chapter  9
56 Pages

A NEWHEAVEN: AWIDE-OPEN UNIVERSE

In the wake of Giordano Bruno’s death, controversy over the heliocentric system continued to rage over Europe. Around the same time that Bruno burned in Italy, the English bard contrasted the prevalent doubts about the cosmos with the constancy of Hamlet’s love for Ophelia [2]:

Doubt thou the stars are fire Doubt that the sun doth move Doubt truth to be a liar But never doubt I love

While Kepler in Austria penetrated laws of celestial motion through the power of mathematics, Galileo unveiled a new

heaven in the skies over Italy through the penetrating power of the telescope. It is an irony of fate that decisive discoveries for the heliocentric theory came from Catholic Italy. Interpreting stunning new finds within the framework of the Copernican system, Galileo overhauled our view of the cosmos. Telescopic discoveries confirmed Copernicus’ revolutionary theory. But Galileo went far beyond the validation of Copernicus’ reorientation. Overturning the cosmological system, he made a direct assault on beliefs cherished since the amalgamation of Aristotelian cosmology with Christian theology. The dual challenge meant serious trouble for Galileo and for science in general. With the triumph of observation and reason, came the tragedy of blind faith.