Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Galileo's Inquisition

I almost failed this week. With the Super Bowl on Sunday and my increasing reading workload I found it to be game time and myself torn: do I stay behind and write me blog, or should I go watch the game? Well, I watched the game, and have been struggling with finding the time to research during the week when my time is more limited.

But I do think it was worth it. The game was really good, and the company was even better. Had a great time at my neighbors watching the game and eating traditional football food. Yeah, it was a good evening, and it was even nice watching the Saints pull off the win over the Colts. History people, the first time the Saints have gone, and they win. That is history in the making. Maybe I’ll be able to blog about it one day. But enough with the football talk, back to the history.

Ultimately I had two choices this week: fail, or write. Failure is not an option with me, and this is a goal I set for myself, a fun goal that I enjoy doing once I sit down and do it. So tonight, I am sitting down and doing it.

And this week we’ll be dipping into the history of science, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t list some other worth wile historical events. Henry VIII’s sixth wife Catherine Howard was beheaded on February 13, 1542. Cool, but not something relevant to today really, unless… nope, really not relevant.

Instead I’ll be focusing on one of my weakest links: science. Galileo was the father of most modern thinking regarding the solar system. He built and improved the telescope, which allowed him to observe the moons of Jupiter and other parts of the solar system.

Through these observations realized the planets revolved around the sun, not the Earth as previously though. This idea was realized by Copernicus’ heliocentric theory, so it wasn’t his idea but his support that ultimately got him in trouble with the Church.

But before we get into those details it is important to note that Galileo went straight to nature to make observations and findings instead of relying solely on other scientists findings as was the norm of the time. I have heard it said (but may be totally incorrect) that Galileo studied nature and science to better understand God and religion. In fact, many of the scientists of the time were religious and claimed the same: they studied nature to get closer to understanding God.

Despite going against the teachings of the Church, Galileo was able to publish his findings so long as he treated them as hypotheses because of his friendship with then Pope Urban VIII. But when he published his book Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems in 1632 he angered many people because he seemed to be “advocate” the findings of Copernicus.

On February 23, 1633 Galileo’s Inquisition began. At first the Inquisitors only tried to ban him from teaching Copernicus’ theory, and with few powerful people left to protect him Galileo he was forced to abjure the “vehement suspicion of heresy.” He was sentenced to life imprisonment and spent the rest of his time under house arrest.

So now, why does this matter to today? Despite the obvious, that he was right, an interesting article came to my attention this summer. I can’t find the link as of right now, but I’ll try to keep searching. It stated that the Church has realized its mistake and pardoned Galileo, almost 400 years after trying him. Awwww.

So anyone who agrees with the heliocentric model Galileo supported, you can now study it without concern of going against the Church.

It is funny this came so late, almost 400 years later. This isn’t the time to go into the Church, and this blog definitely didn’t do Galileo justice. I mean there are several things surrounding the man, his findings, his telescope, his possible involvement with the Illuminati.

But that’s all for another day, and only the truly daring. As always, happy history all!

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