Galileo and the Garden of Eden: Galileo’s Hermeneutics, Modern Christians, and Natural History

Ted Davis, Prof. of History at Messiah College, gives the final lecture in the "The Earth Unmoored" series of programs commemorating the 400-year anniversary of the Galileo Affair.

Date & Time:

Friday, January 27, 2017
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Free and open to the public.

Dr. Ted Davis

On March 5, 1616, the Congregation of the Index of the Roman Catholic Church placed the works of Copernicus on the Index of Prohibited books. They did so because Copernicus’ astronomical model held that “that the earth moves and the sun is motionless,” and this teaching was “altogether contrary to the Holy Scriptures.”

The Congregation’s decree continued a lively debate between some of the best minds in Europe on the relationship between the truth of scripture, astronomical phenomena, and the status of physical demonstration in the atural sciences.  It pitted the great scholar and Jesuit (and eventual saint) Robert Bellarmine against the brilliant and abrasive Galileo Galilei, who would later be placed under house arrest by the Inquisition.

The debate brought to the fore several issues that still puzzle philosophers and historians of science. What is the relationship between theory and observation? What is the epistemic status of empirical proof?  How does a representation relate to its object?

The Center for Early Modern History at the University of Minnesota and the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy at the University of St Thomas invite you to join the debate as we commemorate the events of 1616 by bringing together a wide group of faculty from different disciplines and backgrounds to read and discuss the central texts and issues of the controversy. Seminar Readings will be drawn from The Essential Galileo (Hackett Classics).  Visiting speakers may recommend reading additional sources. 

Seminar with the speaker at 1:30pm, Lecture at 3:30pm

  9/16   Drawing on Galileo: Art, Astronomy, and Appropriation,
            Eileen Reeves, Chair and Professor of Comparative Literature, Princeton University

10/07   Science, Theology, and Uncertainty: Notes on the Afterlife of the Galileo Affair
            Stefania Tutino, Professor of History, UCLA

10/28   Forging the Moon; Or, How to Spot a Fake Galileo
            Nick Wilding, Associate Professor of History, Georgia State University

11/18   The Telescope Against Copernicus:
            Marius, Galileo, Riccioli, and the Problem of Telescopic Observations of Stars in the Early 17th Century
            Christopher Graney, Professor of Physics, Jefferson Community and Technical College

11/22   Trial of Galileo
            Frey Moot Courtroom, University of St. Thomas School of Law
            (Application has been made for a continuing legal education credit)

1/27    Galileo and the Garden of Eden: Galileo’s Hermeneutics, Modern Christians, and Natural History
            Ted Davis, Professor of the History of Science, Messiah College‌‌

Additional support for this series comes from the University of Minnesota Program for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, Program for Religious Studies, Anselm House, and Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World; as well as the University of St. Thomas Department of Philosophy. 

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.