Galileo Galilei was born on February 15, 1564 to a poor, but noble family in in Pisa, Italy. In the course of his life, he became a mathematician (instated as a professor at the University of Pisa at only 25 years old), philosopher, and scientist. Through experimentation, he showed that heavier objects fall at the same rate as lighter ones, contradicting a renowned assertion made by the great philosopher Aristotle. He also wrote a book supporting the heliocentric theory of the universe postulated by Nicolaus Copernicus.
Galileo’s fascination with science and the solar system led to a number of stunning discoveries. For instance, using the newly invented telescope, which he had modified, he was the first to observe Saturn’s rings.
He discovered 4 of Jupiter’s moons.
He also noted that the Milky Way contains many stars which are invisible to the naked eye.
One of the most tragic facts about the story of Galileo is how many people missed out on the exciting discoveries that were being made.
Most people refused to look through Galileo’s telescope because they believed that to do so was an act of heresy….Others refusing to look through [it] asserted “that if God meant man to use such a contrivance in acquiring knowledge, He would have endowed men with telescopic eyes.”Hergenhahn, 109
Though I cannot say I would have reacted any differently–those respondents were merely following the Church doctrine of the time, which was the closest thing they knew to Divine Truth. All I can say for certain is that I am filled with gratitude. I am grateful that I was born in this day in age. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to learn about space, science, philosophy, history, and religion. I am grateful to have a sense of my own insignificance
And the vastness of the things we have yet to discover
And to be able to witness events which so far exceed my capacity to comprehend, and yet take my breath away.
But most of all, I am grateful to have a knowledge of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the invitation in D&C 88:62, in which the Lord says “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (emphasis added). I am grateful that Galileo, in his day, had the courage to “seek the Lord” through his pursuit of Truth. I am grateful for the foundation that his discoveries laid. Even more than that, though, I am grateful to have in my possession an ever more powerful lens, which allows me to witness and understand all manner of things which are otherwise “invisible to the naked eye.”