Galileo Galilei was a forward thinking scientist that defied the church and changed history and science forever. He is known now as the Father of Observational Astronomy, The Father of Modern Physics and The Father of Science.
Galileo Galilei was well know for his theory and discovery of heliocentrism and his strong beliefs regarding the works of Copernicus lead to his incarceration and excommunication. He was declared by the church as heretic twice and was sentenced to a life of imprisonment.
As well as bringing together aspects of Christianity and Science, we can also see that his contributions make sense to other religions and traditions such as Buddhism as explained in “Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Physics: Toward a Union of Love and Knowledge” by Vic Mansfield.
Whilst I am a Christian I do like to study other world religions as well for a deeper understanding of God, Science and the world around us, and if you want to do this too a good place to start is this website TeachingsOfTheBuddha.com
Who is Galileo?
Galileo was a scientist and mathematician born in the 16th century in Pisa, Italy. He was born on February 15, 1564. He was the first child of Vincenzo Galilei and Giulia Ammannati-Galilei. His father was a great lutenist, composer and music theorist and musical scientist. Vincenzo taught Galileo music as well involved him in various studies and experimentation on tone, rhythm and pitch. And through his father’s mentorship Galileo appreciated measurements and experimentation.
At the age of 17, Galileo attended University of Pisa to become a doctor and study medicine. However with his studies, he became fascinated with the maths and philosophy. Although his father was against it, Galileo devoted himself in learning math and Aristotelian philosophy.
However in the year 1585, he left school without finishing his degree. He then started teaching private math lessons. During this time, he began studying kinetics and motion. He wrote a book called The Little Balance.
Galileo later applied to become the chairman of mathematics for the University of Bologna but was not accepted. He then discovered the theorem on the center of gravity and applied as the chair of the University of Pisa and was accepted. Later on, he moved to the University of Padua since he was no longer renewed at the University of Pisa because of his views against Aristotelian gravitational theories.
Because of his father’s death, Galileo was tasked to take care of his family and then acquired financial concerns. He was also unable to marry due to monetary reasons. He had a long time relationship with Marina Gamba. They had two daughters and a son.
He continued to study physics and gravity.
Reinventing the Telescope
In the year 1609, Galileo Galilei learned about the telescope. He then sought to remake it by using pieces of glass from an eyeglasses store. So in August 1609, Galileo was able to make an eight-powered telescope after his previous attempts of making just a three powered one. This telescope he presented to Senate of Venetia.
After a few months of hard work, Galileo was able to make a twenty powered telescope in the year 1609. In the year 1610, he discovered the four moons of Jupiter. He named the moons after the Medici family, one of his patrons and students in the past.
The Medici’s named as their official mathematician and philosopher.
Later on he studied Jupiter and it’s movement as well as it’s moons. He also looked into Saturn, Venus and Mercury. He watched stars and noted the movements of these heavenly bodies and then concluded that the geocentric theory of Aristotle to be false. He realized that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus was indeed true.
The Inquisition of Galileo
Due to Galileo’s conversion to the Copernican theory of heliocentricity, he amassed enemies. At one time he wrote a letter to his former student Benedetto Castell. A falsified copy of the said letter came into the laps of priests and bishops of Rome.
This caused much stirrings in the higher ranks of the Church. In another letter to the Duchess Christina, Galileo has said that he never meant to reinterpret the Bible and the scriptures and that he only wanted to discover the universe and science. However a priest wrote about the Copernican heliocentric theory and said that it was not against the Bible. This man was Paolo Antonio Foscarini.
Paolo Antonio Foscarini was later on tried and found by the church guilty of heresy causing more anger from the church to anyone who dares to prove the Copernican theory true. Scientists of that time who believed in heliocentrism or said anything against geocentrism was cast as a herectic, this included Galileo.
Galileo was then forced to renounce his findings. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine ordered Galileo to deny as well as not write about the heliocentric solar system. So he decided to go mum about it. However in the year 1623, Galileo finally decided to write a discourse entitled The Assayer. Here he held his heliocentric beliefs and he tried to state that he does not intend to reject the teachings of the church, but rather prove and explain them.
Later on his patron, the Maffeo Cardinal Barberini became a pope. He was known as Pope Urban VIII. Galileo dedicated his book The Assayer to him and went to visit the pope. He told the pope proofs of the Earth’s movements by siting the tides and their movements.
On the other hand, the pope did not dismiss him but rather told him that he will allow Galileo to publish his work as long as he does state that heliocentrism is just a theory and is not yet a known truth. He then released the book Dialogo Sopra.
Dialogo Sopra and God
Many people believe that Galileo was against God and that he wanted science to be supreme over what seemed to be an archaic book known as the Bible. However, Galileo never did intend to go against God in his book he wrote:
Philosophy is written in this grand book, the universe, which stands continually open to our gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and read the letters in which it is composed. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it.
Galileo only meant to prove God’s supremacy. He also stated that God can make the universe as He wishes. He never meant to reject the power of God, he only wanted to disprove an outdated research and findings of an earlier philosopher and astronomer, Aristotle.
But many of the church leaders where against it. So Pope Urban VIII decided to try Galileo and examine his works. In 1633, he was made to stand in the inquisition and was found guilty. He was then given the punishment of life imprisonment.
In the beginning he stayed in his original home but was later moved into a nice estate in Arcerti. He was made to have house arrest. During this time he continued to study physics. He also wrote a book which he published in the Netherlands. This book was mainly focused on math and kinetics.
In January 8, 1642, Galileo Galilei passed away.
The Truth About Galileo
Many people believe that Galileo was an atheist and thus a natural enemy of the Church. But he was not. He was a devout Catholic who both believed in Christian and a Scientist.
Because of his groundbreaking studies about space, physics, gravity and the maths, Galileo was named the Father of Modern Science. He was able to change the age old belief about geocentrism. He dared to show the truth.
But in truth, Galileo never meant to destroy the Church and make it look bad. He only wanted to show how great the works of God is by enlightening others about the truth of the Universe. In the writings of Melissa Cain Travis about Galileo, we see that he was not a man who wanted to break down the church.
Through careful examination of his life and his work, we can see that he was a man of God. But he was also a man of science.