Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book "Galileo" by Mitch Stokes

About the Book: From physics to religion, Galileo's life changed the world and how we perceive it.
Despite a debilitating life-long illness, Galileo changed physics from a purely philosophical subject into one involving mathematics and careful observation. But his innovations didn't stop there. He also challenged beliefs about the very structure of the universe, arguing that the earth moves around the sun at dizzying speeds. And, using the telescope, Galileo showed philosophers that the sun, moon, and stars aren't made of an ethereal and unchangeable "fifth element" but are composed of the same stuff that ordinary terrestrial objects are.
But suggesting such dramatic changes made philosophers uncomfortable. And because philosophers were unable to refute Galileo on their own playing field, they sought help from theologians, sending Galileo head long into a conflict with church officials. Galileo appealed to church fathers like St. Augustine to prevent the theologians from making what he saw as a tragic mistake. But intrigues, personality clashes, and misunderstandings led to Galileo's famous trial and condemnation, events misinterpreted as showing a fundamental conflict between science and religion.

About the Author: Mitch Stokes is a Fellow of Philosophy at New St. Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame under the direction of Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen. At Yale, he earned an M.A. in religion under the direction of Nicholas Wolterstorff. He also holds an M.S. in mechanical engineering and, prior to his philosophy career, worked for an international engineering firm where he earned five patents in aeroderivative gas turbine technology. He and his wife, Christine, have four children.

My Review: This book is a biography of Galileo Galilei, a true genius that lived in Italy during the 16th/17th century. Born in Pisa, his father wanted him to be a doctor in medicine, but his love for mathematics were stronger. Throughout this book we learned from the author that Galileo used his mathematics and science to prove the occurrences on the observable world. Notable is his observation of the chandelier movement on the Pisa cathedral, that inspired him to write the law of pendulum, which states that the period of oscilation is independent of the weight and length of the pendulum. For him, the language of nature was mathematics. His conclusion that the scriptures cannot conflict with the observation of nature is a powerful one but caused him more trouble than joy. His respect for the authorities of the church is well stated.
The author did a magnificent job making us feeling that he was the best friend of Galileo, narrating all events on his life in a level of details and interest that only a close friend would know how to do.
Clearly the amount of research behind the scenes done to compose this book was amazing. The author did a careful job of documenting everything that supported his work.
The front cover of the book is very well chosen and high quality one.
This book should be part of a permanent library of any serious reader that loves biographies and science.
This is a part of Thomas Nelson's Christian Encounters Series. It was written by Mitch Stokes and published by Thomas Nelson in 2011 and they were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers Program.
If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

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