Galileo's Letter To The Grand Duchess Christina, 1695

1428 words - 6 pages

In 1695 Galileo wrote a Letter to The Grand Duchess Christina. This letter discussed the relationship between the traditional biblical beliefs of the time (the basis on which their society was built), scientific discoveries, and their correlation with one another. The purpose of the letter was to inform that the scientific discoveries being made were not hearsay or contradictory to the Bible, rather they were natural laws, which could coincide with Scriptural based beliefs, not oppose them. In the Letter to The Grand Duchess Christina, Galileo implies that science is the means by which G-d meant for humanity to understand scriptural truths. This belief can be applied to the present day by finding equilibrium, and in turn allowing for a balanced life.
In his Letter to The Grand Duchess Christina, Galileo challenged the widely accepted religious beliefs of the time, claiming that the conflict lies in their interpretation, not the context. In Galileo’s eyes science was an extremely useful tool that could and should have been used in interpreting the Scriptures. He argued that “the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven not how heaven goes” (Grand Duchess). The purpose of science was not to counter what the bible teaches; rather its purpose was to help explain the teachings of the scriptures. Furthermore, it was “prudent to affirm that the holy Bible can never speak untruth-whenever its true meaning is understood” (Grand Duchess). However, because of the terminology in which the bible was presented the perception of what the Scripture defined as truth was skewed. The Bible was written so that the common man could understand it and follow its commandments. The people also showed a greater interest in their reasoning, rather than the quest for true understanding. Through the use of science, one is able to eliminate ambiguous language and communicate in a more finite and precise language, thus eliminating the chance for a faulty interpretation of Scriptural truth. Galileo then goes on to state, “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,” which can be done through science (Grand Duchess). Science can be used as tool to refine one’s understanding of the scriptural truth, not oppose it. He then wrote, “We conclude that God is known first through Nature, and then again, more particularly, by doctrine, by Nature in His works, and by doctrine in His revealed word,” which further emphasized the fact that the purpose of science was not to change the truth, but rather enlighten society as to the proper meaning of the truth (Grand Duchess).
Another wide-spread belief that Galileo challenged in his letter was the concept that the Earth was considered to be the center of the universe. Galileo claimed “the sun to be situated motionless in the center of the revolution of the celestial orbs while the...

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