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The Penultimate CuriosityHow Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions$
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Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747956.001.0001

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Free Philosophizing

Free Philosophizing

(p.190) Chapter Twenty-Three Free Philosophizing
The Penultimate Curiosity

Roger Wagner

Andrew Briggs

Oxford University Press

This chapter focusses on Galileo’s support for Nicholas Copernicus’ idea that the Earth and the other planets all revolved around the Sun. His theologically informed intellectual optimism made him particularly anxious that the Church not condemn Copernicanism. In his Letter to Castelli, Galileo argued that there was no contradiction between science and Scripture. Holy writ was given to teach us the path to salvation but it was not necessary ‘to believe that the same God who has furnished us with senses, language and intellect would want to bypass their use and … the information we can obtain with them’. He then argued that the passage in the Book of Joshua, which describes God lengthening a day of battle by making the Sun stand still (which was used by opponents of the Copernican theory to show it contradicted Scripture), actually made better sense if Copernicus was right.

Keywords:   Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo, Copernicanism, church, Earth, Sun

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