De Labore Solis 1
De Labore Solis
"The whole history of science
shows that each generation
finds the universe to be
stranger than the preceding
generation ever conceived
it to be."
- Fred Hoyle
"There will be a revival of
Christianity when it becomes
impossible to write a popular
manual of science without
referring to the incarnation
of the Word."
- Owen Barfield(1)
2 De Labore Solis
Published and Copyrighted, 1988
© by the Author,
Walter van der Kamp,
14813 Harris Road, Pitt Meadows,
B.C., Canada, V3Y IZI
Printed by Anchor Book & Printing Centre
6886-192nd St., Surrey, B.C., V35 5M1
Cover Design: Cheri Mattila
NOTE (not part of this book)
Author d.1998. See obituary accompanying this book copy.
Van der Kamp family grants permission to photocopy this book.
De Labore Solis 3
Abstract ….…………………………………………. 5
Historical and Epistemological Synopsis………….. 9
Preface …………………………………………… 9
The Cosmic "Outside" Allows No "Insiders"……. 12
The Armstrong Alert…………………………….. 13
Geocentric? Heliocentric? The
Janus-faced "Aberration" Can't Tell……... 19
The Fancy Foundations in the Beyond………….. 20
Aberration, Continued…………………………… 25
The 1887 Cleveland Disenchantment…………….. 34
The Dire Consequences………………………….. 36
The Verdict of Logic…………………………….. 39
Einstein to the Rescue?………………………….. 43
Non-observables Prove Nothing…………………. 48
The Unfailing Import of Airy's Failure………….. 52
The Heart of the Matter………………………….. 60
Testing Einstein! Why? He Can't be Wrong!…… 67
Some Desiderata Not to be Overlooked…………. 67
The Discarded Image Vindicated Experimentally. 79
Why Impossible?…………………………… …... 91
Bible and Science………………………………….. 114
The Bible is Not a Scientific Textbook ……….. 114
De Labore Solis………………………………… 119
And That's the Reason Why!…………………… 126
The Half Way House of Creationists…………… 127
What If…?……………………………………… 131
Science and the Christian Faith………………… 137
(Page 4 left blank in original book)
De Labore Solis 5
When a scientific theory "saves the appearances" of certain phenomena with which it is concerned, there is no guarantee that such a theory has hit upon their true explanation, a proviso, incidentally, that holds for all philosophical systems and religious dogmas. Certainly the history of science bears out this limitation with its tale of many theories held as gospel truth once upon a time, but sooner or later disposed of by the impact of newly discovered data.
That appraisal certainly stands for astronomy, the queen of the natural sciences. From Antiquity until 1543 Ptolemy "fitted the facts"; then from about the first half of the seventeenth century until 1919 Copernicus ruled supreme, though never experimentally verified, let alone irrefutably proven. From that year on, aided by the relativistic mindset of the age, Einstein has been in the ascendant, and the tenets of modern astrophysical theories have become so tainted with anomalies that they defy the mind which tries to evaluate them.
The present essay focuses on a few aspects of the Special Theory of Relativity that are seldom sufficiently realized. To be sure, if Einstein is right, neither the orbital, nor any other velocity of our Earth can be measured directly. And indeed, no one has ever experimentally demonstrated that the Earth circles the star called Sun. Hence one might well conclude that in fact Einstein is right.
That is, alas, an overhasty inference, resting, as it does, on an unwarranted generalization. Upon close, logical inspection the Special Theory of Relativity turns out to be no more than a lopsidedly supported
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hypothesis. For if in the Sahara no icefields can be found, this observation does not thereby prove that icefields exist nowhere. If here on Earth the velocity of light is the same for all observers, then that fact does not yet thereby confirm that this "apparent paradox", as the Ridpath Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Space calls it, is equally valid for observers on the moon, which is in motion relative to us. At least one control experiment is necessary to make the paradox credible, and two simple tests for just that purpose are readily available. Both have already been performed, the one by Hoek in 1868, the other by the author and his co-workers in 1982. Their outcome in a laboratory at rest on the earth indeed supports Poincaré's "principle of relativity" squarely. This result, however, does not deliver proof, logically. Only after the same experiment has been executed in e.g. a Concorde or Space shuttle, and its results still uphold Poincaré's principle, will Einstein's Relativity have become a viable theory.
