Answering Lita Cosner of Creation dot com on Galileo
Continued from Last vs. CMI on Galileo Case
Wings of God?
I got some feedback on the article on Creation vs Evolution, and here are replies about certain articles:
Adam and Christ must be equally historical - quite correct. And this has been confirmed as Catholic dogma by Popes St Pius X and again Pius XII. Adam's sin must also precede death, this has been noted by Serafim Rose (whom some Orthodox like the ROCOR consider a saint). It was not contradicted by the decisions of Popes St Pius X or Pius XII.
Dr Schirrmacher's TJ article about the Galileo controversy1 was a much needed corrective to the misotheistic propaganda floating around, much of which is parroted by compromising churchians who also miss the real point.2 His conclusion, much supported by the evidence he documented, was that Galileo's first opponents were the scientific establishment of his day, who persuaded the Church that an attack on their favoured Ptolemaic cosmology was an attack on Scripture.
Sheer idiocy. And Schirrmacher is both a compromising churchian and part of our present day's scientific establishment which is not only anti-Ptolemaic (and Ptolemy was at least partly inaccurate) but anti-Geocentric, which is another thing.
One of us (AK) thought that the original decree seemed to disagree, because it said:
'… having held a doctrine that is false and contrary to the divine and Holy Scripture … .'
So he submitted a letter a year ago saying that he was 'perplexed' by the following statement in Schirrmacher's paper:
'The court of Inquisition did not accuse Galileo of teaching against the Bible, but of disobeying a papal decree.'
The Papal decree of 1616 was precisely due to Galileo teaching in fact against the Bible. More especially, for teaching against the consensus of the fathers about the plain text of the Bible, notably about Joshua's long day.
In that first trial, whose verdict Galileo disobeyed, St Robert Bellarmine - I have this from Robert Sungenis - argued that if Galileo's explanation was correct, i e that the earth stopped moving around its axis, the moon would still have continued, and so the Bible would wrongly have stated that the moon stopped as well as the sun.
One good source is The Sun in the Church by the science historian, John Heilbron. In this book, favourably reviewed by the secular science journals New Scientist and Science, he points out:
'Galileo's heresy, according to the standard distinction used by the Holy Office, was "inquisitorial" rather than "theological". This distinction allowed it to proceed against people for disobeying orders or creating scandals, although neither article violated an article defined and promulgated by a pope or general council. …
Since, however, the church had never declared that the Biblical passages implying a moving sun had to be interpreted in favour of a Ptolemaic universe as an article of faith, optimistic commentators … could understand "formally heretical" to mean "provisionally not accepted".'
The distinction did and does exist. The words "formally heretical" imply that Galileo's offense finally was Theological rather than Inquisitorial. In 1633 there was no doubt Galileo was guilty of Inquisitorial Offense. But the verdict states that finally it was Theological offense too. Let us add a consideration about "although neither article violated an article defined and promulgated by a pope or general council" - it had been defined by Trent (the Council that principally condemned Protestantism) that the Holy Writ was to be taken in the sense as exposed by unanimity of the Fathers. Precisely as a Fundamentalist says beforehadn that any Bible passage that is clear is thereby dogma, a Catholic faithful to Trent (as St Robert Bellarmine and Pope Urban VIII were) says that any passage which is clearly interpreted in one precise way by the Church Fathers must continue to be understood that way. Galileo stated in one of the trials (1616 or 1633) that he did not think it applied to scientific matters. His judges clearly disagreed. Also, Pope Urban VIII promulgated the Galileo sentence of 1633 to all Universities.
Pulling in "Ptolemaic" into the question is a mere strawman. Ptolemy was challenged, not just by Heliocentrics but also by the Geocentric Tycho Brahe. Who was so far from being condemned by the Catholic Church that St Robert Bellarmine actually used his arguments about parallax, notably.
Heilbron supports this simply by documenting the general reactions by Galileo's contemporaries and later astronomers, who:
'appreciated that the reference to heresy in connection with Galileo or Copernicus had no general or theological significance.'
This is shown by the fact that, far from opposing astronomical research, the Church supported astronomers and even allowed the cathedrals themselves to be used as solar observatories-hence the subtitle of Heilbron's book. These meridiane were 'reverse sundials', really gigantic pinhole cameras where the sun's image was projected from a hole in a window in the cathedral's lantern onto a meridian line. Analyzing the sun's motion further weakened the Ptolemaic model, yet this research was well supported.
