January, 1600, gee time flies. Sitting in the Vatican talking with a pope, Clement VIII if I recall. He’s not feeling all that great. Seems that the Inquisition condemned some other character to the stake for teaching that the sun is a star and the earth goes around it, rather than the other way around. I’d had some fun chats about 60 years ago with the guy that started that theory, lived in Poland, cold in the winter but the babes were pretty hot. Made sense to me so thought I’d play devils advocate with good old Clement.
“What’s wrong with the earth going around the sun?” I asked.
Clement shuddered. “That would violate divine law,” he replied. “Everything shows that the earth is at the center, and that points to the existence of a creator. Why if that were not true people would start questioning the divine Creation!” He snorted, “It’s okay if doing the math that way makes calculating easier, but it’s just a fantasy. There’s no evidence whatsoever that the earth goes around the sun and there never will be. If that were so we would observe stellar parallax and we don’t see that at all. The stars are in the same place in summer and winter; in spring and fall. No shifts so all the evidence supports the earth at the center.”
“But maybe they just haven’t been able to measure it yet,” I suggested, looking over my shoulder to make sure no Jesuit Inquisitors were lurking about. “Maybe the stars are so far away that it just doesn’t show up in our observations.”
“No, that can’t be” the pope proclaimed, turning a shade of purple as the blood pulsed in his forehead. “The stars are part of God’s creation, if they were far away then it would take too much time for God’s commands to reach the earth. The stars are on the crystal sphere of the empyrean. All my astronomers tell me so. No, it’s just impossible that the earth could go around the sun, all the evidence shows that that could never be proved, it’s so highly improbably that it’s not even worth thinking about.”