Galileo's Mistake - A New Look at the Epic Confrontation between Galileo and the Church by Wade Rowland

Praise for Galileo's Mistake:

"...fresh and compelling."
Vancouver Sun

"Well-presented scientific history with an interesting philosophical twist"
Kirkus Reviews

"Rowland's is an audacious position"
The New York Times

"Rowland's triumph is in examining Galileo's method over his facts and winning an argument that was lost more than 350 years ago. His book provides a fascinating contribution to a debate that is particularly germane today and is likely to be equally important 300 years from now."
Montreal Gazette

"I recommend it strongly. Rowland tells the story well and with style and...backed by serious research and sensitivity to the issues. The history is embedded in a modern-day travelogue, interspersed with musings about the meaning of life."
The Globe and Mail

"Rowland does an impressive job of bringing the 17th century to life...he builds a compelling case that Galileo and the Church differed over something far more important than whether the earth revolved around the sun-they differed on the very nature of truth and how mortals can come to know it."
Publishers Weekly

"An excellent mixture of science and philosophy."
David Pitt, Bookloons

"Galileo's Mistake is a lofty and ambitious philosophical exploration, and Rowland's considerable gifts as a writer make the book pleasurable and captivating. Rowland skilfully weaves history, biography, science writing, and philosophical overviews into the comfortable familiarity of a travel narrative."

"Galileo's Mistake has the lazy ease of a multi-course Italian dinner, at once relaxing and enriching".
Robert Wiersema, Quill & Quire

"...a superb ambitious, even heroic, interpretation of the Galileo-Church controversy. Rowland has included a wonderfully accurate, exquisitely painted presentation of the political, cultural, and historical setting in which the Galileo-Church debate finds a clearly natural location."
B. J. Hodgson, PhD, Trent University Faculty of Philosophy

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Galileo's Mistake: A New Look at the Epic Confrontation between Galileo and the Church

by Wade Rowland


by Kirkus Reviews

A revisionist argument that the Catholic Church was right to try the father of astronomy on charges of heresy in 1633. Galileo's key error, Canadian historian Rowland finds, was not his advocacy of the Copernican scheme of the solar system, in which the planets rotate about the sun, but his contention that the scientific method is the sole means to determine truth.

In support of this thesis, Rowland undertakes a detailed examination of the history behind Galileo's trial. While much of the material is undoubtedly familiar to students of scientific history, he presents with considerably more sympathy than usual nowadays the Church's position on scientific matters, hammered out over more than 1,500 years, with considerable effort devoted to accommodating the philosophies of first Plato, then Aristotle, within the orthodox worldview.

Galileo's support of the Copernican system was a threat, Rowland contends, because of its unstated assumption that the nature of the universe can be learned from observation and reason rather than faith. Granted this premise, it is hard to argue with his conclusion that Galileo's prosecution was justified both by law and custom. Where many readers will part company with the author, however, is when he sets up Galileo as an embodiment of the failure of modern civilization to provide spiritual and human values.

Much of this argument is presented in dialogues among Rowland, a secular friend, and an Italian nun in the context of the author's travels in Italy for research. These bring in considerable local Italian color as background and give the somewhat abstract points a more human face; on the other hand, they sometimes distort basic science in order to score debating points.

Well-presented scientific history with an interesting philosophical twist.

Book review by Kirkus Reviews

Other Book Reviews of Galileo's Mistake:

Galileo's Mistake:
Title: Galileo's Mistake
Subtitle: A New Look at the Epic Confrontation between Galileo and the Church
Author: Wade Rowland
Publication Date: July 2003
ISBN: 1559706848
Hardcover: 320 pages
List Price: $25.95 US
Publisher: Arcade Publishing

For details on the Canadian edition of Galileo's Mistake, published by Thomas Allen Publishers, click here.

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