Yet even after such a verification it will still suffer from two incurable weaknesses. In the first place its two axioms cannot be observed except through the very phenomenon they are invented to explain, i.e. a non-apprehensible Maxwellian demon manipulates the measured data. What is worse, no one has ever proven the Earth to be in motion, and hence there remains the possibility that this phenomenon of our moving through space, which Einstein considers "already proven", after all does not even exist. Furthermore there are several theories, disregarded but extant, which address themselves to the enigma of Earth's seeming immobility They exhibit the same shortcoming as Einsteints reworking of Mach's principle, but are logically less
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jarring and frustrating. One may, for instance, go back beyond Mach to Leibniz, who appears to be the first one to have argued a "no matter, then no space". And then one may opt for Wilfred Krause's "Eigenspace" monadology, a proposal dialectically at least as acceptable.
In this paper the author goes back even further. Under the aegis of the prevalent astrophysical paradigm, the pre-Copemican geocentric view is after all "as good as anyone else's, but no better", or, as a prominent astronomer privately expressed it, "scientifically undisprovable, but philosophically acceptable".
This paper argues, however, that the long discarded Tychonian theory is in fact better on all counts. It is free of the defects that inhibit all the efforts to replace it, because it is founded on the logically impeccable modus tellendo tollens. In other words, this "unthinkable" cosmic model will be verified or disproven by the same experiments to test special relativity discussed above. "If P, then Q", but "If no Q, then no P". In the event that the speed of light measured from a fast moving platform turns out to be Einstein's earthly absolute "c", he stands vindicated. But if a change of c is observed, equal to the speed of that platform measured relative to the Earth, then he will be discredited. Or geometrically formulated, if that change in c is observed, then the Earth is at rest, and it is the standard of rest for the light in the spatiality around us, whatever that spatiality's properties and extension may be.
The consequences of such an unexpected corollary, which "saves the appearances" in the simplest way possible, are drawn and analyzed. Reasons are given for the fact that in all likelihood testing Einstein from a moving platform will be deemed unnecessary by
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contemporary astronomers, while at the same time Pope Paul II is urged to rehabilitate Galileo. If relativity were wrong, the whole modern Weltanschauung would be in jeopardy. But is it scientifically correct to show logic the door, when it points to a possibility which a priori is judged unacceptable? Is it right to conclude that geocentrism must be wrong because we do not want it?
The eternal silence of the Copernican-Newtonian spaces terrified Pascal. They terrified the writer, until he found out that there is not one unassailable astronomical observation which compels acceptance of the ruling a-centric paradigm rather than any of the others put forward and believed in throughout human history. This paper argues that man sees what he wants to see, and that he cannot avoid a metaphysical basis for his views, be they religious or astronomical.
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Historical and Epistemological Synopsis
Does space know proper place and movement real rest? The answer depends, as with all answers to all theoretical scientific questions, on convictions already pre-logically accepted and stubbornly adhered to. Or to say it otherwise: the answer depends on "facts" we consider to be self-evident, since from our tenderest years we are told and taught them so often that we have lost even the capability to doubt their truth.
The present paper endeavours to come to grips with one of the most important of such "facts". And the first step this enterprise compels us to take is that we have to decide which of the three methods available for approaching the matter of celestial motions we shall use. Do we prefer to think in terms of mechanical and kinematical analogy or in those of mathematical formalism? Or do we want to halt between those two approaches, switching from the first to the second whenever logical reasoning, leaning on the available
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data, obliges us to accept a conclusion that we a priori judge to be unacceptable?
