Galileo's Heresy by Paula Haigh (Geocentrism, earth doesn't move) part 1

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Galileo's Heresy by Paula Haigh (Geocentrism, earth doesn't move) part 1

Post by flatterme on Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:23 pm

GALILEO'S HERESY
by Paula Haigh
Now that the traditional teaching of the Church about Creation and a literal reading of Genesis is being vindicated with the downfall of Darwinism, so also the traditional teaching about the structure of the universe is being admitted in various ways, and Catholics should know about it.
To begin with, there are presently at least five good sources for obtaining the truth on this important matter of geocentricity. The first of these is included in the extensive scientific work of the French Catholic scholar, Fernand Crombette (d.1970). His works have not yet been translated but some of them have been expounded in English, and all may be obtained from the Cercle Scientifique et Historique[CESHE].(1) "The Bible does not make mistakes" was the watchword of this gifted Catholic scientist.(2) Secondly, there is the first-rate paper by Solange Hertz (3) entitled Recanting Galileo. Mrs. Hertz's work always possesses a spiritual dimension not to be found anywhere else. It is her unique gift. Thirdly, there is the work of the Dutch Protestant scholar, Walter van der Kamp(d 1998), founder of the Tychonian Society (Canada) and its quarterly journal, The Biblical Astronomer, formerly known as The Bulletin of the Tychonian Society. Mr. Van der Kamp has published a book entitled De Labore Solis: Airy's Failure Reconsidered [1988](4). Every Catholic should read the "Letter to John Paul II" that is included in an Addendum in this book. The Letter was delivered in person and gives scientific and religious reasons why the "Holy Father" should not consider a formal rehabilitation of Galileo(5). Fourthly, a disciple of Mr. Van der Kamp, Dr. Gerardus Bouw, professional astronomer, computer scientist and current editor of The Biblical Astronomer, has authored a book entitled With Every Wind of Doctrine: Biblical, Historical, and Scientific Perspectives of Geocentricity(6). One must beware, however, of Dr. Bouw's very anti-Catholic prejudices which sometimes cause him to distort history. Lastly, there has recently appeared The Earth is Not Moving by Marshall Hall(7). His is a quintessentially popular treatment of this difficult subject, and he must be given much credit for bringing the arcana of modern mathematical physics down to the level of us scientifically illiterate mortals. Whatever may be the shortcomings of Hall's book, it is impossible not to enjoy his literary panache.
Needless to say, none of these works is known beyond a very limited circle of interested people because, contrary to the generally-held media-imposed assessment of things, there is very little real science these days. Instead, we labor beneath a scientific imperialism which, having usurped the place of theology and of metaphysics in the true hierarchy of sciences, puts upon unwitting school children and witless TV addicts, its own preferred heliocentric-evolutionary ideology into which it bends every empirical fact. This monstrous establishment of academic sophistry lords it over every aspect of intellectual life today and has succeeded in convincing almost everyone that this "science falsely so-called" is the sole possessor and distributor of all truth and rationality.
But the Truth is irrepressible and will break forth from under the dead weight of error willy-nilly, sometimes here, sometimes there, as in a footnote in Bernard Cohen's The Birth of a New Physics.(Cool Artfully hidden among some details of Galileo's life, we find this gem of an admission: "There is no planetary observation by which we on earth can prove that the earth is moving in an orbit around the sun."
Sir Fred Hoyle is quoted by Walter van der Kamp in his book as admitting that the geocentric model of the universe is no worse and no better than the heliocentric one. The works listed above cite many other similar admissions of like nature by scientists of our time.
