Seventh-Day Adventists and Galileo

Adventist Review Online describes itself as “the web site of the Adventist Review magazine. In print for more than 150 years, the Adventist Review is the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” Wikipedia says that denomination believes in creation in six literal days. At the Adventist Review website we found Galileo’s Heresies, which presents, shall we say, a somewhat novel interpretation of the Galileo affair.

It was written by Clifford Goldstein, editor of something called the Adult Bible Study Guide. His article was adapted from a manuscript in progress tentatively titled: Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Most everyone has heard of the heresy trial of Galileo Galilei by the Roman Inquisition in the seventeenth century, an event universally portrayed as the paradigmatic illustration of ignorant and dogmatic religionists versus the rational progress of science. Thus, theistic evolutionists gleefully use the Galileo account against those who defend the six-day creation, arguing that these literal creationists are repeating the error of Rome’s religious dogmatism.

Your Curmudgeon is one of those who often refers to Galileo’s trial as a classic case of religious persecution of science. In Creationism, Galileo and the Phases of Venus, we said:

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.

Because he was threatened with torture, Galileo confessed his heresy — 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.

What do Seventh-day Adventists think of that abominable event? Let’s read on:

However, far from an example of ignorant religionists battling scientific progress, the Galileo trial exposes the dangers of what happens when Christians too readily incorporate the whims of science into their religion. Contrary to the popular myth, it’s the evolutionists, not the creationists, who are repeating Rome’s error.

Huh? In what universe are those people living? The article continues:

Though about as many versions of the Galileo saga exist as tellers of it, the gist is that Galileo promoted Copernicanism, which argued for the earth orbiting the sun instead of the sun orbiting the earth. When faced with the threat of torture for promoting this idea, Galileo uttered his famous adjuration: [quote with an ellipsis in it].

We’ve already given you a link to the full text of Galileo’s Indictment and Abjuration, so you can read it for yourself. He was charged with teaching “several propositions contrary to the true sense and authority of the Holy Scriptures.” Specifically:

1. The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures.

2. The proposition that the earth is not the center of the world, nor immovable, but that it moves, and also with a diurnal action, is also absurd, philosophically false, and, theologically considered, at least erroneous in faith.

Here’s what Clifford Goldstein says:

The points that Galileo abjured were: first, that the sun is the center of the universe; second, that the sun is immovable; third, that the earth is not the center of the universe; and, fourth, that the earth moves. … However, as we will see, these were heresies, not against the Scriptures but against centuries of accepted scientific dogma.

That’s odd. The Inquisition said they were contrary to scripture. Moving along:

This point cannot be overestimated. Galileo wasn’t fighting against the Bible, but against an interpretation of the Bible dominated by the prevailing scientific dogma, which for centuries had been Aristotelianism. This view taught that the earth stood immobile at the center of the universe, and that stars and planets, including the sun, moved in perfect circular orbits around it.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Another excerpt:

And, just as almost everything in life sciences today is interpreted through the dogma and authority of Charles Darwin, back then so much science (or “natural philosophy” as it was called), including the nature of the cosmos, was interpreted through the dogma and authority of Aristotle (384 B.C. -322 B. C.).

Nobody knew about the solar system in Aristotle’s time, so he was likely as confused as the authors of scripture. On with the article:

Hence, the crucial point: Galileo’s “heresies” weren’t contrary to Scripture; they were contrary to an interpretation of Scripture dominated by a pagan Greek who lived more than 300 years before Christ, Aristotle — the Darwin of that era.

And yet, somehow, the Inquisition’s charges didn’t mention Aristotle. Here’s more:

Galileo’s heresy wasn’t against the Bible but against an interpretation of the Bible based on science — a scary parallel to what theistic evolutionists are doing today. It didn’t matter that the Bible never said that the sun at the center of the universe. Aristotle did, and because the Bible was interpreted through this, the prevailing scientific theory, an astronomical point never addressed in Scripture had become a theological position of such centrality that the Inquisition threatened to torture an old man for teaching contrary to it.

The article goes on and on, but we’ll give you only one more excerpt:

In short, Galileo’s story, contrary to the common view, is an example of the church in antiquity doing what the church today is doing: interpreting the Bible through prevailing scientific dogma. In Galileo’s day, that dogma was Aristotelianism; in ours, it’s Darwinism, or the whatever the latest version happens to be.

[…]

Far from revealing the dangers of religion battling science, the Galileo trial reveals the dangers of religion capitulating to it.

So there you are, dear reader. Now you have a new understanding of the Galileo affair. He was bullied by science.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Seventh-Day Adventists and Galileo

  1. Ecclesiastes 1, verse 5: The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

    Isn’t this where RA rises in the east in his boat, traverses the sky, then sets in the west, only to float through the darkness in his boat and reimerge in the east again?

    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.

    “…until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies” Another religious free-for-all killing party? How accommodating of the deity to give them more time to kill (thou shalt not kill was suspended for the day?).

  2. Where does the Bible say that species are unchanging? Where does it say that humans are not related to chimps and other apes? Where does it deny natural selection?

  3. BTW, Galileo pointed out that a strict reading of the story of the Sun standing still for Joshua was contrary to the Ptolemaic model. According to Ptolemy, the Sun’s motion was from west to east in its annual motion. The daily motion of east to west was the motion of the sphere of the fixed stars.
    So, if the Sun stood still, daylight would be shortened by a couple of minutes.
    So, yes, the Church was imposing a reading on the Bible that they wanted to believe. Just as today’s creationists do.

  4. michaelfugate

    My only conclusion from Goldstein’s article is that the Bible is a book of theology composed entirely of symbolism and metaphor. It most certainly should not be used as source of what really happens in the natural world.

    “La Bibbia ci insegna la via per andare in cielo, non come il cielo sia fatto”
    Galileo

    Translated here https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Galileo_Galilei
    “The Bible teaches us the path to go to heaven, not how the sky is made.”

    Or more commonly
    “The Bible teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

    It doesn’t teach us how the universe or life arose either.

  5. Does this mean the 7th Day Adventists DON’T take a stand on evolution? Hey wouldn’t want to incorporate the whims of (in this case creation)science into their religion.

  6. Charles Deetz ;)

    How many times did the writer say essentially the same thing. Like he keeps trying to get it clear enough that it gets past his brain’s filter. About put me to sleep.

  7. Missouri Synod Lutherans (the second major Creationist denomination after the Adventists) were still promoting geocentricism in the 1960s, if I’m not mistaken.

  8. Eric Lipps

    This point cannot be overestimated. Galileo wasn’t fighting against the Bible, but against an interpretation of the Bible dominated by the prevailing scientific dogma, which for centuries had been Aristotelianism. This view taught that the earth stood immobile at the center of the universe, and that stars and planets, including the sun, moved in perfect circular orbits around it.

    But of course the Church accepted Aristotle’s views as perfectly congruent with the Bible. If it had not, Aristotelianism would have been condemned and the philosopher’s books would have been burned (along with everyone who agreed with what they said and refused to recant that belief).

    And that brings us to another point: Aristotle’s ideas weren’t “scientific dogma” but rather philosophy. Science as we know it wouldn’t really exist for many centuries after Aristotle’s death.