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Essay/Term paper: Galileo

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Science Reports

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"Whereas Galileo spent his last days under house arrest and was formally
condemned by the Church for his scientific views, the elder Darwin was widely
respected by the Anglican Church and was buried at the Westminster Abbey, an
honor reserved for only the most illustrious personages of Great Britain. The
reason for the two scientists' very different fortunes is simple: Galileo
couldn't prove the Copernican hypothesis but Darwin was able to demonstrate the
truth of his theory of evolution." In the world of Galileo proof was what was
needed to succeed with a scientific hypothesis. In the world of Darwin proof
was not needed for a scientific hypothesis to succeed. There were many
differences in the worlds of these two great scientists that lead to the
reaction to their respective scientific hypothesize. It was not their beliefs
alone that led to their peer's views it was also the way each of them conducted
themselves. Galileo worked his way to become a respected scientist by most of
the intellectual community but he was also despised by many because of his
background and because of his attitude towards others. Darwin was well
respected by the intellectual community, but the difference was the way they
conducted themselves when they were dealing with their hypothesizes.

Galileo's Hypothesis

Galileo was well known for standing up for what he believed in and
pushing the things he wanted. He was constantly writing letters and engaging in
debates over the issue of Copernicanism. Galileo's entire reason for doing this
was to make the scientific and religious communities accept that Copernicanism
was actually a fact and that there was enough proof to believe it. One example
of the way Galileo strongly pushed his beliefs on others was the way he preached
Copernicanism to the people of Rome in 1615. While he was in Rome trying to
improve the church's opinion of him, Galileo was also debating the Aristotelians
over this issue and beating them at their own game. Because of his natural
talent for debate and because of his intelligence was able to outwit the
Aristotelians in these debates. Galileo acted this way because he believed that
he was in a position to make these kinds of statements without getting on the
wrong side of the church. These actions show that Galileo was very insistent
upon his ideas and upon what other people and the church thought of them. By
preaching and debating Galileo was trying to force his ideas into acceptance by
the church. His methods were highly unusual; he tried to force acceptance of
his ideas because he believed his findings to be conclusive and had enough proof
for people to accept. But when the actual facts are looked at it is very easy
to come to the conclusion that there was no definitive proof that the earth and
other planets orbit around the sun. Galileo in his papers and speeches tried to
hide his lack of proof by focusing on only what he knew. His actions on the
hypothesis are the complete opposite of the ideas of modern science. In modern
science a hypothesis is always trying to be proven like Galileo was doing but it
in never stated as truth until conclusive proof is demonstrated. While Galileo
is considered one of the founders of modern science is very easy to see that
some of his actions were not very scientific. The fact that Galileo was trying
to have people accept his hypothesis, as a fact is one of the major problems
with Galileo's fight for Copernicanism. Galileo's other major problem with his
fight for Copernicanism was that he was too cocky and believed that since his
ideas made the most sense people should give up the old paradigm and believe
Copernicanism to be true. If Galileo had been more cautious about preaching his
ideas and has spent more time trying to prove his hypothesis scientifically he
would have most likely been better off in his later years. He would have
avoided much of the controversy that surrounded him by the church and might have
just gotten off with another warning. Since Galileo was the man he was, he could
not end his fight after his first warning by the church, he had to persist and
write another book on the theory. In his book Dialogue on the Great Systems of
the World, Galileo tried to work around the ban of his belief of the Copernican
system by the church by presenting it as merely an opinion of his. But this as
most people realized was just another attempt to show the benefits of the
Copernican system. It was because of Galileo's inability to give in and accept
defeat that he wrote this book on Copernicanism. Galileo had also thought that
he had the church on his side this time since he was friends with the pope but
the pope was cajoled into believing that Galileo had insulted him with the book
and started and investigation to determine if Galileo had broken the decree of
1616. It took trickery and deception to bring Galileo down in his second
conflict with the church but it was his pompous attitude that caused him to come
to this end. If Galileo hadn't been so into proving others wrong and just
worked on his theories he would have been much better off.

Darwin's Hypothesis

Charles Darwin is the man well known for bringing about the theory of
Darwinism and natural selection. Darwin became a very successful scientist in
his time and convinced many people that his theory was scientifically sound. By
the time Darwin died he had a large group of followers the believed his ideas to
be true. The reason for Darwin's success was that he was very good at
convincing people of his ideas without overpowering them with arguments. Unlike
Galileo's methods of convincing people Darwin preferred to tell his ideas to his
close friends and allow them to spread them to others.
Darwin worked for years on his theory without telling more than a few
people about it. He did this because he was worried of what other people would
think of him and he didn't want to release an idea into the scientific community
that was only partially though through. So for years he worked on his ideas
alone and kept track of all the work he did. It took Wallace's paper to get
Darwin to speed up his own work and finally publish an extract of his own at the
same time as Wallace's paper was published. Once Darwin realized that someone
might beat him to the punch he began to work faster and soon published His book
known as The Origin of Species.
Darwin's methods of obtaining support for his newly public theory were
radically different from Galileo's methods. Instead of trying to convince
everyone that he was right Darwin concentrated on his research and left the
preaching of his theories to his friends. Darwin's close friends Hooker and
Huxley were major players in the spread of Darwin's theory. While it was his
own theory his contributions to promoting it were revising his books and
continuing his work further. This method of promoting his work worked extremely
well for Darwin. While Darwin was seen as the figurehead of the movement he was
not seen as one of its key pushers. By doing this Darwin was able to remain
behind the scenes and continue his work to improve his theories. Darwin spent
most of his time in his house outside of London furthering his research and
remaining in contact with the efforts to popularize his theory but did not
actively participate in the way Galileo did.
By staying somewhat behind the scenes and not overpowering people with
his radical theory Darwin was able to gain a large number of supporters in the
biological community who in turn spread his theory more and more. It was
through Darwin's connections that the vast majority of people learned about
evolution. Darwin was not trying to force his theory onto others as Galileo
was; instead he was just presenting it as his theory, which he was still working
on. It was because of this that people weren't threatened by it as in the way
they were by Galileo's theory. That is not to say that people were not
threatened by Darwin's theory they certainly were. Darwin's theory went against
allot more in the bible than Copernicanism did. While Copernicanism only went
against a few obscure passages, evolution went against much of the story of
Genesis. This fact caused many people to be hostile to the theories but Darwin
still remained in better standing with the church than Galileo ever was. The
main reason for this is the fact that in the time Darwin lived there were more
people that were educated in the ways of science which was far more progressed
than in the days of Galileo. These new scientific people were more open to
ideas than the more religious people of Galileo's time. If Darwin's Ideas had
been introduced in Galileo's time they might have been met with the same
reaction if not stronger than the actions taken against Galileo. In this manner
Darwin was lucky to live in the time he did where he could present a book for
publication which did not have to be subject to the approval of the Catholic
Darwin and Galileo were very different men who are both remembered as
great scientists of their times. While Galileo was condemned for his efforts
Darwin was remembered as a hero. This was because of their different methods of
presenting their ideas. Galileo was a fighter who would not back down from a
fight until he was pitted against the Vatican and faced with excommunication.
He tactics caused many people to despise him in his time, which lead to the ban
of his book on Copernicanism. While Darwin preferred to work in his home and
have others fight his battles for him. It was because of Darwin's passive
promotion of his book that he made very few enemies when compared to Galileo.
If Galileo was more like Darwin he may have been better off at the time of his
While much of the Copernican theory is know as fact now there is still a
debate over Darwinism. This is because it has yet to be proven definitively.
Darwin was still honored for his contribution of this theory because he did it
in a scientific manner and did not impose his opinion onto others.


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