The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

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The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#1  Postby solothinker » Aug 16, 2011 2:05 am

I found this small article that he wrote, saying the bible is a library. I've never heard of this argument before. How would you go about countering this one?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karl-giberson-phd/the-bible-is-a-library-no_b_923690.html?icid=maing-grid7|netscape|dl2|sec3_lnk3|86605
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#2  Postby klazmon » Aug 16, 2011 2:18 am

Lewis Carroll wrote:"When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."



It is a small collection of books in the sense of an anthology perhaps but far to narrow to be remotely considered a library. In any case calling it a library doesn't reduce the level of bullshit.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#3  Postby Blood » Aug 16, 2011 2:25 am

The motion of the earth was threatening in 1633 when Galileo was on trial. The Bible was quite clear that the earth was fixed and said so in so many words: "The earth is fixed and cannot be moved" wrote the Psalmist with unfortunate clarity in chapter 93. And there were theological issues. The earth-centered universe made theological sense. If humanity was the focus of God's creation, then it followed that the earth would be located in a special place. In the worldview of the times, however, the center of the universe was special in that hell was located there. Things improved as one moved out toward the stars, in the general direction of heaven, and away from the earth...


No actually it was Aristotle and Ptolemy that the church and fellow scientists were relying upon. The earth-centered universe made empirical sense.

As for the library analogy, most of the texts in the OT pre-date the Hellenistic invention of the book, and 2/3 of the NT are letters.
"One absurdity having been granted, the rest follows. Nothing difficult about that."
- Aristotle, Physics I, 185a
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#4  Postby keypad5 » Aug 16, 2011 2:48 am

The Bible is not a book. It is a library -- dozens of very different books bound together. The assumption that identifying one part as fiction undermines the factual character of another part is ludicrous. It would be like going into an actual physical library and saying "Well, if all these books about Harry Potter are fictional, then how do I know these other books about Abraham Lincoln are factual? How can Lincoln be real if Potter is not?" And then "Aha! I have got you! So much for your library."

:smug:

So now they admit that they just cherry pick the book library, but they're trying to legitimise cherry-picking. :sigh:
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#5  Postby klazmon » Aug 16, 2011 3:05 am

Blood wrote:
The motion of the earth was threatening in 1633 when Galileo was on trial. The Bible was quite clear that the earth was fixed and said so in so many words: "The earth is fixed and cannot be moved" wrote the Psalmist with unfortunate clarity in chapter 93. And there were theological issues. The earth-centered universe made theological sense. If humanity was the focus of God's creation, then it followed that the earth would be located in a special place. In the worldview of the times, however, the center of the universe was special in that hell was located there. Things improved as one moved out toward the stars, in the general direction of heaven, and away from the earth...


No actually it was Aristotle and Ptolemy that the church and fellow scientists were relying upon. The earth-centered universe made empirical sense.

As for the library analogy, most of the texts in the OT pre-date the Hellenistic invention of the book, and 2/3 of the NT are letters.


That is a bit disingenuous. Galileo was not brought before the inquisition because he disagreed with Aristotle or Ptolemy. In any case Galileo had proved Ptolemy's model to be false by 1610. Around the same time, Kepler had demonstrated that the remaining geocentric models proposed by Tycho Brahe and others up to that point were also false. Although geocentrism wasn't completely ruled out at this point it was certainly on very shakey ground (more than twenty years before Galileo's trial). The only astronomers clinging to geocentrism by the time of Galileo's trial were Jesuits. Even they eventually became so embarrassed at having to hold such a ridiculous position that Fr Roger Boskovich SJ had to petition the pope to prevent them from being held to laughing stock.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#6  Postby Zwaarddijk » Aug 16, 2011 8:40 am

solothinker,
that's hardly an argument. However, a lot of atheists that go about discussing with religious people do fail on this - but when we do take it into account, it doesn't really pose any real difficulties either. Even a serious, informed and intelligent reading of the Bible will lead to rejection of religious doctrine. However, it will also lead to less bullshit in making stupid claims about the Bible - a thing, alas, that isn't uncommon among people claiming to be rational atheists (I can give you links in this very forum to that kind of stuff).
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#7  Postby Blood » Aug 16, 2011 10:26 am

klazmon wrote:
Blood wrote:
The motion of the earth was threatening in 1633 when Galileo was on trial. The Bible was quite clear that the earth was fixed and said so in so many words: "The earth is fixed and cannot be moved" wrote the Psalmist with unfortunate clarity in chapter 93. And there were theological issues. The earth-centered universe made theological sense. If humanity was the focus of God's creation, then it followed that the earth would be located in a special place. In the worldview of the times, however, the center of the universe was special in that hell was located there. Things improved as one moved out toward the stars, in the general direction of heaven, and away from the earth...


