Discussion: Galileo and the Heliocentric Controversy What can we learn from Galileo and the Heliocentric Controversy? One of the great intersections of religion and science occurred in 15th century Italy during the Renaissance, embodied in the great scientist, Galileo. During this time, Galileo embraced the Copernican Heliocentric model and found himself in conflict with the religious establishment who held the traditional Geocentric model as dogma. In 1615 Galileo composed a correspondence, now known as the Letter to Grand Duchess Christina, in which he discussed his ideas on Biblical interpretation with respect to scientific matters. Galileo argued that scripture was written for “the primary purpose of the salvation of souls and the service of God” and therefore, not the exposition of science. He built this thesis into the now well-known concepts of the “book of scripture” and the “book of nature.” God’s revealed word and focus on the salvation of souls characterized The Book of Scripture, while The Book of Nature focused on God’s creation and work in nature, which was to be studied as a means of revealing God’s creative character. To quote Galileo, “in discussions of physical problems [science] we ought to begin not from the authority of scriptural passages, but from sense-experience and necessary demonstrations.” Galileo famously quoted a Cardinal and claimed that the scriptures teach “how one goes to Heaven, not how the heavens go.” Note that in Galileo’s mind there could be no dissonance between the message of the scriptures and that of nature since both proceed from the same Author, namely that of God’s holy and creative character. For this week’s discussion let us look at the intersection of science and faith in our current age. What lessons can we learn from the Geocentric/Heliocentric controversy and apply to current perceived conflicts between science and religion? Is it appropriate to look to the Bible for scientific truths? If so, how do we avoid the mistakes of the Renaissance? As Galileo argued, can we look to modern science to better understand God’s creative character while looking to the Bible to understand His grand plan for humanity and salvation? Is it possible to avoid conflict between scientific understanding and a Biblical worldview?