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It is in the name of Moses that Bellarmin thunderstrikes Galileo; and this great vulgarizer of the great seeker Copernicus, Galileo, the old man of truth, the magian of the heavens, was reduced to repeating on his knees word for word after the inquisitor this formula of shame: "Corde sincera et fide non ficta abjuro maledico et detestor supradictos errores et hereses." Falsehood put an ass's hood on science.
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How do we distinguish between the legitimate skepticism of those who scoffed at cold fusion, and the stifling dogma of the seventeenthcentury clergymen who, doubting Galileo's claim that the earth was not the center of the solar system, put him under house arrest for the last eight years of his life? In part, the answer lies in the distinction between skepticism and closed-mindedness. Many scientists who were skeptical about cold fusion nevertheless tried to replicate the reported phenomenon in their own labs; Galileo's critics refused to look at the pertinent data.
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Actually, what we really need to remember about Galileo is that most of the people who use his name in argument could barely spell it, let alone tell us what actually happened to the man. His case is used over and over again because critics can't think of any other scientists who were mistreated by the Church. And in this instance they're right. There may have been some people in the scientific world who did not enjoy Church support and were even challenged by Catholicism but, sorry to disappoint, there weren't very many of them. The Church has been the handmaiden of science and scientific discovery, and those who refer to Galileo tend to forget that Louis Pasteur, the inventor of pasteurization, was a devout Catholic, as was Alexander Fleming, who gave us penicillin. Or Father Nicolaus Copernicus, who first proposed the theory of the earth revolving around the sun - this was precisely what Galileo stated, but Copernicus taught it as theory and not fact. Or Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph e‰douard Lemae®tre, a Belgian Roman Catholic priest and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven, who proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe. In the field of acceleration, Fr. Giambattista Riccioli changed the way we understand that particular science; the father of modern Egyptology was Fr. Athanasius Kircher, and the Yugoslavian Fr. Roger Boscovich was the founder of modern atomic theory.
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He caught a glimpse of that extraordinary faculty in man, that strange, altruistic, rare, and obstinate decency which will make writers or scientists maintain their truths at the risk of death. Eppur si muove, Galileo was to say; it moves all the same. They were to be in a position to burn him if he would go on with it, with his preposterous nonsense about the earth moving round the sun, but he was to continue with the sublime assertion because there was something which he valued more than himself. The Truth. To recognize and to acknowledge What Is. That was the thing which man could do, which his English could do, his beloved, his sleeping, his now defenceless English. They might be stupid, ferocious, unpolitical, almost hopeless. But here and there, oh so seldome, oh so rare, oh so glorious, there were those all the same who would face the rack, the executioner, and even utter extinction, in the cause of something greater than themselves. Truth, that strange thing, the jest of Pilate's. Many stupid young men had thought they were dying for it, and many would continue to die for it, perhaps for a thousand years. They did not have to be right about their truth, as Galileo was to be. It was enough that they, the few and martyred, should establish a greatness, a thing above the sum of all they ignorantly had.
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After Galileo, Einstein and even Freud, we try to hang onto a pathetic sort of significance on this planet and in this universe, that we are in some way more special than anything else. Our supreme arrogance that in some way the world was created for us has neither scientific nor spiritual reality.
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The way in which the persecution of Galileo has been remembered is a tribute to the quiet commencement of the most intimate change in outlook which the human race had yet encountered. Since a babe was born in a manger, it may be doubted whether so great a thing has happened with so little stir
Alfred North Whitehead
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A conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs.
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I think it's time we recognized the Dark Ages are over. Galileo and Copernicus have been proven right. The world is in fact round; the Earth does revolve around the sun. I believe God gave us intellect to differentiate between imprisoning dogma and sound ethical science, which is what we must do here today.
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One of the things that always fascinated me about the Renaissance was that it was a time both of great scientific discovery and also of superstition and belief in magic. And so it was a period in which Galileo invented the telescope, but also a time when hundreds were burned at the stake because people thought they were witches.
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Was the majority right when they stood by while Jesus was crucified? Was the majority right when they refused to believe that the earth moved around the sun and let Galileo be driven to his knees like a dog? It takes fifty years for the majority to be right. The majority is never right until it does right.
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Science would not be what it is if there had not been a Galileo, a Newton or a Lavoisier, any more than music would be what it is if Bach, Beethoven and Wagner had never lived. The world as we know it is the product of its geniuses-and there may be evil as well as beneficent genius-and to deny that fact, is to stultify all history, whether it be that of the intellectual or the economic world.
