.”

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Posted: 27 November 2007 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Sander - 27 November 2007 08:19 PM

It pains me therefore that he may have a point in his recent article on Galileo.

It doesn’t matter if he made a point or not. THE POINT is that Copernicus and Galileo were right. Science does not need heroes; science simply needs facts. The more science looks for heroes, the more it seems like a religion. It doesn’t matter if Galileo was a complete wimp. He made his contribution.

Faith does need its heroes. Hebrews 11 is proof enough of this. Scientific fact exists independently of human beings. Faith does not.

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Posted: 27 November 2007 09:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I have often been amazed at what has come out of Dinesh. He is a master of spin. The problem with Dinesh is that he is quick and capable. I thought Hitchens fumbled badly in their debate. Sobriety has its advantages.

Galileo has been over-characterized by both sides.

The details as Dinesh presents them seem correct to me. There was no torture or imprisonment.
There was an order that Galileo was to be “shown the instruments”. That was probably sobering enough.

For example, Harris, in his book The End of Faith, condemns the Christian church of the Renaissance for “torturing scholars to the point of madness for merely speculating about the nature of the stars.”

While single out Galileo here? He came from a popular noble family. Bruno got a toastier reception.

Urban VIII held that while science can make useful measurements and predictions about the universe, it cannot claim to have actual knowledge of reality known only to God - which comes actually quite close to what some physicists now believe regarding quantum mechanics and is entirely in line with modern philosophical demonstrations of the limits of human reason.

Pope Urban VIII was a pioneer of science…

Galileo claimed to have demonstrated the truth of heliocentrism. Oddly enough, his proof turned out to be wrong.

See? He was just a stupid schmuck.

Galileo himself acted in bad faith, which no doubt contributed to his fate.

Bad faith?

Kind of like saying, “She asked for it, going out dressed like that”.

I guess we asked for it by making Galileo the poster child of the era. The churched practiced institutionalized murder, but at least they were nice to Galileo.

It was all much more complicated then that. Over-summarizing the events of that time can only generate caricatures and spin.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=7NlV6P1gKf8 about 4 mins in…

[ Edited: 28 November 2007 04:36 AM by Nhoj Morley]
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Posted: 27 November 2007 10:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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There is an interesting take on this in a book by Howard Margolis, sorry I don’t have the reference at hand.  Margolis points out that there were strong political motives for the church to supress Copernicanism, at least as a theory of how things actually were—Protestants were using the theory to argue against the Catholic hierarchy (which was based on the supposed hierarchy of the heavens).  It gets more interesting, however.  Galileo actually sent copies of his manuscript Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems to the inquisition for approval, and with minor quibbles received it.  He had discussed his project with the pope, who was supportative.  Further, the Ptolemic theory was not the prime competitor for Copernicus by the early seventeenth century, that was Tycho’s theory which had the sun orbiting the earth and all other planets orbiting the sun.  That was the theory being used, for example, by the Jesuit astronomers in the Vatican observatory.  Margolis speculates that the pope expected Galileo to discredit Ptolemy, and then he could step forward and say that there was a more conservative theory then Copernicus’ available.  Unfortunately, the arguments that Galileo used against Ptolemy were equally valid against Tycho.  There is also speculation that the pope was offended because he took the character of Simplicus in Galileo’s dialogue to be a characature of himself.

Interestingly, the Copernican theory was not better than Ptolemy in terms of accurate calculations, although it was somewhat simpler to do those calculations.  Further, no paralax could be observed, a prediction of the Copernican theory which was not confirmed for more than a century.

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Posted: 27 November 2007 11:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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“I did NOT have sexual intercourse with that woman!”  remember that famous line from Bill Clinton (not sure if he said ‘intercourse’ or ‘relations’).  Was that acting in bad faith?  Galileo said what he had to say to protect himself from further incrimmination.  I find the D’Souza article to be accurate to a point, although it’s sketchy nature seems to cast Galileo in a bad light and the church (& pope) in a better one . . . this is, in fact, part of the problem.

From “The Age of Reason Begins” by Will & Ariel Durant there is a detailed account of the trial of Galileo before the Inquisition.  Giordano Bruno (also a supporter of Copernicus’ theory) was burnt at the stake in 1600 as a result of being convicted of heresy before the Inquisition.  In 1616 the Holy Office had published an edict:

  “The view that the sun stands motionless at the center of the universe is foolish, philosophically false, and utterly heretical, because contrary to Holy Scripture. The view that the earth is not the center of the universe and even has a daily rotation is philosophically false, and at least an erroneous belief.”

Galileo went before the Inquisition on four occasions in 1633.  Interestingly, Bruno had held that although Copernicus was correct about the earth (and the other planets) orbiting the sun, he went further than Copernicus suggesting that the sun was was not stationary (and that the stars did not move around the sun, but that they too moved according to unknown universal laws).  Galileo could play off on this mistake by Copernicus (who held that the sun was stationary and the heavens revolved around it), by claiming that the Copernican view was a hypothesis, but not a fact.

However, because of Galileo’s writings on the subject, he was found guilty of both heresy (according to above edict of 1616) and of disobedience (to a deal he had made with a Cardinal in 1616 to stop teaching or professing Copernican views).  Naturally, the edict (see above) says that the “sun stands motionless”  is “heretical” but Galileo tried to show that he did not hold that view as a fact, but merely as a hypothesis. Part of the sentence in his conviction for heresy he was made a “prisoner of the Holy Office” and prescibed a penance of reciting of the seven penitential psalms daily for the next three years (isn’t that torture?).  Fortunately his imprisonment was later reduced to confinement at his estate and one of his daughters (a nun) took over the torturous recitations for the remainder of that 3 year sentence.

