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Religion vs. Science – The Classic Struggle

The War on Galileo

Galileo Galilei formulated the basic law of falling bodies, which he verified by careful measurements. He constructed a telescope with which he studied lunar craters, and discovered four moons revolving around Jupiter. The Italian astronomer, mathematician, and physicist was educated in Florence, in Northern Italy, with which Arab Sicily had shared the study of such science as there was in his day. But Florence preferred literature to physics, so Galileo moved to Padua to teach to a multitude of approving students there. He later taught at Pisa and studied the laws of falling bodies, disproving Aristotle's view that the rate of a falling object is proportional to its weight

It was a Dutch optician's fitting of lenses to either end of a tube that led Galileo to improve on, and experiment with, the first crude telescope. With this instrument he applied his mastery of mathematics to a study of astronomy. It was because of his discoveries, and his failure to keep silent about them, that the 67-years-dead Copernicus was brought back into public discussion.

The subsequent "war on Galileo," that is, the attacks of the Roman Catholic Church on the science of Galileo (to a lesser extent the upstart Protestant Church vied with the Roman Church in in these attacks) is told excellently in White's Warfare of Science With Theology. It is retold here to put to rest some late apologetics and misinformation. The conflict is an apt illustration of the inescapable irreconcilability of theological doctrine and science. It also shows how bullies destroy benefactors.

How the conflict began

The interests of the Roman Church in the 17th century lay in unquestioning acceptance of the official, biblical cosmology, as expanded and bolstered by that of Ptolemy. The compulsory belief, the "safe science," of the day was in a stationary earth (Psalm 104:5), overseen by fixed stars, and around which revolved the moon and the sun (in fixed "spheres"). All the observable heavenly bodies were perfect and immutable, and their number could be no more than seven. The Bible said it; the Church taught it; that ended it.

Unsettling this settled dogma came Galileo and his telescope, a mere decade after Giordano Bruno (1548?-1600) was murdered by the Church in the flames of Campo dei’ Fiori - for unorthodox opinions. In his Sidereus Nuncius or Starry Messenger (1610) Galileo announced his support for the Copernican view of the universe: the earth moving around the sun, and Jupiter circled by moons.

Blasphemy! cried the clerics. Not at all, replied the scientist. Look here and see for yourselves. It is impious to look, said some; these so-called moons are delusions of the devil, said others. Jesuit Father Christoph Clavius ingeniously argued that "to see satellites of Jupiter men had to make an instrument which would create them." Such a discovery contradicted the prescribed number of bodies in the heavens. Galileo counter-argued that a figurative interpretation of the biblical statements would save his observations from the taint of heresy. He wrote as much to his friends, Father Benedetto Castelli and the Grand-Duchess Christina - but to no avail.

Father Tomasso Caccini, a Dominican, preached a sermon against him grounded in a tasteless pun (after Acts 1:11) on the scientist's name: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven?." Galileo had said, "[The universe] cannot be read until we have learnt the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word," (Opere Il Saggiatore) so, not content with reviling astronomers, Caccini assured his flock that "geometry is of the devil" and that "mathematicians should be banished as the author of all heresies."

The Archbishop of Florence called his discoveries unscriptural. A Father Lacazre claimed Galileo's researches cast "suspicion on the doctrine of the incarnation." The word in clerical circles was that such a cosmology "upsets the whole basis of theology. If the earth is a planet, and only one among several planets, it cannot be that any such great things have been done especially for it as the great doctrine teaches. If there are other planets, since God makes nothing in vain, they must be inhabited; but how can their inhabitants be descended from Adam? How can they trace back their origin to Noah's Ark? How can they be redeemed by the Saviour?" And, not surprisingly, one cleric, the Dominican Father Nicolò Lorini called Galileo's discoveries "atheistic."

How Galileo was condemned

But the epithets "infidel" and "atheist" have been hurled against a distinguished list of benefactors of humankind. Among them are Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, John Locke, and John Milton. Incredibly and ironically, these four possess otherwise unblemished - and unquestionable - Christian credentials!

