“…abandon completely…the opinion that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not…hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.”
– Pope Paul V to Galileo (1616)
Galileo Galilei has been called the “father of observational astronomy”, the “father of modern physics”, the “father of scientific method”, and the “father of science”. Among his many accomplishments was promoting Heliocentrism, the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around the Sun at the center of the Solar System (originally proposed as early as the 3rd century BC by Aristarchus of Samos).
For promoting this scientific theory he was investigated by the Roman Inquisition, which concluded that heliocentrism was “foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture.” (Such as Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30 which state that “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.”; Psalm 104:5 which says, “the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”; and Ecclesiastes 1:5 that states, “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place.”)
He was called to Rome (1632) and ultimately found guilty of heresy, defending an “opinion” contrary to Holy Scripture, and sentenced to imprisonment (commuted to house arrest, where he stayed until his death). Publication of any of his works was forbidden. (In 1758 the Catholic Church ended the prohibition of books on Heliocentrism from the Index of Forbidden Books. Pope Pius VII approved in 1822 a decision by the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition that allowed books about heliocentrism to be printed in Rome.)
As all school children today know, Galileo was right, the Church was wrong. And it may be, in the not so distant future, that the descendants of today’s school children may learn about another Inquisition that seems to be dawning, this time between conservative politicians (and their fossil fuel altar) and science.
The Trump administration has announced a new policy mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth’s climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame.
I won’t be surprised to hear that soon the EPA will receive the order, “…abandon completely. ..the opinion that mankind causes or contributes to or impacts Earth’s climate to any degree and henceforth not…hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.”
Climate change is the new heresy, the Administration and its political hierarchy the new “church” who will decide the “truth” – science be damned for defending an “opinion” contrary to the beliefs of the new church and its leader – and perhaps those future school children will, like Galileo, have to spend their lives in their homes.
Because the world outside will be too dangerous to their health.
Galileo once wrote a letter to a friend in which he argued that the bible was an authority on faith and morals, but not on science.
I write this to argue that polititicans are authorities on governance, but not on science.
And while the Trump administration may muzzle and fetter, or even do away with, the EPA, they can’t silence all scientists from telling us the truth.