History of Astronomy

The Galileo Affair

Why did Galileo get in trouble with the Church?


Many theories have been put forth over the years to explain why Galileo came into conflict with the Church. The mystery arises precisely because Galileo actually stood squarely in the long history of the Church’s support of science. Many churchmen of high standing, such as Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, had suggested even more radical cosmologies than Galileo did; Copernicus’ work itself had been available without controversy for more than sixty years before Galileo first published his telescopic observations. Most theories explain Galileo's problems with the Church as a clash of strong personalities; as coming from a fear that his ideas would threaten the basis of contemporary theology; or as a reaction by the Pope to the political pressures of the day.


History of Astronomy - Year 2010

Paul Mueller is presently investigating whether some well-established tools and concepts from biblical textual criticism, which were used to discriminate reliable manuscript evidence from unreliable, were brought over into the natural sciences during the early modern period to discriminate reliable empirical evidence from unreliable. If this is true, it would help explain some puzzling aspects of early modern scientific practice. Also, there would be some interesting philosophical implications, first with respect to the ontological and epistemological status of individual observation-events, and second with respect to how such events could be aggregated to identify and designate regular natural phenomena.