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Mathematics Pre-May Seminar. 12 February 2007. Michelangelo’s Tomb in Firenze’s Basilica of Santa Croce. Galileo’s Tomb, Santa Croce. Michelangelo’s Giudizio Universale (Last Judgment), Cappella Sistina, Vatican. Detail from Giudizio Universale in the Cappella Sistina.

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four copernican heresies
Four Copernican Heresies
  • Heliocentrism
  • Heliostatism
  • Geokineticism
  • Nongeocentrism
  • The doctrine that the sun is motionless and at the center of the universe, and the earth moves around it is both false and contrary to scripture.
books banned by the index 1616
Books banned by the Index, 1616
  • Copernicus: De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres)
  • Diego de Zuñiga: Commentary on Job
  • Paolo A. Foscarini: Letter on the Pythagorean Option
historical timeline
Historical Timeline
  • 1517 Luther announces his 95 Theses
  • 1546 Council of Trent
  • 1564 Michelangelo Buonarroti dies, Galileo Galilei is born
  • 1600 Giordano Bruno burned at the stake
  • 1616 Index bans Copernican books
  • 1633 Galileo found guilty of “vehement suspicion of heresy” by Roman Inquisition
  • 1634 Sister Maria Celeste dies
  • 1642 Galileo dies
  • 1664 Descartes’ works placed on the Index
  • 1737 Galileo reburied in Santa Croce
historical timeline continued
Historical Timeline Continued
  • 1792 Girolamo Tiraboschi lectures that Galileo was too aggressive, zealous, rash
  • 1810 Napoleon transfers the Vatican archives to France
  • 1814 Vatican archives returned to Rome, but not Galileo’s trial proceedings
  • 1822 Inquisition rules that Catholics can accept earth’s motion as a fact
  • 1835 Galileo and Copernicus removed from Index
  • 1867-1878 Trial proceedings gradually published
  • 1992 Vatican “settles” Galileo affair
key issues in the galileo affair
Key Issues in the Galileo Affair
  • Scientific question of the reality of the earth’s motion
  • Theological question of Scripture’s authority in natural philosophy
  • Methodological question of the earth’s motion
  • Historical question of whether Copernicanism was declared heretical or just contrary to Scripture
  • Question of whether Simplicio in the Dialogo was a mockery of Pope Urban VIII
quote french jesuit honore fabri 1661
Quote, French Jesuit Honore Fabri, 1661

It has been more than once asked of your leaders whether they had a demonstration for asserting the motion of the earth. They have never affirmed they had. Therefore, nothing hinders that the Church may understand those Scriptural passages that speak of this matter in a literal sense, and declare that they should be so understood as long as the contrary is not evinced by any demonstration; if perhaps it should be found out by you (which I hardly believe it will), in this case the Church will not at all scruple to declare that those passages are to be understood in a figurative and improper sense, according to that of the poet’s “the land and the cities slip backward.

quote adrien auzout in response to fabri 1665
Quote, Adrien Auzout in response to Fabri, 1665

It does not appear at all that God has wanted to teach us anything in particular about nature; on the contrary, almost all who have wanted to find the principles of their philosophy in Scripture have fallen into untenable errors; in it we should only look for the maxims of religion and morality, and not for the principles of physics or astronomy, which are as useless for the other life as they are useful for this one.

quote maurice a finocchiaro 2005
Quote, Maurice A. Finocchiaro (2005)

A related compromise was the suggestion that either Galileo’s biblical critics should be prevented from using scriptural passages against his physical theories, or he should be allowed to answer them; but that it was quite improper to allow them free rein while silencing him and his supporters. (page 312)

galileo bibliography
Galileo Bibliography
  • Maurice A. Finocchiaro, Retrying Galileo, 1633-1992 (2005)
  • Dava Sobel, Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love (2000)
  • Peter Machamer, editor, The Cambridge Companion to Galileo (1998)
  • Galileo Project, Rice University (1995)