The Case against Galileo -- Lessons for a 21st Century Church

Speaker: Categories: Mar 13, 2004


[56min, 32sec / 49min, 2sec]


Looking back into the past can sometimes be embarrassing, sometimes enlightening, sometimes even amusing. But it may be that such looking back is necessary in order that we might have a proper perspective of where we are NOW. Perhaps these few lines have caused you to wonder just what could be learned from the person named Galileo (1564-1642) whom you encountered in those required, often rather boring, history classes in the academy and/or college. Keep in mind those dates– taking a look back more than four centuries!

To help further to entice our interest and curiosity, Dr. Richard Osborn, the president of Pacific Union College, notes:"Ever since the Pope appointed a commission in 1979 to study whether or not the Roman Catholic Church erred in the case against Galileo, the presenter has been hunted by the possibility that the Seventh-day Adventist church may find itself in a similar position. The Bible clearly supported the opponents of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo. Those opponents included the rising Protestant movement which questioned why the Roman Catholic Church did not take action against these emerging viewpoints of science by punishing the scientists. Galileo's personality represented part of the problem as he overstated his case beyond the evidence in many cases. Yet the issue ultimately for the church became one of authority."

Dr. Osborn then urges:''The Seventh-day Adventist Church can learn lessons for the 21stcentury from Galileo’s case. Using historical perspectives this presentation will offer twelve practical lessons from the vantage point of a church educational administrator rather than that which might be offered by a scientist or theologian."

Now that you have read this far, you may be pondering just how a college administrator's perspectives might be enhanced (or tainted) differently than those of a scientist or a theologian. Would those perspectives serve as assets or as liabilities for an educational leader within Adventism?


Richard (Dick) Osborn is a multidimensional educator with experience as a teacher, administrator, and author. After being born in Loma Linda, California, he moved to San Jose, California, where his father served as treasurer of the Central California Conference. After living in Beirut, Lebanon, with his missionary parents, he finished his elementary education in Montevideo, Uruguay. He returned one year earlier than his parents in order to attend Monterey Bay Academy for four years where he graduated in 1965.

He attended La SIerra College for his first year of college and then moved with his parents to Maryland and Columbia Union College where he majored in history and graduated magna cum laude in 1969, also serving as Senior Class President. In graduate school at the University of Maryland, he continued his studies in history and obtained the M.A. in 1975 and the Ph.D. in 1990.

During the past 34 years, Dr. Osborn has served as an elementary school social studies instructor and principal; history instructor and Principal, Takoma Academy, Maryland; Superintendent of Schools, Potomac Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; Vice- President for Education, Columbia Union Conference (an 8-state Middle Atlantic region); Vice-President for Education of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists responsible for 1,000 K-12 schools and 15 colleges/universities in Bermuda, Canada, and the United States; and President, Pacific Union College in Angwin, California since 2001.

Throughout his career, he has been involved in professional activities including service as chair of the Curriculum Committee, National Council for the Social Studies; President, Council for American Private Education, an umbrella organization representing over 80% of all non-public school students in America including independent schools, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Christian school groups, Montessori, Waldorf, and Seventh-day Adventist; member of the Secretariat and Committee on Tax Policy for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; Co-Chair, Denominational Executives in Church-Related Higher Education; and a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Osborn is married to the former Norma Keough whose father, G. Arthur Keough, was the founder of Middle East College. Mrs. Osborn has taught elementary school, and for the past sixteen years has served as a pastor focusing on family and children's ministries. She is currently an Associate Pastor at the Pacific Union College Church.

The Osborns have two adult children: daughter Heather, who is currently the education reporter forThe Napa Valley Register; and son, Trevan, who this summer will graduate from CUC, his parentsalma mater, marry, and then become a pastor in the Potomac Conference upon completion of his work at Andrews University Theological Seminary, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and mother.

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