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Galileo, Knowledge and Power

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Galileo transformed Western knowledge, but the Catholic Church vehemently opposed his “heretical” heliocentric observations. Inspired by author Thomas Dixon, ScienceBloggers debate whether the Church’s beef with Galileo was motivated by political power or by the competing principles of science and religion. On EvolutionBlog, Jason Rosenhouse writes that while the conflict was “played out in the political arena,” it was actually ideological in nature since it pitted the Pope’s “privileged relationship with God” against science’s popular means to knowledge. On The Questionable Authority, Mike Dunford warns that “the Galileo affair was almost irreducibly complex,” but adds that when one group tries to impose its worldview on another, it’s essentially a political action. Finally, Coturnix goes a step further on A Blog Around The Clock, asserting that “every conflict is a political conflict,” and “some conflicts are also superficially about facts about the world.” Power dynamics notwithstanding, one thing’s for sure: Galileo and his telescope changed the way even Popes look at the heavens.

Links below the fold.