The first method is the classical one. The second cannot be used in a simon-pure form, for it has still to reckon with immutable givens in rock-bound reality. The third possibility is our century's escape route from the morass of anomalies clustered around the notions of definable cosmic movement and rest, a morass in which at the turn of the century the practitioners of three hundred years of astronomical "New Science" found themselves bogged down. Now, such a hybrid approach may not necessarily produce misleading cosmological models, but it surely can and does make room for inconsistent argumentation. Applying mathematics as part of a process of elucidating matter-bound observations is not the same as using these observations for the purpose of justifying matter-free mathematics. Newly discovered phenomena may compel scientists to change their theories, but no thinkable theory is able to change the "raw" phenomena. Furthermore, to accept anything as "proven" is not the same as actually having proved it. "Proof" and "disproof" in the commonly accepted sense of giving absolute truth may even be argued to be chimerical, since only omniscience would not have to reckon with the possibility of unexpected input, always again spoiling our mortal certainties.
The discussion will in this paper be strictly confined to a kinematical inquiry, that is, to the question whether we do or do not have, or can find, a firm and absolutely coordinated hold on the space in which we observe motions relative to ourselves, a space to the modern mind only conceivable as infinite and nowa-days characterized as "unbounded". Only when such is
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unavoidable will theoretical deliberations about attributes, content, and extent of this space be touched upon, since the chosen line of access presupposes adherence to the common-sense spatiality of workaday kinematics, that is, the spatiality - a circumstance often conveniently overlooked! - beyond which theorists can only offer ingenious mathematical derivations that supersede our perceptible and perceived reality. For nolens volens theorists can do no more then analogically explain these derivations and the hypotheses extracted from them by means of "flat space" models, ironbound as they are to the three dimensions and the untouchable, not to be manipulated by time, in which their minds are created and constrained to operate.
Many will claim the method used here to be outmoded for any other than low-level workaday operations. Maybe so, but we should not forget why, now almost a century ago, the flight into a fourth dimension, a so-called "space-time continuum", was urged to be theoretically necessary. In the closing of the eighteen hundreds, experimental evidence and the ruling Newtonian world view had become increasingly difficult to reconcile. The Earth seemed at rest in the stellar domain, and this being "unthinkable"(2) in Newtonian terms, a way had to be found and a device adopted that logically forever would banish such an "impossible" state of affairs. Yet, however "unthinkable" and "impossible", this geocentric abomination is not "impossible" after the manner of a square circle. From our earthly perspective we experience it all the days of our lives. Hence unless and until it logically leads to antinomies, there are no valid reasons to prohibit and condemn the use of "flat-space" kinematics. For
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procedures, theories and hypotheses may rise and fall -the logic employed in their construction is not subject to human whims, while on the other hand Einsteinian demonstrations by means of analogies are never strictly compelling. They may elucidate difficult postulates but do not "prove" them.
The Cosmic "Outside" Allows No "Insiders"
Does the observable universe contain a pivot? Until Copernicus declared the Earth to be in motion there had virtually been no problem on that score. Our home in the Heavens clearly was the standard of rest and consequently all motions relative to it were considered absolute. Though of necessity today still fruitfully used in every applied science, this is a view that no scientist worth his salt considers actually "thinkable". Only among uneducated obscurantists it still finds favour. However, it normally escapes everybody's attention that until Heaven falls there remains an ultimate uncertainty as well for the very many who eschew, as for the very few who hold the old geocentric position, an uncertainty beyond the reach of science. "Whether the earth rotates once a day from West to East, as Copernicus taught, or the heavens revolve once a day from East to West, as his predecessors believed, the observable phenomena will be exactly the same", to quote the late Bertrand Russell, (1872-1970), whereupon he rightly remarks: "This shows a defect in Newtonian dynamics, since an empirical science ought not to contain a metaphysical assumption, which can never be proved or disproved by observation".(3) And I add: hence a defect in all kinematics as well as in even the purest mathematical
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approximations, since we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of an extra-cosmical reality, nor to the least degree be certain how things will look or interact, seen from such an "above". There may be "rumours of transcendence in physics", but the most that can be said about the majority of these rumours is that "they raise important questions about the nature of reality, but are helpless to provide answers".(4)
Be this as it may, and as I deem it is: unavoidably when tackling the enigmas of motion and rest, "every object we perceive is set off by us instinctively against a background which is taken to be at rest", to cite the late Michael Polanyi (1891-1976).(5) Regrettably however, as C.S. Lewis remarks: "Instinct is a name for we know not what",(6) and scientific ukases issued from such a shaky point of view are therefore, it seems to me, highly suspect. Yet such ukases are the stock-in-trade of the ruling astronomical paradigm. And easily, but also again and again inconsistently employed, they fudge Russell's inadmissible metaphysical factor in virtually all cosmological deliberations and Gedankenexperiments about motion and rest.
