Retssagen mod Galilei

Lars Ottosen

Studenteropgave: Speciale


Galileo Galilei's book “Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican” was banned by the Roman Catholic Church on June 22, 1633. The reason given was that it violated a decree issued by the Sacred Congregation in 1616. Said decree had proclaimed a prohibition on all future books promoting, defending or trying to reconcile the Copernican heliocentric worldview with the Bible. In his book Galileo had stated - in an attempt to avoid such an accusation - that the heliocentric universe not could be regarded as a proven explanation of the physical world. He did, however, proceed to demonstrate how the arguments supporting the theory were sounder than those in favor of the geocentric system of Ptolemy - and at the same time sharply criticized the contemporary Jesuit astronomers, who were bound to follow the scientific doctrines of Aristotle. Richard J. Blackwell’s study of the Galileo case indicates that the trial became an arena in which the emerging new sciences, spearheaded by the astronomers of the time, clashed with the effects of the Catholic Church's effort to reestablish its authority in the wake of the protestant reformation. At the root of the conflict were matters of greater importance than the question of the theological status of the heliocentric theory; matters challenging the catholic church's very right to make authoritative claims about the physical world. If one accepts this line of thought, it becomes quite probable that concerns in the Sacred Congregation about Galileo's book went far beyond its promotion of the heliocentric theory. The verdict in 1633 pronounced the heliocentric theory a formal heresy - and thus promoting it became a more serious offense after the trial. On one hand, it changed very little, since the decree from 1616 had already taken measures to suppress the theory, as had the educational policy of the Jesuit order. It did on the other hand have a great impact on science as a whole, as it declared it to be generally deemed heretical to make a statement contradicting the theological doctrines. This project describes the historical background and events which, according to Blackwell, lead to the collision between theology and science. The ensuing discussion is centered on the question whether the scathing critique Galilei's book aimed at the Jesuits' blind devotion to and acceptance of Aristotle as an unchallengeable authority could be a deciding factor in the court's decision to place the book in the congregation's index of banned books.

UddannelserFilosofi og Videnskabsteori, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato12 jan. 2015
VejledereKasper Risbjerg Eskildsen


  • Galileo Galilei
  • Heliocentrisk teori