The Church vs Science

Thomas

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The infamous case of the Church vs Gallileo leads many to assume that the Church has opposed science and scientific advancement. This is not quite true ... and I thought I'd present a view that might help balance and objectivity.

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Gallileo's conflict with the Church was over the theory of Heliocentrism, the thesis that the earth is not the center of the cosmos, but the sun, and that the earth revolves around the sun, not vice versa. This opposes the Aristotelian Geocentric viewpoint, which ruled the day both in Church circles, and in the Universities.

Heliocentrism had in fact been put forward some hundred years earlier, by Copernicus, with the private publication of some of his ideas in his Commentariolus (Little Commentary). In 1533, a series of lectures was delivered in Rome outlining Copernicus' theory. The lectures were heard by Pope Clement VII and several Catholic cardinals.

On 1 November 1536, Archbishop of Capua Nicholas Schönberg wrote a letter to Copernicus from Rome:
"Some years ago word reached me concerning your proficiency, of which everybody constantly spoke. At that time I began to have a very high regard for you... For I had learned that you had not merely mastered the discoveries of the ancient astronomers uncommonly well but had also formulated a new cosmology. In it you maintain that the earth moves; that the sun occupies the lowest, and thus the central, place in the universe... Therefore with the utmost earnestness I entreat you, most learned sir, unless I inconvenience you, to communicate this discovery of yours to scholars, and at the earliest possible moment to send me your writings on the sphere of the universe together with the tables and whatever else you have that is relevant to this subject..."

Copernicus delayed the publication of his major work until the very end — fear of criticism seemed to be the reason, but as historians of science David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers have written:
"If Copernicus had any genuine fear of publication, it was the reaction of scientists, not clerics, that worried him. Other churchmen before him — Nicole Oresme (a French bishop) in the fourteenth century and Nicolaus Cusanus (a German cardinal) in the fifteenth — had freely discussed the possible motion of the earth, and there was no reason to suppose that the reappearance of this idea in the sixteenth century would cause a religious stir."

Apparently not. Copernicus' book was dedicated to Pope Paul III, and thus the Copernican system advanced unchallenged through the reigns of Clement VII (1523-34), Paul III (1534-49), Julius III (1550-55), Marcellus II (1555), Paul IV (1555-59), Pius IV (1559-65), St. Pius V (1566-72), Gregory XIII (1572-85), Sixtus V (1585-90) to Urban VII (1590).

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Gallileo was an outstanding figure in the history of science but, unfortunately, he knew it, he made no attempt to hide his contempt for his contemporaries and was outspoken in his dismissal of their work. Nevertheless he was not infallible, and made more than one major scientific error — he opposed Kepler's hypothesis that the gravity of the moon is the origin of the tides, and he dismissed the origin of the comets of 1618 as mere optical illusions, opposing to the interpretation of the Jesuit Orazio Grassi that they were real. Another dispute (over priority in the discovery of sunspots) led to a bitter feud with the Jesuit Christoph Scheiner.

His alienation of both Scheiner and Grassi no doubt had some influence on the hostile response of the Jesuit order to his publication of "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" in 1632.

Meanwhile, in academic circles, Gallileo's assault on the Aristotelian system of science was making enemies at every turn. Aristotle was the Master, almost unassailable. Moreover, his bluntness, sarcasm and hostility towards his adversaries was paving the way for his defeat. A groundswell of resistance was rising against his work, and much of what he proposed was still not proven, but theoretical, and some of it was plain wrong. The universities knew that if they could get the Church on side, then their task would be a lot easier. There was much politicing in the corridors of the Vatican, as well as the seats of learning.

In 1616 Galileo went to Rome to try to persuade the Church authorities to support him against the universities, but if that heppened, the universities would raise the cry of heresy against the Church, which would have to rely on Gallileo's untried theories to defend itself aginst Scripture — an impossible position. In the end, Cardinal Bellarmine ordered Gallileo not to "hold or defend" the idea that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still at the centre. The decree did not prevent Galileo from discussing heliocentrism hypothetically — but he needed proof to push his arguments further. Galileo wisely stayed away from the controversy until the election of Pope Urban VIII in 1623, a friend and supporter — the book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was published in 1632, with formal authorization from the Inquisition and papal permission.

Prior to publication Pope Urban VII, aware of the delicacy of the situation, personally asked of Galileo two things:
to give a balanced argument for and against heliocentrism;
and that his own views on the matter be included in Galileo's book.

Galileo failed to do either as well as he might have done.

The book was regarded in scientific circles as an outright attack on the geocentrism of Aristotle, in favour of the Copernican theory.

