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« Links Mentioned on the 3/11/14 Show | Main | Protecting Children »

March 12, 2014


Very useful overview. Thanks Amy!

My wife and I previewed the episode before watching with our children. I grew up enamored with the original "Cosmos" series and am (still) excited to share that excitement with my children, but want to be prepared to discuss the issues in a thoughtful way.

Your summary supplies informative material.

Every time this kind of thing happens, my brain says, 'What, they didn't think anybody would fact-check their claim?'

Oh, and up until this show, I'd never even HEARD of Bruno (and I consider myself relatively 'up' on this kind of history); maybe that was something else they were banking on - Bruno's relative obscurity.

Clearly, the reboot of Cosmos wanted to depict the church as ignorant and narrow, and Christain faith as contrary to the progress of science. Why else spend so much time on this segment?

I don't disagree with the concerns expressed.

The anti-religious zeal notwithstanding, my hope is that the show gets on with the business of sharing interesting science.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson (just like Sagan before him) is a great science teacher, if not a proponent of Christianity. Here's to hoping he focuses on his strengths.

Billions and billions of people will be misled by this narrative.

The church tortured and murdered Bruno and the show frittered away valuable airtime. Call it a draw.

And could someone tell me what form of torture Galileo suffered?

"It is possible if it hadn’t been for Bruno, Copernicanism would not have made such a splash with the authorities and Galileo might not have been persecuted."

What prison did he languish in?

Where was he executed?

"The church tortured and murdered Bruno"

Well...The church condemned him to death for denying the Trinity, the Deity of Christ and a number of other core Christian doctrines..

The secular authorities carried out this sentence by burning Bruno at the stake. A painful death to be sure. I'm not sure how much torture, if any, preceded that.

(This is not to say, of course, that the Church has never tortured anyone. To Her shame she has.)


I'm not defending the execution of people for denying the Trinity etc.

I am saying that Bruno is just another heretic in a long line of heretics who should not have been killed for professing false religious views. Not, as the post also says, a martyr for science.

Apr 12, 1633:
Galileo is convicted of heresy

On this day in 1633, chief inquisitor Father Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuola, appointed by Pope Urban VIII, begins the inquisition of physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei. Galileo was ordered to turn himself in to the Holy Office to begin trial for holding the belief that the Earth revolves around the Sun, which was deemed heretical by the Catholic Church. Standard practice demanded that the accused be imprisoned and secluded during the trial.

This was the second time that Galileo was in the hot seat for refusing to accept Church orthodoxy that the Earth was the immovable center of the universe: In 1616, he had been forbidden from holding or defending his beliefs. In the 1633 interrogation, Galileo denied that he "held" belief in the Copernican view but continued to write about the issue and evidence as a means of "discussion" rather than belief. The Church had decided the idea that the Sun moved around the Earth was an absolute fact of scripture that could not be disputed, despite the fact that scientists had known for centuries that the Earth was not the center of the universe.

This time, Galileo's technical argument didn't win the day. On June 22, 1633, the Church handed down the following order: "We pronounce, judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo... have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy, that is, of having believed and held the doctrine (which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures) that the sun is the center of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the center of the world."

Along with the order came the following penalty: "We order that by a public edict the book of Dialogues of Galileo Galilei be prohibited, and We condemn thee to the prison of this Holy Office during Our will and pleasure; and as a salutary penance We enjoin on thee that for the space of three years thou shalt recite once a week the Seven Penitential Psalms."

Galileo agreed not to teach the heresy anymore and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It took more than 300 years for the Church to admit that Galileo was right and to clear his name of heresy.

The bible verse shackled the minds of men for thousands of years, and held back the advance of science. It was this verse that was used as evidence against Galileo, who argued for the theory of Copernicus, that the earth is not immovable, but rotates around the sun. It was for teaching this that he was called to Rome in 1633, and tried for the crime of heresy. The aged Galileo, in his 70's, was taken down into the dungeons of the church and shown the instruments of torture that were going to be used on him if he did not recant. Fearing the torture, and fearing that he might share the fate of Giordano Bruno, whom the church burned at the stake a generation earlier for the same crime, Galileo recanted the truth. He was confined to his home under house arrest, neither allowed to leave or to receive visitors, for the last seven years of his life.

Galileo may have confined to an Italian villa (not a dungeon) for a few years in his 70s at a time when most people never travelled more than 20 mi from home, and he continued to experiment and publish.

Not saying that Bruno deserved to be killed for his heresy, but, we also have to remember that these were religious states where there was not separation of church and state. Religious ideas were so closely tied into the state that a weird sect like Bruno's was seen as incredibly dangerous. As a matter of fact, this sort of teaching is not unlike compounds of militant cults today. It allowed to continue, Bruno could have become an extremely dangerous man for the nation and for society. So it might not be so far-fetched to execute him.

However, of course I do not agree, as Jesus' direct command to his disciples is to never use violence or resist an evil person with physical violence.

Re: "tortured," Burning at the stake was considered a humane form of execution at the time. You die of smoke inhalation fairly quickly.

As a side note -

We Christians need to stop constantly apologizing for this or that alleged or actual crime or other atrocity committed by "the Church".

For one thing, when it's referring to the Catholic Church, the CC does not represent all of Christianity. I'd argue that it doesn't represent biblical Christianity at all, since its official teachings on so many foundational issues are in opposition to what Scripture says. But that's another topic entirely.

Second, just because a professing Christian individual or organization does something evil, why would that mean that they are obeying the teachings of the Christianity, which teachings are found in the Bible? And if they are not obeying any such commands or principles, but doing something condemned or forbidden by those principles and teachings, why should we apologize?

Let's stop feeling guilty and apologizing for things we had no part in and which were not even done in accordance with biblical commands.

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