Norman Robert Campbell
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The stone that Dr. Johnson once kicked to demonstrate the reality of matter has become dissipated in a diffuse distribution of mathematical probabilities. The ladder that Descartes, Galileo, Newton, and Leibniz erected in order to scale the heavens rests upon a continually shifting, unstable foundation.
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To stand by yourself - that was also part of dignity. That way, a person could get through a public flaying with dignity. Galileo. Luther. Even somebody who admitted his guilt and resisted the temptation to deny it. Something politicians couldn't do. Honesty, the courage for honesty. With others and yourself.
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Physics has never been a comfortable subject for human psychology. The desire to regard everything outside the human race's purview as insignificant, and everything within that purview as firmly under the control of tribal myth and custom, is as strong today as it was in the time of Galileo.
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The seers of ancient India had, in their experiments and efforts at spiritual training and the conquest of the body, perfected a discovery which in its importance to the future of human knowledge dwarfs the divinations of Newton and Galileo , even the discovery of the inductive and experimental method in Science was not more momentous...
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My life had taken a stranger turn than I could've ever imagined. What was I doing on this path? Where was I headed really? Who was I to take on a battle between powers I didn't understand"" armed with a runaway cat, a uniquely bad drummer, a pair of garden shears, and an Ovaltine-drinking teen Galileo? To save a girl who didn't want to be saved?
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Where are Shakespeare's imagination, Bacon's learning, Galileo's dream? Where is the sweet fancy of Sidney, the airy spirit of Fletcher, and Milton's thought severe? Methinks such things should not die and dissipate, when a hair can live for centuries, and a brick of Egypt will last three thousand years. I am content to believe that the mind of man survives, somehow or other, his clay.
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Alas! Your dear friend and servant Galileo has been for the last month hopelessly blind; so that this heaven, this earth, this universe, which I by my marvelous discoveries and clear demonstrations had enlarged a hundred thousand times beyond the belief of the wise men of bygone ages, henceforward for me is shrunk into such a small space as is filled by my own bodily sensations.
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I am not very impressed with theological arguments whatever they may be used to support. Such arguments have often been found unsatisfactory in the past. In the time of Galileo it was argued that the texts, 'And the sun stood still... and hasted not to go down about a whole day' (Joshua x. 13) and 'He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not move at any time' (Psalm cv. 5) were an adequate refutation of the Copernican theory.
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The reality is that while heliocentrism was discussed and often accepted within Catholic circles - it was effectively the only place where it could be - the more traditional view of the solar system still prevailed even among leading scientists. So it's hardly surprising that Galileo's Catholic judges had difficult accepting his views, especially when they saw themselves as defending scientific orthodoxy and were supported in this by the scientific establishment.
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Truth lies in a small compass! The Aristotelians say, all truth is contained in Aristotle, in one place or another. Galileo makes Simplicius say so, but shows the absurdity of that speech by answering all truth is contained in a lesser compass, namely, in the alphabet.
Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann
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Often what is nearest is hardest of all to see - try asking a fish to define water. Distance opens a door to revelation. When the first great distances of space were conquered by technology, a camera altered the human perspective on the Earth as radically as Galileo did when he proved the sun was the center of the universe. The ecology movement was born from a photographically altered consciousness.
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When I talk about the pain and hardship of a scientist's life, I'm speaking of more than existential angst. Galileo's work was condemned by the Church; Madame Curie paid with her life, a victim of leukemia wrought by radiation poisoning. Too many of us develop cataracts. None of us gets enough sleep. Most of what we know about the universe we know thanks to a lot of guys (and ladies) who stayed up late at night.
Leon M. Lederman
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I do not personally want to believe that we already know the equations that determine the evolution and fate of the universe; it would make life too dull for me as a scientist. ... I hope, and believe, that the Space Telescope might make the Big Bang cosmology appear incorrect to future generations, perhaps somewhat analogous to the way that Galileo's telescope showed that the earth-centered, Ptolemaic system was inadequate.
John N. Bahcall
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We have two boys, and one of our kids is much more interested in history and stories, so if you want him to do some calculations about lenses, you would start talking to him about Galileo... Then he would be into the lenses, but if you just start talking to him about lenses, he might not stay with you.
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where were answers to the truly deep questions? Religion promised those, though always in vague terms, while retreating from one line in the sand to the next. Don't look past this boundary, they told Galileo, then Hutton, Darwin, Von Neumann, and Crick, always retreating with great dignity before the latest scientific advance, then drawing the next holy perimeter at the shadowy rim of knowledge.