More and more because of Einstein's relativity theories, the universe is referred to as a-centric. Martin Gardner states the problem clearly:
... The ancient argument over whether the earth rotates or the heavens revolve around it (as Aristotle taught) is seen to be no more than an argument over the simplest choice of a frame of reference. Obviously, the most convenient choice is the universe. [sic) Relative to the universe, we say that the earth rotates and inertia makes its equator bulge. Nothing except inconvenience prevents us from choosing the earth as a fixed frame of reference. In the latter case, we say that the cosmos rotates around the earth, generating a gravitational field that acts upon the equator. Again, this field does not have the same mathematical structure as a gravitational field around a planet, but it can be called a true gravitational field nevertheless. If we choose to make the earth our frame of reference, we do not even do violence to everyday speech. We say that the sun rises in the morning, sets in the evening; the Big Dipper revolves around the North Star. Which point of view is "correct"? The question is meaningless. A waitress might just as sensibly ask a customer if he wanted ice cream on top of his pie or the pie placed under the ice cream.(9) (Emphasis added)
Well, that might be the case for mathematical constructs, but for ontological truth, i.e., for conformity with reality, we cannot agree that the question is meaningless. Only one of the alternatives can be true in reality, and to base one's science on a fiction cannot be productive of wisdom. Error always has consequences. The real conclusion to be drawn from Gardner's explanation is that there simply is no human way of knowing the structure of the universe. But God has revealed it! This was the basis on which Galileo was condemned by the Holy office in 1633. It is, therefore, a fact of divine revelation, a truth of Faith.
The same holds true for the origin of all things and the earliest history of mankind. So-called "salvation history" (no more than any history) does not begin with Abraham nor with any imagined "prehistoric" event or process. All history begins with the beginning of time on the First Day of the First Week of the World -- Creation Week. It is all very simply and most plainly given to us by God in Holy Scripture, for God knows that we not only desire to know these things but that we need to know them. Mythology proves that if men do not take God's word for the origin and structure of the universe, they will surely take the Devil's.
And so, it is a great pity to find Catholics apologetic and embarrassed about the action of the Church in the Galileo case. Here is a brief resumé of the facts in the Galileo case.
Due to the spread of the Copernican theory and complaints of theologians, the Holy Office in 1616 condemned the following propositions and explained why they are false:
I. The sun is the center of the world and completely immovable by local motion.
II. The earth is not the center of the world, not immovable, but moves according to the whole of itself, and also with a diurnal motion.
The first proposition was declared unanimously to be foolish and absurd in philosophy and formally heretical inasmuch as it expressly contradicts the doctrine of Holy Scripture in many passages, both in their literal meaning and according to the general interpretation of the Fathers and Doctors.
With regard to the second proposition all were agreed that this proposition merits the same censure in philosophy, and that, from a theological standpoint, it is at least erroneous in the faith. Fr. Jerome Langford, from whose book these propositions are taken, goes on to explain the meaning of the censures in more detail:
The theologian Antonio of Cordova, writing in 1604, explains the generic meaning of these censures. The formally heretical in the first censure means that this proposition was considered directly contrary to a doctrine of faith. This shows that the apparent affirmations of Scripture and the Fathers, that the sun moves, was held by the Consultors to be a doctrine of faith. In other words, there is no room for apologetic excursions here. The Consultors tagged the proposition with the strongest possible censure, as being directly contrary to the truth of Sacred Scripture. In the second proposition, the motion of the earth was censured as erroneous in the faith. This meant that the Consultors considered it to be not directly contrary to Scripture, but opposed to a doctrine which pertained to the faith according to the common consensus of learned theologians. In other words, Scripture was not as definite in stating the immobility of the earth. But the Holy Writ did reveal that the sun moved, and since human reason could conclude that the sun and the earth were not both moving around each other, the Consultors felt that the immobility of the earth was a matter which fell under the domain of faith indirectly, as a kind of theological conclusion.(10) (Emphases added)
Galileo himself, because he had published a book on sunspots in 1613 wherein he praised the Copernican theory, was personally admonished on the basis of these condemnations about the sun and the earth, by Cardinal (Saint Robert) Bellarmine. However, in 1632, Galileo published his Dialogue on the Great World Systems in which he openly and enthusiastically, not to say dogmatically, advocated the Copernican system and shamelessly ridiculed the traditional Aristotelian geocentric system. This brought about his trial in 1633 by the Roman Inquisition or Holy Office. Of Galileo's condemnation, noted Church historian Ludwig von Pastor says: "Now if he adhered internally to an opinion which competent authority assured him to be contrary to Holy Writ, a suspicion was bound to arise that he doubted the inerrancy of the Scriptures and since this was in itself a heresy, he became suspect of heresy."(11) (Emphases added)
The Church cannot be accused of interfering in what may be considered the proper domain of the physical sciences because Galileo's crime was only indirectly concerned with the Copernican theory. His heresy was specifically to doubt the inerrancy of Holy Scripture.
