≡ Menu

Noted In Passing: Galileo, the Finger

Museo Galileo – Enlarged image – Middle finger of Galileo’s right hand (Inv. 2432)

Some people always have to have the last word.

“E pur si muove”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mike Austin April 27, 2022, 9:30 AM

    There is nothing in the wave of anti-Catholic hysteria that overwhelmed Europe after the so-called “Reformation” that compares with the question of Galileo (1564 – 1642). The usual myth says that the Church tried to censure the spunky Italian because his scientific findings went against the Bible. Called before the Roman Inquisition, Galileo was forced to recant his views that the earth revolved around the sun. Under his breath he is rumored to have said, “Yet it does move.” It matters not at all that little of that is true. What matters is the myth.

    To state the question another way, Galileo said that the sun was the center of the universe—heliocentrism. The Catholic Church said it was not. Who was right?

    • Denny April 27, 2022, 10:50 AM

      Sorry Mike, but the Galileo dispute with the RCC was a tiny nothing-burger compared to the many other vastly more important matters brought by the “so-called” Reformers and forced before the Roman Church in the sixteenth century. It appears to me that there exists at least a dozen empty shelves in your very accomplished personal library. I do not wish to begin an endless argument here, so I’ll just bow out as gracefully as I can.

      • Mike Austin April 27, 2022, 12:08 PM

        I have 200 books on theology out of the 1000 books on my shelves. Most of these theological tomes are Protestant. It was a Protestant book, “Mere Christianity”, that brought me back into the Light. And it was a Protestant preacher’s son that asked me to read that book. It can be argued that Protestantism saved my eternal soul—quite literally, and quite permanently.

        Whatever differences exist among Christian faiths, the differences between those faiths and the outside world are fundamentally and profoundly more important. The enemy of Christianity is Lucifer, not other Christians.

        • Denny April 27, 2022, 1:36 PM

          Mike, I apologize for misinterpreting what I took as a possible insult towards the spirit of the Reformation. I do believe that the well aimed criticism by the Reformers, especially in that period of time in history, was well deserved by the RCC and the unscriptural and immoral behavior of its magisterium.

          • Mike Austin April 27, 2022, 2:33 PM

            Dear Denny: No apologies necessary. The Catholic Church before 1517 needed reform—and not even the Church herself disagrees. The Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) provided that reform, and reaffirmed Catholic Dogma and Catholic Doctrines.

            The condition of the Church circa 1530. The worldly Cardinal Wolsey and Saint Thomas Moore. Moore would be beheaded by Henry VIII in 1535.


            Whatever was the condition of the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, her condition now is far worse. I would guess that 90 percent of all cardinals and bishops today are either practicing sodomites, in favor of sodomy, or heretics. And “Francis” is pope in the same manner as Biden is “president”.

            Jesus wept. Jesus weeps.

        • Dr. Jay April 27, 2022, 1:54 PM

          Amen. “The enemy of Christianity is Lucifer, not other Christians.” And Lucifer (Satan if you’ll allow) has his own gospel.

          The gospel of Satan is not a black gospel that impels reprobates into the worship of darkness and despair. It is not a gospel that preaches war and cancerous living. It is not a gospel that divides and separates families. It is not a gospel that belittles man and calls forth the darker angels of our nature. Rather, the gospel of Satan lifts up man to lofty heights. It calls men to acts of benevolence, peace and unity. It rewards the highest acts of natural charity and human endeavor. It encourages man to seek the common good of humanity and uplifts the “human spirit” as supreme. The gospel of Satan denies the total depravity of man, and supports the teaching of man/god cooperation in the area of salvation and “godly” living. The gospel of Satan declares that God is a mere witness in the redemption of mankind, not the author and finisher of it, and that He has merely made a way for those who can find it within themselves to seek after Him. The gospel of Satan does not deny Jesus Christ so much as it demotes Him from His sovereign throne.

          “Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society’s own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender.” A. W. Tozer

          PS: We also have a house full of books. About 1/3 are theological.

          • Mike Austin April 27, 2022, 2:42 PM

            You have summed up well Satan’s game plan. Christ desired that the world be conformed to His Church. Modern man conforms the Church to the world. Here is a recent headline that shows the modern “church” in all its Satanic majesty:

            “World’s First Lesbian Bishop Calls for Church to Remove Crosses, to Install Muslim Prayer Space”

            Christ did not die for this.

