On A. Maurice Finocchiaro’s “Retrying Galileo, 1633-1992.”


Few incidents in the intellectual history of humanity are as well known as the (in)famous inquisition of Galileo which ushered in for public discussion the confrontational aspect of science-religion interface. Galileo was the greatest scientist of the day, and the Roman Catholic Church was the most authoritative institution in the Christendom of the century. So the trial took on special significance. Indeed it soon became a symbol for the open-mindedness of the scientific enterprise and the unswervable attachment to Scriptures as understood by the Papacy. The subtler aspects of both scientific and religious truths were lost in the melée. And since the religious establishment was in power in the place and time of Galileo, scientists developed a dread of authoritarian religion whose echoes may be felt to this day.
Over the years, decades, and centuries following that confrontation, countless scholars, poets, writers, historians, philosophers, scientists, and others have reflected and commented upon that memorable episode, giving different slants and perspectives.
In this erudite volume, based on extensive research on this fascinating subject, Mario Finocchiaro treats the reader to practically every detail pertaining to that trial. The book is replete with arguments, anecdotes, and reflections. Though technical as historical scholarship, the book is very readable and within reach of even those who may not be familiar with the topic. With his thorough and well-informed analysis, Finocchiaro has not ony done a great service to historical scholarship, but has brought a very important chapter of cultural history within reach of the average educated reader. The book is very relevant in this age of science-religion dialogues.

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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