E pur si muove!
Galileo facing the Roman Inquistion, by Cristiano Banti (1857)
Yesterday, June 22, was the anniversary of the date on which the Inquisition sentenced Galileo to prison for heresy, for having endorsed Copernicus' theory that the earth orbits the sun. It was one of the landmark moments in the eternal battle between entrenched religious misapprehension and unfolding revelation.
Yesterday also saw the issuance of two new scientific reports -- one by the National Academy of Sciences observing that the earth is the warmest it's been in 2,000 years, and one by the National Science Foundation concluding that man-made global warming was responsible for about 50% of the increase in severity of the 2005 hurricane season.
Galileo's sentence was later commuted to lifetime house imprisonment, on the condition that he recant his position and never teach again. He recanted, but as he signed his recantation he is said to have muttered, "E pur si muove!" -- "And yet it moves!"
The unholy political alliance between corporate profiteers and superstitious Christian bibliolaters is striving mightily to deny the reality of the threat of global warming. And yet -- as Al Gore tries to persuade us in his new movie, An Inconvenient Truth -- it moves. God bless Al Gore and all others who are dedicated to not letting the forces of darkness prevail.
We who revere the earth and the sanctity of its natural processes must have courage and faith. Galileo was silenced, but his ideas prevailed. The light shines in darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.