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Response to bvf (Reply #4)

Tue Sep 9, 2014, 10:04 PM

5. Galileo was lucky.

Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher
by John J. Kessler, Ph.D., ch.E.

Filosofo, arso vivo a Roma,
PER VOLONTA DEL PAPA
IL 17 FEBBRAIO 1600

In the year 1548 an Italian boy was born in the little town of Nola, not far from Vesuvius. Although, he spent the greater part of his life in hostile and foreign countries he was drawn back to his home at the end of his travels and after he had written nearly twenty books.

*

Bruno was born five years after Copernicus died. He bequeathed an intoxicating idea to the generation that was to follow him. We hear a lot in our own day about the expanding universe. We have learned to accept it as something big. The thought of the Infinity of the Universe was one of the great stimulating ideas of the Renaissance. It was no longer a 15th Century God’s backyard. Bruno tried to imagine a god whose majesty should dignify the majesty of the stars. He devised no new metaphysical quibble nor sectarian schism. He was not playing politics. He was fond of feeling deep thrills over high visions and he liked to talk about his experiences. And all of this refinement went through the refiners’ fire — that the world might be made safe from the despotism of the ecclesiastic 16th Century savages. He suffered a cruel death and achieved a unique martyr’s fame. He has become the Church’s most difficult alibi. She can explain away the case of Galileo with suave condescension. But Bruno sticks in her throat.

*

By the year 1582, Bruno had issued very science-centered thoughts, considered heretical by the clerical authorities of southern Europe. He had written of an infinite universe that had no room for a yet greater entity called God. That blasphemed against schema outlined by Aristotle and tenets in Genesis taught by the Church and universally believed by low and high everywhere. Bruno’s philosophy negated the mysteries of Virgin Mary, Crucifixion and Mass. He seemed to have been so absorbed in truths he hurriedly exposed that he did think of them as heresies. He considered the Bible as a book which only the ignorant could take literally and the Church’s methods were, to say the least, unfortunate.

*

For six years from 1593, he lay in a Papal prison. Was he forgotten, tortured ? The Papal authorities have till date not summoned enough the courage to overcome their shame and publish the historical records. Bruno was interrogated several times by the Holy Office and convicted by its chief theologians. He was given forty days to consider his position and, by and by, he promised to recant but did not desist from his “follies.” He got another forty days for deliberation but did nothing but baffle the Pope and the Inquisition. At last, in the custody of the Inquisitor, on 9th February, Bruno was taken to the palace of the Grand Inquisitor to hear his sentence, on his knees.

Bruno answered the sentence, of death by fire, with damnation : “Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it with.” He was given eight more clays to see whether he would repent. But that was futile.

Bruno was led to the stake on the 17th of February, 1600. He was offered a crucifix, which he pushed away with scorn.

*

Galileo never met Bruno in person and makes no mention of him in his works, though he must have read some of them. He may not be blamed for being diplomatic enough to withhold mention of a recognised heretic. Sixteen years after Bruno met his fate, Galileo faced the Inquisition in the same hall that had sentenced the predecessor !

Bruno is the numero uno among all martyrs who were persecuted for their beliefs. He was not a religious sectarian, caught up in the psychology of a hysterical mob. He was a sensitive, imaginative poet, fired with the enthusiasm of a larger vision of a larger universe … and he fell into the ‘ error ‘ of heretical belief. He was kept in a dark dungeon for years, for his quest of an order that admits intellectual integrity. And, at the end, he was taken out to a blazing market place and roasted alive.

It is an incredible story. The “Church” will never outlive him. Amen.


http://infidels.org/library/historical/john_kessler/giordano_bruno.html

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Lunabell Sep 2014 OP
Curmudgeoness Sep 2014 #1
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bvf Sep 2014 #4
LineLineLineReply Galileo was lucky.
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