Galileo's maxim

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Galileo's maxim is the principle
"two truths can never contradict each other"
that Galileo frequently used in his reasoning.

Consequence: Having truth poses an advantage over the opponent in a debate[note 1]

Galileo further explained that "whoever has truth on his side has a great, indeed the greatest, advantage over the opponent, and that it is impossible for two truths to contradict each other; it follows therefore that we must not fear any assaults launched against us by anyone, as long as we are allowed to speak and to be heard by competent persons who are not excessively upset by their own emotions and interests."[1][2] Unfortunately, facing biased opponents is often the case, especially when dealing with so called scientists. Speaking out of his own experience with "obstinate objectors"[note 2] against his scientific discoveries, French scientist Louis Pasteur claimed that "Yet however blazingly clear the demonstrated the truth, it has not always had the privilege of being easily accepted."[3] Someone in a scientific dispute who happens to be right has a great advantage over another who happens to be wrong. The one who supports the true side will be able to provide a multitude of supporting experiments and necessary demonstrations for his side, whereas the other person can have nothing but:

  • sophisms,
  • paralogisms,
  • fallacies,
  • uses only philosophical weapons even when the discussion is pertaining to physical questions normally subject of scientific observation
  • feels terrified thus tries to find a way of not letting the opponent approach because of impossibility to resist his arguments.[1]

According to Winston Churchill, "The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is." Duff Cooper maintained that the communication of a solemn fact has a capacity of producing a sobering effect to people suffering from character disturbance.[4]

Notable examples

The Christian Mission

According to J. Stott, the Christian faith cannot capitulate to pluralism and relativism promulgated by postmodernism which attacks claims on absolute truth. Christians must continue to argue that truth is truth.[5] As Peter Cotterell has put it:[6]

"Truth is not a matter of pride or humility. It is a matter of fact. Islam says Jesus wasn't crucified. We say he was. Only one of us can be right. Judaism says Jesus was not the Messiah. We say he was. Only one of us can be right. Hinduism says that God has often been incarnate. We say only once. And we can't be both right."

See also


  1. cf. "Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment." Proverbs 12:19, Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
  2. cf. Mathematician of the University of Pisa syndrome


  1. 1.0 1.1 Galileo Galilei (1613, December 21). Letter to Benedetto Castelli. The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome. Retrieved on October 20, 2013. “Given this, and moreover it being obvious that two truths can never contradict each other, the task of wise interpreters is to strive to find the true meanings of scriptural passages agreeing with those physical conclusions of which we are already certain and sure from clear sensory experience or from necessary demonstrations.”
  2. Galileo Galilei. Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, 1615 (Modern History Sourcebook). Fordham University. Retrieved on 16/2/2012. “This granted, and it being true that two truths cannot contradict one another, it is the function of expositors to seek out the true senses of scriptural texts.”
  3. Patrice Debré (1998). Louis Pasteur. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 407. ISBN 978-0801-865299. 
  4. Disturbed character: Examples
  5. John Stott (2003 (First Edition 1999)). "Chapter I: The Revelation of God", Evangelical Truth: A Personal Plea For Unity, Integrity And Faithfulness. Inter-Varsity Press, 53. ISBN 978-88511-19885. 
  6. Peter Cotterell (1989). The London Bible College Review. London Bible College, 53.