October 31, 1992: Vacation reverses position on Galileo

More than three and a half centuries after the Vatican accused famed Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei of heresy, Pope John Paul II officially welcomed him back into the fold, dismissing the whole messy episode as a “tragic mutual incomprehension.” At issue in what has become known as the “Galileo affair” was planetary motion. In the early 1600s, nearly all Europeans believed that the universe revolved around Earth. Not only was the idea widely supported by most scientists, but scripture seemed to dictate that it was so. Theologians pointed to biblical passages such as Psalm 104 — which proclaims, “[The Lord] set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved” — as evidence of a geocentric system.
 

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Cassandra Willyard

Willyard is a writer for EARTH.

Friday, October 31, 2008 - 06:00

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