And Galileo knew this very well. It's why he goes to such lengths in his "Letter to the Grand Duchess-Christina" (1615) to prove that the Scriptures are not to be interpreted literally when they speak of physical things but only when they teach on matters of faith and morals. He takes his stand on a decree of the Council of Trent (Session IV, April 8, 1546) which I will quote here from the English edition of Dogmatic Canons and Decrees.(12)
Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, it decrees that no one, relying on his own skill, shall -- in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine -- wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy Mother Church -- to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures -- hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries and be punished with the penalties by law established.
"…pertaining to the edification [i.e., building up] of Christian doctrine" points to a harmony of Faith and science. But if we now turn to what Galileo says and what he quotes as the Council's own words, we find an attempt to dis-edify:
... I question the truth of the statement that the church commands us to hold as matters of faith all physical conclusions bearing the stamp of harmonious interpretation by all the Fathers. I think this may be an arbitrary simplification of various council decrees by certain people to favor their own opinion. So far as I can find, all that is really prohibited is the "perverting into senses contrary to that of the holy Church or that of the concurrent agreement of the Fathers those passages and those alone, which pertain to faith or ethics, or which concern the edification of Christian doctrine." So said the Council of Trent in its fourth session. But the mobility or stability of the earth or sun is neither a matter of faith nor one contrary to ethics.(13)
Galileo would have us believe that there is an absolute separation in Holy Scripture between matters of faith and morals and matters pertaining to the physical sciences. That such is not at all the case, Pope Benedict XV assures us in Spiritus Paraclitus (Sept. 15, 1920):
... by these precepts and limits [set by the Fathers of the Church] the opinion of the more recent critics is not restrained, who, after introducing a distinction between the primary or religious element of Scripture, and the secondary or profane, wish, indeed, that inspiration itself pertain to all the ideas, rather even to the individual words of the Bible, but that its effects and especially immunity from error and absolute truth be contracted and narrowed to the primary or religious element. For their belief is that that only which concerns religion is intended and is taught by God in the Scriptures; but that the rest, which pertains to the profane disciplines and serves revealed doctrine as a kind of external cloak of divine truth, is only permitted and is left to the feebleness of the writer. It is not surprising then, if in physical, historical, and other similar affairs a great many things occur in the Bible, which cannot at all be reconciled with the progress of the fine arts of this age. There are those who contend that these fabrications of opinions are not in opposition to the prescriptions of our predecessor [Leo XIII] since he declared that the sacred writer in matters of nature speaks according to external appearance, surely fallacious. But how rashly, how falsely this is affirmed, is plainly evident from the very words of the Pontiff.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
If the opinion of these men is once accepted, how will that truth of sacred story stand safe, immune from every falsehood, which our predecessor declares must be retained in the entire text of its literature? (D2186-2187) (Emphasis added)
Plainly, the distinction that Galileo tries to uphold on the authority of the Council of Trent is, according to Benedict XV, one to be rejected -- and abhorred. Galileo has "wrested" the sense of Trent. Another translation, that from Denzinger, will make the real teaching of the Church clearer:
Furthermore, in order to curb impudent clever persons, the synod decrees that no one who relies on his own judgment in matters of faith and morals, which pertain to the building up of Christian doctrine, and that no one who distorts the Sacred Scriptures according to his own opinions, shall dare to interpret the said Sacred Scriptures contrary to that sense which is held by holy mother Church, whose duty it is to judge regarding the true sense and interpretation of holy Scriptures, or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers, even though interpretations of this kind were never intended to be brought to light.
[D 786](14)(15) (Emphases added)
Now it is clear that the "matters of faith and morals" alluded to in this decree do not pertain solely and directly to Sacred Scripture but to those who rely on their own judgment in all matters of religion, i.e., faith and morals. Obviously, this is a reference to Protestants against whom Trent was specifically directed.
The second point to be noted is that it is for the Church alone to judge what is the true sense and interpretation of Scripture.
Thirdly, the reference to the unanimous consent of the Fathers refers back to those who dare to interpret the Scriptures contrary to that sense which is held by holy mother Church and/or who dare to interpret the Scriptures contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.