The Inquisition smelled sulphur and a gallery of clerics set the dogs of the Holy Office onto Galileo's trail. They were encouraged by the Pope, who declared Sidereus Nuncius a heresy. The Archbishop of Pisa conspired to entrap Galileo, first by attempting to flatter Castelli and the Grand Duchess into giving up Galileo's letters - those which recorded his "heretical" interpretation of Scripture. At the same time he was writing condemnatory letters about the scientist to the Inquisition. When Galileo's friends declined to betray him, the clerical defenders of the "safe science" joined forces to silence him. At the center of the religious plot to halt the advance of science were two popes: Paul V (1605-1621) and Urban VIII (1623-1644). Though their personalities could not have been more different, the effect of their treatment of Galileo differed little in the end. But one more character entered the drama: Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), a Jesuit (after 1930, a saint), and arguably the greatest theologian the Christian world has known. He was the chief exponent of bending observed truth to the form of revealed truth. He was employed by the Inquisition to cross-examine Galileo on his written statements.

Galileo was summoned to Rome in 1615, by Pope Paul V, to appear before the Inquisition. He was fifty-one years old. In Rome he was confronted by Bellarmine: two giants in their respective fields matching wits. But the playing field was far from level. Bellarmine had in hand the opinion of the Holy Office on Galileo's propositions:

The first proposition, that the sun is the center and does not revolve about the earth, is foolish, absurd, false in theology, and heretical, because expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.

The second proposition, that the earth is not the center but revolves about the sun, is absurd, false in philosophy, and, from a theological point of view at least, opposed to the true faith.

Bellarmine also had in hand a letter from the Pope requiring that Galileo to be confined in the dungeons of the Inquisition if he refused to renounce the two propositions. In a sense, the cardinal was well armed: all he lacked was any knowledge whatsoever about science. Bellarmine then compelled Galileo, "in the name of His Holiness the Pope and the whole Congregation of the Holy Office, to relinquish altogether the opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth moves, nor henceforth to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing."

Nothing could have been clearer - or more brutal and illogical. Bellarmine, the Pope, and the Holy Office were asking a man to disbelieve the evidence of his own senses and to believe what he knew in his heart to be wrong. Faced with a choice between life as a hypocrite and torture (followed, perhaps, by death), most of us, too, would acquiesce. It was 26 February 1616. Galileo promised to obey.

Some say Galileo did not agree, based on the fact that the documents pertaining to this confrontation were not revealed until eighteen years later, at his second inquest in Rome, and may have been falsified. At that later time, Bellarmine was not alive to authenticate the documents produced, but it is doubtful that Galileo would have been allowed to leave Rome in 1616 without some such agreement.

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum or Index of Prohibited Books - books no Catholic was permitted to read under pain of excommunication and damnation (very real threats at the time) - was administered by the Congregation of the Index. They decreed, within the next two weeks, that: "the doctrine of the double motion of the earth about its axis and about the sun is false, and entirely contrary to Holy Scripture," and therefore must be neither advocated nor taught. Further, the astronomical work of Copernicus was placed in the Index donec corrigatur ("until corrected"), together with "all writings which affirm the motion of the earth." That would seem to be an implicit inclusion of Galileo's book, and also of certain works by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630).

It is argued that the Index did not commit papal infallibility to a judgment of science; that is, the Index was not the Church speaking ex cathedra. The articles in both Catholic Encyclopedias (1909 and 1967) tie themselves in knots to wiggle out of this error. The doctrine of infallibility was declared in 1870, only forty years before the original Catholic Encyclopedia was published, and was, at the time, carefully crafted to exonerate the Church from all guilt in matters such as this. (McCabe, who spoke with some of the principals, notes that the record of the debate over this new doctrine shows considerable opposition to it for this very reason.)

