Check Your Brains at the Door The President of Catholic Answers’ Lecture on Galileo
On July 30, 2014, the then future president of Catholic Answers gave a lecture on the Galileo affair, which was hosted by the Institute of Catholic Culture.1 The title of the lecture was, “Galileo on Trial: Why the Church was Right,” but you would never guess that title from listening to what Mr. Check actually says in the lecture.
The lecture is quite clear in revealing that Mr. Check doesn’t think for a second that the Church was right and Galileo was wrong. He believes just the opposite. He actually believes, on a scientific and biblical basis, that the Church was completely wrong for even considering it had the authority to judge the issue, much less did it decide correctly regarding what goes around what in the universe. Rather, the purpose for Mr. Check’s contradictory title is to put a good face on the Church in spite of her presumed errors. To do so, Mr. Check will distort the raw facts of history to the best of his ability. In other words, if the facts don’t agree with your thesis, then change the facts.
Mr. Check’s approach to the Galileo issue, although somewhat novel, has become, and will continue to be, the standard apologetic used by modern Catholic apologists for years to come, that is, if Catholic Answers has anything to say about it. Few Catholics want to consider the traditional belief in a geocentric universe nor can they even imagine that the Church was right in upholding geocentrism against Galileo. Rather, Mr. Check will make it appear that, within its limited historical context, the Church was perfectly justified to defend geocentrism since everyone in society in those days believed it, even though, in the larger historical context, Mr. Check holds that the Church was entirely wrong.
Since the job of an “apologist” is to defend, as best he can, whatever his institution says or does, making a dichotomy between being right in one’s own day as opposed to being right for all time is a dichotomy that apparently this new breed of apologists can live with. Essentially, Mr. Check believes that the Church can declare a false doctrine yet be exonerated from doing so because, in a word, She didn’t know any better. How, you might ask, does Mr. Check’s new apologetic fit in with the Church’s traditional belief that the Holy Spirit guides her into all truth – a divine guidance that has produced every other doctrine the Church
has taught for the last two thousand years? Mr. Check thought of a clever way to get around that bothersome fact, but as he does so, a not-so-dumb person in his audience uncovered his subterfuge. Let’s see how it unfolded.