Worse, rather than present Pope Urban VII's view as requested, Gallileo chose instead to put the Pope's words into the mouth of Simplicimus, the character in the Dialogue defending the geocentric position. Gallileo's character imbued the writing, and in the book Simplicius was hardly a worthwhile opponent of heliocentrism, being often tripped up by his own errors, and made to look a fool. Most historians agree Galileo did not act out of malice, but was guilty of a massive failure of tact.

The Pope did not take the public ridicule lightly, nor the blatant bias ... his good advice had been ignored, thrown in his face even (as surely many were insisting to him) and Galileo had alienated his biggest and most powerful supporter. He was called to Rome to explain himself.

Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633, for advocating a theory that had been around for one hundred years, and supported by popes. He was required to recant his heliocentrism; the idea that the Sun is stationary in the absence of adequate proof was condemned as "formally heretical."

There is no doubt that the Pope, Church officials and the scientific community did not believe in heliocentrism, but heliocentrism itself was never formally or officially condemned by the Catholic Church, rather, "The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures".

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There is no doubt that the Church could and should have acted better, but there is no doubt either that had Gallileo shown a degree more humility towards his friends and charity towards his opponents, or at least more politics and tact, then he would not have been summonsed and comdemned.

The fact also stands that the secular institutions were quite adept at making a case in such a way that the Church must contradict Scripture if she were to defend Gallileo ... evidence of the fact that she did not control the universities nor, therefore, did she control science.

What we can say is that spiritual and secular authorities alike do not take kindly to being ridiculed ... men are men, and creatures of their time and place, under the clothes they wear ...

On the other hand, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464), is considered by many to be a genius ahead of his time. Copernicus, Gallileo, Bruno and Kepler all read him (Kepler called him 'divinely inspired').

Predating Kepler, Cusanus said that no perfect circle can exist in the universe (opposing the Aristotelean model, and also Copernicus' later assumption of circular orbits). He influenced Giordano Bruno by denying the finiteness of the universe and the Earth's exceptional position in it (being not the center of the universe, and in that regard equal in rank with the other stars). His ideas (which proved uncannily accurate) were based almost entirely on his own personal numerological calculations and metaphysics.

Cusanus made important contributions to the field of mathematics, of physics and of optics — he was the first to use concave lenses to correct myopia. His writings were essential for Leibniz's discovery of calculus as well as Cantor's later work on infinity.

Thomas
 
Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633, for advocating a theory that had been around for one hundred years, and supported by popes.
So what the heck right did the church have to try, convict and imprison a scientist...how the heck is which revolves around the other heretical? What scripture did he blaspheme?

The biggest benefit of it all was a basic agreement, the church is responsible for categorizing and defining all we don't know, and the scientist categorize and define what we do know. And what is incredibly interesting is for those that define this as the Church v. Science...the separation is growing and science is winning.

But if you take out the v. eliminate the antogonism (the my way or the highway attitudes) and accentuate the unity (hmmm seems to work everywhere) we find they are coming closer together all the time.
 
So what the heck right did the church have to try, convict and imprison a scientist...how the heck is which revolves around the other heretical? What scripture did he blaspheme?

Some of the Psalms, Chronicles and Ecclesiastes for a start ... It's not that the Church believed the above texts to be materially true — they are metaphysically true, without contradicting heliocentrism — but the Church was going to be backed into a corner by scholars saying, 'if Galileo is right, Scripture is wrong — which is it?'

But if you take out the v. eliminate the antogonism (the my way or the highway attitudes) and accentuate the unity (hmmm seems to work everywhere) we find they are coming closer together all the time.

Agreed. It seems that Galileo was the Richard Dawkins of his day. The trouble is the extremists always make more noise, get more exposure, generate more heat, more column inches, and accentuate the difference, and generally make mischief, if not actual trouble.

The Church said, "just calm down, back off, and proceed with caution — there's a lot of people looking for your head out there." He didn't listen, thinking his fame and the support of a Pope rendered him bulletproof, until it was too late.

Thomas
 
The infamous case of the Church vs Gallileo leads many to assume that the Church has opposed science and scientific advancement. This is not quite true ... and I thought I'd present a view that might help balance and objectivity.

+++

Gallileo's conflict with the Church was over the theory of Heliocentrism, the thesis that the earth is not the center of the cosmos, but the sun, and that the earth revolves around the sun, not vice versa. This opposes the Aristotelian Geocentric viewpoint, which ruled the day both in Church circles, and in the Universities.

