The post-medieval church was surrounded by intense sociocultural factors, including the recent Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Although “the Galileo affair,” as it has been dubbed in the years since, is generally presented as a case example of the conflict between science and faith or religion, it is far more complex than these two issues alone. Galileo’s discoveries supporting the Copernican theory entered a complex interplay of factors, eventually leading to a highly pressurized encounter between Galileo and the Inquisition. Galileo’s indictment is a nuanced, poignant example of the rich cultural and contextual factors that drive clashes of religion or faith and science. Reviewing Galileo’s life through original texts, biographies, and scholarly writings, and studying the nature of the conflict between Galileo and the Roman Catholic Church (CC), reveals the wider sociocultural forces in play and their impact on the conflict. Analyzing the Galileo Affair through the environmental levels of Bronfenbrenner’s theory and its process model, Process-Person-Context-Time (PPCT), yields a fascinating, deeply culturally embedded picture of the events. It is safe to say that the conflict between Galileo and the CC was more systematically cultural and sociopolitical than religious or scientific. Contrary to what many may assume, the CC of Galileo’s day generally supported and encouraged scientific studies. A wide array of sociopolitical pressures reached into the CC and Galileo’s life, influencing the outcome of otherwise noncontroversial topics. Only in retrospect can modern critics find and point out errors with ease and make the issue seem dichotomous and purely religiously based.
Area of Specialization
Lawson, Holly J.
"Galileo and the Church: An Ecological Perspective,"
Montview Journal of Research & Scholarship: Vol. 10, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/montview/vol10/iss1/5
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