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.
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.”