Five hundred years have passed. Are we getting anywhere?

Galileo was once ordered:

    ... to abandon completely... the opinion that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.

The sentence of the Inquisition was delivered on 22 June 1633. It was in three essential parts:

    Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy", namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to "abjure, curse and detest" those opinions.
    He was sentenced to formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Inquisition. On the following day this was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life.
    His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.

 February, 2014

"...and then, today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) delivered news of a pretty shocking poll result: around one in four Americans (yes, that's 25 percent) are unaware that the Earth orbits the sun."


I Don't Think So

 Five hundred years ago,

Seeking truth, there was a man called Galileo.

True scientist, he observed the planet's motion.

Contrary to the Scriptures, the Sun is at the center, so he found.

And the planets, including Earth, just orbit 'round.

He writes his book, with detailed records, his theory sound.

There should have been a celebration.

Instead, high churchmen bring the Inquisition.

His book is banned and burned; for him, its incarceration.

Has the human made great progress since this sorry exhibition?

The human brain, able for wondrous innovation and invention,

Can be mired in ignorance and old tradition.

The religion engulfs the brain, smothers all original mentation.

Extinguishes all inquiry, blocks the question; it seems the eyes can no longer see.

We have still not shed the moldy and brutal rules of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

Many cling to fables. Noah's Ark? The pregnant Virgin Mary?

Has some religion leader made a contribution, like my Galileo? I don't think so.

Has some religion brought favor to the human spirit, like Beethoven? I don't think so.

Has some religion made a giant leap in understanding? Like Darwin? I don't think so.

Has some religion seen clearly the universal laws of motion? Like Newton? I don't think so.

I am not the Darwin, Newton or the Galileo. But my brain is not on "lock"; this I know.

But if something comes to make me wobble, I will just remember, my Galileo.

I think so.

October31, 1991 : Pope John Paul II , 359 years after the fact, and after 13 years of deliberations, made a feeble apology to Galileo for the inquisition and incarceration for the rest of his life.

The Pope also excused the church hierarchy , for their mistake, saying, "They did their best with the available information at the time".

The sad fact is, that the same ignorance, unreasoning belief in absurdities, the same rigidity, the same tunnel vision that led to Galileo's punishment, and later, to the vilification of Charles Darwin, is still in liberal supply, even in a progressive western nation like America, today.