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Church Unwilling to Risk Creation of a Neo-Galileo

Galileo_3 The "Beyond lifetime achievement award for causing religious trouble" has just been awarded to Galileo Galilei.  Forget your stem cells, this trooper has topped off a lifetime of conflict with the Catholic church by coming back for one last battle, over three centuries after his death.  No, it's not Zombie Galileo (at least not yet), but a dispute about exhuming his remains for genetic testing.  The Italian Institute and Museum of the History of Science wants to check if the entombed remains suspected be his actually are, and to find the cause of the blindness that afflicted him.

Some might say that this is a little late - what are they going to do, cure him? - but the quest for knowledge is undoubtedly one Galileo would support.

The priest supervising his burial grounds opposes the move, with the not-unreasonable position that the dead should be left in peace.  Or at least, it wouldn't be unreasonable if the church hadn't already exhumed and reburied him once to move him to Santa Croce basilica where he currently resides.  Why did they have to move him?  Because the first time he was laid to rest, they still hated they guy so much that they wouldn't let him be buried with his family.  It takes an awful lot of rage to still be angry at a guy after he's dead - especially considering this came direct from the pope of the time.  They finally relented and moved his remains, adding a monument to his memory - a great act of reconciliation that only took a century and for everyone involved in the original dispute to die.

Also, respect for the dead normally involves respecting the dead's wishes - and if we were to ask Galileo whose side he would be on, science or the church, there isn't much doubt.  He might first ask "Wait a minute, is this the same church that persecuted me, banned my works, imprisoned me in my own home and restricted the reproduction of my lifes work for two centuries?  They're STILL getting in my way?"

Rumours that the scientists intend to genetically reconstruct a neo-Galileo to destroy Intelligent Design with his trademark logic, reason, and titanium endoskeleton are utterly unfounded.

Posted by Luke McKinney.

Related Galaxy post:

Lost Galileo Drawings of Moon Discovered

Galileo remains controversy


This is one of the most funny articles i have red on Daily Galaxy. Galileo would turn over in his grave if he could here from this.

I must add, that science helps alot, but what can it do to the poor Galileo... Leave him be, lets look at his genes or whatever we want from him when we will have a real and strong case to do so.
But thanks anyway for the laught, I needed it on this grey morning.

Does Galileo have any living descendants ? They might be glad that there's no controversy over his writings this time, at least. As to his earthly remains, isn't there a museum or collection that his one of his fingers ? Totally apropos of nothing, I know.

Perhaps Galieo would support having his remains dug up if it would truly add to the body of scientific knowledge, but I fail to see how it would. Knowing exactly why he went blind and whether these bones are really his sounds like meaningless trivia to me.

Since Galileo lived and died a devout Catholic I doubt he would see the issue as a choice between science and the church. More precisely he would see the issue as between science and the imperfect churchmen who lacked the ability to understand it. Of course we shouldn't forget that Galileo himself had imperfect understanding of what the sun was actually the center of and the meaning of the tides. I think the real lesson is there should be very little silencing in the free interplay of ideas - which might have been a hard lesson for a man of whom it was contemporaneously said "wished to castrate the friars".

Galileo was actually a little more religious than Pope Urban, who was almost more of a Platonist than a Catholic. Urban supported the Aristotelian (who was incidentally a pagan) cosmology over the Copernican (a devout Catholic) model.

Several popes before Urban supported the Copernican model, and in fact Copernicus actually dedicated his heliocentric theory to Pope Paul III, who was a huge supporter. Urban too was initially a supporter and a close friend of Galileo's. The problem was everyone assumed circular orbits, and with circular orbits heliocentrism didn't work. It wasn't until they discovered that the orbits were elliptical that it made sense.

One thing that always gets left out of the secularist martyrdom mythology, is that Galileo's reputation as a man of scientific principle standing up to the forces of superstition was created by evangelical protestant groups of the time. They were trying to portray the Catholics as reactionary soothsayers railing against the truths of God's creation, and they succeeded.

If a neo-Galileo was again created in the mold of the old one, he would be an stodgy Catholic, railing against a liberal pope, supported by protestant fundamentalists. He would be advancing an unusual theory from Victorian times, that wouldn't be fully accepted for another couple of hundred years.

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