Tuesday, June 08, 2021

But what about Galileo?

The Vatican Observatory foundation has a newly redesigned website. There is an ever growing set of resources on the intersection of science and faith (including a ton on the whole Galileo affair), and NPR did an interview did an interview with Guy Consolmagno SJ about it, which included a description of a drive through the gardens at Castelgandolfo and a shout out to the papal cows. I have enjoyed yogurt from those cows’ milk! I caught the last lines of the interview in the car, fun to unexpectedly hear a friend’s voice coming out of the speakers.

Predictably, NPR’s tweet about the piece attracted a number of people saying, “But what about Galileo?”  Which led me to have an exchange of the following sort:

Troll: Galileo. Therefore the Church has always ignored and denigrated scientists.

Me: Aquinas. No.

Troll: One counterexample is not enough.

Me: (List of five Catholic scientists and mathematicians, mostly women.)

Troll: That’s not enough either.

Me: I recorded a 12 part audio series covering a 1000 years of Catholic science. Mostly the Church is an enthusiastic supporter of science and scientists, Galileo notwithstanding.  

Troll: “A completely unverifiable claim based on conjecture and blind faith in the righteousness of your own position…’


I did wonder what claim he thought was unverifiable. That I’d recorded the series? That you can’t take an inventory of Catholic scientists and see how many have had their science suppressed by the Catholic Church? I don’t merely have a conjecture, I have a spreadsheet of data. Also, an audio series

Want to know more about the Galileo affair? The Observatory has a two part series here.

The Thomas Aquinas quote: “The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule…if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.” 

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