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The relationship of Science and Religion as seen through the Galileo affair

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  1. Introduction - clashes between the church and science.
  2. Galileo Galilei.
    1. Father of modern science.
    2. A man of the church.
  3. Galileo - running afoul of the church.
    1. His second trip to Rome at age 47.
    2. Galileo's third trip - defending himself against accusations.
    3. A challenge to the Eucharist surfaced.
    4. The pope's angry response at undermining the authority of the church.
  4. Pope John Paul II.
  5. Holy Mother Church may be ready to embrace scientific principles and processes.
  6. Conclusion.

It is true that often the church and science have clashed bitterly, leaving both sides--and the rest of the world--with the sense that there will never be a way to compromise. One of the best examples of this clash was in the 17th century, when Galileo crossed the Catholic Church. Although history books teach that it was because of his scientific theories, there may have been more to it than that--he may have just offended the pope, Urban VIII, who had been his friend for many years. Whatever the cause, this clash brought the differences between science and religion into high relief, as well as the stress the Reformation was putting on the Holy Mother Church. Galileo, however, never said that religion was wrong and science was right. Although it would seem to be the way to placate the church, he truly believed it; however, it not only did not help his cause, it made it worse.

[...] Galileo tried to show church leaders that if the Bible was interpreted correctly, spoke through both scripture and the ?book of nature,' that the two could not truly conflict, and that in physical matters authority should rest with reason and sense . principles clearly at odds with the spirit of the Council of Trent? (Lindberg, and Numbers 346; Stark). Instead of challenging scripture itself, he caused dissent about interpreting the Bible and further undermined the position of Holy Mother Church with regard to the Reformation. [...]


[...] Through this friendship and sponsorship of a patron Galileo enjoyed the freedom to pursue emerging theories, including that of a heliocentric system. However, by 1610 Galileo had constructed a telescope designed for viewing the heavens, and the first of his trials would come a mere six years later (Blackwell 24-25). Galileo was 47 by the time he made his second trip to Rome (1611), and was a well-respected professor and scientist. While there, he spoke during visits with church men and scientists alike of his evidence that the earth could rotate around the sun without losing its moon, despite arguments of the times to the contrary, by showing that Jupiter did it with four moons (whether it rotated around the sun or the earth didn't matter) (Shea, and Artigas 23). [...]

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