Heliocentrism had in fact been put forward some hundred years earlier, by Copernicus, with the private publication of some of his ideas in his Commentariolus (Little Commentary). In 1533, a series of lectures was delivered in Rome outlining Copernicus' theory. The lectures were heard by Pope Clement VII and several Catholic cardinals.

On 1 November 1536, Archbishop of Capua Nicholas Schönberg wrote a letter to Copernicus from Rome:
"Some years ago word reached me concerning your proficiency, of which everybody constantly spoke. At that time I began to have a very high regard for you... For I had learned that you had not merely mastered the discoveries of the ancient astronomers uncommonly well but had also formulated a new cosmology. In it you maintain that the earth moves; that the sun occupies the lowest, and thus the central, place in the universe... Therefore with the utmost earnestness I entreat you, most learned sir, unless I inconvenience you, to communicate this discovery of yours to scholars, and at the earliest possible moment to send me your writings on the sphere of the universe together with the tables and whatever else you have that is relevant to this subject..."

Copernicus delayed the publication of his major work until the very end — fear of criticism seemed to be the reason, but as historians of science David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers have written:
"If Copernicus had any genuine fear of publication, it was the reaction of scientists, not clerics, that worried him. Other churchmen before him — Nicole Oresme (a French bishop) in the fourteenth century and Nicolaus Cusanus (a German cardinal) in the fifteenth — had freely discussed the possible motion of the earth, and there was no reason to suppose that the reappearance of this idea in the sixteenth century would cause a religious stir."

Apparently not. Copernicus' book was dedicated to Pope Paul III, and thus the Copernican system advanced unchallenged through the reigns of Clement VII (1523-34), Paul III (1534-49), Julius III (1550-55), Marcellus II (1555), Paul IV (1555-59), Pius IV (1559-65), St. Pius V (1566-72), Gregory XIII (1572-85), Sixtus V (1585-90) to Urban VII (1590).

+++

Gallileo was an outstanding figure in the history of science but, unfortunately, he knew it, he made no attempt to hide his contempt for his contemporaries and was outspoken in his dismissal of their work. Nevertheless he was not infallible, and made more than one major scientific error — he opposed Kepler's hypothesis that the gravity of the moon is the origin of the tides, and he dismissed the origin of the comets of 1618 as mere optical illusions, opposing to the interpretation of the Jesuit Orazio Grassi that they were real. Another dispute (over priority in the discovery of sunspots) led to a bitter feud with the Jesuit Christoph Scheiner.

His alienation of both Scheiner and Grassi no doubt had some influence on the hostile response of the Jesuit order to his publication of "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" in 1632.

Meanwhile, in academic circles, Gallileo's assault on the Aristotelian system of science was making enemies at every turn. Aristotle was the Master, almost unassailable. Moreover, his bluntness, sarcasm and hostility towards his adversaries was paving the way for his defeat. A groundswell of resistance was rising against his work, and much of what he proposed was still not proven, but theoretical, and some of it was plain wrong. The universities knew that if they could get the Church on side, then their task would be a lot easier. There was much politicing in the corridors of the Vatican, as well as the seats of learning.

In 1616 Galileo went to Rome to try to persuade the Church authorities to support him against the universities, but if that heppened, the universities would raise the cry of heresy against the Church, which would have to rely on Gallileo's untried theories to defend itself aginst Scripture — an impossible position. In the end, Cardinal Bellarmine ordered Gallileo not to "hold or defend" the idea that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still at the centre. The decree did not prevent Galileo from discussing heliocentrism hypothetically — but he needed proof to push his arguments further. Galileo wisely stayed away from the controversy until the election of Pope Urban VIII in 1623, a friend and supporter — the book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was published in 1632, with formal authorization from the Inquisition and papal permission.

Prior to publication Pope Urban VII, aware of the delicacy of the situation, personally asked of Galileo two things:
to give a balanced argument for and against heliocentrism;
and that his own views on the matter be included in Galileo's book.

Galileo failed to do either as well as he might have done.

The book was regarded in scientific circles as an outright attack on the geocentrism of Aristotle, in favour of the Copernican theory.

Worse, rather than present Pope Urban VII's view as requested, Gallileo chose instead to put the Pope's words into the mouth of Simplicimus, the character in the Dialogue defending the geocentric position. Gallileo's character imbued the writing, and in the book Simplicius was hardly a worthwhile opponent of heliocentrism, being often tripped up by his own errors, and made to look a fool. Most historians agree Galileo did not act out of malice, but was guilty of a massive failure of tact.

