Scientists recently found an unpublished article by Winston Churchill. In it, he talks about exoplanets and the high probability of the appearance of living beings in other star systems.
The politician, like today's scientists, relied on the "Copernican principle", according to which it is difficult to believe that in the Universe, people are the only intelligent beings, given its size. As Churchill wrote almost 80 years ago, the main condition for the emergence of multicellular life is the presence of water.
But if 80 years ago a scientifically grounded belief in aliens could arouse admiration, then 400 years ago it led to the stake.
In February 1600, Giordano Bruno was executed. Someone considers him a martyr of science, who died for his loyalty to the new astronomy of Copernicus, someone - a magician and pagan, far from rational thinking. But what exactly was Giordano Bruno burned for?
Let's figure it out.
Only in 1925 did the prefect of the Vatican's Secret Archives find out that Bruno's inquisition file had been found there 37 years ago, but then Pope Leo the Thirteenth ordered the case to be handed over to him personally and hid the documents. It took another 15 years to find the folders, and only during the Second World War the case was published. Then it became clear for the first time that Bruno's greatest "heresy" was the idea of a multitude of inhabited worlds in the Universe.
But what is this idea and why is the Catholic Church so hostile to it?
The existence of an infinite set of worlds was also admitted by Democritus and Epicurus - many lands, moons and suns. The heroes of Plutarch's dialogue "On the face visible on the disc of the Moon" argued whether there are plants, trees and animals on the Moon, or whether it represents an afterlife where the souls of people find peace after death (similar to how their bodies are buried on Earth). However, Cicero and Pliny, among others, considered this nonsense. They were joined by the first church fathers, for whom many worlds were not an abstract philosophical truth, but an attribute of pagan beliefs - for example, the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. So, the Pythagoreans taught that the souls of people come from the region of the Milky Way, and animals - from the stars.
A little later, disputes about the uniqueness of the world, that is, the Earth, or many worlds flared up with renewed vigor. Athanasius of Alexandria insisted that the world is one, because God is one. To think otherwise was impious, absurd and dishonorable, but not yet heretical. The trouble happened because of the great theologian Origen, some of whose thoughts the church rejected - just the thoughts of the transmigration of souls. And the final formulation was given by Isidore of Seville, who listed the main heresies in his encyclopedia. At the end of the list of Christian heresies, before the pagan ones, he remarked: “There are other heresies that do not have a founder and a recognized name … someone thinks that the souls of people fall into demons or animals; others argue about the state of the world; someone thinks that the number of worlds is infinite."
The position of the church in the Middle Ages can be seen in the example of the churchman Rupert of Deutz. Praising God, who created a world full of beautiful creatures, he writes: "Let the heretics-Epicureans, who speak of many worlds, and all who lie about the transfer of the souls of the dead to other bodies, perish." The idea of many worlds was also rejected by Thomas Aquinas, the chief theologian of the Latin Middle Ages. Yes, the power of God is infinite, and, therefore, he can create an infinite number of worlds. This argument will then be used by Giordano Bruno.
However, Thomas continues:
"But against it is said: The world through Him began to be, where the world is spoken of in the singular, as if there were only one world.
And therefore, the plurality of worlds could be admitted only by those who considered as the cause of the world not some ordering wisdom, but an accident: for example, Democritus, who argued that this world, as well as an infinite number of other worlds, arose as a result of a random combination of atoms."
After the emergence of the index of forbidden books and the system of courts of the Inquisition, the heresy about the many worlds received its serial number (77 according to the list of Augustine).In the new code of church law (1582), created by Pope Gregory XIII, there is a special paragraph: "There are other heresies, unnamed, among which … belief in an infinite number of worlds." The same wording made it into the Inquisitorial Manual.