Sunday, May 10, 2009

Galileo's 400-year-old gift to humankind

"Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science." So said Stephen Hawking. Other equally illustrious scientists have called Galileo "father of modern observational astronomy",the "father of modern physics", the "father of science", and "the Father of Modern Science."

The church called him a 'heretic' and, following a papal trial in which he was found vehemently suspect of heresy, Galileo was placed under house arrest and his movements restricted by the Pope. From 1634 onward he stayed at his country house at Arcetri, outside of Florence.

The church. Again, mortally wrong, but oh-so righteous. The church 'knows' the truth, what is 'right' and what is 'wrong.' So does the Bible.

Galileo's crime, naturally, involved his heretical concept that the earth revolved around the sun. Such speculation, nonsense and foolish thought sent him into house arrest for the rest of his life.

Religion, as we modern people know, mixes most poorly with scientific data, but science is, of course, the guilty one, never religion. Magicians, charlatans, medicine doctors, shamans and practitioners of voodoo make a living fooling people and they shun the light of reason as well as the light of day.  So too religion, with its mythical and mystical 'beliefs', which demand of its followers the full suspension of reality.  Rather than data, facts, and proofs, religious followers must carry around with them an artfully decorated yet empty box.  Inside- nothing.  Still, that emptiness is everything to them.

In May, 1609, four hundred years ago this month, Galileo began assembling his first telescope- a device that opened the world of space to him and to us, but which closed the doors of his house permanently around him.  Galileo- the first martyr for science.  Many thanks to you and shame on the church.

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