Friday, December 26, 2008

Galileo Galilei

Vatican Rewrites History On Galileo

Galileo Galilei is going from heretic to hero.

The Vatican is recasting the most famous victim of its Inquisition as a man of faith, just in time for the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope and the U.N.-designated International Year of Astronomy next year.

Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to the Italian astronomer and physicist Sunday, saying he and other scientists had helped the faithful better understand and "contemplate with gratitude the Lord's works."

In May, several Vatican officials will participate in an international conference to re-examine the Galileo affair, and top Vatican officials are now saying Galileo should be named the "patron" of the dialogue between faith and reason.

It's quite a reversal of fortune for Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who made the first complete astronomical telescope and used it to gather evidence that the Earth revolved around the sun. Church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.

The church denounced Galileo's theory as dangerous to the faith, but Galileo defied its warnings. Tried as a heretic in 1633 and forced to recant, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, later changed to house arrest.

The Church has for years been striving to shed its reputation for being hostile to science, in part by producing top-notch research out of its own telescope.

In 1992, Pope John Paul II declared that the ruling against Galileo was an error resulting from "tragic mutual incomprehension."

But that apparently wasn't enough. In January, Benedict canceled a speech at Rome's La Sapienza University after a group of professors, citing the Galileo episode and depicting Benedict as a religious figure opposed to science, argued that he shouldn't speak at a public university.

The Galileo anniversary appears to be giving the Vatican new impetus to put the matter to rest. In doing so, Vatican officials are stressing Galileo's faith as well as his science, to show the two are not mutually exclusive.

At a Vatican conference last month entitled "Science 400 Years after Galileo Galilei," the Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said Galileo was an astronomer, but one who "lovingly cultivated his faith and his profound religious conviction."

"Galileo Galilei was a man of faith who saw nature as a book authored by God," Bertone said.

The head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, which co-sponsored the conference, went further. Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi told Vatican Radio that Galileo "could become for some the ideal patron for a dialogue between science and faith."

He said Galileo's writings offered a "path" to explore how faith and reason were not incompatible.

The Rev. John Padberg, a church historian and the director of the Institute of Jesuit Sources at St. Louis University, said he suspected the Vatican's new emphasis on Galileo's faith came from the pope himself.


Religion, like all institutions of human beings, is political in nature.

That is something that I have to accept, a ‘truth’ I have to figure into the things which I know.

I used to be (and still am) irked by the assumption of a un-errant revealed truth. One which never changes. I dislike the argument that reason and logic can be put aside for this kind of revelation from god, that our intelligence can logically be subservient to what I would call faith without fact. Faith as the absence of reason.

A pet point of itch.

Religion is a politics. A way and means of controlling the way we all think. I am a non-believer now. Maybe I see it in ways that should not be seen… or maybe it is because I am gay and my most ardent critics of what I am are religious figures, in the name of religion.

Last year, Benedict cited homosexuality as one of the dangers confronting the world. It was sometime near Christmas. This year, he repeats the warning. Comparing my act of love with my lover as one of the dangers to the human race.

If 400 years from now, the ‘Church’ accepts my sexuality as a normal part of life, will it make up for the persecution and pain that it has caused for so long?

But that is life, and it is not going to change for my sake. I will have to begin my own journey of faith, wonder where it will lead me in the coming year!

PS, I lifted the article above from the Huffington Post. But it is not the most interesting part of that. Just check out the comments on the post. Guaranteed to make you laugh!


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