Nothing’s going on out there that we can post about. Even the incurably crazed websites we prowl for amusement aren’t very amusing today. So let’s talk about one of the most famous anti-science episodes in Western history, the Galileo affair.
As you know, Galileo was hauled before the Inquisition and charged with heresy for publishing a book describing evidence for — gasp! — the solar system. That was clearly contrary to scripture, so it couldn’t be tolerated. We know of two specific scripture passages were used as evidence against him during the trial:
Ecclesiastes 1, verse 5: The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
Joshua 10:13: And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
Additionally, he was threatened with torture. Being no fool, Galileo confessed (see Recantation of Galileo. June 22, 1633). His book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was banned and placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, and he was kept under house arrest for the remaining seven years of his life. According to Wikipedia’s list of authors and works listed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, more than a century after it was banned, a censored version of Galileo’s book was permitted in 1741, and almost another century passed until the entire book was finally removed from the Index — in 1835.
You know all that. But what was Galileo’s telescopic evidence demonstrating the solar system? You’ve heard about the phases of Venus, but what was that all about? Have you ever seen it illustrated in a diagram? Well, here you go then. Check this out:
That comes from this website, The Astronomical Revolution. The first frame shows what the phases of Venus would look like from Earth if the Sun were not in the center. In that model, Venus always shows a crescent — it’s never fully lit. The second frame shows what Galileo saw, with the Sun in the center. At predictable intervals, one can see a fully lit Venus. But there’s another way to look at it.
That comes from this website, Motions of Planets – History of Science and Astronomy. It shows the scriptural view with the Sun behind the Earth. (Imagine the Earth between the Sun and the orbit of Venus.) From that perspective, Venus always appears fully lit, without phases. Galileo’s observations didn’t show that either.
That was the classic disproof of the geocentric model. But Galileo was also the first to see the four biggest moons of Jupiter, and the significance of that is sometimes overlooked. Aside from seeing four objects which clearly didn’t orbit the Earth, which alone was unsettling to the scriptural picture, there’s something else which is mostly forgotten.
An old argument for why the Earth had to be motionless was that if it moved, it would leave the Moon behind! (This was before Isaac Newton explained that gravity works “out there” as well as on Earth.) But Galileo had found four bodies that orbited Jupiter, and that were never left behind — yet everyone agreed that Jupiter was moving. So if Jupiter moved and its moons were somehow never lost, the same could apply to the Earth’s Moon as well.
Anyway, the Inquisition wasn’t impressed, and Galileo suffered the consequences. That’s how it goes when anti-science forces are in power. Oh, the Church eventually came around to accepting the solar system (see Science and the Vatican).
What about creationists who still insist on the literal truth of scripture, but who nevertheless accept the solar system? They’re either hypocrites or idiots — or both. If you haven’t seen these old posts, you may want to check them out: The Earth Does Not Move! and also, according to the bible, The Earth Is Flat!
So there you are. Some denominations are slower than others. Maybe they’ll all come around eventually. Thus endeth today’s lesson.
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