Little Bits of History

In the House

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2014
Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei

June 22, 1633: Galileo Galilei is handed his sentence from the Inquisition. The Galileo affair was a sequence of events beginning in 1610 when Galileo and the Catholic Church were in disagreement. Galileo supported Copernican astronomy and heliocentrism. He also supported secular philosophers while disagreeing with Aristotelianism. In 1610 Galileo published Starry Messenger in which he described what he had seen through his telescope. He had witnessed the phases of Venus and some of the moons of Jupiter. With these observations in hand, he promoted the Copernican theory of a heliocentric system which had been put forth in 1543. This displeased the Church and in 1616 the Inquisition proclaimed heliocentrism heretical.

Galileo proposed a theory of tides in that same year which were evidence of the motion of the Earth. He went on to propose a theory on comets in 1619. In 1632, the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems was published and implicitly defended the theory stating the Sun was the center around which the Earth turned. The book, published in Italian, was a best seller and was dedicated to Galileo’s patron, Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The Inquisition was faced with the growing popularity of a system of thought they had declared heretical and Galileo came under investigation.

The offending book was originally called Dialogue on the Tides, but the Inquisition refused approval for this since tides were explained by the Earth’s movement and they insisted the Earth was immovable and the center of the universe. The title was changed. The book is presented as a series of discussions taking place over four days. The participants are two philosophers and a layman. One philosopher agrees with Copernicus, one with Ptolemy and Aristotle, and the layman is at first neutral. The discussions range over most of the science of the day and present rebuttals to traditional philosophers as well as observations which are inconsistent with the Ptolemaic model. Arguments for an elegant unified theory of the Heavens which proved the Earth was stationary were simply incorrect.

Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy” since he refused to budge on his theory stating the Sun was stationary and Earth traveled around it. He was sentenced to formal imprisonment and was put under house arrest for the rest of his life. His Dialogue was banned and not announced, but enforced, was forbidding all future printing of any of his works including those he might write in the future. Although unable to publish, he continued to study science until his death on January 8 1642 at the age of 77. The ban on printing Galileo’s books was lifted in 1718. Several Popes since that time have praised his scientific work. Both Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein have called him the father of modern science.

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.

It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved. – all from Galileo Galilei

Also on this day: Deke – In 1844, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity is founded.
No Fun – In 1918, the worst circus train wreck took place.
Burn, Baby, Burn – In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire.
Sweden – In 1906, Sweden adopted a new/old national flag.


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