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|The following is from Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of
Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible
for the birth of modern science. His renowned conflict with the Catholic
Church was central to his philosophy, for Galileo was one of the first
to argue that man could hope to understand how the world works, and, moreover,
that we could do this by observing the real world.
The book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was completed and published in 1632, with the full backing of the censors – and was immediately greeted throughout Europe as a literary and philosophical masterpiece. Soon the Pope, realizing that people were seeing the book as a convincing argument in favor of Copernicanism, regretted having allowed its publication. The Pope argued that although the book had the official blessing of the censors, Galileo had nevertheless contravened the 1616 decree. He brought Galileo before the Inquisition, who sentenced him to house arrest for life and commanded him to publicly renounce Copernicanism. For a second time, Galileo acquiesced.
Galileo remained a faithful Catholic, but his belief in the independence
of science had not been crushed. Four years before his death in 1642, while
he was still under house arrest, the manuscript of his second major book
was smuggled to a publisher in Holland. It was this work, referred to as
Two New Sciences, even more than his support for Copernicus, that was to
be the genesis of modern physics.
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