I really didn’t want to get into this topic. However it seems the events of the past few days requires a few lines just to vent.
The Tychonic system explained the known facts as well as Galileo. In fact Galileo went beyond the facts and extrapolated that the earth rotates around the sun. Galileo argue that the tides helped to support the argument that the earth moved round the sun.
The church was in fact more conservative with the facts then Galileo was and perhaps Christopher Clavius held the church’s position best.
What Galileo did prove was that the Ptolemaic system was untenable when he discovered the phases of Venus. The discovery of the moons rotating around Jupiter demonstrated that there was more then one center of rotation.
and the Copernican system.
The first model supported the facts and didn’t challenge the assumed interpretation of Scripture of Geocentricism. The latter challenged that interpretation and Galileo was on the right track when he chose the Copernican system, but he overreached by claiming his theory was scientific fact when at the time it was demonstrated as only a hypothesis. The Jesuits happily taught the Copernican system in Catholic universities with the church’s blessing, even after Galileo was under house arrest,because they only claimed heliocentrism was a hypothesis not an empirical fact.
However this is where context is lost. Note in the previous link the words of the then Cardinal now pope
the synthetic judgment of the agnostic-skeptic philosopher P. Feyerabend appears much more drastic (emphasis mine) then the Cardinal quote Feyerabend(who’s opinion is viewed by the pope as more drastic) “The church at the time of Galileo was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s doctrine. Its verdict against Gaileo was rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives of political opportunism.”
The problem however is that the Pope was pointing out that modernity has become doubtful of itself and of today’s science and technology. The faculty wrote that the Pope’s comments “offend and humiliate us.” “In the name of the secular nature of science we hope this incongruous event can be cancelled,” said the letter addressed to the university’s rector.
The point and the opportunity was missed by the faculty and thereby the protesting students. In the pope’s wonderfully written encyclical on hope Spe-salvi
16…In order to find an answer to this we must take a look at the foundations of the modern age. These appear with particular clarity in the thought of Francis Bacon. That a new era emerged—through the discovery of America and the new technical achievements that had made this development possible—is undeniable. But what is the basis of this new era? It is the new correlation of experiment and method that enables man to arrive at an interpretation of nature in conformity with its laws and thus finally to achieve “the triumph of art over nature” (victoria cursus artis super naturam). The novelty—according to Bacon’s vision—lies in a new correlation between science and praxis. This is also given a theological application: the new correlation between science and praxis would mean that the dominion over creation —given to man by God and lost through original sin—would be reestablished.17. Anyone who reads and reflects on these statements attentively will recognize that a disturbing step has been taken: up to that time, the recovery of what man had lost through the expulsion from Paradise was expected from faith in Jesus Christ: herein lay “redemption”. Now, this “redemption”, the restoration of the lost “Paradise” is no longer expected from faith, but from the newly discovered link between science and praxis. It is not that faith is simply denied; rather it is displaced onto another level—that of purely private and other-worldly affairs—and at the same time it becomes somehow irrelevant for the world. This programmatic vision has determined the trajectory of modern times and it also shapes the present-day crisis of faith which is essentially a crisis of Christian hope. Thus hope too, in Bacon, acquires a new form. Now it is called: faith in progress. For Bacon, it is clear that the recent spate of discoveries and inventions is just the beginning; through the interplay of science and praxis, totally new discoveries will follow, a totally new world will emerge, the kingdom of man. He even put forward a vision of foreseeable inventions—including the aeroplane and the submarine. As the ideology of progress developed further, joy at visible advances in human potential remained a continuing confirmation of faith in progress as such.
18. At the same time, two categories become increasingly central to the idea of progress: reason and freedom. Progress is primarily associated with the growing dominion of reason, and this reason is obviously considered to be a force of good and a force for good. Progress is the overcoming of all forms of dependency—it is progress towards perfect freedom. Likewise freedom is seen purely as a promise, in which man becomes more and more fully himself. In both concepts—freedom and reason—there is a political aspect. The kingdom of reason, in fact, is expected as the new condition of the human race once it has attained total freedom. The political conditions of such a kingdom of reason and freedom, however, appear at first sight somewhat ill defined. Reason and freedom seem to guarantee by themselves, by virtue of their intrinsic goodness, a new and perfect human community. The two key concepts of “reason” and “freedom”, however, were tacitly interpreted as being in conflict with the shackles of faith and of the Church as well as those of the political structures of the period. Both concepts therefore contain a revolutionary potential of enormous explosive force.
This I believe is the pope point which the university doesn’t seem to grasp. Science will never achieve redemption. Most scientist would be repelled to think that society has placed them on such a path, but the secular world and in particular the political sphere has handed that task to it. The pope simply desires to lift that burden from it’s shoulder which it is incapable of lifting. Christ is the only one who has redeemed mankind and the fruit of that task will not be fully realized until the end of time.
Zadok the Roman seems to make a similar point in his blog They’re worse than I thought
Rather, reading in context, his emphasis seems to be the fact that there is a debate within secular thought itself regarding the progress made by science since the Galileo case. He goes on to say:
To my great surprise, in a recent interview on the Galileo case, I was not asked a question like, ‘Why did the Church try to get in the way of the development of modern science?’, but rather exactly the opposite, that is: ‘Why didn’t the church take a more clear position against the disasters that would inevitably follow, once Galileo had opened Pandora’s box?’
Ratzinger himself was surprised at the criticism of modern science which has been arising recently.
What’s his conclusion:
It would be absurd, on the basis of these affirmations, to construct a hurried apologetics.
He does not suggest that people of faith ‘construct a hurried apologetics’ based on the reassessment of Galileo by some thinkers. In simpler language, he’s warning us, be careful of jumping to hasty conclusions about the relationship between science and faith.
Religious columnist John Allen says it best
In a nutshell, therefore, Benedict is being faulted by the physics professors for quoting somebody else’s words, which his full text suggests he does not completely share. (Readers who remember Regensburg can be forgiven a sense of déjà-vu.) The pope, modern science, and a canary in the coal mine
The only reason the facility should be scared of the pope is if they actually believe that they rather then Christ are the redeemers of mankind. Even Galileo didn’t have that big an ego;>)
There is I suspect a much larger political rather then theological or scientific motive going on here. The Guardian
is always good for a bit of editing. Note the picture in the article (cropped to remove the wording on the mask) and compare it to the unedited one.
(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Now we can see that this wasn’t necessarily a protest against the church tainting the universities vaunted “secular” tradition which came with the invasion of the kingdom of Italy in 1870 [of course it should repute it’s actual Catholic foundation- the papacy, perhaps change their lineage to secularly pure for the past 137 years, rather then 705 of taint] which will line it’s political thought up nicely with the EU in it’s denial of it’s obvious Catholic foundations. Perhaps the
chapel-of-la-sapienza-university AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) will be the students next phase in rejecting it’s Catholic roots. Galileo was placed under house arrest, today we see students placing themselves under their own personal house arrest in their minds.
The event had some elements of a political and moral protest to it as the student in the Borgia photo takes the time to protest the pope’s position on homosexuals.
At least the university hasn’t killed the seed of intellectual freedom totally in it’s youth who came to see the pope, since he chose not to come to them.