Sunday, March 16, 2008

Galileo & The History of Astronomy

Here's a great post by Doc Rampage on the history of astronomy and the History Channel's goof up on the same subject. Most notable was his fair handling of the Galileo controversy:

Galileo's trouble wasn't that he liked Copernicus's theory, but that he claimed that the heliocentric model was not only a good functional model, but that it was physically true. He claimed that the sun actually was at the center of the universe. Although this wasn't really his problem either. As the show said there was no trouble over Galileo's first tract (the show stipulates that this was "surprising", assuming that their viewers share their own prejudices). In fact, Galileo's first tract was well-accepted by many leaders in the church, including the man who would soon become pope. According to the show, the Church only objected to the second tract because Galileo tried to interpret scripture. There is something to this, but an honest account would also mention that Galileo was abrasive and arrogant and had a habit of making powerful enemies. And that the second tract was personally insulting to the new pope, his former supporter. The Church was certainly not innocent in the Galileo affair, but this was not the one-sided courageous open-minded pure researcher against the evil dogmatic church.
(BTW, Doc Rampage is a Protestant) Check out the whole post if you get a chance.

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Monitor de LCD said...
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