Though I dont fully understand how geocentrism is explained I believe it will become a more popular and accepted theory as time goes on. In the case of Robert Sungenis many consider him a fruit cake on these grounds, but I disagree. It would be amazing if this “theory” took off and became widely accepted.
My theory is that this will remain a dead issue as long as it stays in small Catholic circles, however I guarantee some protestant scholar/scientist is going to pick up Roberts books and such and is going to write their own Protestant version which is going to get more attention. Soon after more protestant scholars/scientists will start writing more about this and it will get more air time on 700 club and other protestant media. In the wake of all this Protestants (espeicially the Fundamentalist type) will widely accept this theory and be confident in it. Soon after it will pick up in Catholic circles.
The question is not whether a Protestant would get more coverage on The 700 Club, but whether or not mainstream scientists of any or of no denomination will take it seriously as a scientific proposition.
The subject of geocentricism reminds me of the joke that “the world really DOES revolve around engineers because they get to choose the coordinate system.”
Dogmatic geocentricism–the belief that the earth is motionless at the center of the universe–has some difficulties that I believe make it hopeless. For starters, the earth is not rigid; how do you define “motionless”? The moon’s tides deform the solid earth several feet; plate tectonic motion shifts one part of the surface relative to another part of the surface; and earthquakes set the whole earth ringing like a bell. To continue, meteors raise the excellent question of exactly what is defined as being part of the “motionless” earth? When does the meteoric mass become part of the earth? And conservation of momentum means that after a meteor impact the assembled mass will begin to move, ever so slowly, but move it will.
A more realistic view of geocentricism, that the earth moves slightly about a stable equilibrium point at the center of the universe, differs from standard cosmology only in the selection of the coordinate system. The geocentric coordinate system will have all manner of Coriolis and centripetal terms that the standard cosmological coordinate system will not have, and thus would be very difficult to work with in any problems of interplanetary dynamics. But you cannot prove it wrong because it is not wrong.
Unless Sungenis’ recently published book treating the subject contains substantially new and different arguments, the basic premise of Sungenis’ brand of geocentrism is: (1) to show that the Theory of General Relativity admits the mathematical possibility of a global (in terms of the universe considered as a whole) coordinate system with a stationary, non-rotating Planet Earth at its “center;” (2) argue that such a coordinate system is preferred based on an interpretation of relevant passages of Sacred Scripture which was favored by many Early Church Fathers and, as Sungenis argues, has been backed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church on a number of occasions; (3) also provide evidence which he presents as favorable to a geocentric model of the universe independent of whether General Relativity and its derivatives, like the Standard Model of Physical Cosmology, are really true – i.e. space and time really do bend and twist in response to mass/matter; the universe really is an expanding 4-dimensional hypersurface with a space-time singularity in its finite real-time past – or GR gives way to another theory which makes equivalent mathematical predictions for stuff like perihelion precession but involves a different underlying “metaphysics.”
That’s it in a nutshell, though readers of the book should correct me if I’m mistaken, because I would like to know if I’m misjudging Sungenis’ arguments.
But there are some serious issues which Sungenis or those who take up his ideas will eventually have to deal with. First of all, there is an alternative (well actually there are various versions of it) to “Big Bang” Cosmology which is slowly gaining in popularity among professional scientists (see Cosmology Statement: An Open Letter to the Scientific Community). It’s called Plasma Cosmology (for starters, also see PlasmaCosmology.net, The Big Bang Never Happend site and the essay Two World Systems Revisited, the Thunderbolts Picture of the Day Archive, Dr. Anthony Peratt’s The Plasma Universe site), and it basically does away with the need for dark matter, black holes, neutron stars and a host of other surreal entities in the Standard Model. It’s not that the astrophysical data which was previously used to support the Standard Model is invalidated or overlooked, it’s just interpreted differently in the PC models; for one, the principle that “redshift==distance,” which is an anchor in the Standard Model, is replaced with the notion that redshift is an indicator of something else, probably the age of the redshifted matter.
