Sunday, April 11, 2004

Galileo: Other sources

Old Post: This is a continuation of the discussion here.

Jeremy Pierce at Parablemania was interested in other sources concerning Galileo's relationship with the Church, preferably online sources. My source was Sampson's 6 Modern Myths, and all his references were ink-and-paper, so I had to look. I'll admit I haven't done a lot of research, but I did find a website called The Galileo Project.

It's not entirely friendly to the Church, as you can see:
Freedom of thought and written and oral expression is historically a relatively recent development. For those who were the shepherds of Christian souls and whose function it was to get those souls to heaven, the idea that anyone could think and say or write what he/she wanted was an absurdity. Moreover, it was dangerous because it might lead others into error. As early as 170 CE, the Church promulgated a list of genuine books of the New Testament and excluded others from use in religious practice.

The gall of that early church! How dare they try to make a list of which books were reliable accounts of the Christian faith!

But it does contain this useful information (from the same page):
In the cases of the Copernican System, the Church was slow to act because it did not see immediate danger to the faithful in De Revolutionibus (1543)...In 1616, after 73 years, it placed De Revolutionibus on the Index [of forbidden books] subject to revision, along with several other books that defended the Copernican System. It is interesting to note that the revisions required in Copernicus's book were, in terms of the total work, actually very minor. Copies of De Revolutionibus that were in Italy at this time show the revisions: a few deleted passages and a few changes of individual words. None of Galileo's books were placed on the Index at this time.

[Emphasis added.]

There's also this, from the same site (different page):
Maffeo Barberini [later Pope Urban VIII] was an accomplished man of letters, who published several volumes of verse. Upon Galileo' s return to Florence, in 1610, Barberini came to admire Galileo' s intelligence and sharp wit. During a court dinner, in 1611, at which Galileo defended his view on floating bodies, Barberini supported Galileo against Cardinal Gonzaga. From this point, their patron-client relationship flourished until it was undone in 1633. Upon Barberini' s ascendance of the papal throne, in 1623, Galileo came to Rome and had six interviews with the new Pope. It was at these meetings that Galileo was given permission to write about the Copernican theory, as long as he treated it as a hypothesis. After the publication of Galileo' s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World, in 1632, the patronage relationship was broken. It appears that the Pope never forgave Galileo for putting the argument of God's omnipotence (the argument he himelf had put to Galileo in 1623) in the mouth of Simplicio, the staunch Aristotelian whose arguments had been systematically destroyed in the previous 400-odd pages. At any rate, the Pope resisted all efforts to have Galileo pardoned.

[Emphasis added]

So while it doesn't cover all the details (there's much more on the site, but I haven't gone through it all), it confirms many of the points that Sampson made in the passage I quoted.

Update: Slight editing for better sarcasm.

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