Geocentrism versus Heliocentrism
Editor, The Remnant:
I am astonished, horrified, and utterly shocked that valuable column space on the pages of the Remnant has been sqandered on debating questions which have so long been uttely settled that asking them again (let alone pronouncing nonsense in sheer perverse defiance of the varifiable facts) is gravely irrational, to say the best, and positively scandalous (as in the sin of scandal) at the worst.
It is certainly a good and reparational thing that some couple of more sensible voices have also been allowed to weigh in on this (Mario Derksen, Adam Kolasinski), But the initial publishing of Hertz's original article which started this (and that, without at least some editorial distance!) was uncalled for and unnecessary, to say nothing of being gravely embarrasing to the whole traditionalist cause.
(I can't believe I am even having to debate this, but...) I have worked for over 16 years on the computer systems (radar, telemetry) which are used in tracking the missiles we fire out of Vandenberg Air Force Base here in California. Allow me to introduce you to a number which has significant relevance on many of the calculations that run on the missiles, and on those tracking computers, and therefore is used in the software running on them: 7.292115147X10-5
What is this number? It is the rotation rate of the earth in radians per second. (For the ease of those who don't know, multiply that by 180 and divide by to get it in degrees per second, which is about 4.178074X10-3, and which in turn amounts to 360.9856 degrees per day (multiply the 4.178074X10-3 by 86400 seconds in a day).
For one thing, notice that the rate is non-zero If we use zero instead of that number and attempt to compute the course of the rocket, the range might be obligated to destroy a missile which is perfectly on course, or even worse, might fail to detect that a missile which is off course and on its way to landing on someone, so as to destroy it when necessary. Even a very small error could threaten people's lives.
For another thing, notice the remaining ".9856" degrees. It is just slightly less than one degree in excess of a complete circle. That excess represents the motion of the earth around the sun in a single day, such that the earth must turn that amount more than a circle in order to reach the same exact time of day. Divide the 360 degrees of a circle by the 365.2425 days in a true solar year (calendar years handle the ".2425" by inserting a "February 29" every fourth year, except three out of four century years), and that gets our ".9856" degrees. Voila!
Another one (not form my work): Take a picture of night sky, not straight up, but as close to a 90 degree angle as possible (from space works the best) and then take a picture of the same part of the night sky six months later. What one gets from doing that is a beautiful stereoscopic picure of that portion of the sky in which the closest stars are noticably different in their locations relative to the more distant stars, just as a finger held before your face as you stare at a landscape will seem to be double. Not even all the most complicated Ptmolemian "epicycles" could explain let alone have anticipated that seeming "movement" of the near, but supposedly fixed stars.
Still another: Dr. Christian mentioned Foucault's Pendulum and even discussed putting one on the South Pole, but this is unnecessary since if the earth were stationary, it wouldn't matter where it is placed; it would just swing on one axis without ever changing so long as it swings undisturbed at all. That its motions would seem to be more complicated than one might expect ignores the basic fact that only the rotation of the earth on which it is mounted is what feeds all of its motions of any kind other than to swing on one axis indefinitely.
"Dr." Benitz may have thought he could pull a fast on on us by hastily including "rotating systems" within his comments on Einstein's relativity, as if there were no such thing as an objective standard of "rotation," just as there really is no such thing as an objective standard of "linear motion," but I am not going to let him get away with that one. The objectivity of rotational motion can be readily demonstrated by holding two pails of water (or hand dumbells). Stand still (whether on the ground or inside a vehicle steadily moving down a long straight highway at 70 mph, with the pails (or weights) in your hands, one in each, and let your arms flop where they will. Where are they? Hanging straight down. Now turn around as fast as you can (either way, makes no diffference), still holding the pails or weights, and still letting your arms flop as they will. When everything stabilizes, where are they? Sticking out to the sides! True zero state of rotation is therefore easy to define: true and objective rotation is zero when the centrifugal force is zero.
Still another: The diameter of the earth at the equator is larger than the diameter from Pole to Pole. This oblate, rather than spherical, shape of the earth reflects the centrifugal force on an earth-sized liquid body (most of the earth's internal substance is liquid, magma) rotating at the rate of that number I use in my work.
