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Galileo vs. the Inquisition, Round 1 *

Galileo has been making observations of the heavens and coming up with a lot of questions. Copernicus had argued for a heliocentric universe where the Earth, the planets and the stars rotate around the Sun. Galileo agrees, but the Church does not. Tycho Brahe argues for a model where the Sun and Moon orbit the Earth but everything else orbits the Sun. Tycho's model works reasonably well given their imprecise measurements and their assumptions. They assume that the stars are close enough so that as the Earth changes its position in orbit, the stars should appear to shift position. No shift then no moving Earth. THEY SEE NO SHIFT! This shift is called parallax. You can see parallax yourself by looking at a tall building two miles away. Now walk a block to your left or right and notice how the building seems to shift it's position relative to the buildings behind it. With precise measurements you can estimate how far away the building is. If the scientists can't see parallax for the stars, that means the stars are an ungodly distance away, and no one wants to think about that. The Church allows Galileo to discuss the Copernicus model as long as he doesn't state it as fact. Currently, he can't even convince his fellow scientists. That will take some time. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I often jump between a modern mindset and a medieval one in order to accommodate my religious obligations. I know people who say that the universe rotates around the Earth. For a while they were teaching this medieval idea to the kids at their religious school. They stopped when the parents insisted that the school teach proper science. The clergy didn't put up much of a fight. I don't think they believed it either. (You can often tell what people really believe by watching what they do and not always by what they say.) For religious purposes, I count the years since creation as 5,775. Do I believe it? Hmmm... I can see a path there, but it requires too much hand-waving and leaps-of-faith, so no. Not really. Scientists measure the age of the universe from 10 to 13 billion years old. Their methods are not perfect, but they make sense to me. Even though they change the age of the universe from time to time, the bottom line is that is it definitely not 5,775 years... not even close. For an intelligent discussion about reconciling religious claims with scientific theory I suggest reading "The Science of God" by Gerald Schroeder. He gives science a fair hearing while treating religious claims as serious questions... including how old the universe is. [6]

The Virginia Company and the Summer Isles

This year Admiral Somers returns to Bermuda under a new charter. The Somers Isles Company is made up of the same investors as the Virginia Company but their charter is to colonize Bermuda... on purpose this time. A few years ago Admiral Somers had struggled against a storm to bring a properly supplied group of colonists to Jamestown but the Sea Venture was sinking. He wasn't going to make it to Jamestown so he drove his ship into the reefs of a nearby island to stabilize the ship and bring the colonists ashore. That was how the Virginia Company came to colonize Bermuda. A century before, Bermuda had been seeded with pigs by a Spanish captain. He was trying to provide food and a safe haven for lost ships in a storm. Admiral Somers finally made it off of the island along with the future Governor of Virginia and John Rolfe who would soon marry Pocahontas. The Admiral also he left a few people behind to maintain England's claim to Bermuda. The King of England has plans for Bermuda, and the Somers Isles Company is part of that plan. [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
One wonders why there was a need to establish a separate company, but the Virginia Company's original charter didn't extend to Bermuda. Of course, acts of God and such made it reasonable for the Virginia Company to maintain a colony there, even without a proper charter. The Somers Isles Company fixed that technical issue. It also helped later on when the Virginia Company was dissolved and the King took official control of the Virginia colony. Bermuda maintained a more independent existence. On a side note: some historians believe that Admiral Somers and the wreck of the Sea Dragon was the inspiration for Shakespeare's play, The Tempest.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1615, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster. “Galileo Galilei faces the Inquisition for first time” 
  2. Galileo Galilei - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 July 2015. “Galileo's championing of heliocentrism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system. He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could only be supported as a possibility, not as an established fact.”
  3. Tychonic system - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 July 2015. “It is essentially a geocentric model; the Earth is at the center of the universe. The Sun and Moon and the stars revolve around the Earth, and the other five planets revolve around the Sun.”
  4. The Case against Copernicus. Scientific American (January 2014). Retrieved on 29 July 2015. “Copernicus famously said that Earth revolves around the sun. But opposition to this revolutionary idea didn't come just from the religious authorities. Evidence favored a different cosmology.”
  5. Parallax - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 July 2015. “Parallax is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight, and is measured by the angle or semi-angle of inclination between those two lines.”
  6. Gerald L. Schroeder. The science of God. Broadway Books. ISBN 076790303X. 
  7. (1624) The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (PDF). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. 
  8. The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “The third charter, of 1612, extended its territory far enough across the Atlantic to include the Somers Isles (named for Admiral of the Virginia Company, Sir George Somers), or Bermuda, which the Virginia Company had been in unofficial possession of since the 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture.”
  9. Somers Isles Company - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “Bermuda had been settled, inadvertently, in 1609 by the Virginia Company when its flagship, the Sea Venture, was wrecked on the reefs to its east.. The Admiral of the Company, Sir George Somers, was at the helm as the ship fought a storm that had broken apart a relief fleet destined for Jamestown, the Virginian settlement established by the Company two years earlier. Somers had deliberately driven the ship onto the reefs to prevent its foundering, thereby saving all aboard.”

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