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A Para-clerical Approach to the Galileo Affair and to Science vs. Religion

A Para-clerical Approach to the Galileo Affair and to Science vs. Religion

Maurice A. Finocchiaro

Department of Philosophy, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154-5028, USA.

Email: maurice.finocchiaro@unlv.edu

ABSTRACT

In 1633, the Inquisition condemned Galileo for defending Copernicus’s hypothesis of the earth’s motion and denying the scientific authority of Scripture. This ended the original controversy, but generated a new one that continues today, for example, about whether the condemnation proves the incompatibility between science and religion. Recently the Galileo affair has been studied by several scholars whom I label “Berkeley para-clericals,” chiefly philosopher Paul Feyerabend and historian John Heilbron. Their approach is distinctive: it views controversial topics involving the relationship between science and religion from a perspective that is secular-minded, but appreciative of religion, and yet conducted in the belief that such topics are too important to leave to religious believers. This approach also characterizes the work of other Berkeley para-clericals, such as Ronald Numbers on the controversy over creationism and evolutionism; they stress such attitudes as impartiality, judiciousness, and even-handedness.

 

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Science, Religion and Culture

June

Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82

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