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Statue of Galileo Planned for Vatican 333

Posted by Zonk
from the isn't-it-ironic dept.
Reservoir Hill writes "Four hundred years after it put Galileo on trial for heresy the Vatican is to complete its rehabilitation of the scientist by erecting a statue of him inside Vatican walls. The planned statue is to stand in the Vatican gardens near the apartment in which Galileo was incarcerated. He was held there while awaiting trial in 1633 for advocating heliocentrism, the Copernican doctrine that the Earth revolves around the Sun. The move coincides with a series of celebrations in the run-up to next year's 400th anniversary of Galileo's development of the telescope. In January Pope Benedict XVI called off a visit to Sapienza University, Rome, after staff and students accused him of defending the Inquisition's condemnation of Galileo. The Vatican said that the Pope had been misquoted and since the episode, several of the professors have retracted their protest."
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Statue of Galileo Planned for Vatican

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  • cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by someone1234 (830754) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:35AM (#22647728)
    We won't live to see Darwin's statue, but this is a start!
    • Re:cool (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anubis350 (772791) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:46AM (#22647784)
      As far as I know, the catholic church is one of the few christian institutions that doesn't take issue with darwin, they contend something about a moment of divine intervention during evolution or something. Now I'm pretty damn tired right now, so someone else feel free to correct me :-p
      • Re:cool (Score:5, Informative)

        by bunratty (545641) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:58AM (#22647838)
        You are correct. In fact, it seems that the vast majority of Christian institutions, and institutions of other religions, do not take issue with evolution. It's the Discovery Institute [wikipedia.org] who takes issue with the notion of evolution. They've manufactured the idea a controversy over evolution, when no such controversy exists.
        • Re:cool (Score:5, Informative)

          by kestasjk (933987) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:24AM (#22647952) Homepage
          To be specific we're talking about controversy in scientific circles, I think it's safe to say that there's plenty of controversy in the public, unfortunately.
          • Re:cool (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bunratty (545641) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:29AM (#22647992)
            Well, certainly there are lots of people who individually take issue with evolution. There are also lots of people who individually believe they've been abducted by aliens. That doesn't mean there's any controversy over alien abductions.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by beadfulthings (975812)
          They've taken the legitimate scientific discussion, debates, refinements, questions, and testing and have manufactured a "controversy" where none exists. They've also taken the more scientific definition of the word "theory" (as a hypothesis presented for testing, discussion, and refinement) and given it a popular, fuzzy definition as "something that's not necessarily true."

          I think you'll find a lot of Christians out there who are perfectly at home with evolution and other scientific thought because they're
        • Re:cool (Score:5, Funny)

          by Himring (646324) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:36AM (#22648418) Homepage Journal
          You are correct. In fact, it seems that the vast majority of Christian institutions, and institutions of other religions, do not take issue with evolution.

          You must be new here. Everyone who ever posts on /. knows that all Christians, theists and, basically, anyone religious -- or who has ever been religious at all -- is a complete, uneducated moron. No one who has ever believed theistically has ever contributed anything, whatsoever, to science, knowledge, understanding or the promotion of the human race.

          There, I said it. Now do me!

        • by g0dsp33d (849253)

          They've manufactured the idea a controversy over evolution, when no such controversy exists.


          Wouldn't them disagreeing be the definition of a controversy over evolution?
          • by bunratty (545641)
            But the Discovery Institute does not say that they disagree. They say that scientific community disagrees [dissentfromdarwin.org]. That's the controversy they made up. Many people get confused and think there's also a religious controversy, and that many major churches disagree with evolution. That controversy is also made up.
      • Re:cool (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Cossack58 (870191) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @11:12AM (#22649622)
        The Galileo incident had nothing to do w/ evolution, but you are correct that evolution is not inconsistent w/ Church teaching. Many people misunderstand the real issue behind the problem the church had w/ Galileo. It had nothing to do w/ the basic contention that the earth revolved about the sun. Copernius (a Catholic priest) proposed heliocentricity about a 100 years before the Galileo incident. The concept was generally accepted by most educated people (including members of the Church hierarchy) at the time. Galileo strayed from purely scientific examinations to drawing *religious* conclusions based on the contradiction between scripture and scientific fact. The Vatican had asked him to refrain from drawing religious conclusions (the responsibility of the Church) and stick to scientific fact. Galileo agreed, but later fell back to the religious aspects. The Church's position was that it required time to resolve the apparent conflict b/w scripture and science. This is one reason why the Catholic Church does not promote *literal* belief in the bible. The bible's inerrent truth applies to spiritual matters only, not scientific or historical facts. A description of the sun and the rest of the universe revolving around the earth does not detract from the spiritual truth that each human soul is known individually to a loving and caring God.
    • Thinking of a suitable statue for Galileo, I envisage an animated automaton, with the logo "Eppur si muove" on the pedestal.

