Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cardinal Newman on Galileo and the Alleged Dogmatic Status of Geocentrism

So again Galileo, supposing he began (I have no reason for implying or thinking he did, but supposing he began) with doubting the received doctrine about the centrality of the earth, I think he would have been defective in religiousness; but not defective in faith, (unless indeed by chance he erroneously thought that the centrality had been defined). On the other hand, when he saw good reasons for doubting it, it was very fair to ask, and implied no irreligiousness,—"After all, is it defined?" and then, on inquiry, he would have found liberty of thought "in possession," and would both by right and with piety doubt of the earth's centrality.

(Letter to Edward B. Pusey, 23 March 1867; cited in Wilfred Ward, The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman [two volumes: London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912], vol. 2, 221)

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