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Introduction By Galileo Galilei

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The Marriage of Faith and Science ‘God is known by nature in his works, and by doctrine in his revealed word.’ — Galileo Galilei, an Italian astronomer whose discoveries remain the sine qua non of modern astronomy and physics today, was a man who did not believe in the divorce of marriage and science; rather, he saw them as complementary and interdependent. Galileo faced many deterrents throughout his career, from the Roman Inquisition to other prominent scientists such as Johann Georg Locher. Despite his controversy with the church and the opposition he faced, Galilei was a devout Catholic who believed that his faith firmly supported his innovations, scientific research, and impact in the field of science.

Innovations Galileo developed numerous innovations in his early life, including a hydrostatic balance, an early model of the modern thermometer, and an improved compass and telescope. The principle of Archimedes stated that weighing precious metals in the air, and then again in water, was a method of determining their purity. At the age of 22 in 1586, Galileo developed a better method: he created a hydrostatic balance, in which the arm of the counterweight was wrapped with metal wire. This allowed metals to be accurately weighted. Seven years later, Galileo went on to develop a thermoscope, similar to the modern thermometer. A thermoscope is a device that shows the change in temperature and allows liquid to rise and fall as the temperature fluctuates.

This device was aided not only in collecting accurate research and observations, but was later improved upon to create what we know as the modern thermometer today. Within the next five years, Galileo improved upon an invention that came to be a revolutionary development: the military compass. Galilei’s compass included useful scales that could be used for a plethora of different purposes. Not only was the tool made more accurate, but it also became a major calculating instrument that was used for over three centuries due to its practicality in geometry and measuring. Lastly, Galilei’s experimentation with the spyglass led him to develop a telescope that was able to magnify an object up to eight or nine times, which almost doubled the current magnification.

This later led him to discover sunspots, the phases of Venus, as well as the four largest moons of Jupiter. Galileo believed that the laws of nature were written by God in the language of mathematics and calculation. He believed that the presence of God was discernible through common sense. Galileo once said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” Scientific Research, Controversy, and Opposition Galileo’s scientific research, while profound in its contributions to modern astronomy, had serious implications for him at the time. Galilei’s disagreement with the church was more than just a conflict between science and religion. More specifically, it had to deal with the discrepancies between Copernican and Aristotelian science, the latter of which was a part of Church tradition.

Copernicus, a scientist who preceded Galileo, believed that the Sun remained at rest near the center of the universe and that the Earth revolved around the Sun; this is known as the heliocentric, or Sun-centered, system. Galilei agreed with the Copernican model. Conversely, Aristotle believed in a geocentric model of the universe, where the Earth remained at rest in the center of the universe, and every other heavenly object (including the sun) revolved around Earth. Because the church believed that the Aristotelian system of the universe was accurate, Galileo was excommunicated from the Church for his “fallacies” and sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. In response to this, Galileo reportedly had said, “In the sciences, the authority of thousands of opinions is not worth as much as one tiny spark of reason in an individual man.”

Other discoveries that Galileo is credited with include the finding that pendulums were isochronous and the basic principle of relativity. It wasn’t just the Church that opposed Galileo’s beliefs; another prominent scientist of Galileo’s time, Johann Georg Locher, was an anti-Copernican scientist. He adamantly believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and advocated as much vehemently. Galileo addressed this man in one of his many works later on in his life, using the phases of Venus as evidence to contradict Locher’s statements. He believed that the Sun pivoted around the Earth, and that a perpetual revolution took place. His opposition, though one of the more popular examples, proves that while Galileo was correct, he still faced many enmity from others outside of the Church.

Impact in the Field of Science Galileo’s contributions to the fields of modern astronomy and physics have impacted the world of science in ways unimaginable. The magnification of Galileo’s telescopes proved incredibly useful, especially because very little was known about the universe at the time. Galileo’s invention helped other scientists to learn more about what lay beyond the atmosphere and to lay the foundation for a great deal of modern astrophysics. Galileo played a key role in the “Copernican Revolution” by advocating for heliocentric model of the solar system. A few years later, the Copernican model was established beyond doubt by Isaac Newton. Galileo is considered the greatest scientist of his age.

He is responsible for the initiation of the scientific revolution that was produced through his telescopic discoveries, theories, and emphasis on experimentation and mathematical approach to science.  His last work, Two New Sciences, is considered his finest and regarded as an influential landmark in the history of science. Due to his immense contribution Galileo Galilei has been referred to as the father of modern science by many people including Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Conclusion Galilei used his faith to defend his numerous innovations, his research, and his influence in the field of science.

Galileo provided a number of scientific insights that laid the foundation for future scientists. His investigation of the laws of motion and improvements on the telescope helped further the understanding of the world and the universe around him. Both led him to question the current belief of the time — that all things revolved around the Earth. Galilei believed in the marriage of science and faith rather than the divorce of the two fields. Galileo’s excommunication from the Church was not a religious matter, but rather one made in poor judgment. As Galileo once said, “There are those who reason well, but they are greatly outnumbered by those who reason badly.”

Works Cited

  1. Primary Galilei, Galileo. “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, 1615.” Received by Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, 1615. Secondary “Anirudh.”
  2. Learnodo Newtonic, 12 Sept. 2018, http://learnodo-newtonic.com/galileo-galilei-accomplishments. Editors, History.com. “Galileo Galilei.”
  3. History.com, A&E Television Networks, 23 July 2010, www.history.com/topics/inventions/galileo-galilei. “Galileo Galilei.”
  4. Online Essays, onlineessays.com/essays/biographies/bio021.php. “Galileo Galilei Critical Essays.”
  5. Enotes.com, Enotes.com, www.enotes.com/topics/galileo-galilei-62834. Helden, Albert Van. “Galileo.”
  6. Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 11 Jan. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Galileo-Galilei.
  7. “History – Galileo Galilei.” BBC, www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/galilei_galileo.shtml. International, et al. “Science and Faith: Galileo.”
  8. Kosovo | OM.org, www.om.org/uk/en/news/science-and-faith-galileo. “International Space Hall of Fame : New Mexico Museum of Space History :: Inductee Profile.”
  9. New Mexico Museum of Space History, http://www.nmspacemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.php?id=123. Pilfer. “Galileo Galilei.”
  10. Christian History | Learn the History of Christianity & the Church, Christianity Today, 18 Feb. 2016, https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/scholarsandscientists/galileo-galilei.html.
  11. Popova, Maria. “Galileo vs. God: The Father of Modern Science on Religion, Truth, and Human Nature.”
  12. Brain Pickings, 15 Feb. 2016, www.brainpickings.org/2013/02/15/galileo-letter-to-duchess-of-tuscany/. Redd, Nola Taylor.
  13. “Galileo Galilei: Biography, Inventions & Other Facts.” Space.com, Space.com, 14 Nov. 2017, https://www.space.com/15589-galileo-galilei.html “What Were Galileo’s Scientific and Biblical Conflicts with the Church?”
  14. Does the Bible Share Any Wisdom about Investing? • ChristianAnswers.Net, https://christiananswers.net/q-eden/galileo.html.
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