The Armstrong Alert
"There are few words which are misused in physics as much as 'observer'. Sometimes it seems to mean 'receiver', sometimes 'bystander'”.(7) This trenchant remark by the late Harold L. Armstrong (1921-1985), which I for myself have dubbed the Armstrong Alert, we cannot take to heart enough when dealing with relative versus absolute cosmic motions. To neglect it - I speak from sad experience! -- is to court defeat in debates
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and disaster in deductions. (Even when outlining this essay, however much aware of the danger, I caught myself napping). A bystander is by definition not involved with, or a partaker in, the act or process he is looking at. And the point the Alert impresses on us is that relative to the Universe as a whole we can only be "inside" observers, not bystanders surveying that Universe in its entirety and determining its manner of motion - if any - from a platform at rest against a background at rest. Yet the fact is that we ever and again unthinkingly slip into an attitude of mind that forgets this cerebral trespass. Even worse: in our ratiocinations we may jump from "inside" to "outside" and back again without realizing the fallacy of not taking this jump into account. It will sometimes, and in the present paper unavoidably, become necessary to talk "as if" we were bystanders, but only for a Bystander, Who ever was, is, and will be, is the Universe truly an "object" transcended by Him.
Two striking examples, culled from among the many that are readily available, will illustrate this ever present fallacy. When Martin Gardner, enthralled by Einstein's theories, attempts to demolish the late Herbert Dingle's arguments against the validity of the notorious Twin Paradox, he is forced to admit that Dingle has a point. Whether the spaceship with John aboard is supposed to move rapidly away from the Earth, or the spaceship is taken to be the fixed frame of reference and stay-at-home James is condemned to blast off into the wild blue yonder - it makes, there being no absolute motion, mathematically no difference. Yet, Gardner pontificates, Dingle is wrong when he therefore does not accept the paradox. "Why wouldn't the same
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calculations, with the same equations, show that earthtime slowed down the same way? They would indeed if it were not for one gigantic fact: when the earth moves away, the entire universe moves with it" (Gardner's italics).(8)
Restricting the argument to the motions involved, we can only say something sensible about those when we judge them against a background taken to be at rest. "Inside" the box of the Universe modern science acknowledges no absolute motion to be observable. It is hence six of one or half a dozen of the other whether John leaves James or James leaves John behind - a background against which to judge the matter is immanently not in sight, and Dingle's conclusion can therefore kinematically not be faulted. However, our relativity apostle Gardner now plays a "jack-in-the-box" game, and by doing that snatches, he thinks, victory out of the jaws of defeat. Apropos of nothing he propels himself in his imagination out of our cosmical box to a place absolutely at rest against a background at rest "outside" our Universe, from which transcendent platform, he assures us, we shall see his "gigantic" fact. Or if we prefer to state it otherwise: from a foothold "inside" the Universe, but independent of it, taken to be at rest as observed from that extra-cosmical platform, he can show us the difference between the immanently relative motions of spaceship and Earth.
What Gardner does not realize is that by using the notion of a moving Universe he is de facto, as Russell would say, fudging a metaphysical argument into the discussion. And neither good, nor bad, nor bogus science should be allowed to get away with such statements about observations that can only be made from the
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inaccessible regions beyond the starry dome - they are, alas, not in the province of physical science!
