Through the reading of Galileo “The Starry Messenger”, and “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina”, I wanted to look further into two questions. The questions are, to what extent is it more effective to understand sacred scriptures through the book of nature as suggested by Galileo, and How do we distinguish between what is recognised as knowledge and what’s not (In terms of gaining knowledge). I believe that Galileo’s belief that sacred scriptures should follow the proof that nature provides is true, because it limits the amount of interpretations that a scripture could hold. As Galileo claims, “mistrusting their defence so long as they confine themselves to the field of philosophy, these men have resolved to fabricate a shield for their fallacies out of the mantle of pretended religion and the authority of the Bible”. The sacred scriptures are used by the church to create a false shield which protects their interpretations, while blocking out all other thoughts and interpretations which don’t aline with the ones of the bible. This can be problematic, as not only does it limit the bounds of knowledge that people can have, but also generate vague and ‘inaccurate’ interpretations of scriptures. Also, it is more useful to interpret the bible through nature, since nature is something which is tangible to us, thus making more understandable.

In the second question, I asked how knowledge can be distinguished between what is, and what is not. I believe that knowledge is something that changes overtime, thus there is no true form of knowledge, as the knowledge base of anything can be proven and disproven later. This can be seen through how the Ptolemaic theory was at first proven ‘true’, but is later disproved by Galileo. The theory claims that the earth is the stationary center of the universe, with the planets moving in epicyclic orbits within surrounding concentric spheres. People believed the theory because it was the theory which best explained the positions of planets, and also did not conflict with the bible, thus not deemed as heretical by the church. Galileo said, “it is impossible for a conclusion to be declared heretical while we remain in doubt as to its truth, then these men are wasting their time clamouring for condemnation of the motion of the earth and stability of the sun, which they have not yet demonstrated to be impossible or false”. Without solid evidence from nature, what is seen as knowledge can be vague, as that form of knowledge can change in the future, through new theories or claims.


  1. Interesting answers here to your questions! As I was reading the second paragraph, I wondered: could the view that knowledge changes continually over time make us wonder if we ever have it when we think we do, because, well, we could just be wrong and what we think is true now will be shown later to be untrue? I think to some degree this kind of humility makes sense, given what we’ve seen in the history of human knowledge. But I also wonder if it might be crippling if we really took this seriously; could we then rely on anything we think we “know,” if we just say, well, it could change so there’s no solidity to knowledge? If we did that then we wouldn’t have been able to make the scientific and technological discoveries and tools we have made! Personally I feel like it’s useful to keep a sense of humility about the state of our knowledge without going so far as to say that we can’t rely on it because it may change.

  2. Hey Patrick!
    In my Galileo essay, I primarily focused on his letter to the Grand Duchess. In that letter, he brings up a prominent question – what even is true knowledge? And where is the fine line between something that can be defined as true knowledge and something that is obviously falsified?
    I definitely don’t have a clear answer to that, but I think the closest I can get to an answer would be that true knowledge is ignorance. Sounds like a contradiction? I know, but perhaps ignorance is the reason why people yearn for true knowledge in scripture. Religion could be a spiritual rein to cater and control one’s never-ending questions about life and death and everything in the in between. But also ignorance can bring about the observation of nature. That can also be considered true knowledge. For every discovery, there will always be a multitude of questions that need to be answered. Like you said, true knowledge is ever changing. And I think that is what drives people to continue discovering, hypothesizing, and questioning because ultimately, who sets the limits for human ingenuity?

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