On January 15th, 1633, Galileo wrote to his friend Ella Diodati expressing why he thought the Bible should not be treated as being literally true. At this time he was in deep trouble over his claims that the Earth moved and he was facing a trial which would take place just a few months later. During this time period, the Catholic Church was afraid of heretics spreading teachings and opinions that contradicted the Bible. If the Church deemed an idea to be heretical they persecuted scientists who formed these theories and forbade people from reading any books on those subjects. The Church labeled anyone as a sinner if they preached or wrote anything that went against the Bible. The church was not open to new ideas as they felt that God was unchangeable and change in general denoted decay, depreciation, decomposition and many other negative concepts. This was more than just tension, it was a war between science and religion, which was started with Nicholas Copernicus and continued with Galileo Galilei. The Renaissance Period brought about the rebirth of Greek philosophy, which reinforced Aristotle’s views who refuted heliocentricity. The Earth centered universe was already embedded in Roman Catholic theology and they would not stand for any opinions that were contrary to the Holy Scripture. The church made a serious scientific error by accepting an Earth-centered universe.
If the Church called you into the Inquisition, you would be wasting your time if you tried to prove that you were innocent, as they already knew that you were guilty. Galileo had abandoned the notion of a perfect cosmic order and he stood firm on his beliefs proclaiming heliocentricity (a reference system where the Sun is at the center) as a truth, instead of proposing that it was a valid theory to account for the observed phenomenon related to motions of the planets. Galileo actively defended his evidence which supported the Copernican cosmos and he warned the Church that they might be walking into a trap, if they kept on refusing to abandon outdated teachings. Galileo said, “Take note, theologians, that in your desire to make matters of faith out of propositions relating to the fixity of Sun and Earth you run the risk of eventually having to condemn as heretics those who would declare the Earth to stand still and the Sun to change position, eventually, I say, at such a time as it might be physically or logically proved, that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still.”
Galileo’s trial lasted eight months and he was found guilty, and he made a confession of wrong-doing, and was imprisoned for life. Galileo groveled as he knelt before the Cardinals of the Holy Office of the Church and the Board of Inquisitioners, while he made his statement and he did confess that he believed in every word that was exposed by the church. Galileo was forced to make a ‘confession’ and he had to publicly admit that he was incorrect, and this lead everyone to fearing the wrath of the Church even more. However, it was too late for the church to lock away the knowledge that Galileo shared about the ways of the world and the heavens beyond, because the cat was let out of the bag. Once the seeds of knowledge are planted they become indestructible. Modern science was eventually able to explain why the planets move and this led to a greater understanding of gravity and motion. Since the time of Galileo, change no longer has a negative connotation, instead change is now viewed as being fluid, dynamic, a place for growth, progress and many other positive associations. This trial marked the end of the Italian Renaissance.