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THE HERESY OF GALILEOGalileo was condemned by the Inquisition not for his own brilliant theories but becausehe stood up for his belief in Copernicuss theory that the earth was not as the Church insisted thecenter of the universe but that rather the universe is heliocentric Galileo was a man oftremendous intellect and imagination living in a era dominated by the Catholic Church whichattempted to control the people by dictating their own version of reality Any person whopublicly questioned Church doctrine ran the chance of condemnation and punishment If mancould think man could question and the Church could lose its authority over the masses Thiscould not be tolerated in the 17th century when the Church had the power to dictate reality Copernicus probably avoided a similar fate by confining his opinions to his students and theuniversity milieu and in fact his theories were not published until the time of his deathTo be tried by the Inquisition was something that nobody could take lightly Although inGalileos time the Inquisition was becoming more and more lenient it was known to have usedtorture in the past and to have sent many heretics to burn at the stake As late as 1600 this fatehad befallen the Italian thinker Giordano Bruno a one-time Dominican friar who had adopted aFrom the summer of 1605 Galileo was private tutor of mathematics to young PrinceCosimo de Medici son of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Teacher and pupil became sincerelyattached to each other by mutual affection and deference and this bond lasted to the end ofGalileos life Galileo remained a good friend of the Grand Duke as well In the summer of 1611the Grand Duke invited Galileo to a dinner party at his court The Duke liked to gather greatscholars around him especially when he had illustrious guests to hear them talk about issues ofinterest to the learned world At this dinner the discussion centered on floating bodies Galileomaintained that bodies can float only if
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