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I think we need to discuss some points at issue.

  • I cannot understand why RSchlafly keeps editing out the statement about the order for Galileo's book to be burned - every source I have checked gives this as a fact. What evidence is there that this did not happen?
  • I also cannot understand why he disagrees that the common understanding of the period was that the Bible taught that the earth was the center of the universe - what is the evidence that this was not taught at the time?
  • It's also true as far as other sources tell me that other books than Galileo's dealing with Copernican theories were added to the Index of Forbidden Books. Galileo's theories were denounced from the pulpit and to the Medici by the Dominicans, so I don't understand why that should have been taken out in his edit.
  • I also think the point about Galileo's work, however inaccurate in some respects by modern standards, being the first commonly-accepted example of the use of the scientific method of hypothesis, experiment, observation and falsifiability is quite central, and can't understand why this should have been removed in RSchlafly's edit. Please can we discuss these before any further edits are made.--Britinme 15:12, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
Saying that the book was burned implies that the only copy was lost. It was not. Copies were readily available to other scholars.RSchlafly 15:31, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
Copies of the book were burned, according to several reputable sources. It's obvious that some survived, but the point was that some were burned at the instructions of the Church. Unless you can come up with some reasonable evidence that they weren't, this point should go back in.--Britinme 18:41, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
So how many copies were burned? Who owned those copies? RSchlafly 20:43, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
The Bible was just one of many reasons for thinking that the Earth was at the center. Any statement that it was the only reason, or even the main reason, is just wrong.RSchlafly 15:31, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
Would you like to come up with some evidence for that statement? It is a widely held view, and if you are going to dispute it you ought to be able to cite some evidence in support of your position.--Britinme 18:41, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
The main reason was the success of the Ptolemaic system, and that had nothing to do with the Bible. RSchlafly 20:43, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
It is okay to say what was being banned or denounced, as long as it says what was really being banned or denounced. RSchlafly 15:31, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
I think I made it clear that what was being denounced was the treating of Copernicus' theories as if they were real rather than hypothetical.--Britinme 18:41, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
Is it clear enough now? RSchlafly 20:43, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
The idea that Galileo invented the scientific method is just nonsense. RSchlafly 15:31, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
As far as I know, Bacon's version of the scientific method, although certainly revolutionary for his period, was not based on mathematics and measurement in the same way as Galileo's. However, we can compromise on the wording and say Galileo 'is often regarded' is the inventor of the scientific method. I don't think Bacon was concerned with falsifiability, which is fairly central to Galileo - after all, he started by questioning Aristotle, using experiment and observation to do so.--Britinme 18:41, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
No, it is not okay to say that Galileo is often regarded as having invented the scientific method unless it also says that it is false. There are a lot of goofy stories about Galileo, and we don't want to just repeat myths. RSchlafly 20:43, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
Surely the scientific method is traditionally credited to Roger Bacon, some centuries earlier? (I.e. I'm agreeing...) Dpbsmith 15:45, 3 May 2007 (EDT)

He thinks it's anti-Catholic, but it's also factual... I checked the sources and did my own research. Is that how it works on Conservapedia? Censor the unpleasant stuff?-BillBuck 15:23, 3 May 2007 (EDT)

You bet it is. Check out the history of the McCarthy article. --PF Fox 15:24, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
Well, that's exactly how it works. The thing to always remember is that the sysops have the block and ban controls and will happily revert any edits they don't agree with and, if you protest, block you. Far from being a well run community site, it's a totalitarian ego project and I'd suggest you do something more productive with your time. --Rob Roy 15:40, 3 May 2007 (EDT)

BillBuck just reverted all my edits, without explanation. If something is incorrect, then post your evidence here. It is not acceptable to just insert a bunch of anti-Catholic myths without evidence.

