Tag Archives: Galileo

Allenby: Destabilizing the self

Galileo had a major problem. It was not just that the Dominicans were locked in a struggle with the Jesuits over difficult matters of doctrine and intellectual leadership of the Church, and he had gotten himself crosswise in that messy conflict. It was not just that his book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in 1632, was — foolishly, and perhaps arrogantly — written in such a way as to make an enemy out of Pope Urban VIII, who had heretofore been his friend. And it was not just that his argument that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system appeared to violate the clear language of the Bible (e.g., Psalm 104:5, New International Version: “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved”). No, it was that his heliocentric theory violated the clear evidence of the senses. People all around the world, every day, watched the sun move across the sky. They were not blown off the planet by the winds that movement at the rate Galileo claimed would certainly generate. The earth stood solid underneath them, and the sun moved above them; to suggest otherwise was simply nonsense.

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