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The Galileo Controversy

It is a common myth that Galileo was persecuted by the Catholic Church for promoting heliocentrism (the belief that the sun is the center of the solar system) as opposed to the then-accepted view, geocentrism (Earth is the center). The issue is touted by many as proof that Catholicism is opposed to science, afraid to accept new knowledge, and that its teachings are not infallible.

But these misconceptions are all misunderstandings. Galileo wanted to adamantly promote heliocentrism and urged the Church to accept it, years before it the technology to prove it even existed. The resulting controversy involving Galileo and Pope Urban VIII, who was a member of Galileo's scientific society and an admirer of his work, was an awkward experience for those involved, mainly due to Galileo's adamant persistence. Interestingly, Copernicus, who was a Catholic priest, had years earlier devoted his work On the Revolution of the Celestial Orbs, which gave a great account of heliocentrism, to Pope Paul III. Neither trial nor controversy ensued.

  • Twisting the Knife - Did Galileo invent the telescope, prove heliocentrism, and was condemned for the Church for the discovery? None of the above; by Wil Milan (catholic.com)
  • Why Did the Catholic Church Condemn Galileo? - Presented as a conversation between two people; by Kenneth J. Howell (catholic.com)
  • Galileo - A brief article highlighting the Galileo controversy in light of the scientific revolution and intellectual pride; by Anne W. Carroll (catholiceducation.org)
  • The Galileo Legend - Looks at common modern trains of thought and the people who promote them; by Thomas Lessl (catholiceducation.org)
  • The dispute between Galileo and the Catholic Church - An extremely detailed and long historical analysis; by Donald DeMarco (catholiceducation.org)
  • Geocentrism - Bible verses and quotes from early Church Fathers on the sun and its movement. Read the explanations - many of the examples given are figurative or symbolic, such as the "rising sun" on the day Jesus disappears from the tomb. (scripturecatholic.com)
  • Debunking the Galileo Myth - A collection of historical tidbits showing that science and religion are not two sides of the same coin; by Dinesh D'Souza (catholiceducation.org)
  • Galileo Galilei - Brief biography highlighting the controversy; from the Catholic Encyclopedia (newadvent.org)
  • Geocentrism: Flogging a Pink Unicorn - A critique of the geocentric views of Robert A. Sungenis; by Alec MacAndrew (bringyou.to)
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