The Christian was explaining to me – briefly – that there is another side to the Catholic story condemning Galileo and subjecting him to house arrest for the last eight years of his life. It was not, so this Christian said, because Galileo had discovered that the Pope and Catholic Church were wrong about the earth and heavens. It was because Galileo was so pompous and perhaps arrogant about it.
This Christian was pompous and arrogant also. He made the point that there are two sides to this story in which the Catholic Church did not apologize until October 31, 1992, 360 years after the Inquisitions treatment of Galileo. It was all caused by the fact that Galileo was such an in-your-face guy about his heliocentric theory with Pope Urban VIII that he got into trouble.
Ok. Let’s assume that Galileo was a pompous ass, arrogant and perhaps even disrespectful about all this, even though he was ultimately proven right.
He was following and expanding on Copernican theory about the false geocentric (earth entered universe) ideas vs. factual heliocentric (sun centered solar system) theory as ultimately was proven.
Lots of great minds postulating great advances, great theories, and universal truths have been a tad pompous with their thoughts and experiments. That still does not give the Pope or anyone else the right to arrest them, do evil to them, place them under house arrest or worse.
Let’s suppose for example that I am a strong adherent and believer in certain brands of hokum. Let’s suppose that I firmly buy into the ideas of astrology, alchemy, reading tea leaves, tarot card readings, a geocentric earth, the flat earth theory, the idea of spontaneous generation in creating some beings, etc.
All this is hokum, pixie dust and nonsense. However, if I strongly believe all this nonsense and blather, do I have a right to continue to believe it, write about it and expose others to my thoughts? Of course I do, no matter how crazy my thoughts and ideas might be.
Do I have a right to believe, think, write and talk about my ideas and opinions? Do you have a right to believe, think, write and talk about your differing ideas and opinions? The answers are yes, and yes.
If you were the Grand Benevolent Dictator of the United States, you as Dictator might have the power to imprison me, put me on the rack, burn me alive, torture me etc, but you would not have the moral right.
Uh-oh – here we go again, with ideas going back to the Middle Ages. Then, these were all “answers” for Christianity and the Catholic Church and their dealings with heretics, blasphemy, heresy and thought and writings not approved by the Church.
The point is that Hitler had the power to kill six million Jews and six million others (homosexuals, intellectuals, university professors, the infirm, the mentally retarded, etc.) but he did not have the moral right. Power and right are two different things. The Pope at Galileo’s time might have had the power, but he had no right to stifle Galileo’s thought, even if Galileo had been wrong!
The sad and frightening thing is that many Christians of today think Medieval and Dark Age thoughts and would welcome the opportunity to stifle me and so many others who know that in addition to the above list of hokum ideas, we can also add creationism, Biblical attempts to thwart science. crystal power, voo-doo. Jesus flying up into the sky, the Eucharist as the real body and blood of Christ, the Bible as truth, the idea of heaven and hell, etc.
Isn’t it nice to be a skeptic of religion or a non-believer in the fairy tales of childhood, which should be limited to children of a certain age along with Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Winnie-the-Pooh stories?