Earlier in the same context Gardner still reasons soberly -- scientifically. "Do the heavens revolve or does the earth rotate? The question is meaningless. A waitress might just as sensibly ask a customer if he wanted ice cream on top of his pie or the pie placed under his ice cream."(9) But does this tally with the position he takes in the Twin Paradox controversy? If it makes a gigantic difference whether either the Earth is moving or the spaceship, is it then meaningless to ask whether from the unattainable viewpoint Gardner adopts contra Dingle there is no difference between an Earth at rest and an Earth rotating in at least a kinematic sense? Is it not inconsistent and unscientific to introduce an imaginary extramundane observer when one is logically pinned down, but to shy away from that tactic when one deems it expedient to forego a "meaningless" metaphysical view?
"Is the universe rotating?" P.Birch has asked.(10) "Yes, of course", a Christian simpleton will answer, every day we see the stars revolve around us." Yet too hastily, I think, all and sundry will laugh this fellow out of court. For the term "rotation", if it is to mean anything, presupposes an axis at rest against a background at rest. But such a hold, 20th century science acclaims, we do not have. Clearly the only sense in which Birch's question makes sense is that he is asking whether, from a rockbottom position outside" the Universe, or from a viewpoint extracosmologically guaranteed to be at rest "inside" it, there exists an axis around which the starry dome, carrying all celestial bodies, is seen to be rotating. This means that he
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is leaning on the broken reed of a metaphysical presupposition, which hence entails that, e.g. the "New Scientist", if it wants to judge justly, should vilify him as it vilified Hoyle for the invocation of supernaturalism in the latter's "The Intelligent Universe". For Birch, by asking the above question, which is only extranaturally answerable, has, like Sir Fred, "betrayed the very standard which the scientific community has been built".(11)
Compared with Birch's unreachable and therefore non-scientific point of view, that of the geocentric simpleton is ergo on two counts slightly better founded. The latter, first of all, has the witness of everyman's straightforward observation on his side, and secondly, he openly states that he accepts the metaphysical message of the Bible, which message, when read without preconceived notions, takes the central position of the Earth to be simply self-evident. For, it reminds us, the Creator had in the Heavens already hung that Earth upon nothing three days before Sun and Moon, and the stars also, were called into being. We may reject said message as quasi-transcendent information, but it at least claims the support of a long and venerable preCopernican tradition in natural philosophy, whereas Birch, apparently not realizing what he is doing, sins against the central tenet of post-Copernican, this-worldly "new science", which tenet does not allow a meta, a "behind", in the realm of physics.
I therefore hold and repeat that we shall do well to have a careful look at the cavalier manner in which theorists manipulate rest and motion in their treatment of the problems these concepts set them. What in one context, they assert really moves, is in another context
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said to be at rest, and vice versa. Worse, and I obstinately want to drive the charge home: in their deliberations they instinctively deem themselves the equal of Aristotle's Unmoved Mover and have virtually succeeded in prompting all of us to join them in committing that folly. They look at the totality of being in the manner we as children have been brainwashed to look at drawings of the Solar System. Not to mention, later on, at the rotating discus of a Milky Way of stars adrift among the countless galaxies contained in an astounding variety of models of the Universe! But that Universe is not an object which we can observe against a background at rest, and those models we cannot identify with the real. Finding ourselves in a room of a large building we may draw blueprints of that building to our hearts' content; however only after stepping outside shall we be able either to verify or to reject our fancy figurations. Nobody can turn around and look objectively at the Universe he shall have left behind. The vacuity of the transcendent foundational fiction that such extra-cosmical kinemetical judgments are possible disqualifies, soberly beheld, any confident assertion about any body orbiting another one. As far as this is concerned there is but one seemingly unblemished astronomical and soberly-scientific approach: that of the anti-absolutist Ernst Mach (1838-1916), for whom only relative motions existed.
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The Janus-Faced Aberration Can't Tell
The present paper is intended to reconsider the reason why George Biddell Airy (1802-1892) is presumed to have failed to resolve the quandary whether astronomical aberration shows a starry dome very slowly orbiting the Sun, and with this Sun orbiting the Earth, or whether contrariwise we orbit a Sun, which for that purpose is taken to be at rest in said dome. It will only deal with the kinematical aspects of the affair and will discuss the subject matter from a modest pedestrian position. That is from the celestial body on which mankind finds itself, taking nothing a priori for granted about that body's status in the cosmos observable around it. And in doing that it will be earning - until further notice! - the "New Scientist's" accolade for not betraying the very standards on which the scientific community has been built.
