Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Catholic Church Leading the Scientific Charge

In what will surely be remembered as a vital blow for science in the Endless War between religion and reason, the avant-garde Catholic Church, Inc. has decided to re-examine their vicious, life-ruining attacks on Galileo 375 years ago.

The fact that we are on the eve of the 400 year anniversary of his perfection of the telescope--and the UN-designated International Year of Astronomy--is merely convenient, not some sort of P.R. coat-tail riding attempt to recapture blow-with-the-wind skeptics on the fence.

For those of you that are unaware of who Galileo is (I'm looking at you, 95% of America), he was an Italian scientist who dedicated his life to the pursuit of knowledge. We all know how dangerous that can be when you're in the business of keeping people ignorant and under control.

Among many other accomplishments, Galileo perfected the telescope, examined the solar system, and discovered evidence that Copernicus was right--the Earth revolved around the sun. This idea did not sit well with Catholic Church, Inc, who proliferated the Aristotelian view that the Sun revolved around a fixed Earth.

How could the Bible be wrong? The Bible is the word of God himself. If the Bible is wrong in one instance, it might be wrong in others. People might begin to think critically, reason out their world according to simple observation and scientific methods; they might learn to use their eyes, ears, noses, brains.

Thinking critically is the duty of any body with a brain in it. It is also the most dangerous enemy of any organized religion.

So, of course, Catholic Church, Inc. hunted down and vilified Galileo. This is easy to do--too easy--when you are not only a church, but also the ruling government. Nevermind that Galileo (along with Copernicus) was a devout Catholic, good friend of the Pope (til his book came out, anyway), and did not believe his ideas conflicted with the word of God.

In 1633, Galileo was put to trial on charges of heresy. The fact that this could ever be a crime is both amusing and infuriating to me. Unsurprisingly, he lost (evidently, the devil makes for a bad lawyer).

As punishment for his 'crime,' Galileo was forced to recant and condemn the idea that the Earth might revolve around the sun. His book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was banned. He was never allowed to publish again. He spent the last 9 years of his life under house arrest.

Many things have changed since the 1600s, and Catholic Church, Inc. is now hip to the idea that maybe there is some value in claiming that Galileo was right. The Pope paid tribute to him on Sunday, 375 years too late, and, according to the Chicago Tribune, said that "[Galileo] and other scientists had helped the faithful better understand and 'contemplate with gratitude the Lord's works.'"

Tell me more, Chicago Tribune...
"In May, several Vatican officials will participate in an international conference to re-examine the Galileo affair, and top Vatican officials are now saying Galileo should be named the patron of the dialogue between faith reason."

Questions abound.

1. Who is hosting this conference?

2. Who else is attending this conference?

3. Will Matthew McConaughey's character in Contact be there?

4. Why exactly does the world need this conference?

5. Why does the dialogue between faith and reason need a patron?

6. What kind of stupid lip-service is this to progress?

7. So...wait...I couldn't hear you that well...are you saying the Catholic Church was wrong when it condemned Galileo as a heretic?

8. Wouldn't that mean you are admitting the Bible is wrong?

9. Wouldn't that mean other things in it could be wrong?

10. Wouldn't that also mean God cannot be trusted, if the Pope speaks for him and you're saying the Pope was wrong?

Chew on that this Christmas. And let me know what you come up with.


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