No actually it was Aristotle and Ptolemy that the church and fellow scientists were relying upon. The earth-centered universe made empirical sense.

As for the library analogy, most of the texts in the OT pre-date the Hellenistic invention of the book, and 2/3 of the NT are letters.


That is a bit disingenuous. Galileo was not brought before the inquisition because he disagreed with Aristotle or Ptolemy. In any case Galileo had proved Ptolemy's model to be false by 1610. Around the same time, Kepler had demonstrated that the remaining geocentric models proposed by Tycho Brahe and others up to that point were also false. Although geocentrism wasn't completely ruled out at this point it was certainly on very shakey ground (more than twenty years before Galileo's trial). The only astronomers clinging to geocentrism by the time of Galileo's trial were Jesuits. Even they eventually became so embarrassed at having to hold such a ridiculous position that Fr Roger Boskovich SJ had to petition the pope to prevent them from being held to laughing stock.


There was a massive amount of harmonization going on between Aristotle and "Holy Scriptures," with interrelated dogmatism: the Bible is true because it's God's word, geocentrism is true because it's God's word and further asserted by Aristotle. Lots of things not in the Bible were simply assumed to be true because Aristotle said it. The general idea was that "the ancients" were closer to creation therefore they had a better idea of what happened than we do.

You overestimate the acceptance of heliocentrism in Galileo's lifetime. It did not become widely accepted by astronomers until many decades after his death.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#8  Postby Arcanyn » Aug 16, 2011 12:02 pm

I guess it could be considered a library - just a very small library.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#9  Postby John P. M. » Aug 16, 2011 1:57 pm

He's both wrong and right, but when he's right, he's only trivially so, in my opinion. :think:

He's of course right that the Bible wasn't planned and penned by either one person or a few people living at the same time, but rather is put together from many texts written by many authors over several centuries and many different locations. Anyone should know this.

But so what? One of the problems with the biblical books, is that you don't have first one text that is all metaphors and miracles, then another text that is all facts and figures. In general it's a mishmash within each book. So you get places and people and occurrences that you can find reliable info about through archeology and other peoples' written histories, but then parallel or even intertwined with that you get stories that are either supernatural and fantastical, or non-verifiable even if plausible enough.

Of course, you can't (or at least shouldn't) look at one clearly metaphorical or supernatural story, and then judge the rest of the Bible on that story alone, as being all fiction.

But he seems to be dodging the intent of the question he's answering. The question was: "If the Bible is not to be read as a literal account of the truth, then how do we know which parts really are true, and which parts are fiction or metaphor?"

To this he says the Bible is not a book, but a library. Well duh. What does that mean in relation to the question? Does he mean that we can separate the stories that are 'true' (as in actually, historically happened) from those stories that are not 'true' (did not happen as described; are metaphors or the like), by looking at the historical evidence and see which stories come out on top in that regard? It seems that way, since he uses the examples of a fixed, centered earth, and Adam & Eve.

The question is though, would we have viewed them as only metaphorical or poetic if science had confirmed them through the years? If the earth really did turn out to be fixed and at the center?

Another thing is that many of the stories that must be seen as purely metaphorical or allegorical if one discounts miracles, can be seen as literal history if one allows for miracles. And so one believer may view a biblical story as metaphor, while another believer thinks it must have happened that miraculous way. If you remove all the miracle-, supernatural, unevidenced, and implausible stories from the Bible, you won't be left with much. And you'll be left with texts where God hasn't done anything historically; at best God will then be described through poetic prose. Not that 'sophisticated theologians' will have a problem with that, but I think many 'mainstream' believers would.

