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Copernicus Reburied As Hero 369

Posted by timothy
from the late-to-the-party dept.
CasualFriday writes "Mikolaj Kopernik, a.k.a. Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose findings were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical, was reburied by Polish priests as a hero on Saturday, nearly 500 years after he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. On Saturday, his remains were blessed with holy water by some of Poland's highest-ranking clerics before an honor guard ceremoniously carried his coffin through the imposing red brick cathedral and lowered it back into the same spot where part of his skull and other bones were found in 2005."
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Copernicus Reburied As Hero

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  • Sure... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:30PM (#32316188)

    Whatever makes them feel comfortable at night.

  • by Sowelu (713889) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:31PM (#32316194)
    Say what you will about it being too little, too late, but I'm glad that they're going back and recognizing past mistakes and trying to do what little they can to right them. Especially so that others can see how they've changed in the meantime. Ideally it'll change the behavior of those still alive today...
  • Typical (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:34PM (#32316210)

    I'm glad the church recognizes the value of bleeding-edge Renaissance science. Maybe next year they will find out the importance of electricity, birth control, or logic.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:34PM (#32316214) Journal
    Sometimes, i just dont understand people's motivation for this sort of thing. Copernicus was a great man, why on earth do we need to dig up his corpse and rebury him to honor his achievements? The mere fact that we discuss him and his work 500 years later is the greatest honor. There are times were circus and spectacle are needed, this is not one of them.
  • Re:Pearly gates. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jeffasselin (566598) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ednilocamroc]> on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:41PM (#32316282) Journal

    Since heaven is a fantasy, then he obviously isn't going there. I vote for option #2.

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:43PM (#32316308) Journal

    Why is it that when I have mod points that I want to use on a thread I always end up commenting instead?

    Anyhow, you may not find it important, but others do. This is the equivalent of saying "we fucked up big time and we are reversing ourselves". Large organizations show real remorse differently than individuals. So, this is a very large positive step.

    Now, why it took 500 years to figure this out is another story altogether.

  • I'm sure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:44PM (#32316318) Journal
    I'm sure he feels just about the same being buried in the new grave as he did about being buried in the old one. He doesn't care at all.
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:48PM (#32316344)

    Copernicus' remains were recovered as part of an archaeological discovery. Would you suggest not reburying them? Or perhaps just tossing them back in the hole and throwing the dirt back in?

  • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:49PM (#32316348) Homepage

    No. Wait. He's dead. He doesn't care at all what you do to his bones.

  • Re:I'm sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:49PM (#32316356) Homepage
    And stupid people keep thinking burials are for the dead, not the living.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:50PM (#32316364)

    They're doing this as a PR stunt to distract people from the mistakes they're making today.

    Copernicus is known in almost every science class today. Who cares what The Church does with whatever-is-left-of-his-body now? 500 years later?

  • Re:I'm sure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by obarthelemy (160321) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:56PM (#32316414)

    I'd rather the church put a bit more effort in making life better for the living

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:57PM (#32316424) Homepage Journal

    embrace of science as being compatible with Biblical belief.

    But not vice versa.

  • Re:Sure... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by The Hatchet (1766306) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:13PM (#32316542)

    Right? its like, well, we may have been completely and totally wrong, if not flat out evil and cruel, but we will rebury you as a hero 500 years from now. And now they do the same thing to modern scientists. Talk about blindness.

  • Re:Sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KDR_11k (778916) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:21PM (#32316612)

    This is the catholic church we're talking about, they've much more progressive than the American sects that oppose science (hence the acceptance of evolution in Europe, there are no debates about what should be taught in schools here).

    I'm aware that the catholic church is extremely conservative but compared to the madness of the American fundamentalists that make the news they're moderates.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:24PM (#32316630)
    More like embrace and extend. And then extinguish.
    RTFA. It's extinguish, embrace, extend.
  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:33PM (#32316686)

    I believe relic worship isn't practiced in any protestant belief, that's a catholic thing. Protestants don't have saints and don't pray to relics, a big part of the reformation was ditching all the "extended universe" canon stuff and going back to what's in the original book.

  • by VTI9600 (1143169) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:38PM (#32316718)

    They're doing this as a PR stunt to distract people from the mistakes they're making today.

    If I designed a device to automatically lower fresh tinfoil hats from the ceiling whenever the one you're wearing now got worn out, I would make a mint.

    Who cares what The Church does with whatever-is-left-of-his-body now? 500 years later?

    Catholics care. They care because they believe in the sacrament of forgiveness. They care because they believe that people have immortal souls that can last more than 500 years after someone's death.