Heilbron presupposes that Geocentrism absolutely equals Ptolemaic model, totally ignoring (either in the Latin sense of not knowing a thing or more probably the English sense of "let's ignore it") that Tycho Brahe was known by St Robert Bellarmine and used to purpose by him in the first process. The two doctrinal condemnations of 1633 steer quite clear of minor points where Ptolemy may well have been and probably was wrong - such as all heavenly bodies revolving in perfect circles or such as no bodies revolving around bodies that in their turn revolve. They are not concerned with whether Galileo was Ptolemaic or not, but whether he was Geocentric or not.
And whether Heilbron's own text does or does not state what contemporaries, what astronomers, how much their optimism can have been disaffaction from the Church and so on and so forth, the quote from him in the article does not.
I do know that Galileo visited in Inquisition's prison (i e house arrest) inspired lots of Protestants (including Newton, but also Royal Court of Denmark, like Rømer) to take up the Heliocentric cause, just to prove Rome wrong, especially were the Inquisition was involved.
And one of Schirrmacher's major sources, Arthur Koestler, showed that only 50 years after Galileo, astronomers of the Jesuit Order, 'the intellectual spearhead of the Catholic Church', taught this theory in China.8
Taught or discussed? A big difference indeed. But if taught was the case, they were quite as much "intellectual spearheadsd of the Church" as Jesuit Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, of unhappy memory, as the intellectual spearhead for Theistic Evolution (with a certain twist about Christ as Point Omega of Evolution!) within the Catholic Church. Or as Georges Lemaître, who brazenly confessed on not finding Genesis literally true. Jesuits were also censured for what they had done in China (mostly for Chinese rites, which denied equality of men and accepted some sense of ancestor worship).
So the fact that the official charge mentioned Scripture should not hide the fact that the Church's real beef with Galileo was disobedience to their authority rather than theological error, despite the official charge.
Protestant calumny of Catholic procedure. The accusation charge was disobedience, and that officially, but behind it was also the suspicion of heresy. What that means in the case, I will get back to.
In summary, Galileo was prosecuted not on religious grounds, but for disobeying papal orders, as well as for other personal and political reasons. Urban was the one who initiated the trial, while the Inquisitors were apparently indifferent. The final decision lacked three signatures and two of those who signed did so under protest. Only one cardinal, the pope's brother, zealously pushed the trial ahead.10 In any case, Galileo was not actually pronounced a heretic-the verdict was 'suspicion of heresy'.
The verdict was that he had to clear himself of such suspicion by abjuring two propositions, one of which is formally heretical, one of which is at least erroneous. The fact that he was not condemned as a heretic is due to his abjuration of those two propositions. What applies is distinctions between sin and sinner and those being very relevant when sinner is willing to amend his ways.
An analogy might help: both of us have pointed out that progressive creationists such as Hugh Ross get their errant views from 'science' (or rather, naturalistic interpretations of data masquerading as science).12,13 But so many of their aggrieved supporters swear black and blue that they derive their deviant views from Scripture, and can cite Ross et al. to 'prove' this. But as we have both shown, all their exegesis is really a rationalization to twist Scripture to fit 'science'.
Hugh Ross - on your saying, Sarfati!, I don't know that man, but supposing that you are not lying about him - is precisely a progressive, who does not accept the Traditional Exegesis of certain verses, that is he does not accept Young Earth Creationism. Which is pretty much what Galileo was accused of in not accepting, not indeed Ptolemaic astronomy, that is a strawman, but the proposition that it is earth that stands still and the sun that moves East to West each day and back and forth North and South each year.
Similarly, none of the verses adduced by the church of the day to support geocentrism actually do so. Rather, they are either equivocal, or from the poetic books without any intention to teach cosmology.
And Sarfati does not directly support that, but refers to one Faulkner.
Well, I do not agree that Pope Urban VIII or St Robert Bellarmine were like Sarfati presents Hugh Ross. For the simple reason that they defended the Traditional reading of the verses. It was Galileo who was condemned for doing what Sarfati accuses Hugh Ross of.
As to Joshua's day being equivocal, Sarfati does not support that here, to say the least. As to Poetical Books having no intention to teach cosmology, it reminds me of people saying Genesis having no intention to teach paleontology. Confer the words of Noel Weeks:
Is there any explicit teaching within the Bible itself that suggests its details are not to be pressed in matters of the physical creation? I know of no such teaching.
Nor is there any explicit such teaching with the Church Fathers. Rather St Augustine says that discrepancy between Bible and Science can only arise from a sloppy reading of the Bible - or from false Science.
[...] Nevertheless it may be argued that the very fact that Genesis 1 exhibits such a structure proves that it is not to be taken literally. Surely, to state this argument is to refute it. [...] Even though there is no logical reason why the presence of a structure should prove that a passage is not to be taken literally, this idea seams to have great emotive appeal. The whole question of structured history needs to be examined more closely. [...] If one looks carefully at these structured histories, one sees that the structure is theological.