PF Fox is a McCarthy hater, who wanted the McCarthy article to include a bunch of attacks on McCarthy. If you check the history there, you'll find that I personally made sure that the article include a summary of PF Fox's criticisms of McCarthy. RSchlafly 15:50, 3 May 2007 (EDT)

Sorry I reverted without explanation, RSchlafly, but since you removed much of the previous editor's work, or modified it heavily, without comment, I figured it was proper for me to do the same. I treated your unexplained changes as mere vandalism, so of course I reverted them after finding them to be erroneous, and I assumed no further discussion was necessary.-BillBuck 18:47, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
I corrected a number of errors, and left in what was not in errror. If you think that something is now in error, then please explain here. RSchlafly 20:43, 3 May 2007 (EDT)

Things to correct

Dont know why this page is locked, couldn't find any edit wars from the history, but never the less, here are some changes i would hope to be made to this article. Firstly, i would like to get the sentence: "but this was commuted to permanent house arrest with a generous Church pension." to be canged so that it wouldn't anymore claim the pension to be generous. There is no info that it would have been generous on the citation (40 scudies after some investigation from other sources). And in current form it now makes it look like Galileo was awarder with house arrest not punished. Allso would like to return the mention about the part of the punishment that ordered the dialogue to be burned. Dont know why it was removed on first place. Timppeli 21:21, 3 May 2007 (EDT)


I've mainly tried to remove propaganda (from either side): a great mind was being slandered and ridiculed to censor the Church's past mistakes (a different Church, hundreds of years ago), history must never be censored, imagine a German user censoring the Holocaust article, to make it look like it wasn't so bad after all.

Instead of ridiculing a legendary scientist, instead blame the pope of his time for his narrowmindness and intolerance, contrary to Jesus' teachings.

Middle Man

I disagree with most of your edits. Examples:

  • "Ptolemy's theory was increasingly elaborated" - How is this relevant to Galileo?
  • "proposed heliocentric system did not claim to represent the reality" - Where does Osiander say that?
  • "belief in a moving earth was widely held at the time to be contrary to the Bible, and consequently Galileo’s support of Copernican theories was denounced" - No, the success of the Ptolemaic system was the main reason.
  • "books that dealt with the Copernican theories" - Why did you take out the line about Copernicus's book being corrected? The corrected book was not banned.
  • "It also didn't help that he mocked the Pope in the form of a fictitious character named Simplicio." - Why did you remove this?

Please justify these edits. RSchlafly 14:07, 4 May 2007 (EDT)

  • It means Ptolemy's theories were insufficient to explain some of the movements of the planets, the heliocentric theory of Copernicus and Galileo could.
  • The linked article is pretty clear about this.
  • See my first point, heliocentric ideas were held by some in Ancient Greece, the Arab world and India.
  • Irrelevant, the Nazi's didn't order the burning of Snowhite and the 7 dwarfs either, they did burn other books, and that needs to be mentioned in history.
  • Mockery is NOT a crime, only a tyrant would see it as justification for book burnings and censorship.

PLEASE realize that this has nothing to do with today's church or today's Pope, just as we can't blame a 20 year old German for something his grandfather did. If someone like John Paul II had been pope at the time, this wouldn't have happened.

Middle Man

The burning of Galileo's books

I have now done some research into this, and come up with two contemporary sources that say this happened. One is Antonio Badelli, writing in June 1633, quoted in [1] “Galileo was made to abjure Wednesday morning in the Minerva Convent in the presence of all the Cardinals of the Congregation and they burned before his eyes the book where he deals with the motion of the earth.” I found this in another couple of sources in the original Italian: Testo della sentenza, Roma, 22 giugno 1633. Il Galileo fu abiurato mercordì mattina nel Convento della Minerva alla presenza di tutti i Cardinali della Congregazione del Santo Uffizio, e gli abbruciarono in faccia il suo libro, dove tratta del moto della terra.

Another source is Descartes, who learned of the condemnation of Galileo's book as he was arranging to publish Le Monde. He wrote to Mersenne: I had intended to send you Le Monde as a New Year gift...but in the meantime I tried to find out in Leiden and Amsterdam whether Galileo World System was available, as I thought I had heard that it was published in Italy last year. I was told that it had indeed been published, but that all copies had been burned at Rome, and that Galileo had been convicted and fined. I was so surprised by this that I nearly decided to burn all my papers, or at least let no one see them. For I couldn't imagine that he--an Italian and, I believe, in favor with the Pope--could have been made a criminal, just because he tried, as he certainly did, to establish that the earth moves...I must admit that if this view is false, then so too are the entire foundations of my philosophy, for it can be demonstrated from them quite clearly. And it is so integral to my treatise that I couldn't remove it without making the whole work defective. But for all that, I wouldn't want to publish a discourse which had a single word that the Church disapproved of; so I prefer to suppress it rather than to publish it in a mutilated form.