I agree though that one needs to read the stories in the proper contexts; language, history, literary tradition of the time, and so on. This is true for any literary work. Perhaps some of the stories were never meant to be taken literally. I do believe this.

But the question was, how do we tell them apart? Often, miracles are mixed into the otherwise plausible and perhaps even evidenced stories in a matter-of-factly manner in the Bible. In such cases we have history, and miracles. In the same story. What good is it to say "The Bible is not a book, but a library" then?

Do we simply filter out the miracle- and implausible stories, as with a sieve, and say they were meant as metaphors?

Perhaps so. Many believing Christians should in that case think about what that does to the backbone of their beliefs, IMO.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#10  Postby Grace » Aug 16, 2011 2:44 pm

The Bible is a collection of fairy tales in one book.

Each book within the book are just short stories, and the chapters are series of paragraphs.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#11  Postby HughMcB » Aug 16, 2011 3:15 pm

Who gives a shite if the bible is a library, so is my porn collection.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#12  Postby Zwaarddijk » Aug 16, 2011 3:47 pm

Grace wrote:The Bible is a collection of fairy tales in one book.

There's decidedly unfairytale-like things in it, though - things that can't be fairytales even by the most inclusive definition of fairytale. (E.g. Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Song of Songs, ~Lamentations, in a way Ruth doesn't very well fit the idea of a fairytale either. In the new testament, a lot of the books don't fit the template of fairytales either - there's one personal letter about an escaped slave, there's a lot of letters about fundamentally organizational ideas, with an undercurrent of agreement with something you'd term a fairytale (I'd term it something else - both of us agree the doctrines that underpin the congregations' and the authors' interaction are mistaken - so by questioning the term 'fairytale', I'm not claiming them to be true).

Then there are books that aren't so much fairytales as retellings of feverish dreams - the apocalyptic literature.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#13  Postby klazmon » Aug 16, 2011 11:57 pm

Blood wrote:
klazmon wrote:
Blood wrote:

No actually it was Aristotle and Ptolemy that the church and fellow scientists were relying upon. The earth-centered universe made empirical sense.

As for the library analogy, most of the texts in the OT pre-date the Hellenistic invention of the book, and 2/3 of the NT are letters.


That is a bit disingenuous. Galileo was not brought before the inquisition because he disagreed with Aristotle or Ptolemy. In any case Galileo had proved Ptolemy's model to be false by 1610. Around the same time, Kepler had demonstrated that the remaining geocentric models proposed by Tycho Brahe and others up to that point were also false. Although geocentrism wasn't completely ruled out at this point it was certainly on very shakey ground (more than twenty years before Galileo's trial). The only astronomers clinging to geocentrism by the time of Galileo's trial were Jesuits. Even they eventually became so embarrassed at having to hold such a ridiculous position that Fr Roger Boskovich SJ had to petition the pope to prevent them from being held to laughing stock.


There was a massive amount of harmonization going on between Aristotle and "Holy Scriptures," with interrelated dogmatism: the Bible is true because it's God's word, geocentrism is true because it's God's word and further asserted by Aristotle. Lots of things not in the Bible were simply assumed to be true because Aristotle said it. The general idea was that "the ancients" were closer to creation therefore they had a better idea of what happened than we do.

You overestimate the acceptance of heliocentrism in Galileo's lifetime. It did not become widely accepted by astronomers until many decades after his death.


All the geocentric models of the day were actually proven false. The church nevertheless had no issues with these proven false theories to be taught. Only with heliocentrism and only because it disagreed with their interpretation of their scripture. They may have cited Aristotle but Aristotle had nothing whatsoever to do with their motivation. As for acceptance of heliocentrism , outside of countries were it was illegal due to Catholic church control, Kepler's text book "Epitome of Copernican Astronomy' was the most widely used astronomy textbook at universities from the 1620's onwards. It became especially popluar after the (then) phenomenal accuracy of Kepler's Rudolphine tables was demonstrated by 1630. Galileo hadn't even had his trial at this point.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#14  Postby TimONeill » Aug 18, 2011 8:45 pm

solothinker wrote:I found this small article that he wrote, saying the bible is a library. I've never heard of this argument before. How would you go about countering this one?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karl-giberson-phd/the-bible-is-a-library-no_b_923690.html?icid=maing-grid7|netscape|dl2|sec3_lnk3|86605


Why would we go about "countering" something that is absolutely correct? I've been trying to get Christians to understand that their Bible isn't a cohesive "book" but is simply a library of disperate texts for years. It's only generally been presented as a single volume since the invention of printing - before that it was, if anything, several shelves full of manuscripts: a library of them.

