Is there A conflict between Christianity and science? This is a question which has engaged the attention of scholars, both Christian and secular, ever since the time of the Copernican revolution, and the debate continues today with, if anything, renewed vigor. Critics of Christianity show no signs of forgetting that Galileo was condemned by an authoritarian church for his advocacy of the Copernican system—though they do not so readily remember that many of the church leaders of that day were convinced in their own minds that Galileo was right, but felt powerless to oppose the official machine of the Roman Inquisition. A most interesting book by Giorgio de Santillana on the Trial of Galileo has recently been published (London, 1958) and gives a full and very fair account of the whole sorry business. Little wonder that Galileo, who always protested that he was a loyal and dutiful son of the church (what else could he do?), was filled with frustration as he sought vainly for recognition and the acceptance of views the truth of which he was denied any opportunity of demonstrating to his accusers. Little wonder that he should have complained that “of all hatreds there is none greater than that of ignorance against knowledge.” His chagrin was not diminished by the realization that the Commissary General of the inquisitorial court which tried him was persuaded of the rightness of the accused man’s views, yet was ineluctably caught up in the authoritarian machinery of his high office.

The scientific doctrine of Galileo has long since been embraced by church as well as state and the Ptolemaic world-view disowned. Nobody now believes that the earth is the fixed central point of our solar system. But it does not follow from this that ...

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