Augustine, Galileo and natural science
Hi everyone,

I have read a bit on the subject of this thread and I want to make my contribution. First of all, I have a deep respect and admiration for all scientific endeavor. In fact, I encourage it especially since it has brought to mankind many material and human benefits.

Nonetheless, as a Christian, I am bound to evaluate every human activity and endeavor in the light of the Gospel of Christ, and in the light of the Faith. It is a matter a common knowledge among the educated minds of our generation, and even for many well-meaning Catholics, that the Catholic Church erred in her response and treatment of the heliocentric theory. Or rather, for many faithful Catholics, the Galileo affair showed that the Church has no competence whatever in the domain of natural science. The consequence of the Galileo affair, of course, is the continued separation between theology and philosophy, and in the end, between religion and science. Since that time, science has played a more influential role in society, while the Church has been not only receding in her influence in society, but also by making continuous concessions to the advances, discoveries and theories of natural science. Today, it cannot be denied that a very large portion of humanity has accepted natural science as the final authority on knowledge and on life.

And this, as I conceive, is the problem. I am convinced that the eclipse of the Church and her assault with heretical teachings did not begin at the time of the Enlightenment, nor did it begin at the time of the Reformation. Rather, the eclipse of the Church started with the Copernican Revolution and the Galileo affair. Since that time, the Church has lost her revered status as the supreme Teacher of the world, and at the same time, the Sacred Scriptures lost their eminent place as the source of all Truth, whether they be spiritual, moral, historical, and yes, even scientific.

The beginning of the modern heresy in truth, did not begin with the divorce between the State and the Church that was carried out during the French Revolution, which was the violent but unexpected consequence of the Enlightenment. Nor did the modern heresy begin with the Reformation which brought the overthrow of the divine authority of the Church and of its right to authoritatively set down the meaning of Sacred Scripture. No, the Revolution started when science began divesting itself from the accepted account of the origins of Creation. Galileo was not the first to propose the heliocentric theory. However, he is among the first decidedly modern minds. In his interpretation of Scripture, Galileo claimed that the Holy Writ used merely poetic language as pertains to natural phenomena, and that, therefore, it contained no real revelation on the natural world. But Galileo went even further. The heliocentric theory, which, till that time, had been used as a useful tool for astronomical calculation, was claimed by Galileo to constitute a real representation of reality.

St. Robert Bellarmine who was a Cardinal at the time, understood what was at stake, which was the innerrancy of Scripture and the authority of the Greek and Roman Fathers of the Faith. Indeed, the Catholic Faith was at stake. In a subtle manner, Galileo had put into doubt an account of creation - that of the central position and of the immobility of the earth - that had been accepted by both pagans and Christians for centuries. Most of all, Galileo put into question an interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures - that of the centrality of the earth in the cosmos - that had been the consensus of the Fathers for centuries. Galileo's heliocentric proposition were examined by the Congregation of the Index in 1616. The proposition that the sun was the center of the world, and immovable was condemned as "formally heretical", while the proposition that the earth is not the center of the world, is not immovable and with a diurnal motion, was condemned as "erroneous in the faith". Faced with the condemnation, of his theories, Galileo, like a true modernist, publicly recanted them, - while still officiously holding them - instead of like Giordano Bruno, who held fast to his errors and was in the end, burned at the stake.

Judging from history, it is certain that the consequences of the Galileo affair have been very harmful for the Church. Since that time, the Scriptures have lost their place as a source of natural and physical truth. The result of this, of course, is seen in the modern efforts to offer an alternative to the Christian world view, as seen in the theory of evolution. In addition, if the inerrancy of Scripture has been put into question, at the same time, the divine authority of the Church has been attacked. This, of course, is one of the significant consequences of the Enlightenment and of the French Revolution. From that period on, some voices have been raised doubting the supreme infallibity of the Pontiff and of the bishops in union with him. On the other hand, natural science has come to form more and more the intellects and consciences of human individuals. In current times, human science has become atheistic, not recognizing at all any authority above itself. Overall, if Christian culture is to be revived, the whole Catholic world view is to be recovered starting of course, with the restitution of the eminent place of Sacred Scripture as the source of truth in the moral, spiritual, natural and historical spheres.

To end, I am putting for your reading, two articles from a Catholic author called Solange Strong Hertz concerning Galileo affair and its impact on the world, the Church and its teaching:

The Scientific Illusion

What's up?

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Re: Augustine, Galileo and natural science - by steph_86 - 11-22-2011, 10:20 PM

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