It is commonly believed that the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo for abandoning the geocentric (earth-at-the-center) view of the solar system for the heliocentric (sun-at-the-center) view.
The Galileo case, for many anti-Catholics, is thought to prove that the Church abhors science, refuses to abandon outdated teachings, and is not infallible. For Catholics, the episode is often an embarrassment. It shouldn’t be.
Anti-Catholics often cite the Galileo case as an example of the Church refusing to abandon outdated or incorrect teaching, and clinging to a "tradition." They fail to realize that the judges who presided over Galileo’s case were not the only people who held to a geocentric view of the universe. It was the received view among scientists at the time.
Centuries earlier, Aristotle had refuted heliocentricity, and by Galileo’s time, nearly every major thinker subscribed to a geocentric view. Copernicus refrained from publishing his heliocentric theory for some time, not out of fear of censure from the Church, but out of fear of ridicule from his colleagues.
This tract provides a brief explanation of what really happened to Galileo.
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