But this sophistry is easily demolished. First, the very reason for the existence of the Index (which was abolished only in the 1960s) was to provide spiritual guidance for Catholics. That is clearly the teaching authority of the Church. Without the moral force and authority of the Pope "exercising the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians" behind it, the Index is just another list. Second, the Index, as printed, is preceded by a papal bull outlining the purpose of the list and the penalties for failing to avoid the works listed therein. The bull is signed by the Pope, who commands that, if the denounced works are either taught or read, the violator may be punished in this world and further tormented in the next. Nothing could be clearer.

Galileo stayed at Rome for a time, trying to make allies to science among the Roman clergy, but eventually retreated to Florence and returned to his studies and researches. At least the Inquisition and the Pope did not compel him to quit his researches. He simply was forbidden to publish his results!

Until 1623. In that year, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, a fellow Florentine of noble birth, was made Pope. He was seated in Rome under the name of Urban VIII. Galileo, at last, saw a chance to cultivate a sympathetic audience for his ideas. But when it became known that Galileo still held to the Copernican system, he was commanded again to Rome. The Pope himself tried to sway the scientist with theological argument (it was too late for Bellarmine's help). At the same time, cowardly attacks on Galileo's ideas appeared in books and sermons - their authors knowing full well that Galileo was forbidden to defend himself. For example, Father Orazio Grassi, a Jesuit and rival, charged that his ideas lead "to a denial of the Real Presence in the Eucharist." Then, one of the unkindest cuts of all (but not the last), his salary as a professor at the University of Pisa was stopped.

The attacks continued. In 1631 Father Melchior Inchofer, a Jesuit, said, "The opinion of the earth's motion is of all heresies the most abominable, the most pernicious, the most scandalous; the immovability of the earth is thrice sacred; argument against the immortality of the soul, the existence of God, and the incarnation, should be tolerated sooner than an argument to prove that the earth moves." Father Fromundus, a theologian of Antwerp, chimed in that "sacred Scripture fights against the Copernicans." To prove his points he cited the passages in Psalms for the sun's motion (104:5), and Ecclesiastes for the earth's stability (1:4-5). As final proof of the falsity of the Copernican system, Fromundus reasoned that, if true, "the wind would constantly blow from the east" and that "buildings and the earth itself would fly off with such a rapid motion that men would have to be provided with claws like cats to enable them to hold fast to the earth's surface." (Jean Bodin [1530-96] the French political theorist, and the English author Sir Thomas Browne [1605-82], also considered the theory unscriptural.) Galileo still was forbidden to defend himself against these craven attacks.

But the scientist was negotiating to do so, all the same. By about 1624 Galileo had composed an answer to his critics in the form of a dialog - one voice for the Ptolemaic view, and two for the Copernican view of the heavens - and volunteered to submit to any condition Pope Urban wished, so long as he would allow it to be published. It took eight years of negotiations, but Galileo succeeded - the Dialogo Sopra i Due Massimi Sistemi del Mondo (Dialogue on the Two Principal Systems of the World) - was published in 1632. The condition was that a preface, written under the direction of a Father Ricciardi, and claiming all but that the Copernican view was a flight of fancy, be added to the publication. Galileo signed it; the book was a popular success; the preface was seen for the foolishness it was, and ignored. And Galileo made at least one prescient statement in the text:

Take note, theologians, that in your desire to make matters of faith out of propositions relating to the fixity of sun and earth you run the risk of eventually having to condemn as heretics those who would declare the earth to stand still and the sun to change position - eventually, I say, at such a time as it might be proved that the earth moves and the sun stands still.

The Dominicans, the Jesuits, and much of the other clergy, began to suspect that they had been flim-flammed. The Pope took the controversy personally: the arguments against the Copernican system, in the voice of the simple-minded character Simplicio, were his own - and were bested. Not only that, because the Dialogo was written in Italian, the language of the masses, not in Latin, the language of the elite, he, Prince Barberini, had been bested before all the world! Now the war on Galileo transcended the merely spiritual and became personal.

