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Planetary Science
The Moon

Why is the idea of the earth orbiting the sun controversial?


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September 13, 2011 3:38PM

"The Earth is firmly fixed; it shall not be moved."

- Psalms 104:5

"But to affirm that the Sun is really fixed in the center of the heavens and that the Earth revolves very swiftly around the Sun is a dangerous thing, not only irritating the theologians and philosophers, but injuring our holy faith and making the sacred scriptures false."

- Robert Bellarmine, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and the foremost Vatican theologian of the seventeeth century.

"The doctrine of the movements of the earth and the fixity of the sun is condemned on the ground that the Scriptures speak in many places of the sun moving and the earth standing still... I think that in the discussion of natural problems we ought to begin not with the Scriptures, but with experiments and demonstrations."

- Galileo

"To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin."

- Cardinal Bellarmine, during the trial of Galileo, 1615

"Because I have been enjoined, by this Holy Office, to abandon the false opinion that the Sun is the center and immovable, ...I abjure, curse, and detest the said errors and heresies...contrary to the said Holy Church."

- Galileo Galilei, recanting under threat of torture and death by the Holy Church, June 22, 1633

Basically Copernicus proved the earth went around the sun. The bible said otherwise, and when Galileo pushed the matter the church got pissed.

They apologized in the 90's, nearly 400 years later, after banning Galileo's writings for 200 years.

"The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church."

- Ferdinand Magellan