In Galileo’s hometown, Vatican promotes science

VATICAN CITY — Nearly four centuries after the Roman Catholic Church branded Galileo Galilei a heretic for positing that the … Continued

VATICAN CITY — Nearly four centuries after the Roman Catholic Church branded Galileo Galilei a heretic for positing that the sun was the center of the universe, the Vatican is co-hosting a major science exhibition in his hometown.

The Vatican is teaming with Italy’s main physics research center to host “Stories from Another World. The Universe Inside and Outside of Us,” in Pisa.

The exhibit will illustrate the progress of knowledge of the physical universe, from prehistoric times to recent discoveries. The exhibit is organized by the Specola Vaticana — the Vatican-supported observatory — and Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics, together with Pisa University’s physics department.

The exhibition aims to tell “the history of the universe, from the particles which make up the atoms in our bodies to distant galaxies,” the Rev. Jose Funes, director of the observatory, told reporters on Thursday (Feb. 2).

It is aimed particularly at young people and great care has been taken “to make complex and difficult knowledge accessible, while at the same time avoiding the risk of superficiality.”

Cosimo Bracci Torsi, president of the exhibit’s venue, the Palazzo Blu Foundation, stressed that the placement of the exhibit in Galileo’s hometown reflects the progress made between secular science and religion since Galileo was “first condemned then cleared up.”

Galileo was condemned by the Vatican in 1633 for his astronomical theories and spent the last eight years of his life under house arrest. The late Pope John Paul II apologized in 1992, saying the church was wrong to convict Galileo.

Objects on display include rock fragments from the moon and Mars, and original copies of the books of Isaac Newton. The exhibition runs from March 10 to July 1.

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  • Sajanas

    You know what would do more to heal the image of the Vatican being anti-science? Stop lying about condoms not being sufficient to stop AIDS.

  • ralph_malph

    This article propagates the age-old myth that Galileo was “branded a heretic” for positing that the sun was the center of the universe.

    The facts are these: 1. Galileo’s theory was allowed to be taught as a theory in many Catholic colleges at the time. 2. Galileo had not proved that his theory was true yet according to scientific standards at the time. 3. Galileo went around stating that his theory was fact in spite of the fact that he couldn’t prove it. 4. He wrote a book mocking the pope as a simpleton for not simply believing what he said was true on his own word (even though he could not prove it). (In addition, 5. The sun is not the center of the universe, so ultimately Galileo was wrong. It is only the center of the solar system)

    Basically, the Church looked positively on Galileo’s findings but Galileo overstepped his bounds as a scientist by proclaiming his theory as fact without proving it first, and then riled his boss who also had spiritual and temporal authority over him. He earned his (very comfortable) house arrest. The negative thing that came out of all of it is the false notion that the Catholic Church is anti-science. This case is the usually the only “evidence” that anyone can drum up that the Catholic Church is anti-science, when in fact the Catholic Church has always been one of the foremost promoters of science since a Catholic invented the Scientific Method.