I could go on and on, but it is interesting to see just how many ways the heliocentric model has continued to match many new findings which those who originally advocated it were thoroughly unaware of in their day (such as the oblate shape of the earth), whereas the geocentric model predicts contrary things unless it is further "tweaked" by adding additional epicycles etc. as the new facts come in. That should be enough, but I am barely getting started:
I accuse the geocentrists (both ancient and modern) of what I call (for lack of a better expression) "Scriptural flippancy." My reference for this expression is C. S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters," in which (in Letter XI, last paragraph) he defines flippancy as being, from the tempter's standpoint anyway, (in discussing all the sources of laughter) "the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people, the Joke is always assumed to have been made; no one actually makes it."
In the pages of the Remnant, since this topic has come up, I have seen at least half a dozen times where some writer has claimed that "Scripture supports the geocentric scenario," or words to that effect, however not one Scriptural verse or passage as ever been cited in support of such an extraordinary claim, nor can one be. (Doubt me? Go back and look!) Everyone just seems to have been taking it as proven that "Scripture supports geocentrism," "Scripture supports geocentrism," "Scripture supports geocentrism," as if one were reciting a mantra, but no one anywhere has ever actually shown it.
The "literalist" six-24-hour-day creationist at least has a passage in the Bible (Genesis 1:1-2:4) which, on a cursory, hasty, and superficial reading anyway, might seem to support their claim (although closer and more careful reading of it shows that interpretation wrong, as St. Augustine pointed out), but the geocentrists (like the flat-earthers) have not a single verse which even seems to support them, not one! Such an attempt as to ascribe such geocentrical nonsense to Sacred Scripture is scholastically dishonest and gravely blasphemous, to say the least. I am horrified to see Pope Paul V stooping to such, literally on par with Paul VI imposing a synthetic new "Mass" and then having the gall to claim that it "restores" some ancient unknown practice.
Thankfully, every detail of the physical science of orbital mechanics, like that of all physical sciences, is by defintion intrinsically outside the scope of "Faith and Morals" where alone infalliblity is claimed, as defined by Vatican I. Therefore it does not matter what that pope said in a moment of silliness and foolishness. Interestingly, it was the Protestants of the day who were by far the most sympathetic to such words of the pope, not any Catholic. Perhaps that was an early example of ecumenism?
And what of what pathetically few "arguments" (non-Scriptural of course) as have been put forth to claim geocentrism? This is like shooting sitting ducks:
1) The incarnation. If the incarnation was supposed to be "evidence" of the earth being the physical center of the universe, then by that standard, Jesus was born in the palace of Jerusalem, in its days of greatest glory, son of a glorious King of Israel even grander than Solomon ever was, and certainly not some miles away in a boondockey non-place in a smelly stable or cave, to a fleeing, poverty-stricken couple who had to sacrifice turtledoves because they were so poor, and who soon had to flee again to Egypt for their lives. Or even worse, if being at the exact physical center is so be-all end-all important, then perhaps Jesus was born in the very center of the earth, amongst all the thousands-of-degrees-hot magma.
Need I state the obvious truth here? Jesus was born in some nowhere nothing place (call it the stable; call it bethlehem; call it the earth) and even that did not stop Him from doing only the things that God can do. It is a mental subterfuge of the lowest kind to claim that divine glory requires something concocted solely to feed our own arrogant pride. The people who actually put forth this argument as if the glory of God depended on the earth being the center of the universe merely wanted to place themselves (who were also on the earth) in the center of the universe.
Heliocentrism is therefore not only the real nature of the solar system, it is a powerful and compelling Divine lesson in humility. The universe does not revolve around the earth, nor around any of us personally. The sooner we truly understand and appreciate our truly humble and unimportant status and circumstance, the deeper we can truly appreciate the love and sacrifice of God that He has nevertheless seen fit to visit us.
