Monday, 22 December 2008

The centre of the universe

The BBC is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI has paid tribute to 17th-Century astronomer Galileo Galilei.

Galileo used his scientific methods to demonstrate that the Earth revolved around the Sun and not the other way around.
His view directly challenged the church's view at the time - that the Earth was static and at the centre of the universe.
Galileo was accused of heresy in 1633 and forced to publically recant his theories.
He lived the rest of his life under house arrest at his villa in the hills outside Florence.

This made me pause and think about how culturally blinkered most of us are - how easy it is to think our own experience is the centre of the world, the axis around which things turn. How easy also to impose that if we have the power to do that.
Sometimes in a bus or crowded place I look around me and am almost overcome by the sheer numbers of we human beings. The concept of all of those thoughts, prayers, angst, self-certainty, self-doubt, grief, love, joy, shopping lists ...
A real cacophany of consciousness reaching towards God perhaps or just there, existing as a challenge to me thinking I am the centre of the universe.
Galileo saw that existence was bigger and so different from what had been thought before.
Am I open to the immensity of this incredible vast universe? Or will I just respond to the vast size of the universe and teeming human diversity by trying to define my own identity more and more by insisting more on my individuality or on my relatedness?

1 Comment:

Dr B said...

With a GDR theme (we are in Berlin now, of course) Bertolt Brecht's The Life of Galileo is widely considered to be one of his most important works. It's story of a scientist in conflict with the prevailing orthodoxy of his time applies not just to the church of his era but issues of truth and ethical responsibility in many other situations