October 11th, 2021
Galileo was more than a line in a Queen song.
In the early 1600’s, he and his contemporary Giordano Bruno were the kind of history that certain people would prefer we not remember.
You see, for a long time, it was common knowledge that the entire universe revolved around Earth. That’s what was believed during Aristotle’s time, and that was the idea the Church gave its authority on.
Everything revolves around us and that is final.
Until it wasn’t.
A scientist named Galileo, using some kind of modern devil technology known as a “telescope,” made a shocking discovery (at least at the time): our universe is heliocentric, meaning we actually revolve around our sun.
Galileo wished to teach this fact in school; the Church was very much against that, as this new information did not align with the Bible. In 1615, Galileo tried to make his case, the Church still refused to move, and threatened him to stop teaching his new doctrine or else. In 1616, Galileo fled and returned to Florence; though he was obviously disappointed, he knew he was lucky.
Because his contemporary, Giordano Bruno, went even further: he proposed that the universe was infinite, meaning not even our own sun was the center of it. He went so far as to state that ALL stars are also suns, which is true, as any schoolchild now can tell you.
When Bruno refused to back down from actual fact, the Church burned him at the stake. For real.
Eventually, they made Galileo live out the rest of his days under house arrest.
Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending here. The Church finally did recognize that we revolve around the sun. In 1992.
And in 2000, Pope John Paul II apologized for how Galileo had been treated. Almost 400 years later. I’m pretty sure Galileo was dead by then.
This is the kind of history we need to remember. Scientific ignorance and religious superiority are real. We have to be able to hold these stories up to the light, share them, and promise each other to not repeat what happened in them.
Because real history will judge us. Not the stuff we make up to make ourselves the heroes. The truth. The right thing.
And it seems like a good day to remember that.