Wednesday, November 04, 2015

On Galileo

Here. 

14 comments:

Mr. Green said...

For the historical context of who actually did what and why, see Mike Flynn's compendious study: http://tofspot.blogspot.ca/2013/10/the-great-ptolemaic-smackdown-table-of.html

planks length said...

The Galileo affair was an unbelievably complex thing, and does not easily reduce to a sound bite summary without doing great violence to accuracy and significance. There are reasons that whole libraries can be filled with commentary on this incident. Like most events in history, when you actually pay attention you find there are no white hats or black hats, but rather a whole bunch of guys in gray.

And the fact that the whole thing occurred in perhaps the messiest, least "black and white" period in World History (the Renaissance) simply guarantees that the more you study it, the more ambiguity you will discover. There are wheels within wheels. I assure you that no one comes out of that sorry affair smelling like a rose.

John Moore said...

Regardless of who did what back in the Renaissance, I hope we can agree on a few simple principles today. For example (1) book censorship is wrong, and (2) blasphemy should not be punished.

planks length said...

I hope we can agree on a few simple principles today. For example (1) book censorship is wrong, and (2) blasphemy should not be punished.

Consider your hopes dashed. I agree with neither of those.

Mr. Green said...

John Moore: For example (1) book censorship is wrong, and (2) blasphemy should not be punished.

Absolutely, I hope we can all agree about those statements too.

...We're agreeing that they're both ridiculously wrong, right?

John Moore said...

If you agree with neither of these principles, then I suppose you don't care much about the particular facts of the Galileo case, because even if the church carried out censorship and punished blasphemy, the church wasn't wrong to do so. Why are we even discussing Galileo at all?

Mr. Green said...

John Moore: I suppose you don't care much about the particular facts [...]

What a daft thing to say. Either censorship is always wrong no matter what, or else it's always right no matter what? Maybe I'm missing some kind of inside joke here or something....

planks length said...

So, John. Do you believe people have an absolute right to publish child pornography?

Saying all censorship is always wrong is like saying, "Either leave your car in the garage, or else drive it as fast as you want, because speed limits are wrong."

B. Prokop said...

HERE is one of the best articles I've seen in a while on the fundamental insanity of scientism. (And I chose that word deliberately. To deny whole swathes of reality simply because you can't perceive them by your one-and-only chosen means of learning about things, is almost by definition insane.)

Jezu ufam tobie!

John Moore said...

Both Mr. Green and planks length try to dismiss my principles by taking them to the extreme. There's no cause for that. I specifically mentioned book censorship, not any and all censorship. And I didn't say "always" or "absolutely." So I think your comments are not constructive. Maybe you don't even want to have a discussion? It's hard to tell.

Anyway, the interesting point is that we don't need to discuss details of the Galileo case, because you guys seem to believe the church was justified regardless of what it actually did. And in that case, we don't need "whole libraries filled with commentary."

planks length said...

Oh, so as long as child pornography is published between two covers and consists of pages (i.e., a "book"), it should not be subject to censorship?

Yes, I am deliberately "taking things to the extreme" to demonstrate that both you and I are drawing lines. The debate is over where such lines ought to be drawn. So for the record, I emphatically do not agree with your statement "book censorship is wrong". (And I note that you did not include the modifier "sometimes". Perhaps that was an oversight? Because absent the modifier, the meaning of the sentence defaults to "always".) But in your latest comment, you appear to be conceding that there are things which ought to be censored.

And is it so unbelievable that the Church may have possibly been in the right in its actions in the Galileo affair? Or at the very least that there are two sides to the story? Now who's being "dismissive" here?

John Moore said...

I think people should always lean against censorship. People should realize that censorship is always a problem or else a "lesser of two evils" attempt to deal with a problem. People should never accept censorship as justified unless there are very clear, exceptional and temporary reasons.

OK, that's a somewhat more nuanced version of the principle that I expressed too simply above.

Of course the church might have been right in the Galileo affair, just as the church might be right that God exists and the pope is Saint Peter's heir. I don't rule out any possibilities. My point was just that if you accept that censorship (and punishment for blasphemy) can often be justified, then you are already pre-disposed to think the church was right, and you don't need to consider actual details of the Galileo case.

On the other hand, if you agree with me that we should generally consider censorship wrong, then the Galileo case becomes very interesting, and church defenders need to gather detailed evidence to justify the church's actions.

By the way, if you want to look at the Galileo affair from the atheist/scientist point of view, then the question is whether the church actively hindered the progress of science. Some Christians these days argue that the scientific revolution was born out of Christianity (example here), and the implication is that science is a good thing, but in the case of Galileo the church seemed to be hindering scientific progress. So that's another interesting discussion.

Mr. Green said...

John Moore: Both Mr. Green and planks length try to dismiss my principles by taking them to the extreme.

Well, no, I didn't dismiss your principles and I didn't take them anywhere. I merely responded to what you said, and your original claim contained no qualifiers; it was a flat-out "book censorship is wrong", full stop. Planks Length and I simply said that we disagreed. The rest was all in your imagination.

Anyway, the interesting point is that we don't need to discuss details of the Galileo case, because you guys seem to believe the church was justified regardless of what it actually did.

No, the interesting point is that despite neither of us saying any such thing, you nevertheless seem to have convinced yourself that we did. My brief comments didn't address that point either way, and Planks Length actually indicated the opposite.

People should realize that censorship is always a problem or else a "lesser of two evils" attempt to deal with a problem.

That is a bit more nuanced, but still wrong. Sometimes censorship [bookish or other] is a good thing; sometimes it's a bad thing.

My point was just that if you accept that censorship (and punishment for blasphemy) can often be justified, then you are already pre-disposed to think the church was right, and you don't need to consider actual details of the Galileo case.

Again, this is a bizarre claim. Nobody here said "often" (I don't even know what scale you're using to judge frequency), but more baffling is the claim that somebody who believes that censorship may possibly be justified (or even often be justified) would somehow be "predisposed" to think that the Church was right in this particular case. It should be blindingly obvious that someone could think that some instances of censorship are acceptable, but that this particular one wasn't. This was followed by the entirely irrational claim that someone who was predisposed to a certain view would therefor not "need" to consider the actual facts of the matter. I don't know where you'd even get such a peculiar sequence of ideas. That's not how you think about things, is it?


On the other hand, if you agree with me that we should generally consider censorship wrong, then the Galileo case becomes very interesting, and church defenders need to gather detailed evidence to justify the church's actions.

The Galileo case is interesting in many ways regardless of what anyone thinks about anything. Church defenders don't "need" to do anything; but it behooves anyone at all who wishes to have an informed opinion on the matter to investigate the evidence. (How much detail depends on how informed one wishes to be.)

if you want to look at the Galileo affair from the atheist/scientist point of view, then the question is whether the church actively hindered the progress of science.

It is?

in the case of Galileo the church seemed to be hindering scientific progress.

It did?

planks length said...

Mr. Green,

When it comes to commenters like John, you just have to remember the immortal words from the movie The Interview: "Haters gonna hate, and ain'ters gonna ain't."

John's mind is made up on the Galileo incident, and nothing is ever going to change his mind without first him giving up his absolutist "Science good - Religion bad!" attitude.