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.
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