Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters, a blog where we dive into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to be looking further at our study of the relationship between science and religion. We’ll be talking about a case that always comes up when this issue is raised and that is the case of Galileo, which is supposed to show the great conflict between science and religion.

The idea is that Galileo came to the conclusion that the Earth revolved around the sun. The Catholic Church did not like the idea and wanted to silence Galileo since that disagreed supposedly with Scripture. Galileo would not be silenced however and so Galileo was severely punished by the Catholic Church as a result. (Various means of which are described)

Let’s get some reality in however.

Heliocentrism was already well-known. It had been talked about by Copernicus already. The main impetus for it however was not found so much in Scripture as it was in Aristotle, who through the work of Aquinas had become a major influence on the Catholic Church. To disagree with geocentrism was to call Aristotle into question.

Some of that had already been done by Galileo. When he spoke of the sunspots, which was a problem for Aristotle, the Jesuits did look through his telescope and saw that, yes, Galileo was right about sunspots. (This was a problem since the sun was to be seen as perfect in its nature) However, Galileo wanted more.

Galileo was also a trained scientist, but he was not a theologian. In that time, if you were not trained in an area, you did not speak with authority in that area. If only such was applied today where scientists think they can pontificate on philosophy and theology by virtue of being scientists. Granted however, I also think philosophers and theologians should not speak on scientific claims without being trained in the sciences.

Galileo was stepping outside his bounds as he wrote on the Bible and how his new view did not go against Scripture. The Church did not have a problem with the view, but they wanted it to be accepted as a theory until further data could come in. Galileo did not listen however and kept entering the area of theology.

Throughout this time, the Aristotlean scholars outside the church had been having a problem with Galileo. After they had numerous battles together, they finally let Galileo go to the church and make his case before them. The problem was that while today, we know Galileo was right, back then, there was not enough evidence to know such. We could easily say “Today, we know he was right and the Church should have seen that.” Hindsight is 20/20 however and we’ve learned much that Galileo did not know. Every science of the past must be judged not by modern science but by the science of the time.

Galileo’s best argument that he had however was not the best. Galileo pointed to the rising of the tides. There was already an explanation for this however and so Galileo’s was not needed.

Galileo however went further. He wrote a dialogue about a simpleton debating the new theory and unfortunately, he made the bad move of having the simpleton be awfully similar to the Pope. Naturally, the simpleton in the story could not rebut heliocentrism and thus was embarrassed in it.

The Pope wasn’t too happy with this.

This is where the heat was applied and frankly, as I look over the situation, it seems more likely that egos were getting in the way of facts. Both Galileo and the Pope had egos. Galileo wanted instant recognition and the Pope was seeking to advance his own popularity and taking care of someone like Galileo would do that.

Galileo did not suffer greatly however. He simply lived under house arrest of a sorts, but he was paid a pension by the Church till the day of his death and he was freely allowed to continue his observations.

Another point some might make in reference to this is that Geocentrism was a view that had man at the center of the universe and the Church did not want to lose that since God would put man there.

This really isn’t so however. If anything, being in the center was not a good thing. God would be seen as beyond the universe and so one would not want to be stuck in the center. They’d want to go where God was. The modern objection tries to view the Church through the modern lens rather than the lens of its own time.

As for passages that could be used to support Geocentrism, I recommend going to the web site of my friend J.P. Holding at

I also recommend for reading “The Sleepwalkers” by Arthur Koestler, “The Twilight of Atheism” by Alister McGrath, “God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?” by John Lennox, and Dinesh D’Souza’s “What’s So Great About Christianity?”

We shall look at another topic tomorrow.

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