Have you ever noticed how the ONLY evidence anyone can cite for the alleged hostility of the Catholic Church to science is the Galileo affair? The RCC has been around for nearly 2,000 years. You’d think if its hostility to science was such a big deal, there’s be more evidence, wouldn’t you?
The fact is that, while the Galileo thing was not a shining moment in my church’s history, it was also not the one-sided affair most people seem to think it was. Galileo himself bears a great deal of the blame. And he was never tortured or thrown into prison either. His punishment for flipping the bird at the pope was house arrest in a country house near Florence. He died peacefully in his own bed. Poor baby.
In fact, until he gave up pure science and became obsessed with converting public opinion and trying to force the Roman Catholic hierarchy to espouse his theological ideas, Galileo was celebrated by leaders of the RCC, including the pope. If he’d stuck with science and left theology to the theologians, he would never have gotten into trouble.
But no … he had to become his century’s version of Al Gore (not that Al Gore was ever in his life an actual scientist). And, given how brutally hostile the scientific community is today toward so-called climate deniers and those who espouse Intelligent Design, I’m thinking the RCC in Galileo’s day had NOTHING on today’s secular scientists.
Plus, it’s not like Galileo was right about everything. He believed, for example, that comets were exhalations of the atmosphere and tides were caused by the rotation of the Earth. Ahem. He also never dropped anything off the Tower of Pisa.
Pope (now Saint) John Paul II felt that the conflict between Galileo and the RCC ought never to have occurred, because faith and science, properly understood, can never be at odds. It’s in the Catechism:
The Galileo Affair <- Good article on the topic
How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
The Galileo Affair is covered on pages 67-74.
Galileo’s Leaning Tower of Pisa Experiment <- Never happened
The 35 Lunar Craters Named For Jesuits
Catholic Catechism: Faith and Science