      But then that's just the surrealist in me :P

    • The Catholic church has no objection with the theory of evolution. Sure, it was a fundamental change of belief during Darwin's time that people needed time to digest, just as the probabilistic nature of quantum physics came as a shock to our Newtonian physics-based thought, but after a thorough hashing of the data, theories and philosophies involved, the Catholic church concluded that the Bible was not to be interpreted literally. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, one of the scientists involved in the research
  • by ccguy (1116865) * on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:39AM (#22647750) Homepage
    Well, if the Church wants to give the impression that they want to fix their mistakes and apologize for them, I think it would be better if they apologized for supporting dictatorships and benefiting from them (as they did in Spain for 40 years, for example).

    They could also get rid of child molesters and stop paying (lots of) money to keep things under wraps, which obviously is not the best way to solve the problem.

    These kind of news really pisses me off. A statue to Galileo 400 years late? WTF?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032)
      I think it would be better if they apologized for supporting dictatorships

      Like the papacy? ;-)

      -jcr
    • Last time I looked the catholic church didn't take votes on This Years Beliefs. What the pope says goes and all the religious sheep believe whatever he says. This applies to almost all religious unfortunately , substitute pope for mullah/rabbi etc
    • by mh1997 (1065630) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:11AM (#22647898)

      These kind of news really pisses me off. A statue to Galileo 400 years late? WTF?
      Well, to be fair, they are erecting a statue of Bob Johnson. Never heard of him, according to prophets, he is going to do something great in 400 years.

      That should pretty much even things out for you.

    • by sayfawa (1099071)
      In the eyes of the lord, 400 years is a blink of an eye, my son.

      :)
    • by mh1997 (1065630) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:25AM (#22647956)

      They could also get rid of child molesters and stop paying (lots of) money to keep things under wraps, which obviously is not the best way to solve the problem.
      They should take their cue from the public school system. According to The New York Post July 30, 2001 - in NYC between January 1999 and June 2001 there were 212 children victims of child molestation by teachers. In 45% of the cases, the sex offender attacked more than one student. In nearly 16% of the cases, school officials delayed or tried to cover up the sexual molestations.

      According to the New York Times - June 12, 1988, there were 135 cases of sexual molestation by priests were reported from 1983 to 1986.

      Time frames are different, but in one city there were more reported child molestations in the public schools than in the catholic church nationwide.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by neumayr (819083)

      They could also get rid of child molesters and stop paying (lots of) money to keep things under wraps, which obviously is not the best way to solve the problem.

      Maybe not, but what are they supposed to do? Publicly admit their Holy Men to be as sin-full as everybody else, sometimes even more so?
      That would have a pretty high chance of causing/accelerating their downfall, and such an organization of course has some interest in selfpreservation.
      I'm not convinced their downfall is a good thing either, as I prefer Christianity/Catholisim over Islamism as the leading world religion. A lot.

      • I prefer Christianity/Catholisim over Islamism as the leading world religion. A lot.
        Why should we choose the lesser evil? I prefer atheism, science and actually using our brains for thinking. And reality, thank you very much.
      • by thegnu (557446)

        Maybe not, but what are they supposed to do? Publicly admit their Holy Men to be as sin-full as everybody else, sometimes even more so?