Much has been written in an attempt to exonerate Urban in his actions against Galileo. It is claimed that Urban was sympathetic to the advance of science, friendly to Galileo, and tried as much as was in his power to soften his inevitable confrontation with the Inquisition. On the other hand, it is argued that Galileo himself was rude, argumentative, and arrogant. But such words are wasted because the historical record is clear.

Urban was a cultural philistine. He was hated by the Romans, both for his conceitedness and for his scandalous nepotism. He spent more to fatten his relatives with sinecures than on the Thirty Years' War and the fight against Protestantism (something even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits). As long as it served his purposes in the doctrinal fight against the Protestants (who accused the Roman Church of stifling science), Urban was pleased to let Galileo be. As long as Galileo confined his ripostes to besting the Jesuits, whom Urban hated, the Pope was content to have it so. But the Dialog was too much for a man of Urban's station, or was made so by whisperings from his ambitious advisors. Now only revenge on Galileo would salve Urban's vanity.

So this vindictive prince embroiled the Roman Church in the greatest blunder in its history. Initially there was an attempt to ban sale of the Dialog, but it had already been circulated across Europe. Urban then fed Galileo to the dogs of the Inquisition (the Dominicans, or “hounds of the Lord,” as the Latin can be translated), along with some of his defenders. When Father Castelli pleaded on Galileo's behalf that "nothing that can be done can now hinder the earth from revolving," the Benedictine was banished in disgrace. Ricciardi, who wrote the preface to the banned book, was fired from the papal staff. The Florentine Inquisitor who approved the printing of the Dialog was reprimanded.

With his advocates and friends silenced, Galileo had to face the authorities alone. The trial documents, long suppressed by Rome, reveal that Galileo was ordered, in harsh language, to come to trial at Rome; that if he did not comply, said the Pope, he was to be "brought in chains"; that the protests of his friends and the Florentine ambassador were ignored; that once in Rome, being nearly seventy years of age, suffering from hernia, insomnia, and near-blindness from gazing at the sun through his telescope, Galileo was kept waiting for several months; and that he was several times threatened with torture. His whereabouts for 21-24 June are omitted from the documents of the episode. Scholars who have studied the documents (Favaro, Fahie) suggest that Galileo was actually in prison during that time, though the Catholic Encyclopedia denies this.

And then came the final humiliation, which Bellarmine did not live to see: Galileo was forced to recant: on his knees and in public. The alternative to compliance needn't have been articulated - he remembered well the burning of Bruno in 1600. And so the greatest scientist of his day swallowed his much-abused pride, fell to his aging knees, and perjured himself before his God and the world:

I, Galileo Galilei, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei of Florence, aged 70 years, tried personally by this court, and kneeling before You, the most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, Inquisitors-General throughout the Christian Republic against heretical depravity, having before my eyes the Most Holy Gospels, and laying on them my own hands; I swear that I have always believed, I believe now, and with God's help I will in future believe all which the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church doth hold, preach, and teach...

I abjure with sincere heart and unfeigned faith, I curse and detest the said errors and heresies, and generally all and every error and sect contrary to the Holy Catholic Church. And I swear that for the future I will neither say nor assert in speaking or writing such things as may bring upon me similar suspicion; and if I know any heretic, or one suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor and Ordinary of the place in which I may be...

In Rome, at the Convent della Minerva, this 22nd day of June, 1633.

Not satisfied with this indignity, the Inquisition, whose proceedings were the direct order of Pope Urban VIII, obliged the scientist to betray to the Inquisition anyone else who may teach, defend, or support the "heresy of the motion of the earth." It is not likely that Galileo was actually tortured - he would not have survived - but all knew he was in frail health, so the threat of torture was as effective on him as actual torture on a healthier man.

