Smack in the center of the Rome's fashionable Campo de Fiori is a statue of Giordano Bruno, philosopher. Bruno held that God was present in nature and that the universe and life was infinite. The Catholic Church burned him at the stake, right where his statue is today. Bruno and his deadly heresy was a major focus of Neil deGrasse Tyson during last night's episode of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey."
As the Spanish physicist Beatriz Gato-Rivera wrote, Bruno "claimed that the sun was only one star among the many thousands, and therefore, like the sun, many other stars also have planets around them and living beings inhabiting them." Gato-Rivera goes on to note that to "appreciate the genius of Bruno one has to take into account that he lived at a time when more than 99% of the intellectuals believed that the Earth was the center of the Universe, and a few others, like Copernicus and Galileo, believed that it was the Sun, instead, at the center of the Universe, and the stars being some bright heavenly bodies of an unknown nature."
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What 'Cosmos' Got Wrong About Giordano Bruno, the Heretic ScientistBruno's scientific theories weren't what got him killed. Sure, his refusal to recant his belief in a plurality of worlds contributed to his sentence. But it's important to note that the Catholic Church didn't even have an official position on the heliocentric universe in 1600, and support for it was not considered heresy during Bruno's trial.
On top of that, his support for Copernican cosmology was the least heretical position he propagated. His opinions on theology were far more pyrotechnic. For example, Bruno had the balls to suggest that Satan was destined to be saved and redeemed by God. He didn't think Jesus was the son of God, but rather “an unusually skilled magician.” He even publicly disputed Mary's virginity. The Church could let astronomical theories slide, but calling the Mother of God out on her sex life? There's no doubt that these were the ideas that landed Bruno on the stake.
Read More: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/giordano-bruno-cosmos-heretic-scientist