The Dangerous Beliefs of Martin Luther and Galileo Galilei
Both Martin Luther and Galileo Galilei were considered bold and dangerous because of their outspoken beliefs that went against the world’s accepted theories and ideas. These beliefs allowed the Church to maintain power with no objections and did not question the Church’s authority. To question the Church meant you questioning both the government and God, an unthinkable act. While Galileo discussed science and insisted that his intentions are good, and Luther dissected the contradictions between the Church‘s position and the Bible and clearly calling out the Church‘s misinterpretations, both men were feared and punished for going against the status quo and putting the Church‘s power on the line. Galileo Galilei found that the sun was the center of the system, an idea that is widely known and accepted today. However, the moment Galileo‘s discovery was found out by the Church, Galileo was no longer a friend but a foe.
Galileo explains in the letter that professors and scientists argued with Galileo’s findings with “scattered testimonies from Holy Scripture” rather than evidence and scientific results (261). Galileo even mentions that the Scriptures they had used had nothing to do with the subject. Galileo hints at believing the uproar coming from the Church and their followers, as well as their rebuttal, was ridiculoust However, he also looks at the argument from the Church’s point-of—view and even provides the reader with excuses as to why they refuse to accept his findings He claims that maybe they are just “confused by the fact that certain other propositions” go against “common opinion” and are true (261), After explaining what has happened between him and society (and the Church) after revealing his findings, he then announces his beliefs on the connection between his findings and God.
He says that he doesn’t think God, “who gave us senses, reason> and intellect“ would have wanted us to “postpone using these gifts” (263). He is convincing his reader that God wants us to use these gifts to find answers. He also goes on to explain that God purposely did not provide us with all the answers in Scripture and that ignorance and opposition is expected due to human’s fear of the unexplained, Galileo is simply explaining that his findings may not be in Scripture but that doesn’t mean his findings go against God’s word. He is arguing that he is using the very talents God gave him to discover a mystery God purposely did not answer. Galileo’s letter is meant to defend his findings, to explain that his discovery and his faith do not conflict. Martin Luther’s letter was not simply an explanation of his beliefs but an accusation directed at the Church.
Within his first few paragraphs, Luther states that the makeup of the spiritual and temporal states is “an artful lie and hypocritical device” (par 7). While he supports his belief with scripture, his initial accusation is direct and harsh. He later mentions that holding priests and bishops to a level that prevents them from being punished by God’s wrath is wrong as well, “whether it strikes popes, bishops, priests, monks, nuns”, and any other religious figure (par 11). After acknowledging that all people should be held to the same standard no matter their religious status, Luther then goes on to mention that the Pope is included in this way of thinking. He claims that “the Pope cannot alone be right” because if he were, it would be “a devilish and damnable heresy (par 14).
Martin Luther directly states that the Pope cannot be who the people answer to when it is God that is their Savior. He is not subtle when it comes to telling the Church’s leaders where their place is in faith and in society. In a sense, he is telling the Church that they are putting themselves on a spiritual level that is at, or at least near, the level at which the people hold God. Martin Luther believes that everyone is on the same level and no one should have privileges because they hold a position within the Church. Everyone worships the same God and no one is better than another, including the Pope. This belief is a direct attack on the Church’s beliefs and the way they operate. He questions their power and authority and uses reasoning from scripture to argue. This most likely caused not only anger but fear that his beliefs would begin to spread and threaten the position of the Church.
In the end, both men need the authorities on their side so they don’t get punished for going against the status quo. Having royalty on their side could keep them out ofjail and could help spread their beliefs and findings In order to get their support, Galileo and Martin use different forms of persuasion to attempt to get the leaders on their side. Galileo uses a more innocent strategy in the sense that he assures that his findings are because of God rather than against him He assures the reader that he is a follower of the Church and God and that his findings reflect thaL Martin Luther uses logic and reasoning to get his point across He uses what he knows of Scripture and the Church to encourage the reader to see his side as the right side. Both men use God as a source of authority which could make it harder for one to argue with the writings, While Galileo‘s scientific findings and Martin Luther’s outspoken beliefs are very different from one another, both men were in need of support from royalty and threatened the Church’s authority with the use of logic and knowledge