Giordano Bruno (1548 – 17 February 1600) was an Italian Dominican friar. Like Nicolas of Cusa and Copernicus he embraced the heliocentric system and argued that the sun was one star among many.  He also conjectured that there are innumerably many other planets orbiting other stars, and that many of them contain intelligent life.  According to Bruno, matter, albeit made up of discrete atoms, is innately intelligent, so that the emergence of life followed quite naturally.

Bruno defended his theses as in accordance with Scripture, but the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy: he was burned at the stake. Bruno was, however, also heretical in his views on much more fundamental Catholic doctrines, among them the divinity of Christ, and it may be that these played the larger role in the decision of the Inquisition.

The same Cardinal Belarmo who contested Bruno’s heretical theses summoned Galileo Galilei to inquisitorial trial, but with a happier outcome.


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