  • by blai (1380673) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:39PM (#32316732)
    You're absolutely right. Not all beliefs are compatible with facts. Facts do not encompass all beliefs. Science is not a religion and religion is not a science. That's like saying a pen is bad because you can't build a house with it. That's not what it's for. It isn't what you think it is, nor is it what you think it isn't even if you are correct.
  • by T Murphy (1054674) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:40PM (#32316750) Journal
    The Catholic church recognizes it has a bad history with reacting to science, so they are trying to make up for that, yet it seems any effort to do so just that brings more complaints. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    By this point, the Catholic church has mostly improved from malicious to benign on the science front (they may contest doing research in certain areas of science on moral grounds, but they don't really try to contradict science anymore). Most of the anti-science creationism and whatnot isn't from the Catholic church.

    Disclaimer: I was raised Catholic and appreciate most of the philosophy but don't care for the religion.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:48PM (#32316832) Journal
    Trouble is, religions have this nasty habit of attempting to make claims that are, in fact, empirically verifiable (or, typically, falsifiable), and then throwing a fit when science calls them on it.

    For sufficiently vacuous definitions of religion, and definitions of science that bend over backwards to be purely descriptive, the two are compatible. However, as an empirical matter, incompatibilities are frequently observed.
  • Re:Sure... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:50PM (#32316848) Journal
    That isn't blindness, it's marketing-caliber evil. Essentially, the corpse is just a pawn in a ghoulish little rebranding exercise. "Catholicism: Not as nutty as our reputation would lead you to expect."

    It's just a bunch of bones, so it isn't a huge deal; but they are using, rather than honoring, him here.
  • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @04:47PM (#32317306) Journal

    Strange that a religion that claims to be so forgiving is also always threatening eternal torment to anyone who disobeys them ... an organization that claims to be the standard bearer of all things good uses the exact same psychological framework as an abusive relationship?

  • by VendettaMF (629699) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @06:15PM (#32317974) Homepage

    So, you're saying that they are now forgiving Copernicus for being right all along?

    Even as religious statements go that's pretty lame.

  • by VendettaMF (629699) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @06:19PM (#32317998) Homepage

    Great Scientist's Remains Further Desecrated in Black Magic Ritual Effort to Distract Citizenry.

  • Big Bang (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @06:48PM (#32318220)

    I'm glad the church recognizes the value of bleeding-edge Renaissance science. Maybe next year they will find out the importance of electricity, birth control, or logic.

    How about the Theory of the Big Bang? It was a Belgian priest who first formalized that.

  • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @07:12PM (#32318406) Homepage

    The Church has a lot more important things to apologize for. In fact, they could skip apologizing for anything for all I care if they would stop doing horrible things now.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @07:30PM (#32318534) Journal

    Anyhow, you may not find it important, but others do. This is the equivalent of saying "we fucked up big time and we are reversing ourselves". Large organizations show real remorse differently than individuals. So, this is a very large positive step.

    In other words, they're just trying to salve their own consciences. This is like the British government apologizing for how they treated Alan Turing. "Oh well, we're so much better now, so please forgive us." On one level it's idiotic because the guy is dead, in Copernicus's case loooong dead, so it does him no good. On another level, it's just a bunch of self-righteous bastards trying to show us how keenly they feel about it.

    If the Church wants to convince me that it isn't still an enemy of science, it can start by stopping spreading bullshit about the effectiveness of condoms. Apologizing for Copernicus is cheap, relatively speaking, because it doesn't mean having to sacrifice a current position. I'd like to see the Church do something in the way of contrition that had the vaguest bit of meaning in the here and now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @07:40PM (#32318600)
    If you count an embryo as a human being, then you should treat every sperm as sacred too. The simple truth is that it's not that clear cut. An embryo starts out as a clump of cells. This clump does not even meet the criteria for life, it does not think, does not feel pain, can't live outside a very alien environment (to us human beings), will not react to stimuli, essentially isn't human at all. At some point it does become human, of course. I'm not sure if anyone at this point can say when exactly that happens. But before it does, there's nothing human about it. It's an incomplete, tiny biological machine, no more human than a hair or nail.
  • by VTI9600 (1143169) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @08:28PM (#32318930)

    Why not? He was one of them. He was employed by them. They were his friends and family. They didn't kill him. He died of natural causes (a stroke in his 70's). They just said that his idea of a heliocentric earth (one of many achievements) was heretical, but well after the fact. And then they admitted that they were wrong. What's not to forgive?

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday May 23, 2010 @08:35PM (#32318978) Homepage Journal

    Christianity, for instance, is pretty thin sauce without immaculate conceptions, Resurrection, or any revelations.

    Actually, it's the "immaculate conscriptions, resurrections, and trans-substantiations that weaken was is basically a decent and pragmatic way to live.

    "Be humble. Love one another. Help people who need help. Treat others like you would like to be treated."

    That's all a really great approach to walking the Earth. It's actually pretty profound when you think about the effect that such an approach to life would have on society.