This was quoted in several different sources, but I took this one from [2] as being a solid academic reference. I found it in many other sources as well, including but not limited to: [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11]. I omitted sources that were obviously anti-Catholic, and I omitted many sources where the main subject of the page or the book was not either scientific or historical and the assertion was simply made in passing in another context. --Britinme 22:23, 4 May 2007 (EDT)

I am not doubting that one or more copies were burned. I am just objecting to the suggestion that all copies were burned. Why not just say that a copy was burned? RSchlafly 00:40, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
Since Descartes clearly tells us that he couldn't get hold of the book because 'all copies were burned', but since he was mistaken in that some copies plainly survived, it is accurate to say that 'his book was burned'. It would be inaccurate to say that 'a copy' was burned since it seems to have been more than that. It would be equally inaccurate to say that 'all copies' were burned. To say 'his book was ordered to be burned', which if you recall is what I said in the first place and what the article now says, covers that in-between point without laboring the issue. I trust we can now let the article rest at that. --Britinme 08:45, 5 May 2007 (EDT)--Britinme 08:47, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
I suggest "Some copies were burned." RSchlafly 10:28, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
Works for me. (Eventually if someone finds sources convincing to everyone it could always be amended to "Most copies" or "A few copies" or "Many copies" or "About 80% of all the copies" or "522 out of 760 copies" or whatever...) Dpbsmith 10:50, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
If we say 'his books were ordered to be burned', that's accurate. They were so ordered and an unestablished number were burned, but some (as far as I can tell from the sources I've read) survived because they'd been shipped to Protestant countries. There was also an issue for the Inquisition that the book had been written in Italian rather than Latin, as this made it more accessible to non-clerics. --Britinme 13:13, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

So, you're saying book-burning is ok, as long as someone hides a few copies? The only reason not all books were burned, is because the Church couldn't find them all. Do you really think the Pope ordered: the inquisition shall now burn 80% of the books? Middle Man

Are you talking to me? The 80% number is mine but it was sort of a joke. What I believe is that none of us really knows the facts—and nobody knows exactly what it means when Encarta says "The Dialogue was ordered to be burned." Probably none of us is interested in researching what is or isn't known about the actual book-burning. So we are searching for language that everyone is happy with. RSchlafly, I think, is seeking to fine-tune the language to keep it out of the Galileo-good-Church-wicked narrative groove. Why not? What difference does it make? In either case, it's clear that the Church officials at the time were trying to suppress the book. "Burning books" is incendiary language, and to me at least evokes images of Hitler, etc. so if RSchlafly wants to be careful about the language, let him. Dpbsmith 13:33, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

I agree with you, you're right to say that the most important thing here is that the order to burn books was given.

It's just that Rschlafy tries to make it look like it wasn't that bad, and it was all Galileo's own fault. There is no way that the burning of scientific books can ever be justified, no matter how you twist the facts, it's just WRONG!Middle Man

When libraries run out of space, they "cull" their books. Doubtless some of them happen to be scientific books, e.g. out-of-date books. What happens to them? "'We must conceive of the library as a channel through which books pass on their way from the publisher to the incinerator,' the librarian G. Hardin declared in an edict issued in 1947"[1], and, yeah, this was before paper recycling was common and, yeah, he was probably speaking literally and they probably were burned. Is that "just WRONG?"
Bad analogy. Galileo's books weren't burned because they were out of date. They were burned "pour encourager les autres" - it certainly worked for Descartes. Galileo no doubt vividly remembered the burning at the stake of Giordano Bruno for heresy in 1600. --Britinme 15:39, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
I wasn't making an analogy, I was addressing the statement that "There is no way that the burning of scientific books can ever be justified." That's an exaggeration, and I produced a counterexample.
As for it being partly Galileo's fault, well, of course it was. He was deliberately tweaking the nose of authority and parodying the Pope. He didn't have to. Church officials had set boundaries that let him publish all of the scientific content of his work, just so long as he put a rhetorical figleaf on it so that he was not directly challenging the Church. Galileo went just a little bit past those boundaries, thinking he could get away with it, and couldn't quite.
Sorta like John Gilmore refusing to show ID at an airport because he thinks U. S. citizens have the right to travel within the United States without carrying identity papers. Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong. Maybe he's a hero, maybe he's a jerk, maybe a bit of both. I happen to think of Galileo and Gilmore as heroes both, but certainly they deliberately provoked authority. Both of them were punished for it and the punishment was seriously inconveniencing to them; neither was burned at the stake. (When I went to school, one of the comparisons that was constantly being made between the U. S. and the Soviet Union was the freedom of U. S. citizens to travel freely within the U. S. without showing papers). Dpbsmith 15:48, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
  1. Brooks, Collette (1947) "So Many Books, So Little Space," The New York Times, October 26, 2002, p. 9
I can't really beliave that we are now blaming Galileo from this, nor that it says on article: "some of his books where burned" while they explicitly where all ordered to be burned. Thats just... wrong. I see some people have real urge to get this look better for the Catholic chuch. Timppeli 18:23, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

