First, on April 12, 1633, before any charges were laid against him, Galileo was forced to testify about himself under oath, in the hopes of obtaining a confession. The cardinal inquisitors realized that the case against Galileo would be very weak without an admission of guilt, so a plea bargain was arranged.
This had long been a standard practice in heresy proceedings, even though it was a violation of the canonical law of inquisitorial due process, Kelly said. He was told that if he admitted to having gone too far in his treatment of heliocentrism, he would be let off with a light punishment.
“We can only guess at what he really believed,” said Kelly, who for his research undertook a thorough examination of the judicial procedure used by the church in its investigation of Galileo.
“Galileo was clearly stretching the truth when he maintained at his trial in 1633 that after 1616 he had never considered heliocentrism to be possible.
It was thus tendentiously asserted that the religious convictions of clergymen disqualified them from pursuing their scientific inquiries objectively.
More to the point, however, was the fact that clergymen were undertaking this work for the sheer love of science and thus hindering the expectation that it would be done for money by paid full-time scientists.The myth continues today, but it can be overturned as we study the history behind how the legend developed.Today virtually every child grows up learning that the earth orbits the sun.The so-called “war” between faith and learning, specifically between orthodox Christian theology and science, was manufactured during the second half of the nineteenth century. The history of Science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interests on the other.It is a construct that was created for polemical purposes. In all modern history, interference with Science in the supposed interest of religion—no matter how conscientious such interference may have been—has resulted in the direst evils both to Religion and Science, and invariably. No church has ever pronounced against anesthetics in childbirth.Rather, he claimed he was simply showing off his debating skills.After his formal trial, which took place on May 10 of that year, Galileo was convicted of a “strong suspicion of heresy,” a lesser charge than actual heresy.Also in 1616, the church banned Nicholas Copernicus’ book “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres,” published in 1543, which contained the theory that the Earth revolved around the sun.After a few minor edits, making sure that the sun theory was presented as purely hypothetical, it was allowed again in 1620 with the blessing of the church.“If he had ever come out and said he believed in heliocentrism after swearing it off, he would have been liable to receive an automatic death sentence,” Kelly said.The church, however, made efforts to ensure their version of Galileo’s scientific beliefs were prevalent.