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In 1610, with his telescope, Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, and soon afterward he found spots on the sun and the hills and valleys on the surface of the moon. This ability to see where others could not got him into trouble with the Church, whose authorities put ideology ahead of scientific, or empirical discovery. Their theology was deemed correct, and it was for Galileo to conform to it, not for the Church to adopt the science of Galileo or anyone else’s science. Galileo had demonstrable evidence that Copernicus had been correct. And among some of the Aristotelians of the old scholastic school of thought – who forgot Aristotle’s admonition to investigate – came condemnation of the telescope.
In 1611, Galileo visited Rome and exhibited the wonders of the telescope to the pontifical court. He tried to produce scriptural confirmation of the view that the earth went around the sun. The Church warned him that he should limit himself to study of the physical world and to avoid applying his ideas to theology. In 1616 the Church condemned as absurd and heretical the view that the earth moved around the sun, and the Church made expressions of this view forbidden reading. Pope Paul V instructed Galileo to refrain from teaching the doctrine, and Galileo promised to obey.
The Church, meanwhile, had been burning a few at the stake for their heresies. Giordano Bruno had been burned to death in Rome for his Pantheism. Another Pantheist, Lucilio Vanini, was condemned as an atheist and burned at the stake in 1619 in Toulouse, in southern France.
In August, 1632, the Church prohibited further sales of the book. And, in October, Galileo was ordered to appear before the Inquisition in Rome. Galileo arrived in Rome in February 1633 as ordered. He was treated with deference and not jailed. Galileo appeared before ten judges, at the same spot where Bruno had heard his sentence of death. The Inquisition accused Galileo of having violated the ruling by the Church in 1616 that he refrain from “teaching or discussing” Copernicanism in any way. The agreement Galileo had received from Urban VIII in 1624 was described as having been received under false pretenses, that the permission had been an extortion. Galileo recanted his beliefs that the earth moved around the sun. His sentence of imprisonment was changed to banishment. He was ordered to recite once a week for three years the seven Penitential Psalms, and he remained confined to his estate just outside Florence, where he lived until his death in 1642.
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