And, though there is no need to take presence of theological structure of story as precluding literal truth, it has been taken as one by liberal theologians, including those that infest present day Catholicism. Similarily, there is no need to take poetic structure of Psalms as any kind of warrant of non-factuality.
However, I will - perhaps - look up in order to refute bad scholarship on one question dealt with in Heilbron, J.L., The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1999. Same goes for Schirrmacher's article, and that on its central thesis. Schirrmacher, T., The Galileo affair: history or heroic hagiography, 14(1): 91-100 CEN Tech. J. 2000.
Contrast the attitude of Dr Russell Humphrey's two replies.
I want to encourage him and other creationists to vigorously pursue research into pioneering areas like this. AND That's a tougher job than it appears at fi rst sight, because the 'quantized' redshift papers have not presented the data in that form, but rather as 'power spectra'. That is, they are Fourier analyses of the redshift spacings, not the redshifts themselves.
Well, Heliocentrism uses not the "parallxes" and so on themselves as much as a Heliocentric analysis of them. To see whether Geocentrism can work in any way, on any presupposition, would be an enterprise worthy for creationists, and is, right now, a pioneering area. I am no trained scientist, only a Philologer and Philosopher as well as a Christian. I have given plenty of hints, one of which is that if angels are moving the fixed stars (as Ptolemy would have called them) the parallaxes and so forth would be their own movements, and hence no parallactic view of our movement and hence no indication that we are moving. I have been very thorough about refuting diverse Heliocentric claimed proofs. The best ones are correlation between polar flattening and diverse weights of same mass at poles and at equator. But these do not indicate the poles are flatter because of the earth turning. They could be flatter by divine fiat so as to facilitate ether (yes, if you view Morley-Michelson Geocentrically it does not disprove ether) to move around earth without budging it into rotation.
I find even more hope for Noel Weeks:
Secondly, what is so wrong about a 'naive cosmology'? It is probably as close to the ultimate truth as modern cosmology. If we had not deified modern science we would not be embarrassed by those points in which Biblical thinking diverges from prevailing modern ideas. Certainly Biblical cosmology fits into a different structure of thought from modern cosmology, but it is the validity of that very structure of thought that is at issue. We tend to assume that the assumptions underlying modern physics are unquestionable. If we assume the validity of the structure of physics from any period with its philosophical presuppositions and concomitants we run the risk of accepting a structure which, because of its ultimate origin in a total humanistic philosophy, must clash with a Biblical worldview. What has generally happened is that the structure and method of modern science has been accepted as truth. When the conflict between this and a Biblical view has been appreciated, an attempt has been made to give the Biblical view a validity in some sort of restricted religious sphere. The basic question is whether our interpretation of the Bible is to be determined by the Bible itself or by some other authority. Once science has been set up as an autonomous authority it inevitably tends to determine the way in which we interpret the Bible. From the point of view of this discussion the outside authority may be Newton or Hoyle just as well as Darwin or Kant. The issue involved is still the same.
Certainly Biblical cosmology fits into a different structure of thought from modern cosmology, but it is the validity of that very structure of thought that is at issue.
First of all, Biblical Cosmology is clearly Geostatic and so opposed to Heliocentrism. But it is not clearly flat earth, which is a pretty rough ride to have avoided for merely human authors of those times and areas.
There is nothing particularly Christian about Aristotelian cosmology. In fact there are points at which it cannot be reconciled with the Bible. How did the church find itself in the position of defending Aristotelian cosmology against the new Copernican cosmology? It found itself in that position because it accepted the argument of Aquinas that the Biblical texts which contradicted Aristotle should not be pressed as the Bible was not written in technical philosophical language. Moses spoke the language of his day. This is not to say that the church should have accepted readily the new astronomy. In its neo-Pythagorean mysticism it was no more Biblical than Aristotle was.
But since then I suppose another Heliocentrism than Galileo's, demoted to only relative, has become without conflict with the Christian Revelation?
Now, St Thomas quoted one Church Father about explanation of why the crystalline spheres taken for granted by Aristotle are not mentioned in the Bible. The explanation was not that the Bible authors like Moses spoke the language of their days. The explanation should be set in context with its problem:
Ia P, Q 70 The work of adornment, as regards the fourth day
Article 1. Whether the lights ought to have been produced on the fourth day?
