The Type of Case Galileo Made
Contrary to the impression that is
sometimes given, Galileo did not simply assert baldly that the earth went round
the sun and that therefore the Church was wrong about science. Rather as a
thinking and deeply concerned Christian he developed a highly nuanced position.
One of the most important documents in the
case is Galileos letter eventually issued as The Letter to the Grand Duchess
Christina. Recently K.J.Howell has
analysed the type of case Galileo was making,drawing a parallel with the arguments of Augustine about the reading of the
Book of Genesis, as follows:
distinguishing matters of science from
matters of faith - Galileo begins from the dictum that Scripture was given
to show how to go to heaven rather than how the heavens go. But if it is not conceded that science and
biblical interpretation are separate, Galileos fallback is
that the interpretation of Scripture
should not go against demonstrated truths in science. But if his opponents will not concede either that Copernicanism is a
demonstrated truth, or that such truths can oppose a Scriptural text (such as
the description in the Book of Joshua of the sun standing still only by the
mighty action of God) and still be true, then Galileo has a second fallback,
actually Copernicanism is closer
than literal Scripture than the earth-centred model of the solar system.
link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr.
Source: God, Humanity and the
Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999)