Saturday, August 13, 2005

Galileo Galilei

Galileo was not arguing about science and religion the same way that those who seem to think that they speak for him now argue. I.e., an argument of this type: "Because the Bible speaks of the four corners of the earth and science contradicts that then the Bible cannot be revelatory." Shifting that argument into our context the argument would be: "We speak of sunrise and sunset, yet science shows that the earth is revolving around the sun, so every word we speak is now undermined!"

That is simply not the type of thinking that Galileo adhered to. So he argued:

“The holy Bible and the phenomena of nature proceed alike from the divine Word.”
--Galileo Galilei, Laws of Dynamics,
astronomical confirmation of the heliocentric system
(The Wonder of the World: A Journey from Modern Science
to the Mind of God
by Roy Abraham Varghese :103)

There is no contradiction in that, anymore than there is in saying that there will be a sunset today as the sun goes below the horizon.

One rather clever fellow notes that although Darwinists are fond of using the case of Galileo as an argument against common intuition as a form of knowledge it can easily be right as well as wrong.
Pretheoretic intuitions can be right as well as wrong — the moon appears to go around the Earth and it does in fact go around the Earth. The job of science is to get at the underlying truth, regardless of whether it coincides with or contradicts our intuitions.
(Uncommon Dissent)

Unlike the modern interpretation that many Darwinists seem to believe of science constantly undermining or destroying religion Galileo saw himself as a reformer of the Catholic Church and not a destroyer. (He was like Luther in that, although both men had people use their work in destructive ways.) E.g.:
Galileo’s first writings about the process of creation appear in a series of untitled and unpublished manuscripts on motion that were mainly, if not entirely, composed while he was teaching at Pisa, before he left in 1592 to take a new position at the University of Padua. The creation theme is first touched on in the manuscript now known as Galileo’s Dialogus, and it is then developed in a long essay today known as the De motu antiquiora, which is followed by some brief revisions of the first two chapters and then by a much revised and shorter essay in ten sections. Although Galileo never published any of these materials, they reflect a deep and lasting interest in God’s creation, and some twenty years later, after his discoveries with the telescope so greatly enlarged the world, Galileo’s concern with what he now saw as the true constitution of the universe seems to have become an obsession. It was imperative to him that the Church accept the true (that is, Copernican) system of the universe, for she must not be in error concerning such matters.
(Galileo and God's Creation
By Winifred Lovell Wisan
Isis, Vol. 77, No. 3. (Sep., 1986), pp. 473)

I would note that it was not just the Catholic Church that was in error but also common intuition, as well as almost all of philosophy, cosmology and the state of scientia/knowledge at the time. As Luther demonstrated, it is not as if the Catholic church was necessarily overly concerned with supporting and promulgating knowledge to be found in Scriptures, whether literal or metaphoric. I suspect that if Aristotle thought that the earth revolved around the sun, then that may have been the knowledge that the Catholic church would have been supporting.

It seems to me that the main problem with those who believe in philosophic naturalism is that they do not quite understand the use of words and text as artifacts of intelligence, let alone which words are meant to be literalized to become as flesh and which are meant for a message by use of metaphor. If a text such as the Bible makes use of the metaphoric, then they tend to immediately write it all off as pretty much meaningless. That sort of anti-metaphoric thinking is incorrect. For example, the statement that something will go forth as unto the four corners of the earth contains the metaphoric meaning in the mind's eye of a total covering. The most meaningful words are those that conjure up a visualization in the mind's eye so that one can see what is being said. Those that pretend that the use of metaphors make it easy to discard a writer's message will soon enough make use of a metaphor in their own writings. One might say that by discarding every metaphor but their own they will gradually become vain in their visualizations.

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