ROME (AFP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday cancelled a speech at Rome's La Sapienza university in the face of protests led by scientists opposed to a high-profile visit by the head of the Catholic Church to a secular setting.
Many scientists fault the intellectual, conservative and tradition-minded pope for a series of positions he has taken that they say subordinate science and reason to faith.
The protest against the visit was spearheaded by physicist Marcello Cini, a professor emeritus of La Sapienza, who wrote to rector Renato Guarini complaining of an "incredible violation" of the university's autonomy.
Sixty-seven professors and researchers of the sprawling university's physics department, as well as radical students, joined in the call for the pope to stay away on Thursday, the start of the university's academic year.
Students opposed to the visit kicked off "an anti-clergy week" on Monday by showing a film on Galileo, the 17th-century physicist who ran afoul of Church doctrine by insisting that the Earth orbits the Sun.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi condemned the professors and students for "intolerance" towards the pontiff, and renewed the invitation for Benedict to visit the public university.
"I condemn the acts, statements and attitudes that provoked unacceptable tension and a climate that does not honour Italy's traditions of civility and tolerance," Prodi said, according to the ANSA news agency.
Unbelieveable. But, this seems to be the goal of academia... keep your religious beliefs completely separate from anything that *we* (the enlightened few) consider to be based on "logic and reason". You're free to consider the evidence that supports your faith as long as you keep your mouth shut about it and worship your God in the confines of your church basement.
And, again with the "conviction of Galileo"! My goodness, if I had a dollar for every time that event is recalled by scientists, I'd be a millionaire! Secular scientists should be grateful to early Christian scientists rather than pointing out this one event over and over. Christian believers were the forerunners in the scientific revolution.
There is more to the Galileo event than the simple tale that materialists like to point out. I recommend Dinesh D'Souza's latest book to get a more accurate picture of the history surrounding Galileo's conviction. Read What's so Great About Christianity, Chapter 10: "An Atheist Fable, Reopening the Galileo Case". I'm not rehashing this issue for the 100th time, but I will say that the Bible doesn't state that the sun revolves around the earth. It is silent on this scientific question. There are a few passages that refer to the sun rising and setting, but these can be understood as a spiritual text using ordinary understandable language. Even the weatherman, who knows all about the earth going around the sun, will use terminology like: “Sunrise tomorrow will be at 5:00am”.
Shame on those scientists and students for displaying horrific intolerance against religious belief.
[Edit: Here is an article by D'Souza on Galileo.]