The point of mentioning PC is that, from my prior reading of Sungenis, most of the data which he thinks supports the geocentric model independent of the validity of GR, such as the well-known Fingers of God, can be interpreted according to consistent, non-geocentric principles which, frankly, make a lot of sense. (I mean they make a lot of sense in comparison to the mental gymnastics that are oftern required in the Standard Model; most of the scientists helping to develop PC would probably scratch their heads if you brought up Sungenis’ geocentrism.)
Additionally, much to the surprise of many seasoned physicists, there is a growing school of theorists and mathemeticians that has demonstrated that physical systems can be described with mathematical theories which make empirical predictions equivalent to the Theory of General Relativity while maintaining a purely Euclidean space-time backdrop (i.e. space and time don’t bend, twist, etc., at all). For more information see: Euclidean Relativity Yahoo discussion group, euclideanrelativity.com. The idea hasn’t caught on like wildfire, yet, but as problems continue to mount for the Standard Model and as alternatives like Plasma Cosmology begin to look more attractive, eventually it will be REALLY compelling to invoke the principle of Occam’s Razor and embrace a mathemetical theory which can account for empirical data without requiring one to believe that space and time actually twist, bend, collapse, etc.
The fallout for Sungenis geocentric model would be that his arguments which fall into category (1), in which he (for the sake of argument) takes for granted that GR is a true description of the universe, are substantially weakened when, per Euclidean Relativity, the universe is in no way understood as a curved hypersurface but rather a geometrically euclidean expanse. It might be possible to write down the equations in ER such that the Earth is still rectilinearly stationary and non-rotating, but the principle of symmetry would suggest that this is possiblity is a mathematical artifact and runs contrary to the edicts of the principle of symmetry; and it may not be possible to do so in ER after all, I’m not sure.
So now elements (1) and (3) in Sungenis’ arguments (my labels of course, not his) begin to look very shaky. There is still (2), but alone I don’t think those arguments are difficult to meet, especially when over the centuries Catholic theologians like St. Augustine of Hippo (d. 371) have pointed out in various ways that:
The sacred writers, or to speak more accurately the Holy Spirit, Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things - that is the essential nature of the things of the universe - things in no way profitable to salvation. [De Gen. ad litt. 2, 9, 20; PL 34, col. 270 s.; CSEL 28 (Sectio III, pars. 2), p. 46]
Another way to think about it is to see that a statement like “the sun rises in the east and sets in the west” can be perfectly true and yet at the same time not convey the modern scientific understanding that it is the rotation of the Earth which causes the Sun to appear to rise and set from the perspective of an observer on the surface of the planet.
By the way, let me say that I am a fan of Bob Sungenis’ “Not By …” books and his shorter book, How Can I Get to Heaven.
Also let me say, if you’ve made it this far into my post, that if my arguments seem to come from the fringe, then I’m at least in no worse shape than Sungenis in that respect in terms of this particular subject.
Galileo Was Wrong is a pretty comprehensive scientific treatise on geocentrism. It goes well beyond just treating it as an artifact of general relativity. In fact one of the hypothesis in the book is that relativity was developed as a reaction to failed experiments to detect the motion of the earth through the aether.
In terms of plasma cosmology, chapter 11 is dedicated to the interpretation of a vision of a geocentric universe by Bl. Hildegaard of Bingen a couple hundred years before Copernicus. The vision is interpreted in terms of a mechanistic aether/plasma universe, and the results are pretty interesting.
Chapter 12 is a review of the relevant scientific literature by Dr. Bennett, including very recent work. It is something like 270 pages, and includes the interpretation of the data that most scientists ignore.
Note that you can get the table of contents for the book here. You can get the entire introduction here. At www.galileowaswrong.com you can get some sample chapter pages also, plus some dialogs Robert Sungenis has had, including one with Stephen M. Barr.
For only $23 + shipping this book (on cdrom) is a must. Note that Robert is working on coming out with a print version, but it will be likely more than twice the cost (it will be a “print-on-demand” type book). I find it quite easy to read on cdrom, and the linked pop-up pictures, diagrams, and animations make the cdrom worth it. The print book will have very few of these (though the book will come with a seperate cdrom).
