“Galileo: A Thought Misconception,” by Andrew J. Schatkin - Vigyaa

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“Galileo: A Thought Misconception,” by Andrew J. Schatkin

In the 16th century, Galileo, one of the world’s greatest scientists and thinkers, ran into a bit of a problem with the Roman Catholic Church and specifically the Vatican authorities at that time. It had been formerly thought that the Earth was the center of the universe. This misconception emanated from Copernicus. In fact, it is a rather reasonable assumption and is no more ridiculous in a sense than the conception that the Earth is flat since the Earth appears to be flat.

Galileo was arrested and charges and accusations were lodged against him by the religious authorities and he was virtually imprisoned for some period of time. I think the Catholic Church and their position that the Earth was the center of the universe and Galileo in his view that the Earth revolved around the sun were both right but came at the thought from different angles and different perspectives. There is no doubt that the Earth revolves around the sun. But in many ways the Earth is the center of the universe at least theologically, philosophically and metaphysically.

It appears to be the case that despite valiant attempts by scientists to prove otherwise that human beings have not been found anywhere else in the universe. Searches have been made for life at least in the planets nearby us such as Mars and Venus and nothing has been found. Thus, in a very real sense, for whatever unknown reason, humanity has made its stand on the Earth and no other place. No one knows the reason for this and there appears to some mystery in connection with this fact and phenomenon.

Humanity, in a very real sense, is the center of things since everywhere else we look and have looked we find nothing resembling life or human beings. The biblical view that the Earth is the center of things is true. Thus, the opinion of Galileo is a physical opinion alone. The conclusion of Galileo was a statement of fact. When we know that everywhere we look we find nothing but darkness and void, and on the Earth alone life and humanity have developed, we have the absolute confirmation of the Genesis story in Chapter 1 that God created the heavens and the Earth. The problem at the time of the controversy of the Church with Galileo is that both agreed but neither understood how both agreed. The Roman Catholic Church felt threatened in its theological stance but in reality was not by the conclusion of Galileo that the Earth revolved around the sun. There was no challenge there but merely an observation of fact that failed to change the reality of what is going on, namely that only here on Earth do we find humanity.

I am confident that whatever happens to humans, God in his mercy and grace will move history as he chooses, and for whatever end he wishes, to bring about whatever he wants for us all in whatever process he chooses to employ. The heavens will be there and humanity and the Earth alone will move to whatever inevitable conclusion is ordained. The Earth may revolve around the sun but in this pinprick of life we call Earth there is something going on and as it occurs and moves along it will bring an end that none of us at the present time can understand or know. It is the absolute truth that humanity and the Earth are the center of things. Galileo was not wrong nor was the church. They both engaged in a misunderstanding and both were right.

This essay is modified from Chapter 7 of my book “Essays on Faith Politics, Culture and Others Philosophical, pp. 19-20, published in 2016 by the University Press of America. 

Educational and Business Consultant, Writer, Speaker, and Teacher. He is the author of five book chapter in the areas of Evidence, Criminal Law, and Family Law.

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In our modern world, intelligence, intellect, academic intelligence, or being smart for many people, if not most, has a premium value. Our society is a competitive one, and puts great emphasis on intellectual and academic ability. We admire people who are smart, and often many of us, if not most of us, have the desire to be smarter or brighter than the others around us.

The simple reason for this is that in the past men, and to a lesser degree, women, accomplished their ends by brute force. Cavemen used their brute strength to vanquish their neighbors, enemies, or adversaries. For many centuries, this was the most frequent scenario in our society, that is to say, men took what they could get, whether wives, land, goods, or whatever else, by brute strength. It should be noted that the class structures in our society, even in the modern world, have their genesis in particular families having acquired more wealth, goods, and land than others, at some point in the past, thereby becoming “upper-class” and by that method attaining economic superiority if not economic subjugation over their immediate neighbors, who in this process and devolution became “lower class.”

Intelligence, academic ability, and being smarter than other people have replaced brute strength as a method of obtaining power, wealth, goods, position, and status in our society. As a result of this, the modern world requires many years of schooling and puts a premium on those individuals who have the requisite academic talent to obtain, by this method, upper class status. Surely, there are other forms of talent and ability which include, creative ability, business ability, athletic ability, and, for the wife and mother, nurturing and caring ability.

In any event, as a convinced Christian I must differ from this emphasis on “smartness” or “being smart” as the main thing in life because that barometer does not take into account a person’s character. Paul the Apostle, the greatest of philosophical and religious thinkers in the history of the world, in my opinion, has a different view. St. Paul presents a different perspective on the premium the modern world puts on intelligence, intellectual ability or whatever might be contained under this rubric. In his letter to the Corinthian Church, Chapter 13, he says the following:

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

It is clear that for the Apostle Paul to the gentiles, love is greater than fancy speech or even the speech of angels. Prophesy, mysteries, knowledge, and the faith to move mountains and material goods are nothing, for the Apostle Paul in comparison with the quality of love, or what might be better understood as charity. He says that when he was a child he spoke like a child, reasoned like a child, and thought like a child but when he became a man, he gave up childish things, which includes all those things that he had enumerated as nothing in comparison to charity or love. He says that of the three qualities of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love.

