In the 4th century BC, the Greek philosopher Plato first proposed the geocentric model, which said that the Earth was a stationery sphere at the center of the universe, and the stars and planets moved in circular paths around the earth. His student, Aristotle, elaborated on the theory.
In the 1600s, the telescope was invented, and Galileo started using it to make observations about moons in orbit around Jupiter and phases of Venus. These findings suggested that the Earth and planets moved around the sun, contrary to scientific and Biblical views of the time.
Eventually, the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church tried Galileo of heresy and committed him to house arrest for the rest of his life. This makes the church sound rigid, closed-minded and opposed to science, but I found there was more to the story.
Galileo was actually a devout Roman Catholic. He worked with Jesuit astronomers, and was friends with the two Popes who presided over his case (One died and the other succeeded him). Also, Galileo’s findings were not readily accepted even by fellow scientists.
Galileo, like many scientists of his day, was actually arrogant, and many of his arguments and writings were blunt and sarcastic, and this contributed to his alienation from the Jesuits, and his estrangement from the Pope. Political issues in the church were also a factor. Basically, the church could not accept Galileo’s findings, because they were not conclusively proven, and they were forced to take a stand against them.
The story of Galieo is very interesting, if you want to read more, see:
Next: More About Galileo