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Galileo got sneaky in bid to ward off the Inquisition

This undated file image shows an etching of astronomer Galileo Galilei.

(AP Photo, File)

Galileo: pioneering astronomer and early master of spin. BRITISH researchers say they have found a long-lost letter written by Galileo that shows he’s engaged in a little bit of trickery to fend off the Inquisition.

It is all laid in Nature, and it takes a bit of unpacking. The story began when Galileo wrote to a friend in 1613, to say that he now believed that the Earth revolved around the sun, and not vice versa.

This was heresy in the eyes of the Catholic Church, but also in his letter Galileo scoffed at the idea of taking the Bible literally on such matters.

Copies made the rounds, and Galileo, faced with great problems when a brother is forwarded to the Inquisition. This is where the researchers say Galileo got sneaky by asking his friend for the original back, so that he could soften.

For example, Galileo wrote that certain things in the Bible is “false,” but he changed that to say that they are “different than the truth.” After the changes such as that, he had a friend forward it to the Vatican, arguing that it was his original and that the version in the church in the hands had been doctored by enemies. The researchers say that they know this now, because she found the original letter in the british Royal Society library, where it was discovered by chance last month after mislabled. They say that the operations are in Galileo’s own hand, showing that he tried to exercise damage control, by Nature. Do not judge him harshly for this, writes Jennifer Ouellette on Ars Technica. The changes are small, and “it is difficult for us to imagine how dangerous a time in the 17th century was for scientists and scholars who dared to cross of the Catholic Church.” In any case, Galileo would be condemned for heresy in 1633; he spent the last nine years of his life under house arrest. (It’s all thanks to his revolutionary telescope.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Galileo Was Sneaky in Bid to Ward off the Inquisition

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