Have you ever heard the argument that "Galileo was persecuted by the church for teaching that the Earth was spherical and not flat"? Guess what? It is a lie. It never happened. It is a myth. One perpetuated by complete and utter ignorance.
What is the real story?
A few hundred years ago, the majority of the people still believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the sun orbited the Earth. This was the view of the Roman Catholic Church as well throughout the life of astronomer Galileo, from 1564 to 1642.
During the period of the Renaissance, there was an explosion in the understanding of our universe. This was the case with the field of astronomy. People began to question the Earth-centered model of our universe due to new scientific observations. Aristarchus, around 270 B.C., was the earliest person to suggest a sun-centered solar system. However, the theory remained largely unexplored for over a millennium, despite there being good evidence to support it.
In 1543, Copernicus published his studies, pushing the sun-centered theory forward. Aware of the hostile reaction that was inevitable to result from the Roman Catholic Church, he wrote a disclaimer stating that his studies were purely mathematical and included a dedication to the Pope.
In the early 17th century, Galileo, at the cutting edge of human understanding, took things further through telescopic observations and published a work on the planetary orbits. The Roman Catholic Church brought their full force down on the apparently "heretical" Galileo when they discovered his work. In 1615, the Roman Catholic Church forced Galileo to denounce his findings and to never teach what he had discovered. Nearly 20 years later, in 1633, Galileo again published his findings on the observed orbits of the planets. Once again, the Roman Catholic Church got up in arms. Galileo offered to show them evidence, but they refused to look through his telescope, fearing that the devil could create illusions with such an instrument. In order to avoid being burnt at the stake, Galileo once again denounced his own work and was placed under house arrest by the Roman Catholic Church for the rest of his life. He was even afforded a decent lifestyle while under house arrest. He was never actually persecuted, other than being forced to denounce his findings.
In 1992, the Roman Catholic Church, through Pope John Paul II, made a formal apology to Galileo and withdrew their accusations of heresy, agreeing that, yes, the Earth does indeed revolve around the sun. While being rather late, it is impossible to withdraw accusations against a person once they are dead. It does little for him now.
You can look this information up for yourself anywhere. These are the historical events that transpired. It had nothing to do with the Earth being flat. Like most lies that people believe in their blissful ignorance, this one has been repeated loud enough, long enough, and often enough. If a person with a degree perpetuates the lie, people think, "Well, he's got a degree so he must know what he's talking about." People need to learn to do their homework and do their own research rather than regurgitating the same spoon-fed nonsense they have heard others say. The problem with education is that it merely teaches you to think and believe the way your teachers think and believe; it never teaches you to actually think for yourself.