Freethought Almanac

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February 15: Galileo (1564)

It was on this date, February 15, 1564, that Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, now in Italy but then a dependency of the city-state of Florence. Galileo had proven through direct observation what Nicolaus Copernicus had only conjectured through reason and mathematics 72 years earlier: that the sun, not the earth, stands at the center of the solar system. In 1615 Cardinal (“Saint”) Robert Bellarmine – a 73-year-old Jesuit whose knowledge of science could fill a small chalice – summoned the 51-year-old scientist to Rome, charging that his cosmological idea was “formally [i.e., "explicitly"] heretical, inasmuch as it expressly contradicts the statements of Holy Scripture in many places.”

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Originally published February 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.

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October 31: John Keats

John Keats (1795) It was on this date, October 31, 1795, that British poet John Keats was born in London. His family was close, and when his father died in an 1804 riding accident, and his mother died of tuberculosis six years later, the 15-year-old Keats, two brothers and a sister, turned to each other. […]

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