For the Christian and for St. Paul, knowledge, intellect, arrogant intellectual superiority, or the desire to be smarter or better than others, is nothing and negative in comparison with love and charity. For the Christian, love is the aim, not being smart or smarter. It is love and charity that build a better world, not facile smartness. The ultimate aim is not being smart but being kind and loving. It is stupid to be smarter than others when the aim is stamping those around us intellectually under our feet.

A final note: I have always found it ironic and significant that Jesus chose as his disciples and apostles, not the richest and not the smartest but simple working folk, such as fisherman. To these seemingly not-so-smart people, he entrusted the salvation of the world.

This essay is taken, with changes and alterations, from chapter 27 of my book entitled “Essays on the Christian Worldview and Others, Political, Literary, and Philosophical,” pp. 66 and 67 published in 2011 by Hamilton books.

First, let me state that as a system Marxism has not been particularly successful. Two countries come to mind where the Marxist system has brought about great human suffering and economic distress: Cuba and North Korea. As a Christian, I cannot endorse or agree with Marxism, which takes materialism as its philosophical basis and also supports atheism as part of its system. In Marxism, men and women are seen as pure economic commodities and nothing more. Hence the system in communist Russia and of mass killings with no regard for the individual life.

Communism and fascism, in excluding the spiritual dimension, can and will result in these actions. I now say here and suggest that Marx in his thinking was correct or certainly had a point to make. For some time now, many countries and societies have adopted the capitalist model of system. Communism has collapsed in most societies and countries with the exceptions I have just mentioned. Unfortunately, the capitalist system has evolved to a somewhat deficient end.

Capitalism is based on greed and competition and a free market system. The idea behind it is that if people are given some sort of equal starting point, the society will benefit by job creation and wealth creation and all will benefit ultimately.

Capitalism, however, has developed in a somewhat negative direction than originally envisioned. There are many reasons for this development; for example: Jobs have been outsourced to South America and Asia; unions in the United States have largely been eliminated; there has been an influx of cheap labor from South America and Asia to the United States; and, in the name of supply side economics, there has been a vast transfer of wealth to an extremely small segment of the population. Manufacturing has largely left the United States for places where the labor pool is inexpensive such as South American and Asia.

The result of these developments has been threefold. It has been very difficult for the American worker to get employment. The jobs that do exist are without benefits such as pensions or health benefits. Older workers are easily and constantly dispensed with for younger workers. The end outcome of all these developments is to make it extremely difficult for any American worker to get some sort of quality employment to support his family for as long as needed. The end result in another way is to create a plutocratic and oligarchic society where the economic and political structures are controlled by a few wealthy individuals and corporations. In short, the capitalist system has become extremely unfair and functions now to exclude people from opportunities to advance themselves or even to enter the economic and political system. It would appear that the capitalist system is in crisis and has become dysfunctional.

This essay proposes that Marx in some sense may have been right. Marx and Engels in their writings and activities responded to the abuses of the working class in industrial European countries at that time. These abuses included child labor and the use of sweatshop labor. Marxism proposes a number of ideas and concepts which I think are fairly good:

1. Marxism seeks to eliminate class divisions which capitalism encourages. These class divisions are falsely based on some persons having greater wealth than others. It is faintly ridiculous to refer to a person who has greater wealth than others as upper class since the having and possession of wealth has no significance in itself.

2. Marxism seeks to provide some of employment for all and provides free healthcare and free education for the entire population. Eliminating income inequality allows people of talent and merit the possibility of obtaining positions that the capitalist system might bar them from based on their lack of wealth. The ultimate aim of Marx in his writings was to bring about a society not controlled by the wealthy or aristocracy but by the workers. Unfortunately, in various countries such as Russia, China, Cuba and North Korea, attempts to bring about these potentially good things resulted in the use of force and a police state dictatorship.

3. Marx sought to have a government run directly by the people. This may not have actually happened in the aforementioned countries; however, it is still an admirable goal.

In sum, Marx had some ideas and concepts that still have value and should be considered by thinking people: the elimination of classes; elimination of income inequality and the redistribution of wealth; and a society governed by the people. I cannot say where Marx or Marxism went wrong, but, at the present time, the capitalist system as it has developed and evolved is problematic and wanting. The capitalist system has evolved in a sort of dictatorial state in which the wealthy rule and in which he vast majority of the population toil to survive. I cannot give a solution to the present difficulties in our system but I can say this much that this system should be reexamined in the light of the ideas behind Marxism and Socialism. This is not to say that I wish to impose a dictatorship which Marxism developed into, but I do suggest that the present state of the capitalist system be reexamined in light of other concepts, thoughts, and ideas, wherever they may be found.

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