Objection 3. Further, the lights are fixed in the firmament, as plants are fixed in the earth. For, the Scripture says: "He set them in the firmament." But plants are described as produced when the earth, to which they are attached, received its form. The lights, therefore, should have been produced at the same time as the firmament, that is to say, on the second day. [...] Objection 5. Further, as astronomers say, there are many stars larger than the moon. Therefore the sun and the moon alone are not correctly described as the "two great lights." [...] Reply to Objection 3. According to Ptolemy the heavenly luminaries are not fixed in the spheres, but have their own movement distinct from the movement of the spheres. Wherefore Chrysostom says (Hom. vi in Gen.) that He is said to have set them in the firmament, not because He fixed them there immovably, but because He bade them to be there, even as He placed man in Paradise, to be there. In the opinion of Aristotle, however, the stars are fixed in their orbits, and in reality have no other movement but that of the spheres; and yet our senses perceive the movement of the luminaries and not that of the spheres (De Coel. ii, text. 43). But Moses describes what is obvious to sense, out of condescension to popular ignorance, as we have already said (67, 4; 68, 3). The objection, however, falls to the ground if we regard the firmament made on the second day as having a natural distinction from that in which the stars are placed, even though the distinction is not apparent to the senses, the testimony of which Moses follows, as stated above (De Coel. ii, text. 43). For although to the senses there appears but one firmament; if we admit a higher and a lower firmament, the lower will be that which was made on the second day, and on the fourth the stars were fixed in the higher firmament. [...] Reply to Objection 5. As Chrysostom says, the two lights are called great, not so much with regard to their dimensions as to their influence and power. For though the stars be of greater bulk than the moon, yet the influence of the moon is more perceptible to the senses in this lower world. Moreover, as far as the senses are concerned, its apparent size is greater.
So, the Bible text follows what appears to the senses when it tells things.
Can that be said about the words of a miracle maker when he orders things? I mean, to take quite another example, bad spirits are not apparent to the senses. What appeared at Gadara was Jesus talking to a man whose voice (or from whom an extraordinary voice?) said "I am called legion, because we are many" and so forth. The demons driven out did not appear to the senses. The swine troop that went off to drown itself did. Evil spirits were not sense lacunae in our knowledge of the world, but very clearly something either known or supposed to be known ddespite not appearing to the senses. Now, back to the parallel which does concern astronomy:
Can we assume that Joshua when ordering sun and moon to stand still was thinking of how bystanders would take his words? Or can we safely assume God left him in ignorance of the exact astronomical implication of what he had ordered?
That is what St Robert Bellarmine objected to about Galileo on the long day of Joshua. That is the kind of reason why Galileo's take was seen as incompatible precisely with Holy Writ.
Noel Weeks mentioned the three storey cosmology of the Ancient Middle east. It seems to imply a flat earth, among other things. So I recently checked the Astronomical Book of the Book of Henoch, because once years ago in a conversation I was told that Henoch was resolutely flat earth. It was not.
If the year had become longer by c. 1,25 days after the Flood, the one real problem with Henoch is off. Probably St Augustine's speculation about Henoch being old enough (pre-Mosaic) to have been corrupted and therefore not being canon-worthy have something to do with a clear understanding of Julian Calendar (which took 365,25 days to be the exact lenth of the year, b t w). Now, if the gates are not directly said to be attached to earth (though a Geocentric might suppose so), they may have been set up for the angel or angels of the sun to give them a sense of the right direction and taken away afterwards. This does not in any way mean the sun is not much bigger than the earth. There are angelic beings who are strong enough to shake the earth, if God had allowed it, and who are strong enough to guide the planets, including the hottest one.
That follows pretty clearly from Baruch chapter 3. And if you Protestants do not believe it to be Canon, we Catholics do. We read it at Holy Saturday, because its last verse speaks of Incarnation - which is pretty sure to be the reason why the Jews rejected it as spurious at their council of Jamnia. But a few verses earlier God calls the stars by name and they answer. Which mere dead balls of burning gas cannot.
Remains then the three storey cosmology. That there is Netherworld below Earth or its surface and Heaven of the Blessed above it (with stars and sun and moon in between) is pretty much conclusive to a Christian of any age. Whether the universe is box formed, Hell and Heaven having roughly same size and Earth disc in between, or whether the Universe is round, Hell within Earth and Heaven outside it on all sides, and Heaven thus much larger than Hell, that does not affect the three storey part. And the second alternative cannot be disproven from observation, unless Geocentrism is first disproven. Unless stars are supposed to be more or less evenly spread in all directions rather than having if not one sphere to be attached to (parallax and proper movement seem to rule out pretty firmly a firm attachment to one place only) at least a kind of sphere within which they move even as it moves daily around earth, unless you make that cosmological leap into the doctrine of 1930 and onward, the basic three storey structure of reality is not really challenged. Even on the physical plane.
Port Royal Library
St Martina's day