Essay on The Heresy of Galileo

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The Heresy of Galileo

Galileo was condemned by the Inquisition, not for his own brilliant theories, but because he stood up for his belief in Copernicus's theory that the earth was not, as the Church insisted, the center of the universe, but that rather, the universe is heliocentric. Galileo was a man of tremendous intellect and imagination living in a era dominated by the Catholic Church, which attempted to control the people by dictating their own version of "reality." Any person who publicly questioned Church doctrine ran the chance of condemnation and punishment. If man could think, man could question, and the Church could lose its authority over the masses. This could not be tolerated in the 17th century, when the
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At this dinner the discussion centered on floating bodies. Galileo maintained that bodies can float only if their specific gravity is less than that of water. Among the dinner guests there were, however, some followers of Aristotle's philosophies, and they argued that bodies float if their shape is wide and smooth so they cannot cut through the resistance of the water. Floating bodies were a topic on which Galileo was especially knowledgeable, as he had been interested in the subject since, when as a student, he had read Archimedes. He was able to support his point so brilliantly that one of the guests of honor, Maffeo Cardinal Barberini, sided with him. Years later, Cardinal Barberini became Pope Urban VIII and turned against Galileo, becoming one of his bitter enemies, but at that moment he was as congenial as one could be, sincerely admiring Galileo's dialectical skill. Perhaps to please the Cardinal, the Grand Duke asked Galileo to put his argument into writing, which he did. The result was The Discourse on
Floating Bodies. Galileo's sharp, almost sarcastic wit made him especially suited to arguments and debates, of which he was to have many in the following years. Some of these resulted in famous writings that added to his lasting glory; many antagonized people of his time and turned many of them into
"enemies."

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