Creationists are often accused (by Christians opposed to their view) of making the same mistake as the Roman Catholic Church did at the time of Galileo. Then, the institutional Church insisted that the Bible taught that the sun went around the earth. After it was shown by Galileo that the opposite was true, believers found that they could comfortably accommodate this new fact, without any problem to their belief in the Bible. However, the historical events surrounding Galileo should be a warning to theistic evolutionists and long-agers, not to the Genesis creation movement.

The background

Over two millennia ago, Aristotle (384–322 BC) taught that the earth was the centre of a ‘perfect’ universe in which the movements of the stars were circular and never ending.

Ptolemy (AD 2nd century) expanded these ideas into what became known as the Ptolemaic system.

Then in the 16th century, Copernicus (1473–1543) postulated as a better explanation that the earth and planets revolved around the sun.1,2

In the 17th century, Galileo (1564–1642), with his telescope, was able to carry out repeated and repeatable observations which refuted Aristotle and Ptolemy, and supported Copernicus. For example, he observed that the sun had spots which moved across its surface, showing that the sun was not ‘perfect’ and it itself rotated; he observed the phases of Venus, showing that Venus must orbit the sun; and he discovered four moons that revolve around Jupiter, not the Earth, showing that the Earth was not the centre of everything. In 1618, he observed three comets pass effortlessly through Ptolemy’s crystalline spheres (in which the planets and stars supposedly moved around the Earth), showing that these spheres must be imaginary.

The heliocentric (from Greek helios = sun) or Copernican system opposed the views of the astronomer-philosophers of the day, who earned their livelihood by teaching Aristotle and Ptolemy, and so were biased against change. They therefore either ignored, ridiculed, destroyed, or hostilely opposed Galileo’ ’s writings. Many Church leaders allowed themselves to be persuaded by the Aristotelians at the universities that the geocentric (earth-centred) system was taught in Scripture and that Galileo was contradicting the Bible. They therefore bitterly opposed Galileo to the extent of forcing him on pain of death to repudiate his findings….

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