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The Condemnation of Galileo

The condemnation of Galileo by the Catholic Church is a prime example of the vast dispute between religion and science. It is widely believed that his support of Copernicanism, the theory that the earth rotates on its axis, led to his condemnation by the Catholic Church. However, modern historians disagree with this belief and they do not believe that indeed there is warfare between religion and science. Under the content of condemnation of Galileo are subjects such as Copernicanism, Eucharist, Popes Paul 5 and atomism.

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Galileo’s idea of atomism conflicts with the church‘s definition of the Eucharist. According to the church, bread and wine represent the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Aristotle’s theory, stating that the material of the bread and wine changes but the quality does not, was used to affirm the Eucharist. In 1612, Galileo openly criticized Aristotle, saying his ideas were wrong and ridiculed Christopher Scheiner, a Jesuit scientist, over the idea of sunspots. These actions led to his widespread condemnation by the Roman Catholic Church. It was also observed that although Galileo had revealed that Aristotle’s ideas were inconsistent, he did not prove Copernican ideas that he readily supported. As a result, Pope Paul V warned and ordered Galileo to immediately stop supporting Copernican ideas.1

Moreover, Pope Urban had affirmed that God had limited man’s understanding of the universe but Galileo had different thoughts. According to him, God gave man the explicit mandate to reason and discover the world. This statement was contrary to the belief that the Pope was not supposed to be disputed but Galileo had just done that. He was thus arrested and after trial, he was found guilty of fervent mistrust of heresy. Galileo’s condemnation was basically about him being against Aristotelian science, which the church ardently believed in.

The Radical Reformation (The Anabaptist Portion of the Reformation)

Reformation in the sixteenth century is mostly associated with the Lutheran Protestants, Roman Catholics and the radicals who are identified to be historians. The radical group is further divided into three subgroups, which are the Socinians, the spiritualist and Anabaptists. The basic focus of this paper is the radical Anabaptists’ portion of the Reformation.

The phrase “Anabaptists” means to be baptized again and members of this group are referred to as radicals because of their intrinsic desire for thorough church reconstruction in line with their theological convictions.2

Ostensibly, Thomas Muntzer engineered the inception of the Anabaptists. His main objective was to introduce this new faith to mankind all over the world and ultimately form a democratic theocracy. However, before he could fully execute his plan, some people began questioning the authenticity of his pastorate. They felt that his pastorate was not official in the sense that he was not lawfully ordained but rather self-acclaimed. He was later captured and executed after a long duration of torture. Consequently, the Zurich council stipulated laws that prohibited the radical Anabaptists from meeting. However, Thomas’ death and the council’s laws did not deter those of similar opinion from waging on with the fight for Anabaptist.

After some days, radical Brethren met and after praying together all those who were present were baptized and this marked the commencement of the Anabaptist movement. Due to great opposition, they engaged in public demonstrations expressing their desire for a new church. They were opposed to tithing and taking of oaths, claiming that the city council had neither moral nor biblical rights to legislate on matters about religion. Their main aim was not to reform the church but to re-institute the church by their own theological beliefs. Therefore, they deserve the title “radical re-institution” of the church and should be alienated from the other called “radical reformation.” However, Anabaptists were undoubtedly sincere in their endeavors and today there are over one million followers all over the world.

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The Jesuit Missions to China in the Sixteenth Century

The missions of Jesuits in China marked one of the most important events in the early relations between China and the Western world. Jesuit activities played an important role in pioneering western science education in china. Matteo Ricci, a distinguished Jesuit missionary, was as a result of his efforts in China called in by the Shiu-Hing Governor. While in China, he introduced Geometry, Science and Christianity to the Chinese. By the time he passed in 1610, he had managed to convert about 2,000 Chinese into Christianity. His success was mainly due to his humbleness and ability to learn the Chinese language that enabled him to communicate and make new friends. More important is that he had opened up the way for his successors and later in the sixteenth century, some Chinese emperors had the full confidence of Jesuits living close to them.

Jesuits were given the huge responsibility of directing diplomatic missions and astronomical development. This gave the Jesuits a perfect opportunity to spread Christianity. Interestingly, the last empress of Ming was converted to Christian faith. However, in the early seventeenth century, the Dominican missionaries’ arrival in China sparked rivalry. The Roman Catholic Church argued that the Chinese rite of giving offerings to the gods amounted to idolatry.

The Jesuits who relied on the support of the Chinese emperor came out in defense of the Chinese saying that the act was only meant for socialization.3 The Dominican would hear none of these and insisted that these rites were demonic. This did not go down well with the Chinese emperor who banned Christianity and prohibited any of its followers from preaching in China. This act saw the rise of rebellion that was led by Hong Xiuquan, who had earlier been converted to Christianity. However, the rebellion was short-lived and it was trounced by the Qing army.


Fix, Andrew. “Radical Reformation and Second Reformation in Holland: The Intellectual Consequences of the Sixteenth-Century Religious Upheaval and the Coming of a Rational World View.” The Sixteenth Century Journal 18, no.1 (1987): 63-80.

Sarasohn, Lisa T. “French Reaction to the Condemnation of Galileo, 1632-1642.” The Catholic Historical Review 74, no.1 (2008): 34-54.

Waley-Cohen, Joanna. “China and Western Technology in the Late Eighteenth Century.” The American Historical Review 98, no.5 (1993): 1525-1544.


  1. Lisa T. Sarasohn, “French Reaction to the Condemnation of Galileo, 1632-1642,” The Catholic Historical Review 74, no. 1 (2008): 34.
  2. Andrew Fix, “Radical Reformation and Second Reformation in Holland: The Intellectual Consequences of the Sixteenth-Century Religious Upheaval and the Coming of a Rational World View,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 18, no.1 (1987): 63.
  3. Joanna Waley-Cohen, “China and Western Technology in the Late Eighteenth Century,” The American Historical Review 98, no.5 (1993): 1525.

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