Discovery Institute Defends the Inquisition

Everybody knows about the Galileo affair. As we’ve said before:

Galileo was compelled by the Inquisition not only to confess heresy — see Recantation of Galileo. June 22, 1633 — but also to renounce the solar system. 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.

We’ve written a few times about apologists who attempt to re-write that history. For example, see The Galileo Trial Wasn’t Anti-Science?, and before that Defending the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, and also The Galileo Affair — Was the Inquisition Wrong?

Now it’s the Discovery Institute’s turn to defend the Inquisition. Their new post is Erroneously, Evolutionists Recruit the Galileo Affair to Their Service. It was written by Cornelius Hunter — a Discoveroid “fellow” who teaches at a bible college. He’s famous around here as the author of The Discoveroids’ All-Time Strangest Essay. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Writing here the other day, I looked at a new book co-authored by theistic evolutionist Dennis Venema. As we saw, Venema was raised in an evangelical-creationist setting which equated evolution with atheism. This casting of evolutionists as nothing more than atheist rascals is ignorant. It is also dangerous for it leaves one without the understanding and tools to reckon with the real evolution. The result is sometimes a flip to the other extreme: scientism and the Warfare Thesis.

Venema’s book doesn’t interest us, but Cornelius is obsessed with it. Anyway, remember that phrase, “Warfare Thesis.” Cornelius uses it a lot. He says:

The Warfare Thesis holds that religion, and Christianity in particular, often conflicts with and opposes scientific advances. It can be traced at least as far back as Voltaire with his 18th century mythical retelling of the Galileo Affair. Many later contributors embellished and established the myth that was eventually labelled the “Warfare Thesis.”

Hey, he’s right. Religion doesn’t conflict with science — not true science, like creationism. After that he complains that Venema’s book promotes the Warfare Thesis:

… Venema presents the Warfare Thesis in a section ironically entitled “Learning from History.” Unfortunately, rather than learning from history readers are given yet another round of the Warfare Thesis myth. They learn that the basic issue of the 17th century Galileo Affair was “the veracity of the new science, and its perceived threat to biblical authority.” According to Venema there were “apologists” who thought the science “was wrong,” over against scientists such as Galileo.

Cornelius is furious. He tells us:

This myth is standard fare for evolutionists in their attempt to place their theory into a compelling historical narrative. But when will it end? How many historians have to publicly chide, correct, disabuse, and decry this myth before evolutionists will make it stop?

Then he attempts to tell us that the whole thing was Galileo’s fault. We’ve seen these arguments before. Here’s a sample:

In fact the Galileo Affair was nuanced and complex. Galileo had numerous stumbling blocks working against him. One was Aristotelianism, despite the fact that the two thousand year old system was waning.

Uh huh. The Inquisition was only defending Aristotle. Cornelius continues:

Another important stumbling block was Galileo’s own, abrasive, personality. The church was perfectly fine with Galileo publishing his work, and several people within the church were at least somewhat sympathetic to his promotion of heliocentrism. But Galileo outright humiliated people and made enemies readily.

Galileo was persecuted by the Inquisition mainly because he was a creep, so it was all his fault Let’s read on:

Wars and politics were also not helping him. The Reformation and its aftermath, including conflicts with the Protestants, did not aid in producing an environment conducive to challenging long-standing ideas.

That certainly justifies the Inquisition’s threatening Galileo with torture, forcing him to recant his heresy, and banning his book. Another excerpt:

Lastly there were Scriptural questions raised by passages such as Joshua 10 and Ecclesiastes 1. These questions are last on my list because they were least. These questions were put to Galileo, but they were hardly at the center of the controversy. And in resolving them, the main problem was in Galileo’s lack of diplomacy.

Actually, scripture was central to Galileo’s heresy trial. From records of the trial, two specific scripture passages (vaguely cited by Cornelius) were used as evidence against Galileo, and they’re clearly heliocentric:

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.

Okay, back to Cornelius:

It isn’t that Scriptural questions were completely absent, but they certainly were not the key, central concerns of the Galileo Affair, as the Warfare Thesis mythology would have it. This is why Venema’s predictable reconstruction is so misleading.