So we're supposed to be "countering" a plain statement of fact because ... ? Is it because Jerry Coyne was mentioned? I'm sorry if Jerry Coyne, like a lot of anti-theists, prefers stupid fundamentalist interpretations of things because they are easier to shoot down, but what this guy is pointing out to both fundies and Jerry Coyne happens to be true.

On to the Galileo digression:

klazmon wrote:
Blood wrote:

No actually it was Aristotle and Ptolemy that the church and fellow scientists were relying upon. The earth-centered universe made empirical sense.


That is a bit disingenuous. Galileo was not brought before the inquisition because he disagreed with Aristotle or Ptolemy.


No, he was brought before the Inquisition because Aristotle and Ptolemy seemed to agree with the Bible. It's not "disingenuous" to note that the Bible was interpreted this way because the Church had the science of the day on their side and did so until Newton came along and showed exactly how Aristotelian physics was wrong in a way that Galileo simply didn't. How many times have we been over this? I know that doesn't fit the simplistic cartoon version of the Galileo affair as "wicked superstition vs the mighty wisdom of science" but real history isn't a series of neat little moral fables and rationalists are meant to stick to the facts.

In any case Galileo had proved Ptolemy's model to be false by 1610.


Unfortunately he hadn't also proven Copernicus true. Given that Copernicus was wrong about some key details - eg the shape of the orbits involved - he was never going to. He also hadn't found ways around the key objections to heliocentrism based on the problems of inertia nor was he able to demonstrate an observable stellar parallax. Those not insignificant problems were not overcome until Newton (1687) and Bessel (1838).

Around the same time, Kepler had demonstrated that the remaining geocentric models proposed by Tycho Brahe and others up to that point were also false.


Except it took much longer for Brahe's model to give way to Kepler's.

The only astronomers clinging to geocentrism by the time of Galileo's trial were Jesuits.


That, however, is total nonsense. There were several models, both heliocentric and geocentric, on offer at the time and Galileo's championing of Copernicus' model was very much in the minority because of the remaining scientific objections to it and the fact that parts of it were plain wrong. As were elements of this defence of it - like his contrived theories about the tides.

By the last decade of the [16th] century, serious astronomers fell into three categories: those loyal to the Ptolemaic order of the universe but willing to introduce Copernican mathematical techniques; those who had adopted some variation of the geo-heliocentric framework; and those who were confirmed Copernicans. The last category was the smallest, numbering only Mastlin and Rothmann among established figures. .... At the time of Tycho's burial in 1601, the first phase of the Copernican revolution was over, with the paradoxical result that although almost no recognized astronomer was actually a Copernican (even Kepler had yet to distinguish himself), Copernican technical astronomy has become indispensable. The true successor to the Ptolemaic theory was the Tychonic, a view at once radical in its rejection of Aristotelian physics and conservative in its retention of the geocentric perspective. .... It [the Tychonic system] was almost entirely ignored by Galileo Galilei, perhaps unfairly so, for at the time when Galileo's Dialogue was published (1632) it was not the Ptolemaic system, but rather the Tychonic, that was widely discussed as the alternative to the Copernican.
(R. Taton and C. Wilson, Planetary Astronomy from the Renaissance to the rise of Astrophysics: part A Brahe to Newton, Cambriege University Press: 1989. pp. 31-33)

The question was far from settled scientifically and Galileo was far from being wholly right about anything much. No-one in that case was. Can we stick to the fact rather than the romantic myths please.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#15  Postby klazmon » Aug 18, 2011 11:56 pm

TimONeill wrote:
On to the Galileo digression:

No, he was brought before the Inquisition because Aristotle and Ptolemy seemed to agree with the Bible.