Actually, the premier geocentrist of the 2nd half of the 20th century is Gerardus Bouw, a Protestant. He wrote the book Geocentricity (out of print) . This book had some good science in it, but concentrated more on Protestant Scriptural literalism. Dr. Bouw has endorsed Galileo Was Wrong, saying :
Thats a very interesting and funny question, in reading trth_skr’s posts and his review:
I have a short book review here.
The comment at the bottom says the same thing about the coordinate system. So how do you get around the “fact” that the center is whatever coordinate system you pick?
Quite possible. Modern people are very superstitious and love crackpot theories.
In the case of Robert Sungenis many consider him a fruit cake on these grounds, but I disagree.
I thought Sungenis was pathological long before he got this particular bee in his bonnet. All you have to do is read the article where he talks about how he was sickened by the sight of women Eucharistic ministers to know that the man has serious issues.
The truly amazing thing to me is why Catholics like this guy. He’s a prime example of a fundamentalist nutcase who should have been welcomed into the Catholic Church and promptly packed off to a Trappist monastery under a vow of silence. (OK, I don’t mean that seriously–I believe the guy has a wife and kids, and I know that vows must be taken freely!) He’s anti-Semitic, misogynistic, irrational. I have never seen any redeeming value in anything of his I’ve read.
My theory is that this will remain a dead issue as long as it stays in small Catholic circles, however I guarantee some protestant scholar/scientist is going to pick up Roberts books
I’m sure no scholar or scientist is going to give them the time of day.
and such and is going to write their own Protestant version which is going to get more attention. Soon after more protestant scholars/scientists will start writing more about this and it will get more air time on 700 club and other protestant media. In the wake of all this Protestants (espeicially the Fundamentalist type) will widely accept this theory and be confident in it. Soon after it will pick up in Catholic circles.
Most Catholics have too much sense to follow a fundamentalist lead.
Fundamentalists don’t listen to scholars or scientists.
When was the last time you saw a scholar or scientist on the 700 club?
Joking aside, the idea that everywhere in the universe appears to be a center is called the isotropic principle. This is an assumption used by scientists and formulated into their cosmology- in general relativity it is formulated into the FRWW (Friedmann, Robinson, Walker, W?) metric.
For instance, they could use the Lemaitre-Tolman-Bondi metric, which allows for a center.
Why did science choose the isotropic principle? Let’s let Stephen Hawking tell us:
Yes, it would be remarkable. It would be as though God intended it to be that way…
In the past century there was a divide between Christianity and the science realm, the scienctists were pushing atheism and making the average Christian feel that science contradicted their beliefs. That is changing, over the last decade or so Christians in the science realm have been becoming more vocal in both exposing junk science pushed on their kids in school and tv and at the same time showing how things like Creationism are valid proposals which atheism can only reject on biased grounds.
Many of these vocal scientists are well educated protestants (ie not Bible thumpers) standing up and they are getting time on the standard protestant outlets.
That is why I put “fact” in quotes because I knew there was more to it. After reading that Hawking quote, now that I think of it, the idea that anyplace can be called the center is impossible unless the universe were infinite (which I doubt any argue that). In a finite universe there has to be limits and therefore there would have to be a center…unless Im missing something here?
If someone wants to quote something wise or beautiful that Sungenis has said, I’m happy to read it with an open mind. I didn’t say he had never said anything worthwhile, I said I hadn’t seen anything of the sort. I haven’t read large amounts of his writings, but given the character of the things I have read I see no reason to explore further.
One of the curses of our society is the unwillingness to say in plain language when people are uttering folly or wickedness.
His anti-Semitism and misogyny are evident from writings of his that I have read online. I’ll grant that a blanket accusation of irrationality is unfair–just because he holds some irrational views doesn’t mean that he’s incapable of rational thought.
Most Christians I know who know anything about science say that young-earth Creationism is nonsense. This is not a product of atheistic bias but simply of scientific knowledge. (I can’t judge its scientific merit, but it seems like bad theology and bad exegesis.) ID is a different matter. Some of my Christian friends who are scientists also say that this is nonsense, others buy it. So I’m more open to that perspective. I’m not sure which you mean when you speak of “Creationism,” but if you mean young-earth creationism then there really don’t seem to be any qualified scientists defending it.