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(Five) thinkers since Galileo, each informing his successor of what discoveries his own lifetime had seen achieved, might have passed the torch of science into our hands as we sit here in this room. Indeed, for the matter of that, an audience much smaller than the present one, an audience of some 5 or 6 score people, if each person in it could speak for his own generation, would carry us away to the black unknown of the human species, to days without a document or monument to tell their tale.
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...where were answers to the truly deep questions? Religion promised those, though always in vague terms, while retreating from one line in the sand to the next. Don't look past this boundary, they told Galileo, then Hutton, Darwin, Von Neumann, and Crick, always retreating with great dignity before the latest scientific advance, then drawing the next holy perimeter at the shadowy rim of knowledge.
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There are many perks to living for twenty-one centuries, and foremost among them is bearing witness to the rare birth of genius. It invariably goes like this: Someone shrugs off the weight of his cultural traditions, ignores the baleful stares of authority, and does something his countrymen think to be completely batshit insane. Of those, Galileo was my personal favorite. Van Gogh comes in second, but he really was batshit insane.
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Lest we forget, the birth of modern physics and cosmology was achieved by Galileo, Kepler and Newton breaking free not from the close confining prison of faith (all three were believing Christians, of one sort or another) but from the enormous burden of the millennial authority of Aristotelian science. The scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was not a revival of Hellenistic science but its final defeat.
David Bentley Hart
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However the great successes of science - Galileo's telescopic observations, Newton's law of gravity, etc - all of this great success caused people to sort of say, what if we could establish religion on that same successful basis? What if we could have a good rational foundation for religious belief. What if religion could be sort of like science. Of course, that can't be.
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In the index to the six hundred odd pages of Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History, abridged version, the names of Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes and Newton do not occur yet their cosmic quest destroyed the medieval vision of an immutable social order in a walled-in universe and transformed the European landscape, society, culture, habits and general outlook, as thoroughly as if a new species had arisen on this planet.
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Throughout history, humankind has been resistant to change and to the acceptance of new ideas... When Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, the astronomers of that time refused to accept or even to look at these satellites because the existence of these moons conflicted with their accepted beliefs. So it is now with psychiatrists and other therapists, who refuse to examine and evaluate the considerable evidence being gathered about survival after bodily death and about past life memories. Their eyes are tightly shut.
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But I had no patience with this convent chatter. I had felt the brush take life in my hand that afternoon; I had had my finger in the great, succulent pie of creation. I was a man of the Renaissance that evening- of Browning's renaissance. I, who had walked the streets of Rome in Genoa velvet and had seen the stars through Galileo's tube, spurned the friars, with their dusty tomes, and their sunken, jealous eyes and their crabbed hair-splitting speech.
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For the pre-Darwinian age had come to be regarded as a Dark Age in which men still believed that the book of Genesis was a standard scientific treatise, and that the only additions to it were Galileo'a demonstration of Leonardo da Vinci's simple remark that the earth is a moon of the sun, Sir Humphrey Davy's invention of the safety lamp, the discovery of electricity, the application of steam to industrial purposes, and the penny post.
George Bernard Shaw
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The Anti-Vivisector does not deny that physiologists must make experiments and even take chances with new methods. He says that they must not seek knowledge by criminal methods, just as they must not make money by criminal methods. He does not object to Galileo dropping cannon balls from the top of the leaning tower of Pisa; but he would object to shoving off two dogs or American tourists.
George Bernard Shaw
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At the bidding of a Peter the Hermit millions of men hurled themselves against the East; the words of an hallucinated enthusiast such as Mahomet created a force capable of triumphing over the Graeco-Roman world; an obscure monk like Luther bathed Europe in blood. The voice of a Galileo or a Newton will never have the least echo among the masses. The inventors of genius hasten the march of civilization. The fanatics and the hallucinated create history.
Gustave Le Bon
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Our federal income tax law defines the tax y to be paid in terms of the income x; it does so in a clumsy enough way by pasting several linear functions together, each valid in another interval or bracket of income. An archeologist who, five thousand years from now, shall unearth some of our income tax returns together with relics of engineering works and mathematical books, will probably date them a couple of centuries earlier, certainly before Galileo and Vieta.
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As soon as somebody demonstrates the art of flying, settlers from our species of man will not be lacking [on the Moon and Jupiter]. . . . Who would have believed that a huge ocean could be crossed more peacefully and safely than the the narrow expanse of the Adriatic, the Baltic Sea or the English Channel? Provide ship or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes, and there will be some who will not fear even that void [of space]. . . . So, for those who will come shortly to attempt this journey, let us establish the astronomy: Galileo, you of Jupiter, I of the Moon.
