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Galileo Galilei convicted of heretic

Heresy is any provocative belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs.


  • Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.
    • Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (1265–1274), II–II, q. 11, art. 7 resp.
  • Science is in far greater danger from the absence of challenge than from the coming of any number of even absurd challenges.
    • Isaac Asimov, "Forward: The Role of the Heretic", in Donald W. Goldsmith (ed.), Scientists Confront Velikovsky (Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 14
  • The essence of the heretic, that is to say of someone who has a particular opinion, is that he clings to his own ideas; and the essence of the Catholic, that is to say of the universal, is to prefer to his sentiments the common sentiment of the entire Church.
    • Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, History of Variations in the Protestant Churches (1688), in Œuvres complètes de Bossuet, ed. F. Lachat, Vol. XIV (Paris: Louis Vivès, 1863), Preface, p. 17
  • Heresies have never been more than particular opinions, since they began with five or six men.
    • Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, "Avertissement au Protestants I" (1689), in Œuvres complètes de Bossuet, ed. F. Lachat, Vol. XV (Paris: Louis Vivès, 1863), p. 221
  • And so we get an idea of the real fundamental meaning of the words Catholic and heretic. A heretic is one who has his own opinion. What does having an opinion mean? It means following one's own ideas, one's own particular notions. Whereas the Catholic, on the other hand, is what the name signifies, that is to say one who, not relying on his own private judgement, puts his trust in the Church, and defers to her teaching.
    • Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Premier instruction pastorale sur les promesses de l'Église (1700), in Œuvres complètes de Bossuet, ed. F. Lachat, Vol. XVII (Paris: Louis Vivês, 1864), p. 112; as quoted by Paul Hazard, La Crise de la conscience européenne (1935) in translation, The Crisis of the European Mind, 1680-1715 (1953), tr. J. Lewis May.
  • Religions are kept alive by heresies, which are really sudden explosions of faith. Dead religions do not produce them.
  • In the Code of Canon Law the term heretic means a baptized person who, while retaining the name of Christian, stubbornly denies or calls in doubt any truth which is to be accepted on Divine and Catholic Faith. ...a similar excommunication is incurred by those who publish books written by heretics upholding and commending heresy, and by all who defend or knowingly and without due permission read or keep these or any other books prohibited by name by letters Apostolic.
  • "Thu hast translated the Romance of the Rose, That is a heresy against my law, And maketh wise folk from me withdraw."
  • The word "heresy" not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word "orthodoxy" not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right.
  • Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed. Thus every man who utters a doubt defines a religion.
  • It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of these open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom—that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.
  • Someone who believes in all the stories of the Baal Shem Tov and the other mystics and holy men is a fool; someone who doesn't believe them is a heretic.
    • Hasidic Jewish proverb, as quoted by Chris Sandoval, Can Christians Prove the Resurrection?: A Reply to the Apologists (2010) p. 53
  • Reason quite properly rejects contradiction, but rationalism abhors mystery, which every heresy attempts in its own way to resolve.
  • History warns us, however, that it is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.
    • Thomas Henry Huxley, "The Coming of Age of The Origin of Species", in Nature: A Weekly Illustrated Journal of Science, Vol. 22 (May 6, 1880), p. 1. This was the first printing of a lecture delivered at the Royal Institution on March 19, 1880.
  • It is not necessary to seek truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church.
    • Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 3, Chapter 4, Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 61
  • In corporation religions as in others, the heretic must be cast out not because of the probability that he is wrong but because of the possibility that he is right.
  • The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.
    • Helen Keller, Optimism (New York: T. Y. Crowell and Company, 1903), p. 47
  • It is told that in a library in Spain a book was found with the inscription on the spine, “The Best Remedy against Heretics,” Upon opening the book or, rather, upon trying to open the book, one saw that it was not a book; it was a case in which lay a scourge. If one were to write a book called “The Best Remedy against Self-Torment,” it would be very brief: “Let each day have trouble enough of its own.”
    • Soren Kierkegaard, Christian Discourses (Christelige Taler) Apr 26, 1848 Hong translation 1997 P. 75
  • Those who are intelligent are not ideologues. Those who are ideologues are not intelligent." (
  • If heretics no longer horrify us today, as they once did our forefathers, is it certain that it is because there is more charity in our hearts? Or would it not too often be, perhaps, without our daring to say so, because the bone of contention, that is to say, the very substance of our faith, no longer interests us? Men of too familiar and too passive a faith, perhaps for us dogmas are no longer the Mystery on which we live, the Mystery which is to be accomplished in us. Consequently then, heresy no longer shocks us; at least, it no longer convulses us like something trying to tear the soul of our souls away from us.... And that is why we have no trouble in being kind to heretics, and no repugnance in rubbing shoulders with them.
    In reality, bias against ‘heretics’ is felt today just as it used to be. Many give way to it as much as their forefathers used to do. Only, they have turned it against political adversaries. Those are the only ones with whom they refuse to mix. Sectarianism has only changed its object and taken other forms, because the vital interest has shifted. Should we dare to say that this shifting is progress?
    • Henri de Lubac, Paradoxes of Faith (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), pp. 226-227
  • One issue, which I used to talk about by looking at George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, is how madness, heresy, and genius are related. We often describe great leaders as having the drive, vision, imagination, and creativity to transform their organizations through daring new ideas. Retrospectively, of course, we sometimes find that such heresies have been the foundation for bold and necessary change, but heresy is usually just crazy. Most daring new ideas are foolish or dangerous and appropriately rejected or ignored. So while it may be true that great geniuses are usually heretics, heretics are rarely great geniuses. If we could identify which heretics would turn out to be geniuses, life would be easier than it is. There is plenty of evidence that we cannot.
    • James G. March, in Diane Coutu, "Ideas as Art: A Conversation with James G. March", Harvard Business Review 84 (10), pp. 82–91 (October 2006)
  • No kingdom has ever had as many civil wars as the kingdom of Christ.
  • Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has hitherto always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed; - history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!
  • A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.
  • Anyone who seeks for the true causes of miracles, and strives to understand natural phenomena as an intelligent being, and not to gaze at them like a fool, is set down and denounced as an impious heretic by those, whom the masses adore as the interpreters of nature and the gods. Such persons know that, with the removal of ignorance, the wonder which forms their only available means for proving and preserving their authority would vanish also.
  • In English-speaking countries, the connection between heresy and homosexuality is expressed through the use of a single word to denote both concepts: buggery. ... Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Third Edition) defines “buggery” as “heresy, sodomy.”
    • Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1997), p. 165
  • Nay, it has come to this, that Truth meets no where with stronger opposition, than from many of those that raise the loudest cry about it, and would be taken for no less than the only dispensers of the favors and oracles of Heaven. If any has the firmness to touch the minutest thing that brings them Gain or Credit, he's presently pursued with the hue and cry of Heresy.

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  1. Daybreak, R.J. Hollingdale trans., Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 18. Available at