To begin with: non-astronomically informed people still cherish the tough untruth that Galileo, risking martyrdom for the sake of the true truth, irrefutably proved that the Earth "goes around the Sun". Those who are to some degree familiar with the history of astronomy know better: the man had no unequivocal evidence at all for his heliocentric model. Granted: at first sight and overlooking the square and higher powers of the eccentricities of the planetary orbits, it seems simpler than the Ptolemaic one, and Occam's razor hence advocates the acceptance of the hypothesis. Yet, simplicity is decidedly not the hallmark of the Great Chain of Created Being. Galileo's observations showed him that it was possible and attractive to look at the
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heavens heliocentrically, not that such was on any account necessary. And today this is still, or better, again the situation. "We can't feel our motion through space; nor has any experiment ever proved that the earth actually is in motion", says the author of a book that Einstein declared to be "a valuable contribution to popular scientific writing".(12) Furthermore: everyone who has investigated the matter and its ramifications knows that from the lifetime of James Bradley (1692-1762) until our days, (with their rising number of anti-relativists!) scores of experts have applied themselves to the task of either demonstrating the Earth's motions, or conversely, to devising theories that acceptably try to explain why these motions cannot be demonstrated. The latter surely being quite an undertaking, because it first of all requires incontestable evidence that Mother Gea is not only relatively, but really in motion, and subsequently a proof that proving that motion is impossible. For after all: to declare an Earth at rest to be unacceptable is not the same as authenticating it to be on the move!
The Fancy Foundations in the Beyond
I do not want to leave anyone in the dark about my own position. Allow me to present it whilst from a different perspective exposing the ontological fallacy already laid bare in the foregoing. On close inspection Russell's defect in empirical astronomy, mentioned in the beginning of this essay, is even more glaringly overlooked in post-Copernican hypotheses than consciously realized in its pre-Copernican theoretical superstructure. However, from Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)
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until Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) the Earth's central position was in our western civilization openly or tacitly acknowledged as in the last resort metaphysically founded. Mother Gea's absolute rest in the middle of the material Universe was affirmed by natural philosophy, either as self-evident in relation to the Empyrean or else as clearly assumed by the Bible, the trustworthy Message from the Great Beyond of highest Heaven.
Galileo's and Bacon's "New Science", still proclaimed from the rooftops, began - and at last now practically has completed - the wearying process of brushing away the lingering cobwebs of such superstitions. The modern view, as Laplace already assured Napoleon, does not need the hypothesis of an unprovable Creative Intelligence. Yet, unprovable is, logically appraised, not the same as disprovable, or disproven, and to overlook that is an act of unforgivably shallow self-deceit. Laplace, the "New Scientist", and their manifold epigones are "looking at" the Universe in the manner in which they here below, comfortably seated in their studies, can look at man-made celestial globes. Yet about the station and formation of those they are, by the very nature of the case, competent to make only worthless, petty pronouncements. In their prideful imagination they ascend to supermundane platforms, which they instinctively "know" to be at rest as surely as they themselves are at rest relative to their desks. However, these extra-cosmical viewpoints they can neither actually point out to us, nor in any way prove to exist. We just have to believe them when they assure us that observed from those chimerical lookouts the Earth is no more than a speck of dust among countless others, all and everyone resulting from a Big Bang set off by
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nobody in nothingness. In other words: they expect us to hail them as newly evolved gods, now effectively replacing, they have convinced themselves, that imaginary Ancient of Days in Whom their ancestors put their trust with regard to our position in His creation, before Galileo enlightened them.