It’s not misleading if you take the time to read Galileo’s confession. And now we come to the end:

Once again we see this “science versus religion” rendition of the Galileo Affair servicing evolutionary thought. Venema’s larger point is, in typical fashion, to recruit the Galileo Affair as support for evolution. Darwin and the evolutionists, like Galileo, are merely appealing to the empirical science, and skeptics are driven by their religious agendas. Unfortunately to make this argument evolutionists must erroneously cast both the Galileo Affair and today’s origins debate.

That was bad. Very bad. We wonder if Cornelius is aware that the Discoveroids invoke the Galileo affair when their own “science” is challenged. For example, see Discoveroids: Coppedge is a Modern Galileo.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Discovery Institute Defends the Inquisition

  1. I am shocked – shocked – to hear that the DI has the integrity of a Trump and the intellectual rigor of a wet noodle. Shocked I tell you

  2. “It was written by Cornelius Hunter”
    Ooohhh – that’s promising! I really have no idea who’s the bigger IDiot, Corny Hunty or the Klinkleclapper. Since long I felt that he didn’t receive all the attention from our dear SC he deserves, so this blogpost makes me happy.
    And he doesn’t disappoint.

    “The Warfare Thesis holds that religion.”
    Already wrong! Only the first two paragraphs of Andrew Dickson-White’s “A History of the Warfare ….” makes that clear. The Warfare Thesis holds that religion necessarily conflicts with science. That’s highly questionable if not simply wrong, as ….. exactly Venema shows!

    Corny Hunty gets something right:

    “The Reformation did not … an environment conducive to challenging long-standing ideas.”
    No. Scientists who largely didn’t care what religious dogma prescribed did that. Copernicus, Brahe, Stevin, Kepler and ….. Galilei. Corny Hunty brilliantly argues against himself.

  3. Joshua 10 was a significant point of contention that prevented theologians from accepting Copernicus’s model of the solar system for centuries.

  4. Christine Janis

    Somebody needs to do an expose on this new piece of nonsense from Hunter

    Sea Anemone Is a Proverbial “Precambrian Rabbit”

    Note, of course, that this completely contradicts Meyer’s claim that evolution is impossible because of all of the new information that needed to occur in the Cambrian phyla. Now evolution is apparently impossible because all of the information was already there in the PreCambrian.

  5. Aaaarrrrggghhhh! This nonsense is crying out for an analogy I’m struggling not to make because it’s equally idiotic, viz;

    “In fact the crucifixion affair was nuanced and complex. Jesus had numerous stumbling blocks working against him. One was Mosaic orthodoxy, despite the fact that the thousand year old system was waning. Another important stumbling block was Jesus’s own, abrasive, personality. The rabbinate was perfectly fine with Jesus sermonising on the mount, but by assaulting the money changers in the temple he outright humiliated people and made enemies. Wars and politics were also not helping him. The Roman occupation did not aid in producing an environment conducive to challenging long-standing ideas.”

  6. Suppose Galileo was wrong and that, for example, we now all accept, backed by solid evidence and scientific theory, that we live on an unmoving flat earth protected from chaos by a solid dome. Would the Church therefore be justified in silencing him by threat of torture, and banning his book?

  7. By the law of the day, the Church was acting legally, and Galileo had acted against a legal order by defending heliocentrism. The question which many people raise today is whether the concept of legality is relative, or whether there is a higher, absolute, concept. For example, was Justice Taney of the SCOTUS correct in following the precedent and the understanding of the original intent of the the framers of the Constitution in his ruling on Dred Scott?

  8. Rikki_Tikki_taalik

    Hey, maybe Corny should have a chat with Brian over at ICR about those “manipulated climate reports.” He can wank over Galileo and spin history all he likes, there’s nothing new there, but I’d be hard pressed to put a number on the great many people I’ve run into who “believe” just like Shimkus.

  9. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    Apologies for the strong language in the captions of that video. I just grabbed the first available YouTube link for that quote thinking it was the video I’d shared previously. The original video had a lot more views and should have come up first but having had a second look it appears the account that hosted it was removed.

  10. Doctor Stochastic

    Well, I didn’t expect that.

  11. Nobody does, Doctor Stochastic.

  12. Michael Fugate

    Another comfy chair/soft pillow torture session by the DI?