Galileo well knew that the Fathers of the Church held to a geocentric view of the universe and taught the same in a unanimous way as any other view would have been immediately recognized by them as against Scripture and common sense or reason. But Galileo deliberately tries to separate the matter from Scripture and faith, and purely physical as against religious teaching. It is Galileo we have to thank for the separation of faith from science. And he did this in the only way possible -- by basing his science upon error -- the error of heliocentrism and a moving earth.
Galileo shines forth as the first modernist, for he distorts the Sacred Scriptures to fit his own opinions, and his opinions are always those derived from his practices in the physical sciences. He made much of the distinction between the spiritual and the physical meanings in Scripture claiming that the spiritual could be true and the physical false or irrelevant without affecting the integral inerrancy of God's word. Because of this and the fact that he has so many followers today, it will be well to emphasize the definitive teaching of the Church in this matter. It is summed up by Pope Leo XIII in Providentissimus Deus (1893), paragraph numbers 124-127.(16)
It may also happen that the sense of a passage remains ambiguous, and in this case good hermeneutical methods will greatly assist in clearing up the obscurity. But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture or to admit that the sacred author has erred. As to the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond, because (as they wrongly think,) in a question of the truth or falsehood of a passage we should consider not so much what God has said as the reason and purpose which He had in mind in saying it -- this system cannot be tolerated.
For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit; and so far is it from being possible that any error can coexist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican. These are the words of the last:
The books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, ... are to be received as sacred and canonical. And the Church holds them as sacred and canonical not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without errors, but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God for their Author.
(Emphases added)
Hence, the fact that it was men whom the Holy Spirit took up as His instruments for writing does not mean that it was these inspired instruments -- but not the primary author -- who might have made an error. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write -- He so assisted them when writing -- that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers. "Therefore," says St. Augustine, "since they wrote the things which He showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for His members executed, what their head dictated." And St. Gregory the Great thus pronounces: "Most superfluous it is to inquire who wrote these things -- we loyally believe the Holy Spirit to be the author of the book. He wrote it who dictated it for writing; He wrote it who inspired its execution."
It follows that those who maintain that an error is possible in any genuine passage of the sacred writings either pervert the Catholic notion of inspiration or make God the author of such error. And so emphatically were all the Fathers and Doctors agreed that the divine writings, as left by the hagiographers, are free from all error, that they labored earnestly, with no less skill than perseverance, to reconcile with each other those numerous passages which seem at variance -- the very passages which in great measure have been taken up by the "higher criticism"; for they were unanimous in laying it down that those writings, in their entirety and in all their parts, were equally from the afflatus of Almighty God, and that God, speaking by the sacred writers, could not set down anything but what was true. The words of St. Augustine to St. Jerome may sum up what they taught:
On my own part I confess to your charity that it is only to those books of Scripture which are now called canonical that I have learned to pay such honor and reverence as to believe most firmly that none of their writers has fallen into any error. And if in these books I meet anything which seems contrary to truth, I shall not hesitate to conclude either that the text is faulty, or that the translator has not expressed the meaning of the passage, or that I myself do not understand. (Emphases added)
Such is the solid, strong and unbroken tradition of the Catholic Church concerning the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. The modernists cannot change this clear teaching even though some of them claim St. Augustine as their patron. When Saint Augustine has his "day in court" -- pity the modernists, of whom Galileo was the first.
The real point that Galileo did not want to face at his trial in 1632 and in all the controversies leading up to it was that the Church, represented by the theologians, had traditionally believed and taught the geocentric nature of the universe. And so, he was not prepared when, in 1616, the heliocentric views of Copernicus were condemned.
