Further to “Neil DeGrasse Tyson argues for multiverse,”Hank Campbell, author of Science Left Behind, over at Science 2.0, points out that Tyson’s Cosmos is wrong to see Giordano Bruno as a martyr for science:
It starts out well. Tyson tells us we are going to explore the very large and the very small and then he flies us through space, a lot like he does in his brilliant Hayden Planetarium show. We get rogue planets, distant suns and 100,000 light years of context in just a few minutes.
Then suddenly we get a claim that Giordano Bruno is responsible for the concept of the universe – because he read ‘banned’ books. Lucretious wasn’t science – there was no scientific evidence for his claim that wind caused earthquakes or worms spontaneously generated – it was philosophy, and his book was not rare in 1600 AD, people were also not martyred for reading it, and yet we get told a philosophical belief in infinity was what got Bruno into trouble.
It’s an immediate disconnect for people who know science history because it smacks of an agenda. I instead object because it is flat-out incorrect. To claim that Bruno promoted the concept of the universe, a “soaring vision”, despite persecution, while simultaneously being hired over and over by the institutions we are told were oppressing him, makes no sense. That segment of the show makes it sound like he was a devout Christian tormented by reason rather than what he was – a cultist who engaged in confirmation bias to pick and choose anything that matched his beliefs.
Bruno’s “science” was never mentioned during his trial, he was on trial for being a cult worshiper. He only took up the cause of Copernicus because he believed in the Egyptian god Thoth and Hermetism and their belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun, not because he had perceived anything radical. Galileo rightly dismissed most of Bruno’s teachings as philosophical mumbo-jumbo. Bruno was only revived as a ‘scientist’ and a martyr for science by anti-religious humanists in the 19th century.The church didn’t even bother to ban his writing until well after he was dead. More.
It may be relevant that Bruno was a multiverse supporter, but as we said earlier, he would need “heavy airbrushing” to become a patron of the cause. Looks like he is getting just that from Cosmos. We don’t actually know why Giordano was executed for heresy (records disappeared) but of this you may be sure: You won’t hear about his belief that pygmies and American Indians were descended from a second Adam, hence inferior (that belief was denounced as heresy, and was probably one of the beliefs for which he was condemned) on Cosmos. New atheists will just keep applying the airbrush.
Of course, but Hank, in the multiverse, facts don’t matter and truth is a meaningless concept. Viewers change the channel if they don’t like it.
See also: Sean Carroll channels Giordano Bruno
The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology).
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