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Abstract

We know that those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are often condemned to repeat them. Nowhere is this more applicable than in the case of the 450 year old heliostatic challenge posed by the Polish monk, Copernicus. This new paradigm challenged not only the theological structures of the day but a great deal of scholastic wisdom as well, giving rise to a thorough revolution of thought, and introducing the modern scientific age. Difficult conceptual adjustments were required on most quarters. Some of these required two centuries to complete and were achieved only with the greatest of difficulty. This article reviews key elements of Galileo’s historic involvement in this controversy and notes four important lessons emerging from his experience. These apply variously to: those seeking to understand the modern scientific process; thought innovators, whether scientific or otherwise; and to those individuals and faith communities seeking an adequate response to new ideas which appear to challenge Christian understanding.

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