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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 411

[Maria Celeste] accepted Galileo's conviction that God had dictated the Holy Scriptures to guide men's spirits but proffered the unravelling of the universe as a challenge to their intelligence.

One of the themes of Galileo's Daughter is that, though he was a scientist who used the scientific method to challenge...

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[Maria Celeste] accepted Galileo's conviction that God had dictated the Holy Scriptures to guide men's spirits but proffered the unravelling of the universe as a challenge to their intelligence.

One of the themes of Galileo's Daughter is that, though he was a scientist who used the scientific method to challenge some aspects of Church teachings, Galileo remained, all his life, a man of faith. He sought to reconcile science and faith, not to destroy faith. When he went against Church teaching, he knew he had precedents behind him. Catholicism at that time was willing to concede that parts of the Bible were metaphoric and poetic rather than literally factual. For example, when it became apparent that the earth was round, not flat, the Church was readily able to accept that the Biblical phrase "the four corners of the Earth" was a metaphor. Rather than seeking to undermine Church teachings, Galileo hoped that Biblical texts about the earth being fixed in one spot could likewise be interpreted as metaphoric and poetic. Science and faith were both important to him.

He was a Catholic who had come to believe something Catholics were forbidden to believe. Rather than break with the Church, he had tried to hold–and at the same time not to hold–this image of the mobile earth.

This passage underlines Galileo's struggle to maintain both his scientific integrity and his faith. He would not blindly ignore what his scientific investigations taught him to be true. At the same time, he would not relinquish the Church. This created difficulties for him, but he did not cease to be a complicated man because of those difficulties.

Because it almost seems you are inclined, Sire, that the sight of the gift might mean more to me than that of you yourself: which differs as greatly from my true feelings as light from darkness.

This passage from a letter Maria Celeste wrote to her father crystallizes an internal struggle she had. She was dependent on him—extremely so—and she relied on his gifts to provide for basic material needs for herself and her sister. Galileo was not wrong to intuit how much she wanted his gifts. At the same time, she did value him, and no matter how angry her situation might have made her, she could not in any way risk alienating him. We see her here managing her world by placating this man she loved and on whom so much depended.

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