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Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love

Monday, May 29, 2017

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love (1999) Dava Sobel

I read this a long time ago. Possibly soon after it came out.

So when I needed some non-fiction bedtime reading, I decided to read it again.

This book is based upon Galileo’s “124 surviving letters from the once-voluminous correspondence he carried on with his elder daughter” who at the time of their correspondence was the nun Marie Celeste. Interestingly, she and her younger sister became nuns because, as Galileo never married her mother, she herself was considered unmarriageable.

One of the things that makes this story so fascinating is that neither Gailieo nor his daughter every lost faith in God or their Catholicism.

“I render infinite thanks to God,” Galileo intoned after those nights of wonder, “for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries.”

They may have disagreed with the politics of the papacy and cardinals of the time, but their faith was never in doubt.

Galileo’s conviction that God had dictated the Holy Scriptures to guide men’s spirits but proffered the unraveling of the universe as a challenge to their intelligence.

JUST AS SUDDENLY and unexpectedly as word of your new torment reached me, Sire, so intensely did it pierce my soul with pain to hear the judgment that has finally been passed, denouncing your person as harshly as your book…

My dearest lord father, now is the time to avail yourself more than ever of that prudence which the Lord God has granted you, bearing these blows with that strength of spirit which your religion, your profession, and your age require.

I think what makes this story so compelling is that despite everything that happened, neither lost their faith in God or Catholicism, no matter how much they disagreed with the council of cardinals edict against the Dialogues and Galileo himself.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Bloomsbury USA


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