        They could refuse to accept a convicted child molestor as a priest, then move him to a remote community where people won't know about him, then when he molests several children in the community and the is confronted by the law, obstruct the investigation, and then when he gets out of prison, move him into another position as a priest in Ireland. In another community. With

      • Keep in mind that some forms of Christianity/Judaism are stricter and more oppressive than Islam. And some forms of Islam are more liberal and open than mainstream Christianity/Judaism.

        Historically Islam has been more tolerant of other religions than Christianity ever was, just the current majority of Muslims we hear about follow an interpretation of the Muhammad's Teachings that He would not totally have approved of, just like Christ would have issues with some of the current Church practices done in his
    • by indigosplinter (984239) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:58AM (#22648128)
      Point of order (which may affect how you think about this topic): Galileo was not, as is commonly believed, imprisoned for advocating heliocentrism. He was imprisoned for using a Papal imprimatur on the book where he advocated it. This was equivalent to saying the Church endorsed his position, and it had actually not taken a side in an active scientific debate (ring any bells?). The Pope was a friend of his and Galileo had convinced him to give him the imprimatur on the book, sight unseen, after Galileo had promised the book would be even-handed.

      Whether or not that's something to fix or apologize for... up to you. I'd think of it as more of an anniversary story (400 is a big one) rather than an "apology" story.
      • by Speare (84249)

        He was imprisoned for using a Paypal imprimatur on the book where he advocated it.
        I hate when I glance at a sentence and parse the wrong word.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Dusty00 (1106595)
        In similar news Al Capone was imprisoned for tax evasion. He wasn't imprisoned for nefarious gangster activities as is commonly believed, and in fact the government fully endorsed such activities. </sarcasm>

        Point acknowledged but there's often a big difference between the official and actual reason things are done.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @03:04PM (#22653392) Journal
        It's even funnier than that. And in fact, so funny, that I propose to have Galileo sanctified as patron saint of nerds and OS zealots.

        Well, as you correctly note: the Pope was actually a friend of Galileo's originally and was actually a pretty open minded guy. He actually listened to Galileo, and although he wasn't convinced about this radical departure from all existing science, actually encouraged him to write about it. All the pope did ask for, was that Galileo presents both points of view fairly -- his _and_ the Aristotelian one -- and, basically, explains exactly what his own system explains better than the old one. Which is IMHO very much in line even with the modern scientific method.

        Galileo, however, reacted like your average run-of-the-mill self-righteous nerd. He was incensed that the pope didn't immediately see that he's right. The book he wrote, yes, presented both points of view. However the old system was distorted and ridiculed. But the real faux pas was: he distorted the Pope's words and put them in the mouth of a character called Simplicius. I.e., pretty much "The Stupid". This character was furthermore portrayed as, basically, a stupid simpleton who couldn't grasp even elementary logic, and got repeatedly caught up in his own errors. That was the defender of the Aristotelian view in Galileo's book. (Which incidentally also presented the Pope as the zealot of a dogma where he was actually very much neutral.)

        In a nutshell, Galileo thoroughly flamed the Pope. In public. In some of the most annoying ways possible. If someone did that on Slashdot, he'd end up at -5 Flamebait in 5 minutes flat.

        What followed, well, basically had nothing to do with science-vs-religion. It's at most a case of why totalitarian power is bad. The Pope was an absolute monarch in Rome, and Galileo flamed him on his own turf. People ended up with their head on a spike for _much_ lesser offenses towards secular kings just as well. By contrast, Galileo ended up only with house arrest.

        The accusation of heresy was mostly just a heavy-handed abuse of the law, to make it fall under the Pope's own tribunals' jurisdiction. (Things which weren't of a religious nature, otherwise fell under the jurisdiction of the secular authorities.) But make no mistake, it wasn't about science _or_ heresy. It was simply that the Pope didn't take lightly to heavy-handed public ridicule.