However, comparing the credentials of these latter-day self-made gods of flesh with those of an Eternal Creator, Who after all may have revealed Himself and might on a coming Dies Irae do this again? We shall, as Pascal's wager puts it, lose nothing if we reject the pontificating puny idols with whom modern science has cornered the sublunar astronomical marketplace. Dust to dust, ash to ashes! On the other hand - not so small a chance, I reflect, when studying the all sciences and engineering encompassing wisdom displayed in the precisely adaptive structures of the Solar System and every living thing... on the other hand: what if there is an Omnipotent Being above all temporal being? A God of great promises, Whose Suffering Son has told us about those promises and the coming Kingdom? A God - to formulate it in a way a benevolent outsider would allow - Who during the present age of our world for His own omniscient good reasons seems to confine Himself to only showing His handiwork upheld and trustworthily regulated by His laws for the Universe that He has created? A God, Who is working out a plan here below, and Who for its completion in a, for that purpose, amoral setting wants us to show our mettle in choosing between good and evil, radiating faith, hope, and love even in adversities and sorrows, instead of only looking after Number One? A God, Who created all the lights, great and small, in the
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firrnament, to divide the day from the night and to be for signs and seasons in behalf of mankind, to which He has allotted an Earth that cannot be moved, whatever those ephemeral tin-pot deities like a Gould, a Sagan, a Jastrow, "reveal" to the contrary? And maintain Anno Domini 1988 with a weird assortment of ad hocs, which logically evaluated are not truly testable and hence worthless?
I find the choice not difficult to make between a "sure" - we are assured! - nothing and a not impossible something. It is easier for me - and that not only for promptings of self-interest - to believe in a world sub specie aeternitatis than in the monstrous, meaningless space-time Universe depicted and preached by the self-levitated and self-supernaturalized mortal protagonists of modern astrophysics. And those who on this certainly momentous issue label my words as wishful thinking I answer with a tu quoque: scientism's demi-gods of man's devising are nowadays in the same boat with regards to the incontestable truth of their prophetic utterances. For the modern philosophers of science have at long last again become aware of a certainty that wise men have always known: theories "saving the appearances" are at best no more than logical possibilities without any trustworthy claim on the truth. As one of them, Lewis Thomas, has succinctly expressed it: "Science is founded on uncertainty... We are always, as it turns out, fundamentally wrong".(13) Because of wishfully hoping to escape from a teleological Universe, I add!
I crave the reader's indulgence for this seemingly ill-fitting digression. However, I do not apologize for it. In fact it fits and was necessary. Astronomy is the oldest
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of the sciences, and revolutions in its realm precipitate upheavals in all human thinking. For the first most simple pre-scientific question we can ask is at the same time the last most profound ontological one that we can ask about all things visible. Is what we see and feel the true state of affairs or a deplorable illusion? Do the Heavens revolve or does the Earth rotate? Scientism, its prophets thinking everything except themselves away(14) and believing they can sit in the Temple of God showing themselves to be God, proclaims the second alternative. I proclaim the first. The difference - allow me to repeat it - between us with regards to the matter here at hand is that those prophets are not aware of their self-made metaphysical starting point, or else prefer not to mention it when they are hammering home their monistic meaninglessness of all that is. On the contrary I freely and openly profess Holy Writ to be my lodestar when I defend here a geocentric, astronomically pre-scientific, view.
To conclude: the choice between the Universe as seen by men arrogating to themselves a metaphysical position and as seen by Him, Who claims to be its Creator, I find not difficult to make. Ever-changing human confabulations consistently dismissing former views as short-sighted after new discoveries - how can anybody trust those chancy guesses as scientific truth? Especially since those guesses subtly but steadily have been used to erode mankind's inborn conviction of a mysterious meaning behind, beyond, and above our mortal life? That erosion has now reduced us to blobs of plasmatic matter, somehow having become sentient during the senseless aftermath of a Big Bang. Copernicus may not have foreseen the consequences of his
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theoretical dethronement of the Earth. But where is the historian who denies that the acceptance of Galileo's folly, its foundation laid by the Italian Renaissance preceding it, has not totally changed the world-view of countless millions? And who does not realize that hence its demise might well cause many humans to re-assess their humanity as a precious gift with a glorious future in an age to come?