Still not satisfied, the Church authorities thoroughly expunged Galileo's writings and theories from all Church colleges (that is, from nearly all colleges in Catholic Europe). One text which referred to Galileo as "renowned" was ordered by the Inquisition to change the reference to "notorious." And on 16 June 1633 the text of Galileo's abjuration was ordered circulated, with Urban's approval, to papal nuncios across Europe, so that they may "recognize the gravity of his error, in order that they may avoid it, and thus not incur the penalties which they would have to suffer in case they fell into the same." New publications of Galileo's works, or those with a Copernican basis, were forbidden. At the same time, opponents of the Copernican system were encouraged to refute the theory, knowing they could not be answered.

Broken in body and in spirit, Galileo spent the last nine years of his life under house arrest and carefully watched by the Inquisition. It has been suggested (Santillana and others) that Galileo's final days were quite comfortable, with freedom to experiment and entertain guests. This is only theoretically true, since even a gilded cage is still a cage. But Galileo's captivity ended with his death on 8 January 1642.

Persecution after death

The persecution of Galileo, however, did not end with the end of Galileo's life. His heirs were refused permission to bury the great scientist in his family tomb at Santa Croce. His friends were forbidden to erect a monument in his honor. Said Urban: "it would be an evil example for the world if such honors were rendered to a man who had been brought before the Roman Inquisition for an opinion so false and erroneous; who had communicated it to many others, and who had given so great a scandal to Christendom." As late as 1765 the French astronomer Joseph Lalande (1732-1807) tried in vain to get Galileo's works removed from the Index. Finally, in 1822, 190 years after the condemnation of Galileo for espousing it, the Inquisition announced that "the printing and publication of works treating of the motion of the earth and the stability of the sun, in accordance with the general opinion of modern astronomers, is permitted at Rome." Thirteen years later Galileo's "erroneous" works finally were removed from the Index.

As to his personal religious belief, we have no objective evidence for or against the claim that he was a "devout son of the Church," as the Catholic Encyclopedia says. Indeed, Pope John Paul II called Galileo "a sincere believer," but offered no evidence to support the proposition. Had the first Catholic Encyclopedia been written in 1709, rather than in 1909, the article on Galileo may have taken an entirely different view of his orthodoxy. It is simple knowledge of human nature to assume that, if Galileo had religious opinions in support of the prevailing orthodoxy, he would not suffer for voicing them; if he opposed orthodoxy, he could truly suffer by speaking out. In fact, he remained silent, which logically means he had no opinion, or a contrary one.


On 10 November 1979, Pope John Paul II asked the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to conduct an inquiry into the celebrated and controversial "Galileo case." A commission of Church scholars was assembled on 3 July 1981 and reported, via Cardinal Paul Poupard, eleven years later, on 31 October 1992. The Pope accepted the results of the inquiry and, shortly thereafter, addressed the Academy, in French, thanking the commission and commenting on the roles in human life of faith and science. Here are some excerpts, as they appeared in the translation of L'Osservatore Romano N. 44 (1264), on 4 November 1992:

[At] the time of the first centenary of the birth of Albert Einstein, ... I expressed the hope before this same Academy that "theologians, scholars and historians, animated by a spirit of sincere collaboration, will study the Galileo case more deeply and, in frank recognition of wrongs from whatever side they come, dispel the mistrust that still opposes, in many minds, a fruitful concord between science and faith."

In this next passage, Pope John Paul II appears to vindicate Galileo's prescient warning to theologians:

One might perhaps be surprised that ... I am returning to the Galileo case. Has not this case long been shelved and have not the errors committed been recognized?

That is certainly true. However, the underlying problems of this case concern both the nature of science and the message of faith. It is therefore not to be excluded that one day we shall find ourselves in a similar situation, one which will require both sides to have an informed awareness of the field and of the limits of their own competencies. The approach provided by the theme of complexity could provide an illustration of this.

Finally, the Pope said...

If contemporary culture is marked by a tendency to scientism, the cultural horizon of Galileo's age was uniform and carried the imprint of a particular philosophical formation.... The majority of theologians did not recognize the formal distinction between Sacred Scripture and its interpretation, and this led them unduly to transpose into the realm of the doctrine of the faith a question which in fact pertained to scientific investigation...

