A while back I mentioned that the Vatican considered readdressing the issues brought forth by the whole Galileo incident. Dorian has brought an update to my attention, so kudos and applause and all that. I never would have thought to check up on this myself. Apparently there will be a nice display of old telescopes to look at starting this week if you’re planning on being anywhere near the Vatican museums between now and January 16, 2010 and would want to take that in.
At a briefing to launch the exhibit Tuesday, Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s top culture official, declined to revisit the Church’s 17th century condemnation of Galileo for his discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun.
Church teaching at the time placed the Earth at the center of the universe.
Rather, Ravasi said that, while it was necessary to have the courage to admit errors when they were made, “I continue to believe that it’s necessary to look more to the future.”
Well, so long as that future embraces a reality only scientific discovery can offer, I don’t see a problem. It probably isn’t fair to continue to remind those guys of what got done when their church was younger, anyway. It’s not like they don’t already know. It’s like people showing off that hideous drunken passed out snap from your first legal birthday. Maybe you don’t actually have memories of the events the evidence clearly illustrates, but do you really need everyone reminding you of it?
Not like I know what that’s like…but no.
Tommaso Maccacaro, president of Italy’s national institute of astrophysics, said it was important to look at the instruments not just from a scientific view but from a cultural one as well, since astronomy has had such an impact on the way we perceive ourselves.
“It was astronomical observations that let us understand that Earth (and man) don’t have a privileged position or role in the universe,” he said in his prepared comments to the briefing. “I ask myself what tools will we use in the next 400 years, and I ask what revolutions of understanding they’ll bring about, like resolving the mystery of our apparent cosmic solitude.”
I think it’ll be amazing what gets invented and what gets found once the ability is there. Kind of makes me wish I really could be a vampire. Then I’d be around (hopefully) in 400 years and well skilled at astronomy since I’d have to be up at night anyway. As it is, I can only find three constellations and maybe Mars and Venus. How sad is that? Someday I’m going to have to call the University of Saskatchewan and see what hours their observatory is open for the public. That’d be a neat thing to do some night. I’ve never been in one.
Shame. Great shame, I know.
Thanks for existing, Galileo. I don’t know where our world would be now if not for you…
quick edit – we’d still be going around in circles around the sun and someone else would have come up with a telescope as good or better eventually… but still. Thanks, Galileo!