I question whether there was really a divide between science and religion in the 19th century. Plenty of Christians saw no such divide–largely it was a creation of secularist propaganda. Fundamentalists serve this propaganda.
Many of these vocal scientists are well educated protestants (ie not Bible thumpers) standing up and they are getting time on the standard protestant outlets.
I don’t see this, if you are talking about young-earth Creationism. Even ID is pushed by a small minority among orthodox Christians who are qualified scientists–in the case of strict Creationism I’m not sure that any scientists at all (unless you count engineers) are in favor of it.
Picture the surface of a perfectly spherical inflated(/ing) balloon. Where is the center of that surface? (I’m not talking about the 3-D volume of air that is inclosed within the surface.) It doesn’t have one, strictly speaking; or you could say that any point on the surface could be arbitrarily indicated as the “center,” or mathematical origin, in a coordinate system you choose to impose upon it. Note, too, that the 2-D surface of the balloon is finite.
In the Lamda-CDM model of the “Big Bang” standard model (known with capital letters as the “Standard Model”) of phsyical cosmology, the universe is understood to be mostly described according to the Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker (FLRW) metric and Friedmann equations, which for simplicity’s sake you can think of as describing a 4-dimensional (3 spatial dim. + 1 time dim.) hypersurface, or “hyperballoon,” which likewise does not contain a point which can be, strictly speaking, understood as the “center,” though just like with the 2-D surface of the balloon any point could be arbitrarily chosen as the mathematical origin of an arbitrary coordinate system imposed upon it.
I share your concerns about Sungenis’ anti-semitic remarks. I share Sungenis’ concern about the use of female EMHCs during Holy Mass (which is not the same thing as their appropriate use in bringing Holy Communion to the homebound, sick, or elderly), though perhaps not to the same degree – I’ve never felt sick to my stomach when seeing women fill that role; and it’s EMHCs, male or female, being employed in a regular non-extraordinary manner that is at the root of my concern (not sure about Sungenis’ view).
You can take my word or leave it, but Sungenis’ “Not By …” books are solid and worthwhile (though they could have used another round of editing; it seems that Queenship Publishing is one step short of self-publishing). On the other hand, you would probably find his orthodox, traditional, Catholic approach to those subjects – sola scripture, sola fide, the Eucharist – to be “fundamentalist” given your Episcopalian affiliation.
I know it’s good to be more traditional, but isnt this pushing it?
Scientists know that they can pick any frame of reference…and yet, instead of just letting little kids think of the earth as their frame of reference (which** is** the one used most often in our daily lives and even in non-astronomical lab experiments)…they push this “the sun is the center, Galileo was wrong, the Church was a monster!” story in elementary school and stuff. And many adults never question that further and accept it for the rest of their lives. Almost any non-physicist adults who consider themselves intelligent “know” that it’s “stupid” to say the sun revolves around the earth.
But really…niether Galileo nor the Church were really wrong nor right. In fact, Galileo was definitely wrong in insisting the sun to be absolutely motionless (it only is in its own reference frame)…but the Church might not have been wrong about the Earth…since we would have to step into a higher dimension and look down on the universe to see if there was, in fact, an Absolute frame of reference…and in that case earth very well be the center, based on scripture etc (though I really dont think it matters either way, nor do I think it really is a subject of Revelation)
But it is a *political *choice with an agenda that the scientists make to tell lay people, “the earth revolves around the sun, religion was wrong!” even though, given Relativity, they know quite well that the Sun revolves around the Earth as much as the Earth revolves around the Sun, just depending on reference frame (and the one the Bible uses…when saying the sun rises and sets…is definitely the earth’s reference frame)
The actual problem with the “Galileo Affair” was not that the Church said the Sun revolved around the Earth, and despised Galileo for saying otherwise (it was not a revolutionary idea that Galileo proposed, he only gave some proof to it)- the problem was that Galileo went against an order to teach the facts, but not say that heliocentrism was an absolute fact. Galileo violated this and was put under house arrest.