[Although] Perry’s bold (reckless?) commitment to attacking Social Security and Romney’s counter-parry were the most important political dynamics of the encounter, what really set our heads spinning was the Texan’s invocation of Galileo, or, as they refer to him in Austin, “that sumbitch heliocentrist.”
As every school kid knows, Galileo’s insistence that the earth revolves around the sun enraged the big brains of the Catholic Church and, in 1615, the Roman Inquisition started to hound him. After he published his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems — seen as an attack on Pope Urban VIII — he was tried and found “vehemently suspect of heresy,” being finally forced to recant, spending the rest of his life under house arrest.
But when Perry was asked to defend his view that man-made climate change is just a hoax — despite the fact that 98 percent of scientists say otherwise — he claimed:
Well, I do agree that there is … the science is … is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at … at … at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just — is nonsense. I mean, it … I mean … and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.
Huh? Galileo’s scientific findings were not “outvoted” by other scientists, but by the Vatican, which was theologically committed to the Ptolemaic notion of geocentrism — that the Sun and planets revolve around the Earth — which they concluded from their reading of the Bible.
The persecution of Galileo exemplified the opposite of the point Perry was trying to make, a vivid reminder of what happens when science is cast aside in favor of theology — precisely the way Perry approaches climate change and (along with most of the other GOP candidates) evolution.
Just another example of the willful, zealous ignorance that passes for ideology among the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.