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One can truly say that the irresistible progress of natural science since the time of Galileo has made its first halt before the study of the higher parts of the brain, the organ of the most complicated relations of the animal to the external world. And it seems, and not without reason, that now is the really critical moment for natural science; for the brain, in its highest complexity-the human brain-which created and creates natural science, itself becomes the object of this science.
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What the founders of modern science, among them Galileo, had to do, was not to criticize and to combat certain faulty theories, and to correct or to replace them by better ones. They had to do something quite different. They had to destroy one world and to replace it by another. They had to reshape the framework of our intellect itself, to restate and to reform its concepts, to evolve a new approach to Being, a new concept of knowledge, a new concept of science-and even to replace a pretty natural approach, that of common sense, by another which is not natural at all.
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When young Galileo, then a student at Pisa, noticed one day during divine service a chandelier swinging backwards and forwards, and convinced himself, by counting his pulse, that the duration of the oscillations was independent of the arc through which it moved, who could know that this discovery would eventually put it in our power, by means of the pendulum, to attain an accuracy in the measurement of time till then deemed impossible, and would enable the storm-tossed seaman in the most distant oceans to determine in what degree of longitude he was sailing?
Hermann von Helmholtz
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The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive ... but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born.
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It is impossible not to feel stirred at the thought of the emotions of man at certain historic moments of adventure and discovery - Columbus when he first saw the Western shore, Pizarro when he stared at the Pacific Ocean, Franklin when the electric spark came from the string of his kite, Galileo when he first turned his telescope to the heavens. Such moments are also granted to students in the abstract regions of thought, and high among them must be placed the morning when Descartes lay in bed and invented the method of co-ordinate geometry.
Alfred North Whitehead
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In the history of science, ever since the famous trial of Galileo, it has repeatedly been claimed that scientific truth cannot be reconciled with the religious interpretation of the world. Although I an now convinced that scientific truth is unassailable in its own field, I have never found it possible to dismiss the content of religious thinking as simply part of an outmoded phase in the consciousness of mankind, a part we shall have to give up from now on, Thus in the course of my life I have repeatedly been compelled to ponder on the relationship of these two regions of though, for I have never been able to doubt the reality of that to which they point.
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After a duration of a thousand years, the power of astrology broke down when, with Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, the progress of astronomy overthrew the false hypothesis upon which the entire structure rested, namely the geocentric system of the universe. The fact that the earth revolves in space intervened to upset the complicated play of planetary influences, and the silent stars, related to the unfathomable depths of the sky, no longer made their prophetic voices audible to mankind. Celestial mechanics and spectrum analysis finally robbed them of their mysterious prestige.
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I do agree that the science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put American's economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me is just nonsense. Just because you have a group of scientists that stood up and said, this is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell. But the fact is, to put America's economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country, is not good economics, and I will suggest to you is not necessarily good science.
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A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. - 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' - Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Sherman Reilly Duffy of the pre-World War I CHICAGO DAILY JOURNAL once told a cub reporter, 'Socially, a journalist fits in somewhere between a whore and a bartender. But spiritually he stands beside Galileo. He knows the world is round.' Well, socially I fit in just fine between the whore and the bartender. Both are close friends. And I knew the world was round. Yet, as time went by I found myself confronted with the ugly suspicion that the world was, after all, flat and that there were things dark and terrible waiting just over the edge to reach out and snatch life from the unlucky, unwary wanderer.
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Oh, it's mysterious lamplit evenings, here in the galaxy, one after the other. It's one of those nights when I wander from window to window, looking for a sign. But I can't see. Terror and a beauty insoluble are a ribband of blue woven into the fringes of garments of things both great and small. No culture explains, no bivouac offers real haven or rest. But it could be that we are not seeing something. Galileo thought that comets were an optical illusion. This is fertile ground: since we are certain that they're not, we can look at what scientists are saying with fresh hope. What if there are really gleaming castellated cities hung upside-down over the desert sand? What limpid lakes and cool date palms have our caravans passed untried? Until, one by one, by the blindest of leaps, we light on the road to these places, we must stumble in darkness and hunger.