Another lesson which we can draw is that the different branches of knowledge call for different methods. Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture.... There exist two realms of knowledge, one which has its source in Revelation and one which reason can discover by its own power. To the latter belong especially the experimental sciences and philosophy. The distinction between the two realms of knowledge ought not to be understood as opposition. The two realms are not altogether foreign to each other, they have points of contact. The methodologies proper to each make it possible to bring out different aspects of reality.

So there we have it. Science and religion do not conflict, but they describe two different aspects of reality. As this writer is neither theologian nor philosopher, he leaves it to the reader to determine whether or not conflicting world views conflict.

This essay was based largely on the works of Andrew Dickson White and Joseph M. McCabe, in addition to the sources cited in the text.

Sources on the Controversy
With comments from Joseph M. McCabe.

1. Bergman, Jerry. "The Galileo Affair Continues: Hunting Heretics Today," 1996; Contra Mundum, No. 15 Sumer/Fall 1995. (Another apologist at work, liberally citing Santillana's apologetic work).
2. Brodrick, James S.J., Galileo; The Man, his Work, his Misfortunes, Plymouth: Latimer & Trade, 1964. (a tale told by a Catholic apologist)
3. Browne, Sir Thomas (1605-1682), Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or, Enquiries into Very many received Tenets, and commonly presumed truths, (known as "Browne's Vulgar Errors"), 1646; 5th ed. London: The Assigns of Edward Dod, 1669. (source for Browne's criticism of the Copernican theory: book 4, chapter 5.)
4. Campanella, Tommaso (1568-1639), The Defense of Galileo, (Apologia pro Galileo, trans. by Grant McColley), Northhampton Mass.: Smith College, 1937. (Campanella was a Dominican friar who openly defended the humanistic ideas of Bernardino Telesio, resulting in an accusation of heresy and imprisonment.)
5. The Catholic Encyclopedia: an international work of reference on the constitution, doctrine, discipline, and history..., 16 volumes, New York: Universal Knowledge Foundation, 1909, article "Galileo."
6. NewCatholic Encyclopedia, New York: Mc Graw Hill, 1967, article "Galileo." (The online version can be found at this link.)
7. Drake, Stillman, Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1957.
8. Drake, Stillman, Galileo, Garden City, NY: Doubleday/Anchor, 1980.
9. Draper, John William. History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science, International Scientific Series. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1875, repr. 1957.
10. Fahie, John J., Galileo, His Life and Work, 1903. (McCabe says this "is the best in English, though it has not the aid of Favaro's book." See next entry.)
11. Favaro, Antonio, Galileo e l'Inquisizione, (Galileo and the Inquisition, Italian) 1907. (The translaton from the Latin church documents of Galileo's censure was first published in this book, according to McCabe, who writes: "The documents, Latin and Italian, given by Favaro completely demolish the statement of Taylor [see below] and other Catholics that the Pope was not personally hostile and was merely compelled to correct a breach of Galileo's engagement.")
12. Finocchiaro, Maurice A., trans., ed., The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History, 1989.
13. Fromundus, Father, Ant-Aristarchus, (date unknown).
14. Galileo Galilei, Dialogo Sopra i Due Massimi Sistemi del Mondo (Dialogue on the Two Principal World Systems), 1632 (trans. from the Italian by Stillman Drake, 1953) .
15. Galileo Galilei, Sidereus Nuncius, 1610 (Starry Messengertrans. from the Latin by Stillman Drake and found in his Discoveries and Opinions...) .
16. Gebler, Karl von, Galileo Galilei and the Roman Curia, (trans. by M. Sturge), London: Kegan Paul, 1879.
17. Hallam, Henry., Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the 15th, 16th, & 17th Centuries, 4 vols., NY: Armstrong & Son, 1880. (source for French philosopher Jean Bodin's criticism of the Copernican theory.)
18. Hayward, Fernand, A History of the Popes, NY: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1931.
