Galileo Galilei Quotes

"And yet, it moves."

Painting of Galileo Galilei sitting with a globe and another scholar

DEA/G. DAGLI ORTI/Getty Images

Italian inventor and astronomer, Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy on February 15, 1564, and died on January 8, 1642. Galileo has been called the "Father of the Scientific Revolution". The "scientific revolution" refers to a period of time (roughly from 1500 to 1700) of great advancement in the sciences that challenged the traditional beliefs about mankind's place and relationship with the universe held by religious orders.

On God & Scriptures

To understand the quotes of Galileo Galilei concerning God and religion we have to understand the times Galileo lived in, an age of transition between religious belief and scientific reason. Galileo received his higher education at a Jesuit monastery beginning at the age of eleven, religious orders provided one of the few sources of advanced education at that time. The Jesuits priests made a great impression on the young Galileo, so much so that at the age of seventeen he announced to his father that he wanted to become a Jesuit. His father immediately removed Galileo from the monastery, not wanting his son to pursue the unprofitable career of becoming a monk.

Religion and science were both intertwined and at odds during Galileo's lifetime, the late 16th century and early 17th century. For example, a serious discussion among academics at that time, was about the size and shape of hell as depicted in the poem Dante's Inferno. Galileo gave a well-received lecture on the topic, including his scientific opinion about how tall Lucifer was. As a result, Galileo was given a position at the University of Pisa based on favorable reviews of his talk.

Galileo Galilei remained a profoundly religious man through his lifetime, he found no conflict with his spiritual beliefs and his studies of science. However, the church did find conflict and Galileo had to answer to charges of heresy in church court more than once. At the age of sixty-eight, Galileo Galilei was tried for heresy for supporting the science that the earth rotated around the sun, the Copernican model of the solar system. The Catholic church supported the geocentric model of the solar system, where the sun and the rest of the planets all rotate around a central non-moving earth. Fearing torture at the hands of the church inquisitors, Galileo made a public confession that he had been wrong to have said that the Earth moves around the Sun.

After making his false confession, Galileo quietly mumbled the truth: "And yet, it moves."

With the battle between science and church that occurred during Galileo's lifetime in mind, consider the following quotes from Galileo Galilei about God and the scriptures"

  • "The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go."
  • "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
  • "It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved."
  • "It vexes me when they would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures, and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment."
  • "I think that in the discussion of natural problems we ought to begin not with the Scriptures, but with experiments, and demonstrations."
  • "By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox."
  • "Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe."
  • "What ever the course of our lives, we should receive them as the highest gift from the hand of God, in which equally reposed the power to do nothing whatever for us. Indeed, we should accept misfortune not only in thanks but in infinite gratitude to Providence, which by such means detaches us from an excessive love for Earthly things and elevates our minds to the celestial and divine."

On Astronomy

Galileo Galilei's contributions to the science of astronomy included; supporting Copernicus's view that the Sun was the center of the solar system, not the Earth, and advancing the use of the newly-invented telescope by observing sun spots, proving that the Moon had mountains and craters, discovering the four moons of Jupiter, and proving that Venus goes through phases.

  • "The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do."
  • "The Milky Way is nothing else but a mass of innumerable stars planted together in clusters."

The Study of Science

Galileo's scientific achievements include inventing: an improved telescope, a horse-powered pump to raise water, and a water thermometer.

  • "Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty."
  • "In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual."
  • "Where the senses fail us, reason must step in."
  • "Nature is relentless and unchangeable, and it is indifferent as to whether its hidden reasons and actions are understandable to man or not."

With Regards to Philosophy

  • "I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him."
  • "We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves."
  • "Passion is the genesis of genius."
  • "There are those who reason well, but they are greatly outnumbered by those who reason badly."
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Bellis, Mary. "Galileo Galilei Quotes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 28). Galileo Galilei Quotes. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "Galileo Galilei Quotes." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 1, 2023).