Why Galileo Was Condemned

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Why was Galileo so condemned when he held the correct view of the universe?

Essentially Galileo was condemned for questioning the accepted, traditional explanation of the universe as supported by the Catholic Church at the time. Not only was Protestantism dealing heavy religious and political blows to the Church’s dominance in Europe, so to was an increasingly questioning scientific community of which Galileo seemed to be the most vocal combatant. Whilst he certainly didn’t question God’s involvement in the creation of the universe, the manner in which he did question accepted norms elicited a correspondingly heavy handed response from those that often felt ridiculed by his methodology. Primarily, during the seventeenth century, there were two theories looking to explain the nature of the solar system. The geocentric theory, which proposed that the earth was at the centre of the universe and that the sun orbits it and the heliocentric theory, which correctly placed the sun at the centre of the solar system with the earth as part of its orbit, the theory also explained that day and night were caused by the earth’s rotation, this position was adopted by Galileo and published in 1613 in ‘Historia e dimonstrazioni intorno alle macchie solari’ (e notes: Galileo ). The geocentric theory, the accepted theory of the time, can be argued to have been religiously motivated, although there is certainly some debate surrounding this; many commentators dispel this notion. However, it is no secret that the church certainly followed this theory and that it was indeed the accepted ‘science’ of the day. At the same time it is important to note that Galileo was not the discoverer of the heliocentric theory; it was in fact named after Nicholas Copernicus who published it in his book some two decades before. Galileo was popular with the catholic clergy it was reported that ‘Cardinal Robert Bellarmine... had the opportunity to look through Galileo’s telescope during a banquet held...
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