Science, Religion, and the Motion of the Earth

We may distinguish the progress of each science as it is in itself, which has no other limit than the number of truths it includes within its sphere, and the progress of a nation in each science, a progress which is regulated first by the number of men who are acquainted with its leading and most important truths, and next by the number and nature of the truths so known.

In fine, we are now come to that point of civilization, at which the people derive a profit from intellectual knowledge, not only by the services it reaps from men uncommonly instructed, but by means of having made of intellectual knowledge a sort of patrimony, and employing it directly and in its proper form to resist error, to anticipate or supply their wants, to relieve themselves from the ills of life, or take off the poignancy of these ills by the intervention of additional pleasure.

The history of the persecutions to which the champions of liberty were exposed, during this epoch, ought not to be forgotten. These persecutions will be found to extend from the truths of philosophy and politics to those of medicine, natural history and astronomy. In the eighth century an ignorant pope had persecuted a deacon for contending that the earth was round, in opposition to the opinion of the rhetorical Saint Austin. In the seventeenth, the ignorance of another pope, much more inexcuseable, delivered Galileo into the hands of the inquisition, accused of having proved the diurnal and annual motion of the earth. The greatest genius that modern Italy has given to the sciences, overwhelmed with age and infirmities, was obliged to purchase his release from punishment and from prison, by asking pardon of God for having taught men better to understand his works, and to admire him in the simplicity of the eternal laws by which he governs the universe.

Meanwhile, so great was the absurdity of the theologians, that, in condescension to human understanding, they granted a permission to maintain the motion of the earth, at the same time that they insisted that it should be only in the way of an hypothesis, and that the faith should receive no injury. The astronomers, on the other hand, did the exact opposite of this; they treated the motion of the earth as a reality, and spoke of its immoveableness with a deference only hypothetical.


Science worked from reality, Religion condescended to allow for the motion of the Earth.

Folksonomies: science religion astronomy

/religion and spirituality/christianity/catholicism (0.472970)
/religion and spirituality (0.434501)
/science (0.384537)

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Earth Science:Organization (0.828443 (negative:-0.241223)), pope:Person (0.468620 (negative:-0.321510)), Saint Austin:Person (0.426457 (negative:-0.465648)), Italy:Country (0.423523 (positive:0.223043))

Universe (0.960756): dbpedia | freebase
Scientific method (0.931109): dbpedia | freebase
Religion (0.882524): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Knowledge (0.819731): dbpedia | freebase
Epistemology (0.782043): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Theory (0.723018): dbpedia | freebase
Reality (0.720901): dbpedia | freebase
Geography (0.714000): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Outlines of an Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Condorcet, Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat (1795), Outlines of an Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind, Retrieved on 2012-08-06
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  • Folksonomies: philosophy