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  • Writer's picture Peter Kupisz

Galileo's Complex Relationship to Science and Religion

Is Galileo a martyr for the cause of science? And does he represent science’s constant “defeat” of Christianity?

Many people think so and they claim that religion has been hostile to the advancement of science for hundreds of years.

But according to Dr. Peter Harrison (former Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University), the story that so many people have been handed down is a distorted and oversimplified account. 

The truth is more complicated. 

Although there was a religious element to Galileo’s conflict with the Roman Catholic church, many other factors led to that event. For example, in Galileo’s time, the scientific evidence was strongly against his idea that the Earth revolved around the Sun (i.e. heliocentrism). This was mainly because a crucial scientific experiment revealed a noted absence of parallactic displacement of the stars. (See video in the link below for more.) 

Another factor included the effects of the Protestant Reformation which made the Catholic church very wary of anyone who wanted to interpret the Bible on their own. (Which is what Galileo seemed to be doing.) 

And a third factor (of several more) was the manner in which Galileo insulted the Pope in his book called, 𝘋𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘶𝘦 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘸𝘰 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘦𝘧 𝘞𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘚𝘺𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘴.

The idea that Galileo was opposed solely because of religious bigotry, is just false. The truth is more complicated than the distorted story we have been handed down.

Learn More

External Video (below): Galileo: Science vs the Church?



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