Flynn: The Mystery of Galileo

Catholic author Mike Flynn writes about Galileo’s famous conflict with the Church:

“An abiding puzzle for many is: why were the physicists and astronomers opposed to Galileo’s Copernicanism?  Most of his supporters were “Renaissance men,” i.e., artists and men of letters who took a dilettante’s interest in science.  There were some physicists who famously refused to look through the newfangled telescope.  This while the Jesuits were making significant telescopic investigations of their own; and were in fact teaching the Copernican calculation methods at the Roman College.

Much of the confusion, imho, comes from looking at history backwards instead of forwards.  Backwards, meaning looking from the present into the past, and so looking with foreknowledge of what came after and often with the unexamined assumptions of the Late Modern Ages.  But one achieves a better understanding by looking at history from its own past, and not allowing knowledge of next year to affect the view of this year.”

Flynn goes on to describe the many competing theories of the solar system, and explains how Newton’s physics, followed by Einstein’s, finally solved the puzzles posed by earlier geocentric and heliocentric models. Read here.

(H/ T Jeff Miller)

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