Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The myth of Galileo

Joe Carter relates the history of the conflict between Galileo and the Catholic Church, demonstrating that the story most people know is a simplistic morality tale not born out by the actual events. He writes:
I find that the real moral is not so much in the story itself but in the fact that the story even needs to be told in the first place. While I first heard the story of Galileo in elementary school, it wasn't until long, long after I had graduated from college that I finally learned the truth. No doubt some people are just now hearing about it for the first time. How is that possible?

I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that for centuries people like Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Carl Sagan, Bertolt Brecht, and the Indigo Girls have been passing on the myth. I don't think any of them were intentionally lying. In fact, I doubt any of them ever bothered to examine the facts themselves. They didn't need to. The story fit what they already believed - that science and religion were natural enemies - and that was all they needed to know. [the story]

the evangelical outpost: The Myth of Galileo: A Story With A (Mostly) Valuable Lesson

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