        And if I'm to be a supporter of science in the whole science-vs-religion circus, I'd actually say the opposite: Galileo there actually did science a disservice. He created a conflict with the church where one hadn't existed before. The pope (and popes) before couldn't care less what rotates around what. The pope only became opposed to heliocentrism all of a sudden, so he could prosecute Galileo for the thorough public flaming. The whole incident _created_ an official position and a precedent, where one didn't have to exist, and turned the church from a potential supporter of the whole thing to an (at least implied) enemy.

        So, yeah, I propose Galileo for sanctification. It's about time we too had our patron saint ;)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          "In a nutshell, Galileo thoroughly flamed the Pope. In public. In some of the most annoying ways possible. If someone did that on Slashdot, he'd end up at +5 Insightful in 5 minutes flat."

          There, fixed that for you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Scrameustache (459504)

          All the pope did ask for, was that Galileo presents both points of view fairly -- his _and_ the Aristotelian one -- and, basically, explains exactly what his own system explains better than the old one. Which is IMHO very much in line even with the modern scientific method.

          No, the pope asked that he present both point of view as equal even though one point of view had empirical evidence to support it and the other did not.

          This is not in line with modern science, this is in line with modern "teach the controversy" creationist shenanigans.

      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:48PM (#22657226) Homepage Journal

        Galileo was not, as is commonly believed, imprisoned for advocating heliocentrism.
        In 1633 Galileo Galilei was convicted of grave suspicion of heresy for "following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture," and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.
        Papal Condemnation (Sentence) of Galileo, June 22, 1633 (translated from the Latin), in Giorgio de Santillana, The Crime of Galileo, University of Chicago Press, 1955, pp. 306-10.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Himring (646324)
      Well, if the Church wants to give the impression that they want to fix their mistakes and apologize for them, I think it would be better if they apologized for supporting dictatorships and benefiting from them (as they did in Spain for 40 years, for example).

      It ain't perfect, ain't ever gonna be, was never and won't happen. It's chocked-full of bad history, yet it's done tons of good. Calvin put it best (not "and Hobbs" dude), "The church spans all time from the first man until now, has no walls, canno
    • by zsau (266209)
      Also, Catholics should stop working on science. They advocate nothing but the most unrealistic and unworkable, theology-laden ideas which do not stand up to the evidence. Just two examples of this are Copernicus's heliocentrism and Fr Georges Lemaître's "Big Bang".
    • The Spanish civil war was between fascist dictatorship and communists. The united states and all of Europe were backing the Fascists as the lesser evil. The Communists were slaughtering nuns and priests as it encountered them. Its tough to be neutral when the other side is engaging in genocide against you, but to be fair the Vatican itself never officially took sides.
      • by ccguy (1116865) *
        You must be a troll.

        At the time the war started Spain was a (newly born) democracy. The government at the time was elected by the people.

        Get your facts together instead of repeating what the new fascists are telling you. Learn about the 2nd republic, the constitution that was in place, and if you have the time look into what 40 years of a militar dictatorship caused to the country. Spain is still catching up with the rest of Europe.
    • Well, if the Church wants to give the impression that they want to fix their mistakes and apologize for them, I think it would be better if they apologized for supporting dictatorships and benefiting from them

      Another good one would be to stop claiming that condoms have tiny holes in them that let AIDS through [guardian.co.uk].

  • by psychodelicacy (1170611) <psychodelicacy@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:42AM (#22647756) Homepage
    It's one thing for the Vatican to apologise for its past mistreatment of a figure like Galileo, but erecting a statue of him? I don't know - it seems almost sensationalist. If I'd been tortured and mistreated by an institution, I wouldn't want them to have a statue of me as a tourist attraction! Faith will always be against certain types of scientific enquiry, and I think the Vatican should be honest enough to admit so rather than making an almost-martyr of this one famous figure in order to garner public approval.
    • by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:16AM (#22647916) Homepage

      If I'd been tortured and mistreated by an institution, I wouldn't want them to have a statue of me as a tourist attraction!
      Galileo wasn't tortured.

