Science according to Galileo

Throughout his life, Galileo developed a reflection on science that is particularly interesting for those interested in the history of ideas related to science.

Short biography of Galileo

Galileo was born in 1564 and died in 1642. He improved the telescope, took up the Copernican vision defending heliocentrism (the sun is at the center of the world and immobile, while the Earth turns). Theses for which he attracts the criticism of scholars and some members of the church.

3 major ideas of Galileo on science

He defends the role of science vis-à-vis that of religion:

“The intention of the Holy Spirit is to teach us how to go to Heaven, not how Heaven goes” Letter to Christine of Lorraine, 1615 (he attributes it to Cardinal Baronio).

Nature and the universe are written in mathematical language

“Philosophy is written in this gigantic book that is continually open to our eyes (I am talking about the Universe), but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn to understand the language and know the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is impossible to understand a word of it.” The essayist, 1623

Science takes precedence over the Scriptures.

“Scripture and nature proceed in the same way from the divine word, the first dictated by the Holy Spirit, the second obedient executor of God’s orders. But since the Scriptures, in order to adapt themselves to the understanding of all, support propositions opposed in their enunciation and in their immediate meaning to the absolute truth… it appears impossible to refer to the Scripture to doubt the knowledge of nature “


Galileo’s theses have been officially recognized by the Church since 1741 (about 100 years after Galileo’s death).

In 1992, John-Paul II pronounced at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences these words:

“Galileo, a sincere believer, proved to be more perceptive on this point than his theological opponents.”

General Knowledge: science