    But when you add all the silly stuff with the rising up to heaven and bread-to-flesh and burning for eternity that all the importance of that excellent framework gets lost and the whole thing becomes the equivalent of a bad fantasy novel.

    It's a shame to think that we need miracles and fear and mumbo-jumbo just to act right.

    But it's the claims of victimization that make me most sick. It's not enough to believe what you want to believe. You've got to act like you're being persecuted. Like there's a "War on Religion" and the poor evangelicals have to hide in caves so they aren't victimized. Except those caves are multi-million dollar megachurches with state of the art video and sound systems. Except that they own television and radio stations in every market. Except that the government has to subsidize every dollar that they collect by giving tax benefits to the donors. But they're victims of those horrible secularists who from what I can tell, don't care if people want to handle snakes and pass the collection plate, but for the most part just want to be left alone.

    Victims my ass. Religionists started persecuting people as soon as they landed at Plymouth Rock. They couldn't wait to start burning women who looked funny at their husbands because they must be witches if they're not kissing their pious asses. You think for a minute that if they thought they could get away with it they wouldn't start putting homosexuals on a rotisserie? It's only because the secular members of society have drawn a few lines in the sand that they're not stoning women for adultery or having abortions and chopping off heads right here in the good old Christian USA.

  • by Joe Tie. (567096) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @08:47PM (#32319020)
    You know this ? For a fact ?

    Well, now I am. We have his skull out to examine, and yep, no working brain in there. So he's incapable of thinking or caring about anything.
  • by sznupi (719324) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @08:49PM (#32319036) Homepage

    Interestingly, those who are unwilling to accept God will thus be exactly where they wanted to be. A place without God.

    Or, putting it another way, everybody gets the heaven they wish for (faithfull wishing in practise for Borg collective, if early descriptions are to be believed...). Which is quite meaningless.

    The only reason Hell is considered terrible is that we, as humans, are said to constantly be in the presence of God as we live.

    The only reason hell (also in the sense "absence of god" of course / especially...that's something you can experience) is considered terrible is that faithfull are constantly reinforcing in themselves the notion that it is.

    Further, man sees faces, religions, and all those things that are merely skin deep. God sees your soul, your heart, and your entire being. To reject God is more than just to deny his existence. To reject God is to act in a manner that goes absolutely against His will. All who live can return to God. And if you truly, absolutely don't wish to, then you can go to the place you want to, known by us as Hell.

    ...which has a problem when put under logical scrutiny (hey, we are supposedly made in his image! That must include logic, morality, etc.; those are actually things which define us more as humans than just our bodies) - his will was, supposedly, to...put us in such situation in the first place, certainly knowing the consequences, right?
    And don't forget that Abrahamic deity often displays staggeringly amoral, staggeringly...human traits.

  • Re:I'm sure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IICV (652597) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @08:57PM (#32319104)

    Yeah exactly! The living need to be advertised to -

    "Look at us! We're the new Catholic Church, we're no longer pro-heliocentrism! Give us a couple more centuries and we might even stop being anti-feminist* enough to allow contraception** or female priests***!"

    Because that's exactly what it is, unless you think that Copernicus still has a close, living relative somewhere who needs closure after 500 years.

    *not a guarantee
    **not very likely
    ***you're kidding, right?

  • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @09:58PM (#32319426) Homepage

    well I think the Catholic cannon contains the bible(?), and there are enough quotes about hell and eternal torment in that thing to sink a battleship.

    Well, I didn't ask what you (or anyone) think. I ask for a citation. See, in this site, where supposedly the majority of people are of an engineering tendency, the difference should be obvious.

    Also, and due to the supposed engineering nature of /. posters, we should know that a thought is an opinion, and than an opinion is not fact.

    Now that we have cleared that up... you thought wrong. A Bible (of which there are many versions) is not what we refer as Church cannon.

    Also, if you know a bit of what you are trying make an opinion of, different churches and denominations have different interpretations of the Bible (of which as we have already mentioned, has many versions.)

    So, regarding the book which you said has enough ammo to sink a ship, The Catholic church has clear statements (as visible footnotes at the bottom of almost every printed page) that passages are to be interpreted according to the times (following established cannon), and never to be taken literally or as historical facts (which is completely opposite with the bible nuts we have here in the US.)

    Anyone who has seen one should know this. Anyone who has never seen one should shut the hell up and do due diligence in researching the crap they want to criticize... as engineers and scientists do (and unlike many /. posters do.)

    So, back to the question, cite the cannon that threatens people with eternal torment.

  • Re:Sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:08PM (#32319508) Homepage

    Many scientists are responsible for modern theories. The term 'big bang' was actually just bullshit made up by the religious to insult the concept.

    Really, I always thought that Monsignor Georges Lemaître was a established scientist and mathematician, given that he was a not only a researcher but a professor of mathematics, astronomy and physics.