2) "The sun stood still." While this claim pretends to base itself on one specific passage of Scripture, the Scripture itself has nothing to say about celestial mechanics, as is obvious from the text and the clear meaning of both what Joshua prayed, and what the chronicler wrote of the events. Joshua is fighting a war, and because he needs more time to win it he pleads that "the sun would stop," and (according to the chronicler) it does. They didn't have modern clocks in his day; the hour was discerned by one's observation of where the sun is in the sky, and if they wanted to be really precise, there were sundials. The prayer for the sun to stop would have been worded, in more contemporary times, as being for the hands of the clock to stop.
Which clock? This one? That one? All of them? Clearly the desire was not that this or that or every timepiece should malfunction, but for there to be more of sheer time itself. God, who created time, saw fit to provide the needed extra time. How did He do this? One most likely scenario would be by accelerating the subjective time of the combatants. It is said that a priest said Mass on behalf of a deceased but saintly friend of his, who appeared to him after the Mass to thank him for saying it and thus delivering him out of Purgatory. The friend went on to mention what a long year it had been in Purgatory until the priest had said this Mass, at which the priest replied to the apparition of his friend, "don't you know? I started that Mass only fifteen minutes after your death." If God can make fifteen minutes in Purgatory take one year for the soul in it, He certainly can make fifteen minutes seem like several hours on the battlefield. Again, atheletes often speak of being "in the zone" which refers to an altered state of mind in which the whole world seems to move far more slowly than usual and of course the athelete significantly outshines the other athletes who are not "in the zone." With an act of His will, God could have quite reasonably just placed all of His combatants "in the zone" so they could win. There is therefore no real claim in the Bible that either the sun or the earth or the moon or any other celestial body did anything unusual that day, only the armies themselves.
Even worse for the geocentric nonsense, if one were to take such an account as some sort of claim of extraordinary celestial movements, then the geocentric picture of things is only all the more bizarre than the heliocentric could ever be. Stopping the earth on its axis would be a powerful act, but stopping an entire rotating universe from rotating would be only all the more extraordinary and ludicrous. Or did only the sun stop while everything else kept on moving? In either case the other planets crashed into the sun, the stars all exploded and the firmament was irreparably broken.
3) Fatima sundance. This was obviouly a localized phenomena, as no one in any other parts of the earth saw any of that happen. Rather, people had to gather at a certain spot to see it. It was caused by unusually turbulant air which caused the sun to seem to move about and "dance" as those at Fatima saw. This theory of atmospheric turbulance is further supported by the presence of the driving rain, so closely followed by such harsh dry winds as to dry everyone off so quickly afterwords. It was still Divine evidence from our Lady as how could anyone have predicted precisely when such a thing would occur, to the day, and where people should gather to see it? But with a telescope at night, one can see the same sort of thing. Use it to look at a star, with the strongest power available, and the star will seem to "dance" about due to the turbulance of the air. This (but on a much larger and more dramatic scale) is what the 10,000 people at Fatima saw in 1917. Again, no cause for claiming extraodinary celestial mechanics or motions.
What, besides stupid arrogant pride of wanting to think ourselves the center of the universe, are the real reasons for geocentrism, and especially in our day? I have seen this before. The world hates us for our traditional Catholic stance. To them we represent everything bad, not only dogmatic rules that would inconvenience their "free and easy living," but everything negative, or which could be construed as negative, with crusades, wars, inquisitions, and why stop there? Why not also accuse us, however obviously falsely and absurdly, of Nazism, Fascism, and for that matter flat-earthism? I guess some of us, being persecuted by the whole world for supposed evils (when we are really being good), sooner or later decide to be "hung for a wolf as a lamb. So they call us Nazis? Let us be Nazis for real. So they call us obscurantistist flat-earthers? Let us be obscurantist flat-earthers! And that is what modern geocentrism really is all about.
One final word about laughter. There is a world of difference between the nervous laughter of one who is reproved by the genuinely holy and saintly example of the saints, and the contemptuous laughter reserved for those who insist on behaving in silly, self-destructive manners. The Catholic mother with ten children (and an eleventh on the way) is a sharp reproof to the worldly woman who has had three abortions, but the fool who goes through life wearing a popsicle around his neck is only a legitimate target of ridicule and disgust. Without a doubt, the geocentrists fall squarly and neatly into the latter category. As a piece of editorial advice, GET RID OF THAT POPSICLE!
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