Galileo and heresy

I’ve been reading up on the Galileo controversy, and how he was accused of heresy due to him stating that his theory was fact (and therefore possibly going against scripture).

However, I thought heresy was only for things that have been defined 100%. One for example, cannot be labeled a heretic, but then have the charge withdrawn after new information appears on the subject.

One could argue that a punishment was deserved because he promoted his theory as fact after the Church told him not to, but I would not call this heresy.

Thoughts?

His assertions were mistakenly thought to be heresy. Truth is never heresy.

The judgments of the prudential order, made by the temporal authority of the Church, are fallible. So the judgment in the case of Galileo was an error, but not an error by the teaching authority.

I should also point out that most scientists during the lives of Copernicus and later Galileo rejected heliocentrism on scientific grounds. Copernicus correctly understood the Sun to be the center of the solar system. But he mistakenly thought that the orbits of the planets were perfectly circular. So his theory could not account for the observed movement and position of the planets. Also, when the earth is on opposite sides of the sun, we see the distant stars from two different angles; this is called stellar parallax. But scientists of that time period could not detect any stellar parallax. No one realized how far away the stars really were.

So the Church considered the fact that most scientists rejected Galileo and Copernicus’ ideas on heliocentrism, and the fact that this theory contradicts the literal interpretation of certain Bible passages. It’s an understandable mistake that the Church made. However, the penalties given to Galileo were too harsh, in my view. A milder approach would have been better.

Part of the problem was that he would not stop pursuing the proof after being ordered to stop. This put him at odds with the people in authority and worried that the uneducated masses would take this as a proof against the Bible and faith generally.

From : plato.stanford.edu/entries/galileo/

In 1616, the same year that Copernicus’ book was placed on the Index of Prohibited Books, Galileo was called before Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, head of the Holy Office of the Inquisition and warned not to defend or teach Copernicanism. During this year Galileo also completed a manuscript, On the Ebb and Flow of the Tides. The argument of this manuscript will turn up 17 years later as day Four of Galileo’s Dialogues concerning the Two Chief World Systems. This argument, about the tides, Galileo believed provided proof of the truth of the Copernican theory.

He provided epicycles to make the orbits non-circular. Very similar to oval shapes. That was the shape that was later used when Kepler came up with his laws of planetary motion. That too was incorrect, but some corrections due to graviational pull was added by Newton. That too was incorrect, and some corrections were made using general (then special) relativity. Who knows what the next correction will give us.

So his theory could not account for the observed movement and position of the planets. Also, when the earth is on opposite sides of the sun, we see the distant stars from two different angles; this is called stellar parallax. But scientists of that time period could not detect any stellar parallax. No one realized how far away the stars really were.

So the Church considered the fact that most scientists rejected Galileo and Copernicus’ ideas on heliocentrism, and the fact that this theory contradicts the literal interpretation of certain Bible passages. It’s an understandable mistake that the Church made. However, the penalties given to Galileo were too harsh, in my view. A milder approach would have been better.

From what I’ve read, the punishment in Protestant lands would have been harsh. Galileo was forced to live in his mansion, with his servants. Having friends and family visit at any time. He was not allowed to teach his theories. Pretty mild.

Also, modern science has shown that almost everything he taught was wrong. (perhaps everything).

And as John Appledoorn writes in at the International Planetarium Society: ips-planetarium.org/?page=a_appledoorn1990

Nor was the Roman Church the main villain in the piece. Galileo’s real enemies were the university professors. They, quite understandably, resented Galileo’s outright rejection of their revered Aristotle, whose concepts constituted almost everything they taught. And they fumed at their inability to answer Galileo’s arguments rationally. For twenty years they debated him and lost. Eventually, when Galileo embraced Copernicism, they were able to enmesh the clerics in their battle.

It will probably involve someone figuring out the three-body problem. There’s a nice plaque waiting in Stockholm for whomever cracks that nut.