He was brought before the inquisition for disobediance. Aristotle and Ptolemy may have beeen used as some sort of justification for their position.

It's not "disingenuous" to note that the Bible was interpreted this way because the Church had the science of the day on their side and did so until Newton came along and showed exactly how Aristotelian physics was wrong in a way that Galileo simply didn't. How many times have we been over this? I know that doesn't fit the simplistic cartoon version of the Galileo affair as "wicked superstition vs the mighty wisdom of science" but real history isn't a series of neat little moral fables and rationalists are meant to stick to the facts.


What cartoon version. Any other strawmen you would like to burn? Galileo and others before had already demonstrated that aspects of Aristotles physics was wrong.

In any case Galileo had proved Ptolemy's model to be false by 1610.


Unfortunately he hadn't also proven Copernicus true. Given that Copernicus was wrong about some key details - eg the shape of the orbits involved - he was never going to. He also hadn't found ways around the key objections to heliocentrism based on the problems of inertia nor was he able to demonstrate an observable stellar parallax. Those not insignificant problems were not overcome until Newton (1687) and Bessel (1838).


You are missing the point. All the geocentric models known at the time were demonstrated to be empirically false but there was no objection from the Roman church to these being taught. Calvinists and Lutherans were equallly aware of Aristotle, the bible and the issues of inertia and parallax but I don't recall any of their champions of heliocentric theory being accused of heresy by their theologians. By the way it is funny that you mention inertia, as using that as an argument shows that they realised that Aristotle was wrong.


Around the same time, Kepler had demonstrated that the remaining geocentric models proposed by Tycho Brahe and others up to that point were also false.


Except it took much longer for Brahe's model to give way to Kepler's.


Kepler's Copernican astronomy text book was used at universities in Europe from the 1620's onwards and was THE astronomy textbook from the 1630's after the efficacy of the Rudolphine tables was demonstrated. There was of course an "inertia" of the old ideas but Every budding astronomer wanted to learn this stuff. Unless of course you lived in a country where the Roman church held sway where any form of heliocentric theory was illegal to be taught.

The only astronomers clinging to geocentrism by the time of Galileo's trial were Jesuits.


That, however, is total nonsense. There were several models, both heliocentric and geocentric, on offer at the time and Galileo's championing of Copernicus' model was very much in the minority because of the remaining scientific objections to it and the fact that parts of it were plain wrong. As were elements of this defence of it - like his contrived theories about the tides.


It isn't nonsense at all. Other astronomers questioned Kepler's physical explanations (and rightly so, since his physical ideas were wrong). By the 1630's it was known to any serious astronomer that the application of Kepler's laws gave by far the best agreement with the observed motion of the planets. That is why Kepler's text book explaining this became so popular.

By the last decade of the [16th] century, serious astronomers fell into three categories: those loyal to the Ptolemaic order of the universe but willing to introduce Copernican mathematical techniques; those who had adopted some variation of the geo-heliocentric framework; and those who were confirmed Copernicans. The last category was the smallest, numbering only Mastlin and Rothmann among established figures. .... At the time of Tycho's burial in 1601, the first phase of the Copernican revolution was over, with the paradoxical result that although almost no recognized astronomer was actually a Copernican (even Kepler had yet to distinguish himself), Copernican technical astronomy has become indispensable. The true successor to the Ptolemaic theory was the Tychonic, a view at once radical in its rejection of Aristotelian physics and conservative in its retention of the geocentric perspective. ....


What does the last decade of the 16th century have anything to do with what I wrote. Even at that time, luminaries such as Michael Maestlin were already arguing for Copernicus. IIRC Galileo's trial occured a third of the way into the seventeenth century. By that time things had changed considerably.