        • Vanderleun April 27, 2022, 2:28 PM

          IT IS well to remember, always, that regardless of doctrinal disputes, “The Church is One.”

    • gwbnyc April 27, 2022, 9:12 PM

      “spunky Italian”
      -5 pts.

  • Casey Klahn April 27, 2022, 10:40 AM

    With the absolute and total shitshow that is now “science,” I wouldn’t be surprised if science next declares that the sun is not a sun at all but a mirror. Or, something absurdist like that.
    My beloved governor, yesterday, Tweeted that the next event to cringe about is the predicted total loss of glaciers on the Olympic Mountain Range in Washington. I say bullshit and he’s a ruddy bullshitter of the first order. How will the glaciers melt? Gaslighting! That’s how.
    Anyway, I am greatly amused at the honorification of Galileos middle finger.

  • jscd3 April 27, 2022, 2:44 PM

    Galileo did not run afoul of the Pope because he wrote about the sun being the center of the solar system

    That had been taught (along with a couple of other models) as a possible explanation for planetary movement in Catholic universities since shortly after Copernicus

    He ran into trouble because besides being a genius, he was, first and foremost, an asshole, and secondly, because he decided to introduce an utterly unneeded point of contention into his work (probably because of point one)

    As to point one – the Copernican model assumed orbits were circular, which, of course they are not; therefore epicycles (fudge factors) that were the Achilles heal of other earth centered models were still required (though not as many). When other astronomers pointed this out and developed alternative orbital models (elliptical – Kepler) – Galileo publicly insulted and attacked them, thereby making them his enemies. Relatedly, when a comet was being carefully observed by Jesuit astronomers, who concluded that the body must have an elliptical orbit around the sun to explain its movement, Galileo not only said they were wrong, but went so far as to deny that the comet was an astronomical body – that it was simply a trick of light; thereby pissing off the Jesuits

    But most important – in his published presentation, he had the individual presenting the earth-centric case appear to be an idiot – his name was Simplicitus – and had him mouth phrases that were known to be spoken by the Pope. At a time when Rome was part of the Papal States and the Pope was also an earthly prince in whose kingdom Galileo resided – a prince, by the way, who had defended Galileo from critics, promoted him, and funded his work – well, Galileo decided to very publicly insult that same guy.

    You just did not do that in Europe at this time to a ruler in whose land you resided – Pope or no Pope

    I think that establishes the veracity of point one

    As to point two – Galileo felt the need to include a passage in his paper stating that where science and the Bible seemed to differ, folks should just interpret the Bible their own way. Now, given that the Reformation was raging and that there had just been a little bit of associated unpleasantness in Germany called the Peasant Revolt (led by an heretical priest who felt that his personal biblical interpretations were correct, which infuriated Luther, who urged the princes of Germany to destroy him – story for another day) that had resulted in 50,000 or so people being slaughtered in one or two battles… this was, you might say, sort of an indelicate suggestion to mention at that time

    You will note, none of the above really had anything to do with any theological opinion concerning heliocentrism – and it really is only tangentially – through historical coincidence – related to the Reformation.

    It is really not even about science

    It is really about a guy – albeit a really, really brilliant guy – who threw eggs at the people in his vicinity and was then surprised when they turned on him

    Later on, the story was reworked to became about Science! (as opposed to science) triumphing over Superstition! (i.e. Christianity in all of its variants)

    By the way, when Kepler later published his final papers on elliptical orbits of planets, the Church fairly quickly adopted his models of planetary movement in Catholic universities – because his model worked

    • KCK April 27, 2022, 8:15 PM

      Good job. Thank you.

  • Mike Austin April 27, 2022, 3:03 PM

    A brilliant summation of the issues involved. I wish all history texts would refer to Galileo as what he was—and what you said he was: an asshole. I would throw in “arrogant prick” as well.

    Incidentally, Galileo’s father was a musician and composer of renown. Here is his “Ancient Airs and Dances”.


  • jpm April 27, 2022, 3:45 PM

    Excellent summary jscd. Appreciate the effort. Mike is right that Protestants get the Bible right and not Catholics. Even though I am Catholic I only agree with the doctrine, not the personalities. It is the Protestants that get Genesis 15. Catholics never do – at least I rarely meet a Priest that does. If you don’t get Genesis 15, then the Crucifixion, the redemption, the whole thing is insanity. Ayn Rand didn’t get it either even though she arrogantly said she studied Christianity and the other philosophers. (Mike got that right too) If you understand Gen 15 then the whole thing makes perfect sense.