Really? Now what makes you think that?

Middle Man

Well, actually im quite gullible, so it's amazing that they didnt manage to hide this even from me. ;) Timppeli 18:39, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

Look, there wasn't freedom of speech back then, and there was a Christian theocracy, more or less. It wasn't a case of pure victimization. There was an element of civil disobedience in what Galileo did. Please let's be clear: I admire him for doing it, but he could have contributed just as much to science without annoying the Church. Of course then we wouldn't have had Berthold Brecht's play... The Church didn't attack Galileo for his science, it attacked Galileo for making fun of the Pope. Dpbsmith 19:53, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

Galileo's experiments dropping objects?

The article says:

Galileo tested Aristotle's theory that heavy objects fall faster than light ones and found it was a consequence of air resistance, not gravity.

How much is really known about this? Dialogues on Two New Sciences certainly implies that someone did some experiments. It is Sagredo who says

"I who have made the test can assure you that a cannon ball weighing one or two hundred pounds, or even more, will not reach the ground by as much as a span ahead of a musket ball weighing only half a pound, provided both are dropped from a height of 200 cubits."

Is he supposed to be the pseudonymous voice of Galileo? And how much did the cannon ball weigh? And, forgive me, but how, exactly would one have observed whether the difference in which they reached the ground was "a span?" I who have not tried the experiment don't know how easy this is to see by eye. (Certainly one could tell that the cannon ball didn't fall two hundred times as fast as the musket ball).

A few page later, Salviati quotes Aristotle as saying "an iron ball of one hundred pounds falling from a height of one hundred cubits reaches the ground before a one-pound ball has fallen a single cubit. I say that they arrive at the same time. You find, on making the experiment, that the larger outstrips the smaller by two finger-breadths... now you would not hide behind these two fingers the ninety-nine cubits of Aristotle."

Galileo's writing is so detailed in these matters as to convince me that he really must have done some experiments, but their details are far from clear. Is more known from other sources, or is everyone else just inferring it from what he writes Two New Sciences?

(It's completely clear that he does understand falling, accelerated motion, and air resistance in a modern way...)

I guess what I'm leading up to is that if nothing else is recorded about those experiments, the sentence should be reworded just a bit, something like

In Two New Sciences, Galileo implies that he experimentally tested Aristotle's theory that heavy objects fall faster than light ones... Dpbsmith 11:03, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

P. S. Anyone know what Aristotle really did say? Presumably it's somewhere here. Dpbsmith 13:34, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

I believe that the story about Galileo dropping rocks from the leaning tower of Pisa is now regarded as false. I don't know why everyone attacks Aristotle so much on this point, because heavier objects really do fall faster when air resistance is considered. RSchlafly 17:57, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

Hmmm, well, maybe scientists just like to get their formula's right before they go derive things from them?

