Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor

Curious Appeal to Galileo

From: JASA 28 (March 1976): 48

The curious appeal by Duane. T. Gish to the acceptance of the Ptolemaic world view by scientists and the subsequent transition to Copornicanism as an analogy to the present acceptance of evolution by most scientists, presumably foretelling a similar coming transition (to the flood geology theory?) was well pointed out by Geoffrey Manley in a recent book review (Journal ASA, June 1975, 92). Reginald M. Daly, in his flood geology based Earth's Most Challenging Mysteries makes a like appeal (pp-381,382), envisioning anew "Galileo, man of destiny" appearing on the scene to "help rebuild a shattered discipline", namely evolutionary geology

In the light of such comments one cannot but wonder how closely Gish and Daly have looked at the events of the Copernican Revolution. Galileo, for example, explicitly addresses himself to the relationship between science and scripture in several places. In his "Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina" the following statements appear within three consecutive paragraphs (quoted from Stillman Drake's Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, Doubleday Anchor, 1957).

These propositions uttered by the Holy Ghost were set down in that manner by the sacred scribes in order to accommodate them to the capacities of the common people, who are rude and unlearned, For the sake of those who deserve to be separated from the herd, it is necessary that wise ex0ositors should produce the true senses of such passages....

This being granted, I think that in discussions of physical problems we ought to begin not from the authority of scriptural passages, but from sense-experiences and necessary demonstrations; ...

. , . nothing physical which sense-experience sets before our eyes, or which necessary demonstrations prove to us, ought to be called in question (much less condemned) upon the testimony of biblical passages which may have some different meaning beneath their words.

Somewhat farther along Galileo quotes with approval Pererius Genesis.

We must also take heed, in handling the doctrine of Moses, that we altogether avoid saying positively and confidently anything which contradicts manifest experiences and the reasoning of philosophy or the other sciences. For since every truth is in agreement with all other truth, the truth of Holy Writ cannot be contrary to the solid reasons and experiences of human knowledge.

Strange utterings indeed from a bedfellow of Gish and Daly!

David J, Krause
Science Division
Henry Ford Community College
Dearborn, Michigan 48128