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'Two Men' Examines Rift Between Faith and Science

This article is more than 10 years old.

At a conference this week marking the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin, a Vatican spokesperson said the Catholic Church doesn't refute evolution; saying instead, evolution and faith are complementary.

That would never have been the case 400 years ago, when the Inquisition was pitted against philosophers and scientists challenging Church doctrine. It was then that Galileo was trying to advance Copernicus' theory that the earth revolves around the sun.

That dispute is the subject of a new play opening at The Huntington Theater Company. Written by historian, presidential adviser and speech-writer Dick Goodwin, 'Two Men of Florence' pits Pope Urban the 8th against Galileo. Here's a scene from the play:

POPE URBAN: People will ask, 'If Earth is not the center, where does the devil live.' Or 'If we are a planet among other planets, what of Adam and the Great Flood? Did it happen on all the worlds?' You see the morass that lies in that direction.

GALILEO: How can I describe the world if it is maintained that Scripture forbids its description?

POPE URBAN: Scripture sets no limit to thought. If we can better understand the world assuming that the Earth moves we can do so. As long as we don't insist that it actually moves.

We joined Dick Goodwin at the Huntington's BU Theater to talk with him about the play. He took a break from rehearsal to speak with us. We began by asking him what inspired him to write this epic drama.

This program aired on March 6, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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