Galileo changed the way we see the world by choosing to look beyond the world. The telescope he designed in 1609 was only half as strong as the humblest backyard instruments available online today. But when he turned his scope toward the heavens, he was amazed by what he saw. There were craters and mountains on the moon and dark spots on the sun. At least four moons were orbiting Jupiter and there was something strange around Saturn.
The Catholic Church embraced Aristotelian cosmology, “All heavenly bodies must revolve around the earth,” as the indisputable source of truth regarding the nature of the universe. This “received wisdom” was 20 centuries old and no one thought of challenging it.
When Galileo peered into his lens, he quickly realized that Aristotle was wrong. The Greek philosopher had only been guessing, having never looked through a telescope.
Few people were willing to embrace Galileo’s new data. Therefore, the Italian scientist invited the authorities to have a look for themselves. Many skeptics turned him down, but those who did look could not (or would not) believe their eyes. Seeing was clearly not believing – not if an otherwise capable mind had concluded in advance that new data could not be valid.
Humanity does not appear to be outgrowing this tendency. Cambridge researcher Leor Zmigrod revealed her findings concerning “cognitive flexibility” in American society: “A growing number of people on the Far Left and Far Right cannot even imagine the possibility that they might be wrong, or that they have anything to learn simply by listening to someone who has a different take on reality.”
Fortunately, 17th century stargazers decided to see for themselves. Kepler, Copernicus, and Sir Isaac Newton did their own research, revealing the true nature of our solar system, and helped launch the scientific revolution.
Scripture consistently invites us to check things out for ourselves. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Don’t take someone else’s word for it. Look for yourself and believe your own eyes. That includes religious leaders claiming his group is the only correct one and your philosophy teacher’s declaration that all of religion is bunk.
Such a search just might launch a revolution in your own heart.
-Rev Dr William Lewis