How did Galileo reconcile heliocentric astronomy with Holy Scripture? “If the wording of Scripture appeared to presuppose and sanction the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic world system” (p. 29), how did Galileo uphold the sanctity of the Holy Spirit, whose inspiration had led biblical authors to paint a world picture seemingly in contradiction with Copernican principles? Claiming that “the Holy Spirit conformed to the intellectual capabilities of the common and uneducated peoples of biblical times,” Galileo reinforced biblical exegesis with the findings of natural philosophy, including “compelling evidence of Copernican astronomy” (p. 29). He relied heavily on St Augustine, who had argued that biblical authors spoke little about “the form of the heavens,” since the Holy Spirit had “not wished to teach those things to men that would be of no use for salvation” (p. 315). Consequently, biblical authors had been given an accommodated account of the cosmos, evoking the worldview of their unenlightened contemporaries. After all, it was the priority of the Holy Spirit, as Cesare Baronio (1538–1607) had quipped, “to teach us how to go to heaven, and not how the heavens go” (p. 317).In the present volume, Hans Bieri shows that Galileo was not the only early Copernican who supported such an accommodationist approach.
Church History and Religious Culture (formerly Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2010
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