Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/270

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266
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Roman Church had been in theory literally universal, and Copernicus limited its world to one small planet, not so large as Jupiter as Galileo showed a few years later. The new doctrine disgraced the dignity of the earth among the planets. The authorities of a universal church could not but feel that their own dignities were attacked by the same blow. Arguments against the scientific truth were forthcoming from every chair of philosophy in Italy, and every theologian could successfully defend the literal sense of Holy Writ against such subtile and wire-drawn interpretations as were subsequently advanced by Foscarini and Galileo. I imagine the state of mind of their more intelligent contemporaries to have been one of interested bewilderment. The less intelligent were repelled and offended. The mass of pious christians was outraged and indignant. The Pope (Urban VIII.) and most of the cardinals sincerely believed that incalculable injury would result to the church from the promulgation of an opinion flatly contradicting the literal words of scripture. It was not until the discoveries of the telescope came to confirm the hypothesis of Copernicus that all these questions were pressed home for decision.

(To be continued.)