      He was a personal friend of the then Pope, and got prosecuted not because he divulged Heliocentrism itself. Other Heliocentrists at the time didn't have any problem with the Church, and in fact some of them were funded by the Church itself. He was prosecuted:

      a) Because he insisted that all the details of his theory, such as that, despite Kepler, whose works he read but dismissed, planetary orbits are perfectly circular since circles are "perfect" and ellipses aren't, were absolute certainties, even though he couldn't prove any of them (the first actual proof of any version of Heliocentrism appeared only in the 19th century, 200+ years after Galileo's time);

      b) Because he thought that everyone should accept his hypothesis just because, no matter the lack of proofs;

      c) And because he did make the point clear by adding a character to his book, named "Simpleton", who "defended" Geocentrism by mocking actual speeches of his friend the Pope, what Galileo cluelessly hoped he would find funny, not offensive. Obviously, it didn't happen.

      Considering that at the time people were tortured and burned for doing much less, being held in his own house was a very soft punishment. The Church really wasn't harsh on him. It's only by comparing what Galileo was subjected to with 20th century style freedom of speech that one finds it "evil". But comparing it to what was the standard practices in the 17th century puts things in a very different light.
      • Don't forget that his theory of atomism clashed with the Trent's doctrine of transubstantiation. Redondi thinks the heliocentrism controversy was designed to cover that up, although his position is a bit weak, and smacks of conspiracy.
      • That's true.
        But Galileo did have the threat of being persecuted like Bruno and Copernicus though... And the times were'nt as bad as you make it out to be. It was a time of rapid change, Newton was born at the time of death of Galileo for example..
        • But Galileo did have the threat of being persecuted like Bruno and Copernicus though...

          Copernicus was never persecuted, except if you think that having to part with his common law wife (he was ordered so by his bishop at a late age) because he was a member of the church was a persecution. Otherwise, he died a peaceful death in his bed, holding the first print of his book in his hands.

          Bruno on the other hand was burned at the stake, but not for scientific reasons (he wasn't a scientist at all) but because as a monk he had professed really heretical points of view on the nature of God and ma

      • Citation needed! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:59AM (#22648616)
        It's true Galileo wasn't tortured, but the rest of this seriously misrepresents his thought.

        Galileo basically disproved Aristotelianism - the belief that the Universe was made of 5 elements, that 4 of them comprised the corruptible lower Universe, and that the perfect outer Universe was made of the 5th element. He did this experimentally by pointing a telescope at the supposedly perfect bodies and showing that they had surface features.

        He also identified the orbits of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, thus demonstrating that, in the Universe, small bodies could orbit round a large one. He showed that a system of satellites was not unique.

        He also did valuable early work in dynamics - the cannon ball story is long exploded - by building precise apparatus and timing systems for measuring the movement of balls rolling down slopes. It was not his fault that he did not know that gravitational potential energy was partly converted into rotational kinetic energy as well as translational energy, or that, in the absence of a definition of velocity, he did not get the formulae of motion into their modern forms. It is also not his fault that he got frustrated because the reaction of the people who he tried to demonstrate his evidence to was, in effect, to stick their hands over their ears and scream "can't hear you". It is also not his fault that Kepler was addicted to mystical ideas (such as that the orbits of the planets fit inside a nesting of the Platonic solids), and lacked a modern marthematical framework, which, at the time, greatly obscured the value of what he was doing.

        As for suggesting that Galileo would "cluelessly" hope the Pope would find Simpleton funny, anybody who knows anything about Italian society at that era would know that to be nonsense. This was a society in which men fought to the death over perceived insults. My guess is that Galileo hoped the Pope would see arguments he supported being made by an idiot, and decide to forget about them quietly.

        However, the Inquisition and its mates had far too much invested in Aristotle (and not being made to look ridiculous) and the rest is history.

        Revisiting this before posting I am tempted to add that there is a great deal of misunderstanding of people like Newton, Galileo and Kepler due to anachronism. They did not live in a modern society, they did not have access to modern mathematics, instruments and communications. You cannot write about them without researching their background. But, believe me, if you do it is endlessly fascinating and there is much to learn for our own time. There is a huge amount of published material, in fact these were guys who could write their own books. They are worth reading. Both the Dialogue (Galileo) and at least part of the Principia (Newton) should be on every nerd's reading list, if only because it cures you of the idea that everything exciting in science happened since 1940.