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we come astonishingly close to the mystical beliefs of Pythagoras and his followers who attempted to submit all of life to the sovereignty of numbers. Many of our psychologists, sociologists, economists and other latter-day cabalists will have numbers to tell them the truth or they will have nothing... We must remember that Galileo merely said that the language of nature is written in mathematics. He did not say that everything is. And even the truth about nature need not be expressed in mathematics. For most of human history, the language of nature has been the language of myth and ritual. These forms, one might add, had the virtues of leaving nature unthreatened and of encouraging the belief that human beings are part of it. It hardly befits a people who stand ready to blow up the planet to praise themselves too vigorously for having found the true way to talk about nature.
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John Milton has, since his own lifetime, always been one of the major figures in English literature, but his reputation has changed constantly. He has been seen as a political opportunist, an advocate of 'immorality' (he wrote in favour of divorce and married three times), an over-serious classicist, and an arrogant believer in his own greatness as a poet. He was all these things. But, above all, Milton's was the last great liberal intelligence of the English Renaissance. The values expressed in all his works are the values of tolerance, freedom and self-determination, expressed by Shakespeare, Hooker and Donne. The basis of his aesthetic studies was classical, but the modernity of his intellectual interests can be seen in the fact that he went to Italy (in the late 1630s) where he met the astronomer Galileo, who had been condemned as a heretic by the Catholic church for saying the earth moved around the sun.
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So this is where all the vapid talk about the 'soul' of the universe is actually headed. Once the hard-won principles of reason and science have been discredited, the world will not pass into the hands of credulous herbivores who keep crystals by their sides and swoon over the poems of Khalil Gibran. The 'vacuum' will be invaded instead by determined fundamentalists of every stripe who already know the truth by means of revelation and who actually seek real and serious power in the here and now. One thinks of the painstaking, cloud-dispelling labor of British scientists from Isaac Newton to Joseph Priestley to Charles Darwin to Ernest Rutherford to Alan Turing and Francis Crick, much of it built upon the shoulders of Galileo and Copernicus, only to see it casually slandered by a moral and intellectual weakling from the usurping House of Hanover. An awful embarrassment awaits the British if they do not declare for a republic based on verifiable laws and principles, both political and scientific.
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With the growth of civilisation in Europe, and with the revival of letters and of science in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the ethical and intellectual criticism of theology once more recommenced, and arrived at a temporary resting-place in the confessions of the various reformed Protestant sects in the sixteenth century; almost all of which, as soon as they were strong enough, began to persecute those who carried criticism beyond their own limit. But the movement was not arrested by these ecclesiastical barriers, as their constructors fondly imagined it would be; it was continued, tacitly or openly, by Galileo, by Hobbes, by Descartes, and especially by Spinoza, in the seventeenth century; by the English Freethinkers, by Rousseau, by the French Encyclopaedists, and by the German Rationalists, among whom Lessing stands out a head and shoulders taller than the rest, throughout the eighteenth century; by the historians, the philologers, the Biblical critics, the geologists, and the biologists in the nineteenth century, until it is obvious to all who can see that the moral sense and the really scientific method of seeking for truth are once more predominating over false science. Once more ethics and theology are parting company.
Thomas Henry Huxley
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Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man's survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don't. Since men are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgment. Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man's mind. A rational mind does not work under compulsion; it does not subordinate its grasp of reality to anyone's orders, directives, or controls; it does not sacrifice its knowledge, its view of the truth, to anyone's opinions, threats, wishes, plans, or 'welfare.' Such a mind may be hampered by others, it may be silenced, proscribed, imprisoned, or destroyed; it cannot be forced; a gun is not an argument. (An example and symbol of this attitude is Galileo.) It is from the work and the inviolate integrity of such minds-from the intransigent innovators-that all of mankind's knowledge and achievements have come. (See The Fountainhead.) It is to such minds that mankind owes its survival. (See Atlas Shrugged.)
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I linger near Galileo's telescopes, then round the corner and stand transfixed: I did not expect this- a dark, cool room full of globes of the night sky from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Globo celeste, they are called in Italian: 'celestial globe, ' maps of the night sky... I imagine him making another globo celeste, this one smaller, yet still exquisitely painted, still breathtaking in detail. It's a map of the earth still flowing with creation, one you can spin and when you stop it with your finger, there is some tiny detail... some miraculous beauty, some wonderful example from each location at night. The white flower of a night blooming saguaro cactus, the feathers from a great-horned owl, the crunched, smiling face of a particular bat- here, I'm spinning it, I stop it at in the north, where I want there to be something still- he's painted the black-and-white feathers of a loon... or a globe of night sounds, so that by touching your location you hear the night there- the cricket song, the ocean surf, the frog mating calls.
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