Yet another critic of Cosmos speaks out on Giordano Bruno. This time it’s Andrew Sullivan, who first complains about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “style”, calls him intrusive and silly, and then gets to the real complaint: he dissed the Catholic Church.
David Sessions pans it. The segment previewed above is on the 16th century priest and philosopher Giordano Bruno, which includes deGrasse Tyson intoning that the Roman Catholic Church sought to “investigate and torment anyone who voiced views that differed from theirs”. Really?
Yes, really. I call the Inquisition and the fact that they’re setting people on fire supportive evidence for that contention. Investigation, torment, and execution. That’s what the Inquisition did, enforced church dogma.
So he cites this Sessions fellow. It doesn’t really help his case.
Bruno’s conflict with the Catholic Church was theological, not scientific, even if it did involve his wild—and occasionally correct—guesses about the universe. As Discover magazine’s Corey Powell pointed out, the philosophers of the 16th century weren’t anything like scientists in the modern sense. Bruno, for instance, was a “pandeist,” which is the belief that God had transformed himself into all matter and ceased to exist as a distinct entity in himself. He believed in all sort of magic and spirits, and extrapolated those views far beyond his ideas about the infinity of the universe. In contrast to contemporaries who drew more modest conclusions from their similar ideas, Bruno agitated for an elaborate counter-theology, and was (unlike the poor, humble outcast portrayed in Cosmos) supported by powerful royal benefactors. The church didn’t even have a position on whether the Earth orbited the sun, and didn’t bring it up at Bruno’s trial. While the early-modern religious persecution certainly can’t be denied, Bruno was killed because he flamboyantly denied basic tenets of the Catholic faith, not because religious authorities were out to suppress all “freedom of thought.”
How is killing someone for denying the faith not an attempt by religious authorities to suppress freedom of thought?
He then goes on to argue against treating Bruno as a
martyr for science…despite the fact that Tyson never claimed he was a scientist, and clearly said he was not a scientist.
I guess facts and evidence are irrelevant when you’re busy Defending the Faith.