It [the Tychonic system] was almost entirely ignored by Galileo Galilei, perhaps unfairly so, for at the time when Galileo's Dialogue was published (1632) it was not the Ptolemaic system, but rather the Tychonic, that was widely discussed as the alternative to the Copernican.
(R. Taton and C. Wilson, Planetary Astronomy from the Renaissance to the rise of Astrophysics: part A Brahe to Newton, Cambriege University Press: 1989. pp. 31-33)

The question was far from settled scientifically and Galileo was far from being wholly right about anything much. No-one in that case was. Can we stick to the fact rather than the romantic myths please.
[/quote]

Tychonic theory was certainly held up as an alternative to Copernicus but attempts to make it work failed quite miserably. Of course they were free to consider such things and did all they could to test Kepler's version of Copernicus ideas, such as observing transits of Mercury and Venus. There were even several modified versions of Kepler's ideas considered. Except of course in countries where any form of Copernicanism was illegal and were forced to cling to geocentric ideas or face the inquisition.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#16  Postby ElDiablo » Aug 19, 2011 12:15 am

:popcorn:
God is silly putty.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#17  Postby TimONeill » Aug 19, 2011 1:04 am

klazmon wrote:
TimONeill wrote:
On to the Galileo digression:

No, he was brought before the Inquisition because Aristotle and Ptolemy seemed to agree with the Bible.


He was brought before the inquisition for disobediance.


Yes, he was.

Aristotle and Ptolemy may have beeen used as some sort of justification for their position.


No, they weren’t. How many times have we been over this? The Catholic Church had and has four levels of scriptural exegesis, of which the literal level is one and the least important. A text was interpreted literally if that accorded with reason – the Psalm that refers to God as a chicken was not to be interpreted literally as saying that God really is a chicken and so was read metaphorically. That meant if a text did not accord with what we know about the world via reason, it could not be interpreted literally. But the texts that talk about the earth being “fixed” and “immobile” etc did seem to accord with reason, thanks to the Ptolemaic paradigm that dominated up until Galileo’s time. And there were still serious objections to the heliocentric model that would not be cleared up until the end of the Seventeenth Century and no clear consensus on any of the various competing models of the time, which included both geocentric and heliocentric versions. So Galileo’s teaching was considered “philosophically false” and contrary to both science and scripture.

I know that doesn't fit the simplistic cartoon version of the Galileo affair as "wicked superstition vs the mighty wisdom of science" but real history isn't a series of neat little moral fables and rationalists are meant to stick to the facts.


What cartoon version. Any other strawmen you would like to burn?


The cartoon version that we see wheeled out every single time this comes up, whereby I’m told at tedious length that the Church didn’t consider the science of the time at all and stuck purely and solely superstition and revelation and that Galileo was some kind of proto-atheist materialist martyr to pure reason. The one that requires me to beat my head against the brick wall of wilfull ignorance while I show, over and over again, that science was very much a part of the Church’s considerations and that Galileo was not able to answer key scientific objections to his position.

You may not be championing that silly caricature of the historical events, but stick around – we’ll see those who do pop up soon enough.

Galileo and others before had already demonstrated that aspects of Aristotles physics was wrong.


Hell, John Philoponus had demonstrated aspects of Aristotle’s physics wrong a millennium before Galileo was born. And Jean Buridan and Nicholas Orseme had done so back in the Fourteenth Century. But there’s a big difference between doing that and coming up with a sufficient replacement for fundamental aspects of physics to overturn the whole of Aristotelian physics and replace it with something that works better. Galileo didn’t do that. That had to wait for Newton’s Principia.

You are missing the point. All the geocentric models known at the time were demonstrated to be empirically false but there was no objection from the Roman church to these being taught.


I’m not missing the point that it was not until Newton that the final physical objection to heliocentrism fell away. Until then, heliocentrism had a physical hole in it and the problems with the geocentric models could be considered something that could potentially be resolved.

Calvinists and Lutherans were equallly aware of Aristotle, the bible and the issues of inertia and parallax but I don't recall any of their champions of heliocentric theory being accused of heresy by their theologians.


And neither were any Catholic ones until the unique set of political and personal circumstances that led to the Galileo Affair came together. Before that we had Cardinals and Archbishops showering praise on Copernicus and the Pope hearing lectures on heliocentrism with pleasure in the Vatican gardens.

Around the same time, Kepler had demonstrated that the remaining geocentric models proposed by Tycho Brahe and others up to that point were also false.


Except it took much longer for Brahe's model to give way to Kepler's.