        • Re:Citation needed! (Score:4, Informative)

          by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @01:32PM (#22651902) Homepage

          However, the Inquisition and its mates had far too much invested in Aristotle (and not being made to look ridiculous) and the rest is history.
          This isn't accurate. The Church didn't officially accept Aristotle's system until the 19th century, when it declared Saint Thomas Aquinas' philosophy (which is basically Aristotle plus Christianism) as it's main one. At the time of Galileo and earlier, they preferred Plato, and you have A LOT of Church philosophers, both in the Middle and Modern Ages, trying as hard as they could to either refute Aristotle (Aquinas), or even both Aristotle and Plato. Also, at the time of Aquinas death (which rumors of the time suggested he might have been poisoned), Aristotle's teachings, including his physics, were not only badly looked at by the Church, but even full blown prohibited. It managed to live on just because, as usual, Universities never like to obey authority, and went ahead studying Aristotle anyway. Streisand effect and all, you know.

          As for Galileo's inquisitor, Saint Bellarmine, if you read him you'll see he saying it didn't matter whether Geocentrism or Heliocentrism was the correct explanation, as both were compatible with the Church's teaching and as far as the faith is concerned it doesn't matter either way. The whole issue really was of a different nature, and Aristotle plays almost no role there.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hatta (162192)
        Considering that at the time people were tortured and burned for doing much less, being held in his own house was a very soft punishment. The Church really wasn't harsh on him. It's only by comparing what Galileo was subjected to with 20th century style freedom of speech that one finds it "evil". But comparing it to what was the standard practices in the 17th century puts things in a very different light.

        Evil is as evil does. Just because it was acceptable treatment back then doesn't mean it was ok. Today
  • by buanzo (542591)
    They should just shut up and read Small Gods by Terry Pratchett:

    "Gods on the Discworld exist as long as people believe in them and their power grows as their followers increase. This is a philosophy echoing the real-world politics of the power of religion and is most detailed in the novel Small Gods. If people should cease believing in a particular god (say, if the religion becomes more important than faith) the god begins to fade and, eventually, will "die", becoming little more than a faded wispy echo."
  • by dermond (33903) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:44AM (#22647770)
    while galileo was only imprissoned and threatend with torture, giordano bruno [wikipedia.org] was murdered by the chruch...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Penfold1234 (920794)
    • by ceeam (39911)
      Wow, thanks for the link. Contrary to popular (and my before) belief he was burned _not_ because of his heliocentric views (which had little scientific base) but for his other herecies in theological issues. And he was a priest.

      Not that I approve burning naked people, but then any kind of death penalty is IMO barbaric... Ah. We'll have to wait several more centuries.
  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:07AM (#22647872)
    The proper place for the statue is surely outside the Museum of the History of science at Florence. This ought to be on the itinerary of any self-respecting nerd visiting Italy. They have some of Galileo's own equipment, and a religious relic - a finger bone of the man himself. They have a full size model of his gravitational experiment (no jokes about cannonballs please) and the last time I visited there was an Italian school party there getting an accurate account of his experiments from their enthusiastic woman science teacher. It's even better than the Whipple in Cambridge, which is in some ways a temple to Newton, because you really get the sense of just how exciting and disruptive Galileo's thought actually was. If you read the Dialogue on Two World Systems, you rapidly realise that Galileo was a modern man who today would be on television being incredibly rude and funny about Kansas boards of education. (This is not hype. You only need to read his letters to Kepler to realise that what probably really pissed off the Pope and the Inquisition wasn't that he said they were wrong, but that he made jokes about their ideas.)

    Sadly for Giordano Bruno, he didn't have Galileo's powerful protectors and was a bit too all-out mystical. Roger Bacon just got locked up for years for suggesting that Arab science should be adopted to ease the work of the poor - can't have peasants having free time to think about things. However, the Church at least has a history of adopting ideas once they've been safely mainstream for a few hundred years. Some of the Protestant sects seem intent on actually going backwards, hence the drive towards Bible literalism (which wouldn't have been understood by most of the early Church fathers, but is a peculiar product of 19th century Protestantism separated by an ocean from its roots.)

