Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Stargazer And The Society

Christopher Clavius
The largest and ablest collection of mathematicians in Italy belonged to the Society of Jesus.  When he started serious study of mathematics, Galileo sought and obtained the advice and approval of their leader, Father Christopher Clavius.  He had to break off relations in 1606, when the Venetian state expelled the Jesuits from its territories.  Galileo restored the connection soon after returning to Florence in 1610 as “Mathematician and Philosopher to the Grand Duke of Tuscany.”  Again he had an urgent need for Clavius’s endorsement.  The astonishing discoveries he had made in 1609/10 by turning his telescope on the heavens challenged credulity.  By the end of 1610 he had the confirmation he wanted.  Clavius’s group of mathematicians invited him to their headquarters in Rome to celebrate the “message from the stars,” as Galileo had entitled the book in which he had announced his discoveries, and to toast the messenger.
Link (here) to History News Network to read the full story.

1 comment:

TonyD said...

I think we often forget our limitations, as expressed by Pope Urban VIII in the article:

“Pope Urban VIII… held that no astronomical system could be known to be true. Condemning any astronomical system would give all of them a status they did not deserve… Galileo needed quarantine… because he thought that the human mind unaided by revelation could attain to truth.”

I’m not saying that quarantine was the appropriate response, or that Urban’s judgment included all the appropriate values, but he did seem to understand our fundamental lack of understanding. And that is a good starting point.

I realize that most people have trouble believing how little we know, and resisting the temptation to define our misunderstandings as “faith” and “truth”. But the cost of our ego is high. We become people who work against God’s will and desires. Salvation moves further away from us as our values move further away from God’s values.