Galileo Observed
Science and the Politics of Belief

William R. Shea & Mariano Artigas

October 2006, 224 pp., illustrated, cloth bound and jacketed, ISBN 0-88135-356-6, $30.00

Galileo Observed


“…Summing up: Highly recommended. Upper division undergraduates through faculty.”—CHOICE, May 2007

“… a history written to set the record straight about what really happened at Galileo’s famous trial, unmuddled by propaganda or novelizations. Skeptically examining all available historical sources, from claims that Galileo was (held) in chains and subjected to torture or that a forged document was brought forth at his trial, to numerous comparisons between Galileo and the friar Giordano Bruno, Galileo Observed strives to uncover the truth or its most likely estimation. A scholarly work illustrated with a handful of black-and-white photographs, Galileo Observed is nevertheless thoroughly accessible to lay readers and is therefore recommended for public library collections as well as those of college libraries.”—Library Bookwatch

“…They (the authors) defend two major theses: the harmony thesis that science and religion are not conflictual but harmonious in their relationship in general, and that in particular the Galileo affair does not really prove otherwise; and the pro-clerical thesis that in Galileo’s trial the Church’s position and behavior were more reasonable and proper than ordinarily supposed, and Galileo’s views and conduct less so…”—Renaissance Quarterly, 1413

“…La recensione di questo libro offre l’occasione per informare i lettori di un lutto rcente, cioè la morte dello stesso Mariano Arigas, avvenuta il 23 dicembre 2006. Con lui, la communità degli storici e del filosofi della scienza ha perso uno dei suoi massimi rappresentanti.”—Giornale di Astronomia

From the prepublication reviews:

“For centuries historians, scientists, journalists, and playwrights have speculated–sometimes wildly–about Galileo’s infamous encounter with the Roman Catholic Church. In their compelling critique of these efforts, Shea and Artigas draw on old and new evidence to try to set the record straight, regardless of whose toes they might be stepping on.”

Ronald L. Numbers
Hilldale Professor of the History of Science and Medicine
University of Wisconsin

“When books on the Galileo affair are multiplying apace, and when the Catholic Church’s rehabilitation of Galileo is under renewed scrutiny, it is gratifying that two respected Galileo scholars should have dedicated themselves to producing a critical guide to popular misinterpetations. Artigas and Shea destroy many of the illusions on which influential accounts (including those of Koestler and Brecht) have been based.”

Prof. John Brooke
Andreas Idreos Professor of Science & Religion
Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford

Table of Contents


Science and Religion: A Story of Warfare?

Did it Have to Happen?

Brecht and the Revolutionary Who Moved the Earth

Foul Play?

The Courtier Who Promised More than He Could Deliver

Galileo Another Bruno?

Galileo Son of the Church

Galileo Heretic

The Man to Whom the Church Apologized

Conclusion: Galileo and the Dialogue between Science and Religion

Bibliography • Index