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Scientific theory no matter of faith

Adrienne Chabot | Thursday, February 16, 2012

Many people like to hold Galileo up as the supreme example of the Church changing its teaching (“‘Never,’ is a strong word,” Feb. 16). But the fact is, the Church never has and never will define a scientific theory as a matter of faith. Galileo actually demanded that the Church change her teachings on Scripture. Galileo insisted he was right even though his foundations were flawed, leaving the Church with only two choices: accept it or condemn him. The third choice that the Church offered was calling the theory plausible but in need of more evidence, however, this would not satisfy Galileo.

Galileo was not the first scientist to propose the heliocentric view. Johannes Kepler proposed his theory of heliocentricity 10 years earlier and was ridiculed by his colleagues. The main source of intolerance for their theories was from the esteemed scientific community of that period, not the Church. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church only stepped in when Galileo presumed to try to tell them they needed to defer to his flawed scientific findings. Furthermore, Galileo’s heliocentric theory said that the sun was the center of the universe, a theory that has later been shown to be false.

The Church tribunal that judged Galileo’s case may have been mistaken in saying the sun is not the center of our solar system. They were, however, completely correct in declaring Galileo’s entire attitude towards the Church and Scripture dangerously heretical. Also, that tribunal was a small group of men that definitely did not have the authority to declare any of the immutable teachings of the Church. This authority is reserved for the Pope in specific circumstances. The tribunal only had disciplinary power.

So, Josh was completely correct in his claim “the Church has never been known to waver on its teaching.” The Church as the Mystical Body of Christ on this earth has never changed its dogmatic pronouncements on faith and morals. These are truths that will last to the end of the world, no matter how the collective morals of our weak human society fluctuate.

Adrienne Chabot


Badin Hall

Feb. 16