The Pope did not take the public ridicule lightly, nor the blatant bias ... his good advice had been ignored, thrown in his face even (as surely many were insisting to him) and Galileo had alienated his biggest and most powerful supporter. He was called to Rome to explain himself.

Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633, for advocating a theory that had been around for one hundred years, and supported by popes. He was required to recant his heliocentrism; the idea that the Sun is stationary in the absence of adequate proof was condemned as "formally heretical."

There is no doubt that the Pope, Church officials and the scientific community did not believe in heliocentrism, but heliocentrism itself was never formally or officially condemned by the Catholic Church, rather, "The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures".

+++

There is no doubt that the Church could and should have acted better, but there is no doubt either that had Gallileo shown a degree more humility towards his friends and charity towards his opponents, or at least more politics and tact, then he would not have been summonsed and comdemned.

The fact also stands that the secular institutions were quite adept at making a case in such a way that the Church must contradict Scripture if she were to defend Gallileo ... evidence of the fact that she did not control the universities nor, therefore, did she control science.

What we can say is that spiritual and secular authorities alike do not take kindly to being ridiculed ... men are men, and creatures of their time and place, under the clothes they wear ...

On the other hand, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464), is considered by many to be a genius ahead of his time. Copernicus, Gallileo, Bruno and Kepler all read him (Kepler called him 'divinely inspired').

Predating Kepler, Cusanus said that no perfect circle can exist in the universe (opposing the Aristotelean model, and also Copernicus' later assumption of circular orbits). He influenced Giordano Bruno by denying the finiteness of the universe and the Earth's exceptional position in it (being not the center of the universe, and in that regard equal in rank with the other stars). His ideas (which proved uncannily accurate) were based almost entirely on his own personal numerological calculations and metaphysics.

Cusanus made important contributions to the field of mathematics, of physics and of optics — he was the first to use concave lenses to correct myopia. His writings were essential for Leibniz's discovery of calculus as well as Cantor's later work on infinity.

Thomas

Science and God


Science has developed tremendously and faculty of logic improved a lot. People used to reject the existence of an unimaginable item. They refused God, who is unimaginable. But today in Science, Heisenberg proves the existence of uncertainty or unimaginability owing to the limits of human capability. Today is the right time to introduce the unimaginable concept of God. Buddha kept silent about God because, He did not like to introduce God through some unreal concepts. But, this lead to the misunderstanding of Buddha as an atheist. Shankara introduced God as almost unimaginable by representing God as awareness. Awareness is almost unimaginable to an ordinary person. Mohammed introduced God as power or energy. Awareness is energy only. Thus there is no fundamental difference between these two incarnations. But a common man cannot imagine God through that concept. God is represented by the energetic form as Narayana by Ramanuja or divine Father in heaven by Jesus. The awareness or the energetic form is charged by God and thus there is no lie even if it is considered as God just like the electrified wire considered as current.

But the entire awareness or energy or all the energetic forms are not charged by God. All the wires are not electrified. Angels, who are servants of God, are not God. Indra, an energetic form was not God as proved by Krishna in Bhagavatam. The energetic form is imaginable but not perceivable. It appears only to the mind. It appears to the eyes also, but very rare. Even, if it appears to eyes, the time of appearance is very short and so it is not congenial for preaching the knowledge. Therefore, the materialized form is necessary. The human body is the best suitable form for such purpose. A statue or photo can be also perceivable and God can charge it also. But such photo or statue cannot preach. It can preach also by the super power of God. But it becomes quite unnatural. The unnatural means create tension and fear, which are not good background or conducive for receiving the knowledge. Such form cannot mix with humanity freely to preach the knowledge. Therefore, the concept of Krishna of human incarnation (Manusheem… the Gita) was more stressed by Madhva through Rama and Hanuman. Krishna, a human form declared that He is God based on the electrified wire. The same concept of “God in flesh” was introduced by Jesus, who stated that He and His Father are one and the same.

Suppose you have started a school with first standard and you are not admitting anyone into the next second standard from outside. Then you are teaching only to the first standard, though you are a postgraduate and can teach up to the 10th standard. To start the second standard in that year, majority was not available. You will teach the same students next year in second standard in another full section. Meanwhile if one or two students worthy of second standard approach, you will guide them personally. Same was the situation. Whenever the human incarnation came, it was dealing with the majority as a section and the lesson pertaining to that standard was only taught. He taught a few devotees of high standard personally but that was not carried on. Therefore, today you think that the preaching of God in the human form on that day was only the first standard. Today, majority is available due to the development of logical faculty and so the high standard is opened as a section.
 
where do psalms, eccelesiastes and chronicles express opinions on cosmology?

