Coping in an Evil World--
Inquisitors and Conquistadors

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Purpose: to examine the moral options available to people who find themselves within a morally untenable "system."

Possible ways of coping with an immoral system


Medieval Inquisition

Spanish Inquisition

Roman Inquisition

The two most famous cases of the Roman Inquisition

Giodano Bruno

  1. Bruno was a mystic, not a scientist in any sense of the word.
  2. Used Copernican theory as metaphor for some of his mystical views.
  3. Bruno returned to Italy from then-Protestant N. Europe to convert Pope to his views. Grasp of political realities left something to be desired.
  4. Burned at stake, 1600.


Backdrop of the Galileo Affair

Galileo's early career illustrious but inspired jealousy.

Dialogue on the Two Great World Systems, 1632.

Results of Book

Galileo's Trial

Deflating some Galileo myths

The Spanish Conquest of the Americas

The Aztecs

Memoirs of some Spanish participants express genuine admiration for Aztec civilization (e.g., Bernal Diaz).

Bernardino de Sahagun (1499-1590)

The Maya

Diego de Landa

An illustration of how people in history can wear black hats and white hats at the same time

The Inca

General Observations

It is possible to maintain integrity in the midst of repressive institutions (Galileo, Maculano, Sahagun) but it involves risk. Not for the faint of heart.

Moral issues seem much clearer in retrospect than they were at the time.

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Created 20 May 1997, Last Update 4 June 1997

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