    • by aepervius (535155)
      "However, the Church at least has a history of adopting ideas once they've been safely mainstream for a few hundred years."

      Let me correct this. What you meant to write is "However, the church has a history of fighting idea up to the bitter end, until they can no more fight them without looking ridiculous because those idea have become mainstream even for their own believer. Until then, everything is fair game".
    • That museum is WAY FRICKIN COOL. I can't remember half the stuff in it, but it's a transportation right back to Renessaince and late Medieval science experiments. It's like walking through an HG Wells novel. I half expected to see the Time Machine from the book somewhere in there. A MUST-see if you go to Florence.
    • We could put it right outside the state capital of Alabama, next to the ten commandments and confederate flag memorials.
  • by Kenrod (188428) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:19AM (#22647928)
    There's another side to the Galileo debate - that he was the victim of a political persecution by fellow scientists who felt Galileo was making fools out of them. It was they, not the church, who put forward the idea that Heliocentrism would lead to sun worship. Galileo kept much of his research secret not because he feared the Church, but because he feared the rebuke of his fellow scientists.

    Read here:

    http://galileo.rice.edu/sci/scheiner.html [rice.edu]

    Also read this excerpt from Columbia Humanities Professor Robert Nisbet:

    http://www.bible-researcher.com/nisbet1.html [bible-researcher.com]

  • My my (Score:4, Funny)

    by KrunZ (247479) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:19AM (#22647930)
    A fully erect Galileo in the Vatican Garden. It sems hard to belive.
  • by jfbilodeau (931293) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:26AM (#22647966) Homepage
    I know the Catholic church has it's dark side in history, however, I'm very pleased that one of the worlds foremost religion is doing such a fantastic job 'respecting' science. Before you blast me with examples of how the Catholic church is blundering (big bang?), remember that they are (as far as I know), the only _major_ Christian church that supports evolution. Furthermore, I do have a lot of respect for the Jesuits and their pursuit of science. Finally, the Vatican may not 100% pro-science, but they seem far from being anti-science.

    Though I'm not Catholic (atheist), I respect the Vatican for trying to understand how science merge with their faith, instead of bending science to their faith. Considering the horror stories that I see and hear about creationist faith (cringe!), this is a breath of fresh air!

    My $0.02 CAD
    • In addendum to the above post, I'd like to point out that the Catholic church represent about half of the Christian population and 1/6th of the world's population (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_church), so I'd like to consider it major, but not exclusive.

      For those that I've offended: s/the only major Christian church/a Christian church/.

      Thanks for pointing out other (mostly European?) churches that consolidate instead of bending science. Forgive my ignorance. Since I live north of what seems to be t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bunratty (545641)

      remember that they are (as far as I know), the only _major_ Christian church that supports evolution
      And what _major_ Christian church opposes evolution?
  • (Sorry folks; just my zippy-the-pinhead moment of the month)

    Erections should really be prohibited inside the Vatican. What on earth is the Catholic church coming to?
  • so... (Score:3, Funny)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:47AM (#22648086) Homepage Journal
    when are we getting a statue of darwin at oral roberts university?

    my money is on the year 2578
  • by CFD339 (795926) <andrewp @ t h e n o r t h.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:48AM (#22648092) Homepage Journal
    ..what comes to mind as one of the most positive is to consider how important this would have been to the man himself, who was devoutly religious and deeply grieved for the inability of the Church at that time to find a way to reconcile its cannon with science. Galileo, like many of the great minds of science, considered the increased and refined understanding brought through through study to be proof of the wonder and complexity of creation rather than an attack on theists.

    Personally, as a non-theist (I don't care for the term atheist as it implies hostility toward religious people), all I can do is respect these great men for their part in helping explain the universe.