In 1613, one of Galileo's students, a young Benedictine monk and professor of mathematics at the University of Pisa, Fr. Benedetto Castelli, had become involved at table in a discussion of the Copernican theory with the Duchess Christina of Lorraine, mother of the Grand Duke Cosimo II, Galileo's patron. The Duchess, instructed by professor of philosophy Boscaglia, argued with Fr. Castelli that the Copernican theory could not be true since it contradicted Holy Scripture. Fr. Castelli did his best to refute the professor but hastened afterwards to consult his master, Galileo, who thereupon composed a long letter addressed to his pupil and containing his opinions on the proper relations between the physical sciences and religion. This "Letter to Castelli" circulated widely and caused a great deal of bitter controversy. Galileo then greatly revised and toned down the original in a "Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina," written in 1615 and circulated widely though not published in book form until 1636. It is in the earlier "Letter to Castelli" that Galileo makes a startling statement -- startling, especially at that time, because Holy Scripture and "Nature" are shifted around in the medieval hierarchy, "Nature" displacing Holy Scripture as primary in physical questions. Here is what he says:
Scripture being therefore in many places not only accessible to, but necessarily requiring, expositions differing from the apparent meaning of the words, it seems to me that in physical disputes it should be reserved to the last place, [such questions] proceeding equally from the divine word of the Holy Scripture and from Nature, the former as dictated by the Holy Ghost and the latter as the observant executrix of God's orders.(17) (Emphasis added)
Try as he might to equalize Holy Scripture and Nature, he has said that Holy Scripture must take the last place in physical disputes. This is an open rupture of that hierarchy of the sciences so firmly established in the good order of the medieval world. Theology was the rightful Queen of the sciences, philosophy was her first handmaiden, and all the other lower natural sciences were likewise intended to be the servants of the highest science, just as all creatures are bound to serve God, their Creator. Here are some passages from St. Thomas on this subject of the relationship of theology to the other sciences, passages which Galileo must certainly have known at least from common teaching:
Sacred Science [theology) is established on principles revealed by God. ... because Sacred Scripture considers things precisely under the formality of being divinely revealed, whatever has been divinely revealed possesses the one precise formality of the object of this science and therefore is included under Sacred Doctrine as under one science.
Sacred Doctrine being one, extends to things which belong to different philosophical sciences because it considers in each the same formal aspect ... as they can be known by divine revelation.
The purpose of Theology is eternal bliss insofar as it is a practical science. ... to which eternal bliss as to an ultimate end, the purposes of every practical science are directed. (ST, I, Q l, a 2-5) (Emphases added)
From these passages we can see how theology may touch on every other science, that no human science is excluded from its searching light because God, as the origin and destiny of every creature, cannot be excluded from any aspect of finite activity, however lowly it may be. This does not mean that every science has not its own proper object. It does. And the object defines a science's limitations. At the same time, the light of the higher sciences of theology and metaphysics are to illumine all below because only in this way will the lower sciences be prevented from straying into error.
St. Thomas continues:
The fact that some doubt articles of faith is not due to the uncertain nature of the truths but to the weakness of the human intellect..
Yet the slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things. (ST, I, Q l, a 5, ad 2) Theology does not need philosophy and the other sciences, but it makes use of them to make its own teachings clearer. (ST, I, Q 1, a 1, a 5, ad 2) (Emphases added)
This latter point shows us one reason why a perfect harmony of truth is so desirable between theology and the natural sciences for the natural sciences are designed by God primarily as avenues to the higher knowledge of Him that comes by Faith and theology. St. Thomas goes on with these key passages for our study of Galileo:
Theology is wisdom above all human wisdom, not merely in any one order, but absolutely. For since it is the part of a wise man to arrange and to judge, and since lesser matters should be judged in the light of some higher principle, he is said to be wise in any one order who considers the highest principle in that order,
Thus in the order of building, he who plans the form of the house is called wise and architect as opposed to the inferior laborers who trim the wood and make ready the stones. ...
Therefore, he who considers absolutely the highest cause of the whole universe, namely God, is most of all to be called wise.
But Sacred Doctrine essentially treats of God viewed as the highest cause -- not only so far as He can be known through creatures just as philosophers know Him -- (That which is known about God is manifest in them, Rom. 1:19) but also so far as He is known to Himself alone and revealed to others. Hence, Sacred Doctrine is especially called wisdom. (ST, I, Q 1, a 6) (Emphases added)
As Dr. Jerome Lejeune so aptly said, "Technology is cumulative; wisdom is not."(18) Galileo might be called the first technological man as he is most surely one of the fathers of an experimental empiricism aimed solely at producing useful work and gadgetry. Empirical, technical knowledge is cumulative. But wisdom is an intellectual virtue and a Gift of the Holy Ghost. Since modern empirical science has excluded God on principle -- the principle of its method -- it has by that same principle, which is an evil one from Satan, cut itself off from God, the only source of true wisdom.