Kepler's Copernican astronomy text book was used at universities in Europe from the 1620's onwards and was THE astronomy textbook from the 1630's after the efficacy of the Rudolphine tables was demonstrated. There was of course an "inertia" of the old ideas but Every budding astronomer wanted to learn this stuff.


No argument. But the fact remains that Brahe’s theory hung around for quite a while and was upheld by far more people than “only the Jesuits”. That was your claim and the one to which I was objecting.

The only astronomers clinging to geocentrism by the time of Galileo's trial were Jesuits.


That, however, is total nonsense. There were several models, both heliocentric and geocentric, on offer at the time and Galileo's championing of Copernicus' model was very much in the minority because of the remaining scientific objections to it and the fact that parts of it were plain wrong. As were elements of this defence of it - like his contrived theories about the tides.


It isn't nonsense at all. Other astronomers questioned Kepler's physical explanations (and rightly so, since his physical ideas were wrong). By the 1630's it was known to any serious astronomer that the application of Kepler's laws gave by far the best agreement with the observed motion of the planets. That is why Kepler's text book explaining this became so popular.


Again, no argument. But that still leaves aside the fact that Brahe’s model was still considered viable by many and not simply by “only the Jesuits”.

What does the last decade of the 16th century have anything to do with what I wrote.


The key element in my quotes from Taton and Wilson is in their last line.

It [the Tychonic system] was almost entirely ignored by Galileo Galilei, perhaps unfairly so, for at the time when Galileo's Dialogue was published (1632) it was not the Ptolemaic system, but rather the Tychonic, that was widely discussed as the alternative to the Copernican.[/i]



Tychonic theory was certainly held up as an alternative to Copernicus but attempts to make it work failed quite miserably.


Yet again, no argument. The fact remains that your claim that it was only the Jesuits that still upheld any geocentric model at the time Galileo published the Dialogue is simply nonsense. As I said.

You’ve now gone into some detail about the debate that was going on within the science of the time and have admitted that the question was far from settled. We all know that the Church backed the losing side of that debate, but what I am countering is the common misconception that the Church didn’t consider the science of the question at all. It did – it was actually integral to the whole affair.
Last edited by TimONeill on Aug 19, 2011 5:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#18  Postby Fenrir » Aug 19, 2011 4:04 am

My local fundy radio is currently running an ad to tell me that the bible is "an integrated messaging system, from outside our temporal domain". When translated into English this means "old book" as far as I can tell.

That the bible is a library will go straight over the heads of many believers is my guess, they will simply use the phrase to justify interpretation of bits they now have an excuse to declare aren't literal.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#19  Postby klazmon » Aug 23, 2011 8:31 am

TimONeill wrote:

No, they weren’t. How many times have we been over this? The Catholic Church had and has four levels of scriptural exegesis, of which the literal level is one and the least important. A text was interpreted literally if that accorded with reason – the Psalm that refers to God as a chicken was not to be interpreted literally as saying that God really is a chicken and so was read metaphorically. That meant if a text did not accord with what we know about the world via reason, it could not be interpreted literally. But the texts that talk about the earth being “fixed” and “immobile” etc did seem to accord with reason, thanks to the Ptolemaic paradigm that dominated up until Galileo’s time. And there were still serious objections to the heliocentric model that would not be cleared up until the end of the Seventeenth Century and no clear consensus on any of the various competing models of the time, which included both geocentric and heliocentric versions. So Galileo’s teaching was considered “philosophically false” and contrary to both science and scripture.



I have read the charge sheet too. A pity that there doesn't appear to be a proper transcript of the trial available though. I don't agree that this "philosophically true/false" claim is anything other than a sham to disguise their real problem with it. Does anyone seriously believe that if Galileo had fronted the trial with a copy of the Principia and said here is the "philosophical" justification for my teaching they would have said "Oh jolly good you are free to go and teach away!.
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Re: The Bible is not a book Karl Giberson

#20  Postby TimONeill » Aug 23, 2011 9:33 am

klazmon wrote:
TimONeill wrote:

No, they weren’t. How many times have we been over this? The Catholic Church had and has four levels of scriptural exegesis, of which the literal level is one and the least important. A text was interpreted literally if that accorded with reason – the Psalm that refers to God as a chicken was not to be interpreted literally as saying that God really is a chicken and so was read metaphorically. That meant if a text did not accord with what we know about the world via reason, it could not be interpreted literally. But the texts that talk about the earth being “fixed” and “immobile” etc did seem to accord with reason, thanks to the Ptolemaic paradigm that dominated up until Galileo’s time. And there were still serious objections to the heliocentric model that would not be cleared up until the end of the Seventeenth Century and no clear consensus on any of the various competing models of the time, which included both geocentric and heliocentric versions. So Galileo’s teaching was considered “philosophically false” and contrary to both science and scripture.