Salutations,
As we advance in the sciences, new things will come to play. Plankton found in space. How did it get there (on shuttle) but how did it survive in space. What will it become as a space organism. The findings and the learning goes on.HOW CAN WE GET STEVEN HAWKINS TO BELIEVE IN GOD?
I question his use of time vs vacuum of space to cause the big bang.Time has no pressure gradient to be pulled by a negative pressure exerted by space. TIME has no psi. It just is a item moving forward. CURIOUSER AND CURIOSER.
in Christ’s love
tweedlealice :shrug:

I’m still a bit confused. How could they label him a heretic if he did not speak or write heresy? The only real charge was going against the Church’s wishes of him being silent.

According to Pope John Paul II the church wrongly thought that he was teaching heresy:

Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world’s structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture…

— Pope John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano N. 44 (1264) - November 4, 1992

As far as the 300 years delay, its much like any court where a case has to be brought before it before a change in the ruling is made.

The issue finally came to a head in 1820 when the Master of the Sacred Palace (the Church’s chief censor), Filippo Anfossi, refused to license a book by a Catholic canon, Giuseppe Settele, because it openly treated heliocentrism as a physical fact.[70] Settele appealed to pope Pius VII. After the matter had been reconsidered by the Congregation of the Index and the Holy Office, Anfossi’s decision was overturned.[70] Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus and Galileo’s Dialogue were then subsequently omitted from the next edition of the Index when it appeared in 1835.

Both quotes from: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair

Are doctrines involving the temporal order also fallible - eg some teachings wrt Adam and Eve, the physical virginity of Mary even during birth?

I heard that all of Galileo’s arguments for heliocentrism turned out to be to be wrong. Anyway, the point was that the Church weren’t going to argue about BIble literal-ness with Galileo. They pointed out that he seemed to contradict the Bible, and he apparently showed disrespect of the Bible. So he was considered a heretic for not believing in the Bible.

In the broad sense, heresy is the willful denial of a truth revealed by God. Scripture is the revelation of God, therefore denying a truth contained in Scripture would be heresy in that context.

This is why St. Robert Bellarmine says that if Galileo could demonstrate his theory as true, we would have to say that the Scriptures had been misunderstood on this point, not that they were in error (at the time, Bellarmine didn’t see the evidence as sufficient).

The inerrancy of Scripture covers everything in Scripture (properly understood, of course), but the Church’s infallibility only covers matters of faith (ie those truths that cannot be known from natural reason) and morals (human conduct which affects salvation).

One of my favorite SF writers, Michael Flynn, did a nine-part series about Galileo & his controversies, The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown. If you’re only interested in the trial and events leading to it skip to chapters 7 & 8.

Those teachings have been promulgated by the Magisterium, not a temporal authority.

And as such they are to be given our religious assent.

Whether they are fallible or infallible is irrelevant.

Catholic doctrines are based on Divine Revelation according to the protocol of the visible Catholic Church on earth. (chapter 14, Gospel of John)

I must admit I’m still a bit confused.

Could Galileo be punished for disobeyed the Church’s orders of publishing/promoting his theories? Yes.

Could he be punished for heresy? No, because he never said or taught anything absolutely heretical (which is needed for one to be a heretic).

So then why then did the Church label him a heretic?

I’m not sure if this applies to this case, but at various points in history the term “heresy” has been used in a much broader way than the more precise way it is used these days. For example, in the middle ages, those who committed simony were often called heretics, even though simony does not fit the strict definition we use these days. I think usage was tightened up by the time Galileo had his issues, but it may not have been were we are today.

What did Galileo disagree with Aristotle on??

Does the Church have a right to punish people who disagree with them?

I am talking about civil penalties, like house arrest.

What protestant lands are those? Hobbes and Spinoza lived in protestant lands, and what they openly believed and taught was just as threatening to traditional understandings of the world as what Galileo had to say. Descartes moved to the Netherlands because of the freedom to say what you wanted there. Compare this to Giordano Bruno’s fate - not so mild.

Even if Galileo’s punishment was [uncharacteristically] mild it is still inexcusable. If a robber steals fake jewellery instead of a wallet stuffed with notes, the mildness of the crime does not make it right.

I am not aware of any teaching here. Anyone else?

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