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It is common “knowledge” amost science-lovers that Galileo was tremendously mistreated by the church in his quest for the truth. However this is more false than you can imagine. Do you ever wandered why Galileo was brought to trial for defending Copernicus ideas, while Copernicus ideas were publicly in print for many years? Or why the Pope was enraged at Galileo even though he was a friend of his? The details of the case are not well known and you can read Religion and Science unification article for them. And these details show that the story was not a story of a “hero” (the phrase “But it does move” was added later to the story to add spice…) but a story of a deal which was broken and of a believer in the “absolute truth of one thinking model” (science) versus common sense (which we now have but which was not too widespread at the time).

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The essense is that Galileo had used science not as a tool to fight dogmatism, but as a tool to install a new dogmatism of its kind!! He claimed the findings of his science (which by the way were based on wrong evidence – read Feyerabend for details on that) disproved the current theories of the time about geocentricism. He claimed that the TRUTH was what his science said! No room left for other opinions. And all things taken into account, the Catholic Church refuted that claim. They said to him that they had no problem for him to say that “a possible model of the world is the heliocentric”. However he was too dogmatic (or, in order not to be too harsh, too enthusiastic) to go for that. He wanted all the pie. For science alone.

Today we know better. We are NOT too attached to scientific models which represent the behaviour of systems per se. Models are models and they (on their own) have nothing to do with philosophical aspects like “truth” or “reality”… You can read more about on the Earth at the Center of the Universe? article, but I think Einstein said it very elegantly:

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The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS [Coordinate System] could be used with equal justification. The two sentences, ‘the sun is at rest and the earth moves’ or ‘the sun moves and the earth is at rest,’ would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS“… [Einstein]

Galileo’s model was one model. Just that. Nothing more. Nothing less. Believing in it as the “sole truth” is not only dogmatic but also indicative of complete lack of science history (at least modern history) knowledge…

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Being in favor of Galileo is like being in favor of one dictator in the place of another. Dogmatism has for a long time been associated with religion. When people say that they forget the social role of religion: For years religion was the same as science, there were no separate sectors! When the Church said “Earth is at the center” they just reproduced the SCIENTIFIC models of their time! No matter whether you like it or not, THAT WAS THE PREVAILING SCIENTIFIC view at the time for our solar system! It was Ptolemy and Aristotle who said it, not a catholic bishop. We do not need science dogmatism no more than we need religion dogmatism!

Dogmatism is wrong no matter how you see it.

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