Ever since he was placed under house arrest for heresy, Galileo eagerly awaited his granddaughter’s weekly visits. Sasha was due to arrive shortly.
You see Galileo had dared to challenge a central tenant of the Church and “common sense.” Most folks at that time believed Earth was the center of the universe – a seemingly logical conclusion as one observed the sky with the naked eye. And the Bible seemed to verify this notion with passages such as, “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” Never mind the actual reality that Earth revolves around the Sun in a tiny corner of a vast and wonderful universe.
Sasha arrived with a warm loaf of bread that they enjoyed with hot tea. After chatting a bit she begged for the story about the man and the flooded shack.
So Galileo began. “The river flooded its banks, and the man’s shack was swept away with him clinging to the roof. Some neighbors offered to throw him a rope. ‘No need,’ he replied, ‘God will save me.’ As he passed under a bridge a ladder was lowered down to him, but he didn’t climb on saying, ‘No thanks. God will save me.’ Finally, as the shack was about to go under a boat came by, but he didn’t jump in; trusting God would rescue him. The shack sunk and he drowned. At the pearly gates he asked, ‘Lord, why didn’t you save me?’ ‘I sent help three times, but you kept turning it down!’ God retorted.”
Sasha loved that story because it paralleled her own grandfather’s story. God offered the man tools for survival, but he turned them down with grave consequences. Likewise, God offered the people and the Church in Galileo’s time scientific tools like the telescope to reveal the actual reality of Earth’s place in the universe. But they stubbornly turned down the evidence, clinging instead to their own faulty views.
As Sasha walked home that evening she wondered about her descendants 200 or even 400 years in the future. Would they learn from her grandfather’s experience? Or would they too reject the scientific tools from God that would help reveal realities concerning the oceans, the atmosphere, or even the climate? She hoped they’d wisely use those God-given tools to protect and preserve this vibrant planet, where they’ll be forever…Earthbound.