    But I guess it's cool to be a bigot and ignore the man's credentials just because he was in the clergy.

    Back then there weren't the same social issues with hanging or burning someone, at least not to the modern extent.

    Back then when? What the hell are you talking about. We are talking about modern scientists and about how, according to you, the church puts modern scientists down.

    The religious still put science down to the lowest possible level, even saying it has no logical backing because it is not based on the bible.

    Which religious, which religion? Are you that dumb that the only religious movement you know is the fundamentalist, creationist one? The Vatican funds and supports observatories and research centers. I'm not saying it is a perfect organization (shit look at the scandal of pedophilia). But if you can't coherently build your arguments, you don't know what the hell you are talking about.

    The religious still fight every scientific advancement that does not pertain to their interests.

    Which religious groups? Which religions? See, change religious with say, "black", "jew", "homo", "socialist" or whatever aggregation, distinction or nationality, and what you get? A bigot statement. You are just spewing drivel without being able to back it up despite the hard evidence that not just the Catholic church, but many other religious organizations do promote science.

    Get your head out of you ass. You seem to have a beef with the established creationist fundamentalists groups in the US (and so do I btw.). But you are as dumb as they are since you seem to be as bigot and willing to generalize.

    On the one end of the stupidity spectrum we have the bible nuts calling all scientists the work of the devil.

    On the other side, it is you calling all religious groups as anti-science. Congratulations, here is your bigot medal.

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:36PM (#32319684) Homepage

    It's like when in 1992, the pope apologized for putting Galileo on trial. Yeah, the gesture is pretty symbolic and centuries late, but it's at least one way to look like less of an asshat.

    Now, once they stop telling people in Africa that condoms cause AIDS, maybe their apology will actually appear sincere instead of lying through their teeth for the PR.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:40PM (#32319704)

    Probably because he's dead.

  • Re:I'm sure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stuntmonkey (557875) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:15AM (#32320424)

    Exactly. I gave up my Dawkins-like hatred for organized religion somewhere in my 40s. I'd rather attract "victims" (heh heh) to critical thought with sweet science than pour vinegar on someone's religion.

    The people in the history books who brought about social change were mostly all "obnoxious" in their time (Galileo, Rosa Parks, ...). These were people willing to go to the mat for what they believed. Time will tell with Dawkins, but he's certainly brave and I respect that. And there are certainly enough people on the other side willing to sacrifice everything for what they believe.

  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Monday May 24, 2010 @02:31AM (#32320704)

    Great post, but I think organized religion is more a symptom than a cause.

    Humans have a set of fundamental tribal instincts that exist regardless of high-level social structures. It's easy to see where they came from. If you wanted to be chieftain, you had to be dominant; you had to convey unquestionable authority. Intimidation and xenophobia were effective means of keeping everyone united and under your control—even begging you for protection. Strange events and coincidences could be spun as signs of your greatness and wisdom. If your people had some specific histories or beliefs, they could also be twisted into supporting your rule. And if others couldn't understand your reasoning, you could just call it mystic knowledge that only you and chosen believers can comprehend.

    Civilization has come a long way, but if you peel back the veneer of religion and politics you'll find we're still a bunch of savages looking for tribal identity. Whether you call yourself an evangelical Christian pastor, a fundamentalist Imam, or a member of the Communist Party of China, you still use the same tactics of intimidation against free thought and fear of foreigners, infidels, or minorities. You still use propaganda to twist events to your interpretations. You still hardly care about your group's beliefs except to turn them into justifications. And you still create a ruling caste that claims greater enlightenment than the masses.

    Religion's flaw is that it, like race or color or political party or organization, divides people. It delineates "is" and "is not". Whenever you define a group, you invite that chieftain element who prey on tribal instincts. As people look to the chieftain for direction, they care less and less about what their beliefs and values originally meant and begin to only see them as a justification for the same attitude of fear and hatred every chieftain preaches. And the tribe more and more resembles every other, especially the ones its people are told to hate and fear.

    The people sometimes deemed "liberal" or "freethinking" or "secular" are those who suppress that protective tribal instinct, and are less moved by the promises and threats of their chieftain. But freethinkers are a group like any other, and blaming religions or political parties or any other group just feeds the tribal instinct. Many have broken away, only to form their own tribes—and now embody everything they once fought against. Only when the majority of us can leave our tribal thinking behind and stop thinking of every grouping and delineation as a tribal boundary will the chieftains among us lose their voice. Only when we can stop fearing and hating that which makes others different will we be able to understand who anyone really is.

    Ourselves most of all.

  • Re:I'm sure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chardish (529780) <chardish AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:07PM (#32325382) Homepage

    Billions of dollars spent annually on charities, schools, hospitals, homeless shelters, and relief efforts isn't good enough for you?

The world is no nursery. - Sigmund Freud

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