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Unveiling the Truth: How the Church Resisted Science for Centuries

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Throughout history, the Church has often been at odds with scientific progress, let’s look at heliocentrism today as an example. The Church’s resistance to the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun is particularly telling. If the Church were truly connected to an all-knowing deity, or if the Bible were genuinely the divinely inspired word of God, we would expect it to be consistently ahead of scientific discoveries, not lagging centuries behind. This expectation is reasonable; an omniscient entity should provide insights far beyond human comprehension, not endorse outdated models of the universe. Yet, history shows us a Church that resisted heliocentrism, clinging to geocentric interpretations of the cosmos that were eventually proven wrong. The insistence on a geocentric view was largely based on biblical passages, such as Psalm 104:5 (“He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved”) and 1 Chronicles 16:30 (“The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved”), interpreted as endorsements of a stationary Earth.

Reflecting on the Church’s stance during the heliocentrism debate reveals a deeper issue: the danger of anchoring to religious dogma in the face of empirical evidence. The idea that the Earth was the center of the universe, with everything else, including the Sun, orbiting it, appears ludicrous today. It’s a stark illustration of how dogmatic adherence can cloud judgment and impede intellectual progress. This obstinate refusal to accept heliocentrism wasn’t just an isolated error; it’s symptomatic of a larger pattern of resistance to scientific advancement. The Church’s reluctance to accept heliocentrism was not just about maintaining a literal interpretation of scripture; it was about preserving the Church’s authority over knowledge and interpretation of the world. This episode in history serves as a microcosm of the Church’s broader attitude towards science: one of skepticism and often hostility, especially when scientific discoveries challenge long-held theological views.

In hindsight, the Church’s reluctance to embrace heliocentrism exemplifies the tension between faith and reason. There’s a trend among theists to argue that the Church embraces science, but this revisionist and biased mindset overlooks the reality of the Church’s delayed, rather than proactive, pursuit of scientific truth. They reluctantly acknowledge critical facts about our existence only in the face of overwhelming evidence, and often many years after such science has become so universally accepted that their opposition places them in a fringe minority.

Their delay in acceptance highlights a critical point: reliance on divine revelation or scripture for understanding the natural world is inherently flawed. The bible isn’t a science book or even remotely connected to science or history,  it’s a horror novel. The Church’s journey from denial to acceptance of heliocentrism is not a triumph of faith but a testament to the resilience of scientific inquiry in the face of religious dogmatism. It serves as a reminder that progress in understanding our universe comes not from unyielding adherence to ancient texts, but from open-minded exploration and evidence-based reasoning. The Church’s historical stance on issues like heliocentrism underscores the necessity of keeping religious doctrine separate from scientific inquiry, allowing each to thrive in its own right without interference or constraint from the other.


It took the church hundreds of years to accept heliocentrism due to their dogmatic adherence to their ancient novel. Here’s a timeline…

1543: Nicolaus Copernicus’s publication of “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” marks a turning point in the history of astronomy, challenging the prevailing geocentric model of the universe. While Copernicus’s work was not without its critics, it laid the groundwork for a new understanding of the cosmos.

1584: Giordano Bruno, an Italian philosopher and former Dominican friar, published “De l’infinito universo e mondi” (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds), advocating the idea of an infinite universe and supporting the heliocentric model. His views, which went beyond Copernicus’s heliocentrism and challenged the Church’s doctrines on the nature of the universe, contributed to his eventual condemnation.

1600: Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake by the Roman Inquisition. His execution was primarily due to his justifiable opposition to core Catholic doctrines. While his support for heliocentrism was part of his broader conflict with Church teachings, it was not the sole reason for his execution. Bruno’s death became a symbol of the Church’s opposition to the advancement of scientific thought and freedom of expression.

1610: Galileo Galilei’s use of a telescope provides compelling evidence for heliocentrism, including the observation of the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter. These discoveries challenged the Church’s interpretation of the Bible and raised concerns about the implications of a heliocentric universe.

1616: The Congregation of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum places Copernicus’s “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” on the Index. Galileo is also warned not to teach or defend heliocentrism.

1632: Galileo’s publication of “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” reignites the debate over heliocentrism. The book presents arguments for both the geocentric and heliocentric models, but Galileo’s support for heliocentrism is evident.

1633: Galileo is put on trial by the Roman Inquisition for “vehemently suspect of heresy” due to his support of heliocentrism. He is forced to recant his views and is placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.

1638: Johannes Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, which he formulated in the early 17th century, provide a strong mathematical basis for heliocentrism.

1687: Isaac Newton’s “Principia Mathematica” is published, providing a comprehensive mathematical framework for heliocentrism. By this time, heliocentrism is increasingly accepted in the scientific community as the leading theory.

1758: The Church lifts the ban on some works supporting heliocentrism, but Galileo’s “Dialogue” remains on the Index. This partial recognition of heliocentrism indicates a gradual shift in the Church’s stance.

1822: The Church finally permits the publication of books supporting heliocentrism, marking a significant step towards accepting the scientific consensus on the matter.

1835: Galileo’s “Dialogue” is removed from the Index of Forbidden Books, symbolizing the Church’s belated acknowledgment of Galileo’s contributions to astronomy.

1838: Friedrich Bessel observes stellar parallax, providing the final and irrefutable proof of the Earth’s motion around the Sun. By this time, heliocentrism is already the predominant cosmological model in the scientific community.

1992: Pope John Paul II formally acknowledges the Church’s error in condemning Galileo, representing a full reconciliation with Galileo’s legacy and the acceptance of heliocentrism.

Like the portrayal of God in the Bible, it is clear that the Church is also a bumbling fool, undeserving of any special credence on any matter whatsoever.


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Suggested reading:

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love

Galileo’s Daughter dramatically recolors the personality and accomplishment of a mythic figure whose seventeenth-century clash with Catholic doctrine continues to define the schism between science and religion. Moving between Galileo’s public life and Maria Celeste’s sequestered world, Sobel illuminates the Florence of the Medicis and the papal court in Rome during an era when humanity’s perception of its place in the cosmos was overturned. With all the human drama and scientific adventure that distinguished Latitude, Galileo’s Daughter is an unforgettable story.

The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man’s Changing Vision of the Universe

An extraordinary history of humanity’s changing vision of the universe. In this masterly synthesis, Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile distinction between ‘sciences’ and ‘humanities’ to bring to life the whole history of cosmology from the Babylonians to Newton. He shows how the tragic split between science and religion arose and how, in particular, the modern world-view replaced the medieval world-view in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. He also provides vivid and judicious pen-portraits of a string of great scientists and makes clear the role that political bias and unconscious prejudice played in their creativity.