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Galileo's Sentencing to Prison

Essay by review  •  November 17, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,179 Words (5 Pages)  •  905 Views

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Galileo Galilei was born in 1564 in Pisa, Italy. At a young age his family moved to Florence where he grew up. At about the age of 33, Galileo begins to believe in the Copernican or heliocentric model of the universe as opposed to the Ptolemaic or geocentric model. Galileo then used magnifying glasses to create telescopes to see the stars better. He realizes that the Copernican model offers better explanations for what he discovered in the sky and for what happens here on earth than the Ptolemaic. He then publishes the work Letters on Sunspots. After this is done the clergy of the Catholic Church begins to attack the Copernican view. An argument ensues between the Catholic Church and Galileo which eventually leads to him being arrested and sentenced to house arrest for heresy. This sentencing of Galileo was a vast overreaction. I definitely disagree with this sentence.

Galileo was sentenced to house arrest for his entire life. His crime did not deserve this harsh punishment. Galileo was only guilty of disagreeing with the Catholic Church. He didn't do anything to hurt nor corrupt anyone. The Catholic Church was trying to retain the power they had over the people by not allowing anyone to disprove their theory. They didn't want to look wrong so they charged Galileo of heresy and locked him up. To me, this is a poor excuse to lock someone up. There were people in that world that deserved to be locked up more than Galileo just for reporting things he had discovered. If this happened today, the prisons would be way to full of people. Everyone speaks out against the government nowadays and the government has to deal with it. Galileo was merely trying to inform people rather than start trouble. He also gave evidence to his theory which still didn't help his case. It seems as though the Catholic Church held a grudge against Galileo and gave him a harsh punishment.

It is hard to say that we agree or disagree with this punishment simply because of the different time period. Most present day people would disagree with the punishment against Galileo because it seems to be very cruel and unusual punishment. It was a very different time period back in the days of the seventeenth century. People heavily relied on their church as leadership. Any person that would make the leadership look bad was potentially dangerous. Today, criticizing leadership is an everyday occurrence and we don't think twice about it. As a person of the present time period I disagree with the punishment on Galileo but my opinion may have changed if I lived in the seventeenth century.

A person could give valid points for the punishment that Galileo had received. Heresy is defined as an opinion that defies Roman Catholic Dogma. This was a very serious crime back in the days of Galileo. Giordano Bruno was convicted of Heresy in 1600 and was actually burned at the stake. This information can give the impression that Galileo got off easy. If the church went by what had happened before and they truly believe Galileo was guilty of heresy then he should have been punished in the same way Bruno was punished. Galileo spoke out against the heliocentric model and defended his Copernican model. A person may think that Galileo set out to disprove the Catholic Church's beliefs on purpose for the simple fact of proving them wrong. In 1616 Cardinal Bellarmine officially warns Galileo not to teach, hold, or defend the Copernican theory. Galileo knew that what he was doing was bad and heretical. Just three years later he continued to write about comets which contradicted the views of the Jesuit mathematicians. By doing this he had clearly disregarded the warnings the Cardinal had given him and in effect already committed heresy. Ten more years go by and Galileo completes his work Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. This dialogue is then printed and distributed worldwide. In the

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