Opinion Analysis

Friday 24 November 2017

They can't torture you to cure you of heresy, but there are other ways of making you toe the line

James Downey

James Downey

FOUR hundred years ago, everybody knew that the sun revolved round the Earth. Anyone who held a different opinion was either mad or a heretic who refused to believe in a cosmic state of affairs ordained by God. And the Vatican took a stern view of heretics.

When Galileo insisted that the Earth revolved round the sun, the Vatican moved in. The Holy See's Heavy Gang prepared to torture him.

The sight of the instruments of torture was enough. Galileo recanted.

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