In order to understand the workings of the thought-police there is no better place to start than with the Trial of Galileo.
Read this introduction to article The Trial of Galileo by Doug Linder (2002)
In the 1633 trial of Galileo Galilei, two worlds come into cosmic conflict. Galileo’s world of science and humanism collides with the world of Scholasticism and absolutism that held power in the Catholic Church. The result is a tragedy that marks both the end of Galileo’s liberty and the end of the Italian Renaissance.
Galileo Galilei was born in 1564–the same year that Shakespeare was born and Michelangelo died. From an early age, Galileo showed his scientific skills. At age nineteen, he discovered the isochronism of the pendulum. By age twenty-two, he had invented the hydrostatic balance. By age twenty-five, Galileo assumed his first lectureship, at the University of Pisa. Within a few more years, Galileo earned a reputation throughout Europe as a scientist and superb lecturer. Eventually, he would be recognized as the father of experimental physics. Galileo’s motto might have been “follow knowledge wherever it leads us.”
At the University of Padua, where Galileo accepted a position after three years in Pisa, he began to develop a strong interest in Copernican theory. In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus published Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs, a treatise that put forth his revolutionary idea that the Sun was at the center of the universe and that the Earth–rotating on an axis–orbited around the sun once a year. Copernicus’ theory was a challenge to the accepted notion contained in the natural philosophy of Aristotle, the astronomy of Ptolemy and the teachings of the Church that the sun and all the stars revolved around a stationary Earth. In the half-century since its publication, however, Copernicus’ theory met mostly with skepticism. Skeptics countered with the “common sense” notion that the earth they stood on appeared not to move at all–much less at the speed required to fully rotate every twenty-four hours while spinning around the sun.
Sometime in the mid-1590s, Galileo concluded that Copernicus got it right. He admitted as much in a 1597 letter to Johannes Kepler, a German mathematician who had written about planetary systems: “Like you, I accepted the Copernican position several years ago and discovered from thence the cause of many natural effects which are doubtless inexplicable by the current theories.” Galileo, however, continued to keep his thoughts to a few trusted friends, as he explained to Kepler: “I have not dared until now to bring my reasons and refutations into the open, being warned by the fortunes of Copernicus himself, our master, who procured for himself immortal fame among a few but stepped down among the great crowd.”
Galileo’s discovery of the telescope in 1609 enabled him to confirm his beliefs in the Copernican system and emboldened him to make public arguments in its favor. Through a telescope set in his garden behind his house, Galileo saw the Milky Way, the valleys and mountains of the moon, and–especially relevant to his thinking about the Copernican system–four moons orbiting around Jupiter like a miniature planetary system. Galileo, a good Catholic, offered “infinite thanks to God for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries.” Galileo began talking about his observations at dinner parties and in public debates in Florence, where he has taken up a new post.
Galileo expected the telescope to quickly make believers in the Copernican system out of all educated persons, but he was disappointed. He expressed his discouragement in a 1610 letter to Kepler: “My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?” It became clear that the Copernican theory had its enemies.
Galileo’s first instinct was turn to acquiring more knowledge for those few open minds he was able to reach–disciples such as monk Benedetto Castelli. Galileo wrote to Castelli: “In order to convince those obdurate men, who are out for the vain approval of the stupid vulgar, it would not me enough even if the stars came down on earth to bring witness about themselves. Let us be concerned only with gaining knowledge for ourselves, and let us find therein our consolation.”
Soon, however, Galileo–flamboyant by nature–decided that Copernicus was worth a fight. He decided to address his arguments to the enlightened public at large, rather than the hidebound academics. He saw more hope for gaining support among businessmen, gentlemen, princes, and Jesuit astronomers than among the vested apologists of universities. He seemed compelled to act as a consultant in natural philosophy to all who would listen. He wrote in tracts, pamphlets, letters, and dialogues–not in the turgid, polysyllabic manner of a university pedant, but simply and directly.
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It is well worthwhile taking twenty minutes or so to read the story of Galileo. Here was a brilliant scientist and mathematician, considered by many to be the founder of modern Physics, who feared for his life, because he accepted the theory of Copernicus that the Earth was not the centre of the universe and stayed still, but that the Earth revolved upon its own axis as it travelled round the Sun.