Sacred Doctrine derives its principles not from any human knowledge but from Divine Knowledge, through which as through the highest wisdom all our knowledge is set in order.
(ST, I, Q 1, a 6, ad 1)
The principles of other sciences are either self-evident and therefore cannot be proved, or they are proved by natural reason through some other science [or, we could add, according to the modern mind, from experiment].
But the knowledge proper to this science of theology comes through divine revelation and not through natural reason.
Therefore, it has no concern to prove the principles of other sciences, but only to judge them.
Whatever is found in other sciences contrary to any truth of this science of theology, must be condemned as false! "Destroying counsels of every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God." (2 Cor. 10:4-5) (ST, I, Q 1, a 6, ad 2) (Emphases added)
And finally:
We must not attempt to prove what is of faith except by authority alone, to those who receive the authority; while as regards others, it suffices to prove that what faith teaches is not impossible. (ST, I, Q 32, a 1)
From all this we can see that the theologians of Galileo's time were so far from being in the wrong that on the contrary, they were but doing their bounden duty, and some were even greatly remiss in this, e.g., the Carmelite contemporary of Galileo, to whom Cardinal Bellarmine addressed his great Letter defending the traditional view.
The real centerpiece of the Galileo affair is the Letter that Saint Robert Cardinal Bellarmine wrote to the Carmelite friar, Paolo Antonio Foscarini, after reading Galileo's Letter to Castelli and Foscarini's sixty-four page book defending the compatibility of the new Copernican system with Holy Scripture. Foscarini died June 10, 1616, just two months after his book had been condemned by the Congregation of the Index. Fr. Jerome Langford does not tell us if there is any record of the Carmelite friar's reaction to the condemnation, to Cardinal Bellarmine's Letter, or whether he submitted to the Church's judgment before he died.(19)
As one would expect of a saint, Cardinal Bellarmine's letter is a model of supernatural wisdom and prudence. It is fair to scientific opinion but unrelentingly firm in the defense of Catholic doctrine. I give the Letter in full, and I have divided it into numbered paragraphs for convenient reference. I take the text from Langford's book. (See note 19)
1. I have gladly read the letter in Italian and the treatise which Your Reverence sent me, and I thank you for both. And I confess that both are filled with ingenuity and learning, and since you ask for my opinion, I will give it to you very briefly, as you have little time for reading and I for writing.
2. First, I say that it seems to me that Your Reverence and Galileo did prudently to content yourself with speaking hypothetically, and not absolutely, as I have always believed that Copernicus spoke.
3. For to say that, assuming the earth moves and the sun stands still, all the appearances are saved better than with eccentrics and epicycles, is to speak well; there is no danger in this and it is sufficient for mathematicians.
4. But to want to affirm that the sun really is fixed in the center of the heavens and only revolves around itself [turns upon its axis] without traveling from east to west, and that the earth is situated in the third sphere and revolves with great speed around the sun, is a very dangerous thing, not only by irritating all the philosophers and scholastic theologians, but also by injuring our holy faith and rendering the Holy Scriptures false.
5. For Your Reverence has demonstrated many ways of explaining Holy Scripture, but you have not applied them in particular, and without a doubt you would have found it most difficult if you had attempted to explain all the passages which you yourself have cited.
6. Second. I say that, as you know, the Council (of Trent) prohibits expounding the Scriptures contrary to the common agreement of the holy Fathers. And if Your Reverence would read not only the Fathers but also the commentaries of modern writers on Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Josue, you would find that all agree in explaining literally (ad litteram) that the sun is in the heavens and moves swiftly around the earth, and that the earth is far from the heavens and stands immobile in the center of the universe. Now consider whether the Church could encourage giving to Scripture a sense contrary to the holy Fathers and all the Latin and Greek commentators.
7. Nor may it be answered that this is not a matter of faith, for if it is not a matter of faith from the point of view of the subject matter, it is on the part of the ones who have spoken. It would be just as heretical to deny that Abraham had two sons and Jacob twelve, as it would be to deny the virgin birth of Christ, for both are declared by the Holy Ghost through the mouths of the prophets and apostles.
