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Friday, October 15, 2004
Faux pas

The Guardian has an interesting article on own goals, shots in the foot and other ways of getting things wrong. It is inspired by the scintillating way in which Brilliant Beckham claimed to have sought a yellow card quite deliberately.

Number ten on the list is particularly interesting and, with the benefit of hindsight and a rational approach to evidence, perhaps it gives us the chance to reappraise a man of progressive, modern thought. This is the entry:
Cardinal Bellarmine, on Galileo, 1615: "To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin."
I’d like to count Cardinal Bellarmine as being with the angels. (Well, he certainly is now – metaphorically speaking, of course; perhaps he was in 1615, too.)

I wonder if the good Cardinal, instead of seeking to deny the Earth’s roundness, was really trying to rubbish the concept of divinely-inspired parthenogenesis. What better way to assert a belief in the earth's roundness than to compare it with the denial of a piece of mythological nonsense? On the one hand, there were already good indications that the Earth was round; on the other, not a scrap of worthwhile evidence for Jesus’s being born of a virgin has ever been produced.

Have a look at a few more, here. I defy you not to chuckle a lot. I’m not quite sure what the entry about George (W) Bush (49) means, though.

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