Since nobody today has any qualms about accepting such a notion it is difficult to believe that in 1597 Galileo wrote to Johannes Kepler to say that he dared not bring into the open his support for the Copernican theory. Why? Because the Catholic Church considered that it was against Holy Writ and the very idea that the Earth was not still and the centre of the Universe was considered absurd.
Although Galileo had discussed his ideas with Cardinal Bellarmine, who later became Pope Urban 8th, he was admonished not to spread his ideas and certainly not to appear to support them.
When Cardinal Bellarmine became Pope in 1623, Galileo, after a period of long silence, decided to publish his ‘Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems’. By this time he was an old man, but nevertheless he was summoned to Rome in midwinter in order to stand trial, the journey from Florence to Rome taking him 23 days!
He had to stand trial before ten Cardinals of the Inquisition and during the trial he was imprisoned.
Galileo was forced to appear once again for formal questioning about his true feelings concerning the Copernican system. Galileo obliged, so as not to risk being branded a heretic, testifying that “I held, as I still hold, as most true and indisputable, the opinion of Ptolemy, that is to say, the stability of the Earth and the motion of the Sun.” Galileo’s renunciation of Copernicanism ended with the words, “I affirm, therefore, on my conscience, that I do not now hold the condemned opinion and have not held it since the decision of authorities….I am here in your hands–do with me what you please.”
Galileo was by this time 70 years old, racked with sciatica and fearful of being tortured on the rack. Can anyone wonder that he abjured what he knew to be true, as he was forced to kneel in a white shirt while his 17-page sentence was read out? He was eventually released and allowed to retire to his farmstead, old and blind.
In these days we can scarcely believe that a man can be imprisoned, threatened with torture and made to recant views that we now know to be true. But if we conclude that these mediaeval practices are long past, we could not be more wrong.
No longer does the Catholic Church hold sway over Christendom and even over the whole world, but an ersatz religion that demands that we all believe that Mankind is polluting the Earth by burning fossil fuels and thereby releasing Carbon Dioxide into the Atmosphere now holds sway. We are all constrained to believe that this is causing Global Warming and consequently Climate Change. Should any young scientist question this idea the thought-police will soon see to it that he loses his job. Only retired scientists feel it is safe enough to air their true opinions. Even that is not without danger of lawsuits, as is happening this very day, as a learned Professor is being sued for declaring what he knows to be true. Believe me I also have to be circumspect.
The spread of this new ersatz religion has been spectacular. In the space of 30-40 years huge swathes of mankind have taken this new religion to heart and banners appear everywhere to Save the Planet, or against Climate Injustice and so on and so forth, and should anyone have the temerity to question the rationale of these beliefs they are treated as mediaeval heretics. Indeed they are called Skeptics, and reviled as Deniers and Contrarians, but Heretics might be a better word.
The religion of Al Gore and his henchmen like James Hansen has spread with bewildering haste, backed up by a pseudo-science that is not confirmed by observation. When Galileo constructed his telescope it was possible to see the four moons of Jupiter. Even though he showed a priest, the priest refused to believe the evidence of his own eyes. The Church preferred adherence to Holy Writ, as if the Ptolemaic model of a stationary Earth was part of this Holy Writ.
In fact it is as unholy writ now as it was then. Nevertheless the thought-police are incredibly powerful. They and their adherents have penetrated the Catholic Church and the Popes are now part of this police. The more active parts of this police – like the Hollywood cell – call for the death of heretics, but principally that their voice and their ideas should not be heard. Sure, this goes back precisely to Galileo, who was safe only when he did not dissipate the Copernican ideas. His sin was to publish his famous Dialogue and once that happened Galileo had to be publicly humiliated.
Just the same is going on today. Those who call for tackling Climate Change are ranged against those who observe the natural laws of Physics, Biology and Chemistry. In truth the world is topsy-turvy as the Clerics side with Satan, and the Agnostics side with the Great Life Forces of Nature.
Eventually the prima facie evidence has to win. The thought-police will be banished and their hysterical apparatchiks reduced to silence. However the war is not yet won as families are bitterly divided. The pseudo-science and the pseudo-religion of those who worship the Green Goddess will eventually give way to the True Greens, whose science and faith is based on observation.
Copyright 2016 by Anthony Bright-Paul