I have read the charge sheet too. A pity that there doesn't appear to be a proper transcript of the trial available though. I don't agree that this "philosophically true/false" claim is anything other than a sham to disguise their real problem with it.


Pardon? Why on earth would the Catholic Church of the time have to "disguise their (supposed) real problem with it"? To hide it from the gaze of scornful atheists centuries in the future? To give future apologists something to work with in some far off and as yet unforeseen defense of the Church of the time? If the Church simply disagreed with it because it contradicted their Scriptures they had the power to say so.

But they were working within the framework of centuries of exegesis and a long tradition of working out how any given text of the Bible was to be interpreted. If it could be read as a description of the physical world, the question then became whether it conformed to what we know of the world via reason and should therefore be interpreted literally or if it didn't and therefore had to be interpreted symbolically, allegorically, morally or eschatologically. The texts that seemed to say the Earth was flat didn't conform to rational inquiry into the world and so were interpreted symbolically. The ones about the fixed centrality of the Earth, however, had long since been judged to conform to the rational inquiries of the ancient Greeks and it would take more than a hypothesis with some major flaws to overturn that.

Does anyone seriously believe that if Galileo had fronted the trial with a copy of the Principia and said here is the "philosophical" justification for my teaching they would have said "Oh jolly good you are free to go and teach away!.


Yet when Newton fronted the scientific world with his Principia and his new physics was generally accepted by the scientists of the time, that's precisely what the Church did. Professor Christopher M. Graney is currently undertaking some research into who exactly believed what about the various models on offer in the century preceding Newton's Principia and his preliminary findings are, reportedly, that it was the Tyconian model that was leading the pack for most of that period. Giovanni Battista Riccioli's neglected and (until very recently) untranslated Almagestum Novum was published in 1651 - that's nine years after Galileo died. The abstract of Prof. Graney's very recent paper on what the Almagestum tells us about the state of the debate at that point makes interesting reading:

In 1651 the Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli published within his Almagestum Novum, a massive 1500 page treatise on astronomy, a discussion of 126 arguments for and against the Copernican hypothesis (49 for, 77 against). A synopsis of each argument is presented here, with discussion and analysis. Seen through Riccioli's 126 arguments, the debate over the Copernican hypothesis appears dynamic and indeed similar to more modern scientific debates. Both sides present good arguments as point and counter-point. Religious arguments play a minor role in the debate; careful, reproducible experiments a major role. To Riccioli, the anti-Copernican arguments carry the greater weight, on the basis of a few key arguments against which the Copernicans have no good response. These include arguments based on telescopic observations of stars, and on the apparent absence of what today would be called "Coriolis Effect" phenomena; both have been overlooked by the historical record (which paints a picture of the 126 arguments that little resembles them). Given the available scientific knowledge in 1651, a geo-heliocentric hypothesis clearly had real strength, but Riccioli presents it as merely the "least absurd" available model - perhaps comparable to the Standard Model in particle physics today - and not as a fully coherent theory. Riccioli's work sheds light on a fascinating piece of the history of astronomy, and highlights the competence of scientists of his time.
("126 Arguments Concerning the Motion of the Earth, as presented by Giovanni Battista Riccioli in his 1651 Almagestum Novum")

And from his conclusion:

In reading Riccioli, the 17th century world system hypothesis debate looks less like a struggle between Rational Thinking and the Dark Ages, and more like other scientific debates, such as the debate in the 19th and early 20th centuries over the nature of Spiral Nebulae.


Of course, that doesn't fit the picture of the debate that suits certain ideological agendas by supposed rationalists.
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