    Galileo would have been deeply honored (or so I believe), so I respect what the Church is doing here.
    • Nah, he would probably come up with some off-color snarky comment about how it was too small in certain places or not muscular enough or something. Galileo was a jerk.
    • by renoX (11677)
      [[Galileo would have been deeply honored (or so I believe), so I respect what the Church is doing here.]]

      Bah, the Church is very good for redeeming itself for centuries old 'errors', but when it comes to issue that are present now (say homosexuality for example), they show that they are nearly as backwards as they were before..

      So what the Church is really trying to do is called 'saving face' nothing else, so it doesn't deserve much respect..
  • From the wiki page:

    On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and officially conceded that the Earth was not stationary, as the result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
  • by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:00AM (#22648136)
    I hope Galileo is celebrated with his right arm raised and his middle finger extended, in the time honored way. I'm sure if he were alive that's what he would want.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:10AM (#22648188) Homepage Journal
    What will the inscription on the statue read? Something like

    The Church reserves the right to excommunicate you for 400 years if the facts interfere with Its absolute powers.

    200 years of those facts becoming common knowledge, at the expense of Its absolute powers, notwithstanding.
  • Hopefully (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:48AM (#22648510)
    Hopefully said statue will wear a condom. The Vatican wants to show how far they've come and admit their mistakes. I guess we'll have to wait another 400 years for the tribute to the little rubber thing...
  • Historical Fact:

    Galileo was an asshole who refused to subject his work to peer review. Could not prove his theory at the time but was so egotistical that he claimed it as fact. Was critical and insulting of his contemporary peers dismissing their work as completely baseless. (Not only were some of these contemporaries right on, but their work could have helped substantiate Galileo's.) Then Galileo in fact insulted one of his biggest supporters publicly (who also happened to be both one of the top politica
    • ... and read Koestler's Sleepwalkers !
    • Historical Fact:

      Spiced with polemic I see.

      Galileo was an asshole who refused to subject his work to peer review.

      Science does not require politeness. In fact it is sometimes necessary to be considered rude, particularly when dealing with those whose positions or faiths are threatened by your work.

      As to peer review, since the very concept was in its infancy, or had not yet emerged, it's hard to justify the accusation that Galileo did not subject himself to it. In fact, by publishing at all, I'd argue that he

  • Actually claimed that the sun was the center of the universe, which is what *really* put Galileo in trouble in the first place.
  • Yeah, like this really makes everything up to Galileo -- NOT!
  • by jolyonr (560227)
    Yes, maybe the statue should be made out of iron!

    Jolyon

    (Ok, I'll get my coat)
  • by LionMage (318500) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @04:01PM (#22654220) Homepage
    TFA makes sure to point out the recent controversy regarding the Pope's cancelled visit to a school, and the reasons why the Pope was disinvited. I was rather curious to see for myself what Benedict's comments were that supposedly defended the Church's prosecution of Galileo.

    I managed to find a translation -- the BBC pointed me in the right direction when the news story broke. The translation is pretty difficult reading, because it's full of flowery language and doesn't come right out and give you convenient bullet points. However, here were my take-aways from my reading of this document:
    • The document was written when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, in charge of the Vatican office for what is essentially the modern successor to the Inquisition. Ratzinger was acting as a defender of orthodoxy within the Catholic Church. (That's not an excuse... just trying to provide some context. He was called "God's bulldog" for a reason.)
    • Ratzinger did in fact seem to be saying exactly what his detractors claimed -- that he was justifying the Church's arrest and prosecution of Galileo.
    • The phrase "undue Rationalism" or "unwarranted Rationalism" (or substantially similar) did appear in the document.
    • Ratzinger goes so far as to invoke Relativity to claim that heliocentrism and geocentrism are (paraphrasing) "effectively equal," and that heliocentrism is merely a mathematical convenience.


    Of course, every time Pope Benedict opens his mouth to insert his foot, the Vatican handlers around him are certain to claim that his remarks were taken out of context. It's really hard to see how they can claim that with a straight face this time. I'm willing to acknowledge that the translations available are not perfect, but I can't believe they'd be so bad as to say the opposite of what the source material appears to be saying.

    John Paul II is a tough act to follow.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein

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