In 1633, Galileo Galilei was indicted by the Inquisition of the Catholic Church following the heated controversy surrounding his book, Dialogue Concerning the Two World Systems. The following trial ultimately led to his forced abjuration, and he was placed on house arrest for the remaining nine years of his life. Galileo's trial and eventual imprisonment have come to symbolize a pivotal moment in the Scientific Revolution, and more broadly in the intellectual struggle between "responsible men and free thinkers." Certainly his arrest represents a climactic conclusion to a chain of events that was set into motion almost a hundred years earlier by a text Nicolaus Copernicus published, On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres. However, there was a great deal that happened in the decades leading up to his official arrest that is worth noting.
In On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres, Copernicus placed the Sun immobile in the center of the universe, and the planets revolving around it. It was officially ignored by the Church for almost seventy years, but ultimately banned by the Congregation of the Index of Prohibited Books in 1616. Perhaps historian Richard Westfall summed it up best when he wrote, "Although Galileo was not mentioned in the decree of the Congregation of the Index, which made Copernican Astronomy a forbidden topic among faithful Catholics for the following two centuries, the decree was the direct outcome of events of the previous two years that had centered on him." This is sometimes referred to, half-jokingly, as the first trial of Galileo.
Within a year of this decree, Galileo was instructed via an injunction from the Holy Office that "he should relinquish altogether the above opinion that the Sun is the centre of the universe and the Earth moves, and that he should not henceforth hold, teach, or defend it in any way, verbally or in writing." Before the Church declared Copernican heliocentricism to be completely off limits, in 1610 Galileo published Sidereus Nuncius (translations vary; "Starry Messenger" or "Sidereal Message" are the closest). Why exactly is this significant? In several instances before 1610, there is evidence to be found in his private correspondence that Galileo had held Copernican theories for some time, such as in a 1597 letter to Jacopo Mazzoni, an Italian philosopher and a professor in Pisa and in other letters afterwards to Benedetto Castelli, an Italian mathematician and Christian Scheiner, a physicist and astronomer.
However, Galileo's 1610 publication is the first public record of his findings, and it describes the telescopic proof that firmly planted Galileo in Copernicus's camp. In Sidereus Nuncius, Galileo wrote, "we have a particularly strong argument to remove the scruples of those who are willing to examine dispassionately the revolution of the planets about the Sun in the Copernican System." Despite this clear statement, the Church took no official action at this time. Other findings written about in the book were also contradictory to the words of the Bible; Francesco Sizzi argued that the "Medicean Stars," i.e. four of Jupiter's moons, that Galileo had observed with his telescope could not exist because Bible exegesis claimed that the Scripture only denoted seven planets.
Galileo'[s actions may raise questions about his own spirituality among the more secular academics of today. In fact, Galileo was quite religious. This was true of the vast majority of other scientists and philosophers of his time. Galileo never had trouble reconciling his scientific discoveries with his religious beliefs. In another letter written to Benedetto Castelli circa 1614, Galileo claimed that the Copernican model was not actually at odds with the Bible, and had made several different points that helped him to support this conclusion. He first wrote, "although Scripture cannot be mistaken, nonetheless some of its interpreters and expositors can, and in various ways... since Scripture contains many statements which, if taken at their face value, appear to be at variance with the truth." Galileo provided Castelli with specific descriptions of the ways in which the Bible would be blasphemous if taken literally, i.e. God would have hands, feet, and eyes; experience primal, base human emotions; possess flaws like forgetfulness and limited knowledge
Furthermore, Galileo only believed that the Bible could tell him about morality. He did not consider the Bible a reliable source to which to turn for information on science or natural philosophy. Additionally, if interpreted literally, Galileo claimed that the Bible's actual text itself was more in favor of the Copernican school of thought than the Ptolemaic. He claimed that if in Joshua the sun had literally stopped still, the whole calendar of ancient days would have been skewed.
Despite Galileo's claims that his findings were not contrary to the Bible, his contemporaries remained unconvinced. Although Letter To Castelli was not a published work, it was not unusual for such a letter to be distributed among fellow academics at this time. Richard Blackwell wrote, "In March 1615 this letter was denounced as heretical in a letter to the Holy Office by a Dominican Priest, "Lorini, but the complaint was quickly dismissed.Although Lorini had altered this letter, the Holy Office found it startling but not overtly concerning. However, this still created a ripple effect, so to speak, and the Holy Office asked Galileo to send a signed copy of the letter
It is natural to wonder who was actually responsible for making all of these decisions; the pigeon league was malevolent towards Galileo but didn't really hold any authority. The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition, less formally known as the Inquisition, was a tribunal committee comprised of ten cardinals. They worked closely in tandem with the Pope, but the Inquisition and the Pope were separate entities whose choices were not necessarily linked. Though the committee had previously agreed to treat Galileo with "benign consideration," in a February 25th, 1616 meeting of the Inquisition that was presided over by the Pope the collective body agreed that additional measures needed to be taken. There were three levels of Inquisitorial regulation of scholarship at this time, each increasing in severity. The three were admonition (monitum), injunction (praeceptum), and imprisonment (carcere).These measures were to start with an informal, private warning to be verbally delivered to Galileo by Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, or Robert Bellarmine. If ineffective, this verbal notice would be followed by an official injunction ordering Galileo to abandon Copernicanism. Both of these things happened on the next day; it is not clear in what order they happened or if the formal injunction was given because Galileo refused to heed Bellarmine's warning. This represents the culmination of Galileo's so-called "first trial."
1. Galileo had two official court trials
2. Galileo believed that the Bible could only determine right from wrong.
3. Nicolaus Copernicus believed that planets orbit around the sun.
4. There were four levels of regulation of scholarship when Galileo was living and working in Italy.
5. Sidereus Nuncius means “starry messenger.”
6. The word relinquish means to:
7. In what year were Galileo’s findings on heliocentricism published?
8. Which is a level of regulation of scholarship?
9. What is closest to the meaning of the word heretical?
10. What is the meaning of the word malevolent?
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