I don't think they do, and nor is that the point, I think — I'd rather stick with motives, than means.

The idea behind the post was to highlight how the Church has not only supported science, but in some cases pioneered it, in an attempt to counter-balance the common stereotype that is assumed.

Thomas
 
I don't think they do, and nor is that the point, I think — I'd rather stick with motives, than means.

The idea behind the post was to highlight how the Church has not only supported science, but in some cases pioneered it, in an attempt to counter-balance the common stereotype that is assumed.

Thomas


Everywhere the universal perception should be the basis of authority
In that case science is also satisfied because scientists believe this only
Knowledge should be scientific, and then only it can be systematic
Of course the Lord is above the science, which is the logic in this world
But you are not above the science and your ways must be scientific
You must detect the Lord who is above the science through scientific ways only
Science is the nature and through the natural rules only you can catch the Lord
You cannot catch the Lord directly because you are not above the nature
You are a part of the nature and therefore your ways cannot be supernatural.
When it is impossible to adopt the ways above the nature
How can you catch the Lord who is beyond this nature?
Nature is creation and the Lord is the creator
Creator is beyond the creation as we can see in the world itself
The pot maker is different from the pot and therefore stick to nature
Infact owing to this limitation of yourself, the Lord is coming down
He enters the best part of the nature, which is the human being
The word Brahman means the best; human being is the best in the world
Therefore human beings is called Brahman within the boundary of the world
Brahman is greater than the greatest and therefore is the ultimate greatest.
When such Brahman enters the world, He will enter the best part only
When the king enters the town, he enters the best house in the town.
He cannot enter a worst hut, which is below his dignity.
Therefore Brahman can never enter any inert object, which is the lowest
Brahman also will not enter trees birds and animals because
They are higher than the inert object but not the highest.
The advaita scholars are mislead at this juncture because
When it is told that the human being is Brahman, they understood
That the human being is the ultimate highest, but it is not so,
This is the reason why the Lord is called Para Brahman
Para Brahman means greater than Brahman that is greater than the human being
You can experience Him through the human incarnation
Thus you’re experiencing Him through nature and everything is setup
 
I don't think they do, and nor is that the point, I think — I'd rather stick with motives, than means.

The idea behind the post was to highlight how the Church has not only supported science, but in some cases pioneered it, in an attempt to counter-balance the common stereotype that is assumed.

Thomas

It's surprising to me that you should venture to try and revive this "old war horse", mainly for a couple of reasons:

First, when the abbreviated connective "vs." is used it automatically connotes some basal division between the parties and the philosophies at issue. I do not believe that there is one these days, or at the least there shouldn't be, since the Church, through John Paul II's apology, officially attempted to finalize the conflict and to put it to rest quite some time ago. In accordance with your above quote, I have stated many times here that the Church is now an active and dedicated participant in scientific and technological discovery these days. I could name chapter and verse many things that have been done by individuals at just a single U.S. university, Notre Dame, which have consistently and reputably contributed to advanced scientific and technological knowledge; and, I have even personally known one such luminary as a neighbor and friend in my past.

Second, most scholars these days, when looking at this historically important conflict, always emphasize the "language" issue. At the time of Gallileo's important work, all official pronouncements of the Church and its policies, including public disclosures by researchers, were promulgated in Latin, and hence the circulation and understanding of research by the public at large was automatically restricted and slowed since the vast majority of the population was not classically educated and could not read Latin. Gallileo chose to write and publish his work in Italian, which of course could be understood and spread much faster around the populace than publications written in Latin. It was likely perceived, by those in institutional control of the Church and the City States of Italy at the time, that such revolutionary concepts could indeed cause revolutionary activities among the populace of the times if they were allowed to freely circulate.

So I do not understand why these supposed issues of conflict are being raised again, here. The underlying issues in Galileo's era were not about scientific details, precedence, or even factual content, but about the perceived control of the thoughts and beliefs of the populace at that time in history. Of course such a series of scientific revelations and their effects would be much more rapidly disseminated and evaluated for their impacts these days, but then that is the price that we all must pay for being educated, sentient and interconnected beings.

In such instances today, I would also view it as the cost that leaders of social institutions impose these days upon society for not keeping themselves abreast and fully informed regarding scientific and technological advances which of necessity must underly any of their decisions regarding the welfare of ordinary citizens in the present and future.

Thomas, I always enjoy your detailed explanations and analyses, even though they are a bit too traditional for my purposes. You always point out where we are and the nature of the distances we must travel to come together, which , IMHO, was the intent of Christianity in the first place.

All my best to you and yours....flow....:)
 
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