8. Third. I say that if there were a true demonstration that the sun was in the center of the universe and the earth in the third sphere, and that the sun did not travel around the earth, but the earth circled around the sun, then it would be necessary to proceed with great caution in explaining the passages of Scripture which seemed contrary, and we would rather have to say that we did not understand them, than to say that something was false which has been demonstrated.
9. But I do not believe that there is any such demonstration; none has been shown to me.
10. It is not the same thing to show that the appearances are saved by assuming that the sun is at the center and the earth is in the heavens, as it is to demonstrate that the sun is really in the center and the earth in the heavens.
11. I believe that the first demonstration might exist, but I have grave doubts about the second, and in a case of doubt, one may not depart from the Scriptures as explained by the holy Fathers.
12. I add that the words "the sun also riseth and the sun goeth down, and hasteneth to the place where he ariseth, etc." were those of Solomon, who not only spoke by divine inspiration but was a man wise above all others and most learned in human sciences and in the knowledge of all created things, and his wisdom was from God. Thus it is not too likely that he would affirm something which was contrary to a truth either already demonstrated, or likely to be demonstrated.
13. And if you tell me that Solomon spoke only according to the appearances, and that it seems to us that the sun goes around when actually it is the earth which moves, as it seems to one on a ship that the beach moves away from the ship, I shall answer that one who departs from the beach, though it looks to him as though the beach moves away, he knows that he is in error and corrects it, seeing clearly that the ship moves and not the beach. But with regard to the sun and the earth, no wise man is needed to correct the error, since he clearly experiences that the earth stands still and that his eye is not deceived when it judges the sun to move, just as it is not deceived when it judges that the moon and stars move.
14. And that is enough for the present. I salute Your Reverence and ask God to grant you every happiness.
Fraternally,
Cardinal Bellarmine
12 April 1615
Cardinal Bellarmine assures us that the consent of the Fathers and their commentators is unanimous in holding a geocentric and geostatic view of the universe based on Holy Scripture (#6). Just how far the contemporary Church has departed from Catholic tradition is emphasized by this as well as by the other points of Cardinal Bellarmine's Letter, for he refuses to recognize the distinction, rejected also in our times by Benedict XV and Leo XIII, between references to physical things and supernatural facts (#7) as dividing truth from possible error in Holy Scripture. Fr. Jerome Langford is of the modernist mentality and reads the Decree of Trent according to Galileo: "... the Fathers had to affirm, explicitly or implicitly, that the text under consideration pertained to a matter of faith or morals."(20) But as we have already shown, this is not what Trent said nor could have so said because both Benedict XV and Leo XIII have emphatically reaffirmed the integrity of Holy Scripture in all its parts and all its meanings, both physical and spiritual, both natural and supernatural.
Galileo and the heliocentrists or Copernicans attacked a truth of faith, namely, that Holy Scripture is inspired and inerrant in all its parts and that we may not depart from the common agreement of the Fathers in our interpretations.
Besides these distinctions, there is the authority of the Church as the one guardian and only true interpreter of Holy Scripture. Vatican I, Canons and Decrees, Chapter III: Of Faith, says:
... all those things are to be believed with divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God,, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by her ordinary teaching (magisterium), proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed. ... ... although faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason; since the same God Who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, and God cannot deny Himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth. The false appearance of such a contradiction is mainly due, either to the dogmas of faith not having been understood and expounded according to the mind of the Church, or to the inventions of opinion having been taken for the verdicts of reason. We define, therefore, that every assertion contrary to a truth of enlightened faith is utterly false. Further, the Church, which together with the apostolic office of teaching, has received a charge to guard the deposit of faith, derives from God the right and the duty of proscribing false science, lest any should be deceived by philosophy and vain deceit (can.ii) Therefore all faithful Christians are not only forbidden to defend as legitimate conclusions of science such opinions as are known to be contrary to the doctrines of faith, especially if they have been condemned by the Church, but are altogether bound to account them as errors which put on the fallacious appearance of truth. (D1797-Cool
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flatterme

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