Middle Man

Galileo attacks Aristotle by saying that, if you drop two objects, one weighing a hundred times as much as the other, a hundred cubits, Aristotle predicts the heavy object will win by 99 cubits, Galileo predicts a tie, and the actual experiment show the heavy object wins by the breadth of two fingers. "You would not hide behind these two fingers the ninety-nine cubits of Aristotle." And that's fair. Galileo's physical model is a good approximation, Aristotle's isn't even close. '
That's assuming Galileo is representing Aristotle fairly. I think he is, but I'm not sure.
I don't think it's that "everyone" attacks Aristotle. I think generations of oversimplified textbooks copying from each other have repeated Galileo's attack on Aristotle, who was simply wrong on this point. Galileo himself slightly messed up the square-cube relationship in his bone illustration, by the way... What most people think about this point is probably based on a few sentences from a junior-high-school science book, or maybe a teacher who was overdramatizing. It's sort of like "Columbus thought the world was round when everyone else thought it was flat."
The story that the leaning tower of Pisa was the location is apocryphal. The question is, what's known about Galileo's actual experiments?
If you read the text at the link above, it's clear that Aristotle couldn't have done any experiments or even been a very good observer.
Aristotle's model seems to be one in which there is no inertia, objects experience a force of gravity in proportion to their size--they have weight, but no mass, and the speed of fall is governed by the interplay of weight and air resistance. This is seen clearly in the passage beginning "The second reason is this: all movement is either compulsory or according to nature...", "the medium causes a difference because it impedes the moving thing," "Similarly the void can bear no ratio to the full, and therefore neither can movement through the one to movement through the other, but if a thing moves through the thickest medium such and such a distance in such and such a time, it moves through the void with a speed beyond any ratio."
Mind you, I don't really follow, but I think Aristotle is saying that there cannot be a vacuum, because if there were everything in it would move with infinite speed. Or perhaps he's saying everything in it would move with equal speed.
Of course, it probably doesn't help that the translation of Aristotle I'm looking at seems to be literal, while the translation of Galileo is readable and may well be unconsciously informed by a modern understanding of physics.
In any case, Galileo's writing shows a very good understanding of how air resistance fits in. Both of them are theorizing on what would happen in a vacuum. Galileo says everything would fall at the same, uniformly accelerated speed. Aristotle says everything would fall at infinite speed. Galileo "got" inertia, Aristotle didn't. Dpbsmith 19:41, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
I don't agree with "Aristotle couldn't have done any experiments or even been a very good observer." He is credited with all sorts of scientific observations. Yeah, he did some goofy theorizing, and I can't make much sense of his physics writings. But I don't really agree with saying that he was proved wrong unless someone can show precisely what he said and precisely what proves him wrong. RSchlafly 15:23, 6 May 2007 (EDT)
My bad, I should have said he couldn't have done experiments or been a very good observer of falling objects. As penance I promise to write something about Aristotle's lantern someday... when someone gets around to writing an article on sea urchins.
He said "Similarly the void can bear no ratio to the full, and therefore neither can movement through the one to movement through the other, but if a thing moves through the thickest medium such and such a distance in such and such a time, it moves through the void with a speed beyond any ratio." What do you think that means? I think it means, in modern parlance, "in a vacuum, objects fall with infinite speed." They don't.
From what he says about ratios, I think Galileo represented Aristotle fairly. Aristotle seems to be saying that the speed of a falling object is directly proportional to its weight and inversely proportional to the resistance of the medium.
At best you can say Aristotle is correct in situations where the Reynolds number is very low. He's wildly incorrect for things like stones and cannonballs and blocks of wood falling distances of tens to hundreds of feet in air. I don't see anything obvious in the passage I linked to that shows he has any awareness of his statements being limited to things like inflated bladders or gossamer or feathers and not applying to stones and cannonballs and blocks of wood. Dpbsmith 16:04, 6 May 2007 (EDT)

Here's a very interesting link: The Legend of the Leaning Tower:

The finding mentioned by Commander Scott, namely that objects of different mass fall at the same rate in a vacuum, is associated with a single person (Galileo) and a single place the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The culprit is Vincenzio Viviani, Galileo's secretary in the final years of his life.
We owe many of the Galilean legends to Viviani's warm biography of the Italian scholar. One is the story of how Galileo climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa and "in the presence of other teachers and philosophers and all the students" showed through repeated experiments that "the velocity of moving bodies of the same composition, but of different weights, moving through the same medium, do not attain the proportion of their weight as Aristotle decreed, but move with the same velocity"....
Science historians find Galileo's early experiments with falling bodies fascinating, for several reasons. One is that Galileo was not the first. As far back as the sixth century, other scholars who doubted Aristotle's account of motion had also experimented with falling bodies and concluded that Aristotle was wrong. They included several 16th-century Italians and one of Galileo's predecessors as professor at Pisa.
Dpbsmith 16:14, 6 May 2007 (EDT)