19. Holden, C. S., Galileo, 1905. (McCabe says this is "based upon the untruthful Catholic version" of events.)
20. Inchofer, Father Melchior, Tractatus Syllepticus, (cited in letter: Galileo to Deodato, 28 July 1634).
21. Lecky, William E.H. (1838-1903), History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, (popularly known as Rationalism in Europe), London: C.A. Watts & Co., 1910, repr. 1946.
22. McCabe, Joseph M. (1874-1955), A Rationalist Encyclopedia: a Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, and Science, London: C.A. Watts & Co., 1948, repr. 1971 (Gryphon Books). (McCabe was a Catholic priest for 12 years, then became a Rationalist polemicist. He wrote and debated forcefully, for most of the first half of the 20th century, against theism and superstition and in favor of science. His autobiography is called Eighty Years a Rebel.)
23. Martin, Thomas, Galilée, (date unknown). (source for the Inquisition's order to substitute "notorious" for "renowned" in reference to Galileo.)
24. Namer, Emile, Galileo: Searcher of the Heavens, trans. by Sibyl Harris, Robert M. McBride & Company, 1931.
25. Nash, J.V., How Galileo Was Gagged by the Inquisition, Little Blue Book No. 1383, Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Company, (n.d. but probably 1920s; McCabe wrote many books for E. Haldeman-Julius.).
26. L'Osservatore Romano (the Vatican-published newspaper), 4 Nov 1992.
27. Poupard, Paul Cardinal, ed., Galileo Galilei: Toward a Resolution of 350 Years of Debate, 1633-1983, (trans. by Ian Campbell), 1987.
28. Putnam, George H., The Censorship of the Church of Rome and its Influence on the Production and Distribution of Literature, 2v., New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1906. (Putnam was the founder of the well-known publishing house and an agnostic.)
29. Reston, James, Jr., Galileo, a Life, 1994. (Reston apparently believes the truth should approach authority on its knees when he writes, page 273, "If Galileo had only known how to retain the favor of the fathers of this college [the Church], he would have stood in renown before the world; he would have been spared all his misfortunes, and could have written about everything, even about the motion of the earth.")
30. Ronan, Colin A., Galileo, New York: Putnam, 1974.
31. Santillana, Giorgio de, (b. 1902) The Crime of Galileo, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1955. (Written by a Roman Catholic apologist and described, even by the Catholic Encyclopedia, as "unfair.")
32. Shapere, Dudley, Galileo: A Philosophical Study, University Of Chicago Press, 1974.
33. Taylor, F.Sherwood, Galileo and the Freedom of Thought, 1938. (According to McCabe, writing in 1946: "[Taylor] effectually disguises the fact that he is a Catholic, has not seen (or was unable to read) [Favaro's] documents, and his work abounds in errors, especially about the character of the Pope. The translation of documents which he gives are from a nineteenth-century writer, and worthless. A sound work on Galileo and Pope Urban VIII is badly needed.")
34. Walsh, James J., The Popes and Science, 1908. (McCabe says Dr. Walsh “has the effrontery to assure the readers of his book that Galileo's life was ‘the most serene and enviable in the history of science.’”)
35. Wegg-Prosser, Francis R., Galileo and His Judges, 1889.
36. White, Andrew Dickson (1832-1918), A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, 1895 (2v), 1955 (1v combined). (White was an American historian, a diplomat, and the first president of Cornell University, 1867-1885, one of the first non-sectarian universities in the US. McCabe calls White’s work "the first and most complete account written in English, though very conciliatory toward the Church." I have based my essay in large part on White's more extensive coverage. The full text of the two-volume work is available at this link).

NB: You can find an interesting discussion on something Galileo did notdo — formulate a pre-Newtonian law of inertia — in "The Reality Of Newton's Inertia" by Ethan Skyler for Physics News.

Originally published February 2001 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

Ronald Bruce Meyer

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