Also Galileo was made to kneel and repudiate the Copernican theory and add:
“With sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the said errors and heresies, and generally every other error and heresy contrary to the . . .Holy Church, and I swear that I will nevermore in the future say or assert anything . . . which may give rise to similar suspicion of me; and that if I shall know any heretic or anyone suspected of heresy, I will denouce him to this Holy Office.  etc…”

I think the burning of Bruno at the stake 33 years prior surely must have given Galileo (oddly enough his name is a reference to being “a man from Galilee’) a horrific sense of fear.  Socrates was found guilty of “corrupting the youth of Athens” and he was sentenced to a drink of hemlock, and this he did willingly.  Galileo evaded the death sentence, but surely it would be ridiculous to charge him with bad faith as D’Souza does while giving the church and the pope applause for their appreciation of science. That kind of spinning of the facts is nothing more than deception. 
Bob

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Posted: 27 November 2007 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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I reread the D’Souza article and he writes,

““Contrary to the claims of Sam Harris and others, Galileo was never charged with heresy . . .”“

This is an outright lie.  In fact, not only was he charged with it, he was found guilty of the charge, by the Inquisition that is! 

Bob

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Posted: 28 November 2007 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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CanZen - 28 November 2007 04:13 AM

I reread the D’Souza article and he writes,

““Contrary to the claims of Sam Harris and others, Galileo was never charged with heresy . . .”“

This is an outright lie.  In fact, not only was he charged with it, he was found guilty of the charge, by the Inquisition that is! 

Bob

citation please

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Posted: 28 November 2007 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Publius - 28 November 2007 04:41 PM

citation please

http://galileo.rice.edu/bio/narrative_7.html

This is a link to a university domain. I am assuming that in a community of scholars, false or misleading information will not persist in this published form.

Here’s another link from an academic domain:

http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/White/astronomy/victory-church.html

http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/White/

Both of these were easily obtained by googling “galileo heresy inquisition” and you are as arrogant a prick as ever for continuing to demand that others do your research for you on trivial matters.

For the latter link, you really ought to explore Cosma Shalizi’s domain there. It would add a couple of new wrinkles to your gray flannel gray matter.

As to the older errors, the whole civilized world was at fault, Protestant as well as Catholic. It was not the fault of religion; it was the fault of that short-sighted linking of theological dogmas to scriptural texts which, in utter defiance of the words and works of the Blessed Founder of Christianity, narrow-minded, loud-voiced men are ever prone to substitute for religion. Justly is it said by one of the most eminent among contemporary Anglican divines, that ``it is because they have mistaken the dawn for a conflagration that theologians have so often been foes of light.’‘

[ Edited: 28 November 2007 04:38 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 29 November 2007 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Quote:
“Dinesh Dsouza

Is there an irreconcilable conflict between science and religion? Today’s outspoken atheists, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, seek to set science and religion at odds largely by invoking the Galileo case. For example, Harris, in his book The End of Faith, condemns the Christian church of the Renaissance for “torturing scholars to the point of madness for merely speculating about the nature of the stars.” Unquote

Firstly it is historically correct that the established church tortured , murdered; incarcerated, drowned, burned at the stake hundreds of thousands of human beings who dared to oppose their totally dogmatic, but not based on verifiable observations, beliefs. The fact that one man avoided the strictest of punishments handed down shows he was maybe more devious and more clever - ‘wiser?’- than they were.

My real objection as a freethinker is that Dinesh is totally incorrect in inferring that science and religion are both belief systems.  There is no such belief as “science”  What is referred to as science is the accumulation of knowledge produced by using the scientific method, logic and, where possible mathematics,  which I hope all accept what that is. As previously stated by many the results of science are continually under critical review by all scientists.  In fact it seems to me that scientists take pains to try and shoot down their own and others findings, which are continually forcing religions dogmatists to change their dogma or even remove it.  Scientific method can investigate any subject or proposal including religions - it is the only way to establish as close as possible the truth of any proposition - if is possible at all. Solutions cannot be dreamed up and any intuitive thoughts regarding the proposition are based on the problem in hand and if correct verifiable.

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Posted: 29 November 2007 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I don’t think it is important at all that Galileo wasn’t tortured. The fact that the church could torture him with impunity over a scientific theory in conflict with church dogma and, indeed, did torture and burn people all the time, is all that matters. D’Souza’s puntillious little dance around the facts belies a more sinister motive - to mitigate the Christian faith’s history of bloody oppression.

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Posted: 29 November 2007 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Salt Creek - 28 November 2007 09:13 PM

Both of these were easily obtained by googling “galileo heresy inquisition” and you are as arrogant a prick as ever for continuing to demand that others do your research for you on trivial matters.

LOL ... the rational and dispationate response I would have expected ... and you wonder why there are so few converts to atheism, your sales pitch is just all wrong ...

.... I don’t demand others do research for me, but rather, they that present that thing you prize so highly above all others, evidence, when they insist that something is fact ...

... I would have thought you’d understand the difference, but it will be my pleasure to continue to educate you on the ways of rhetoric ...

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