Friday, January 20, 2012

Dawkins believes a Galileo myth

Richard Dawkins told this story a year ago:
I was told this by a tutor, Arthur Cain, and I have never found the original source. Perhaps you know it? Galileo was once demonstrating something through his telescope to a learned man, who said something like this, "Signor Galileo, your demonstration is so convincing that, were it not that Aristotle positively states the contrary, I would believe you." For a modern scientist, the issue is simple: Galileo had a telescope. Aristotle didn't. Yet, in the mind of this savant, Aristotle's word still trumped Galileo's. This sums up, in my mind, what is so baffling about the whole way of thinking that I presume characterises theology.
Dawkins was University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science, and spends much of his time attacking theology. And yet his presumed characterization of theology is some story that he has never been able to verify?!

The myth here is that Catholic Church scholars refused to look thru his telescope, and accept his discoveries. The myth is completely false. Galileo had to rush his 1610 book, Starry Messenger, into print because others were seeing the same thing thru the newly discovered telescope. No Church scholar or anyone else disputed what could be seen thru his telescope.


  1. a) Dawkins does not say he believes the tale;
    b) You have no references to your post, making it as credible (but far useless) than the actual ``myth'';
    c) To say that ``No Church scholar or anyone else disputed what could be seen thru his telescope'' is laughable.

    1. So why would Dawkins tell a false tale? He tells it on his own web site. If you find where someone disputed what Galileo saw, go ahead and post it.