The Bible Is Not a Scientific Textbook
Wearily to ward off a hackneyed, and at least with respect to me misdirected, accusation that I am using hoary myths as scientific veracities, I yet must elaborate this point somewhat more to make it clear that I do not. Sure, I have referred to Holy Writ time and time again as an ontological not to be undervalued metaphysical given in deliberations about the ultimate ground of being. A given that hence by modest instrumentalist science should be considered as information from a possible transcendental Bystander. However, only as such it has been introduced whenever I judged this necessary, but not as affirming anything more than the by its Maker proclaimed Earth-centeredness of His handiwork. A plain historical fact to be accepted in faith and "inside" the totality of perceptible being amply confirmed.
The Good Book appeals to mankind as a whole through all historical time, and in no way expressly endorses the scientific establishments' theories of one or another quarter century. The most erudite up-to-date professors of astrophysics and the last, not with their
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ephemeral dicta embued Papuans - the Divine Word addresses them on equal terms. Every morning, when waking up and looking around, all men find themselves situated upon a solid, flat Earth around which the Heavens revolve. Whether or not they accept that this Earth is the kingpin of the Universe - standing on it they do neither feel it turning nor observe its curvature. They see the Sun rising and setting. Even the doughtiest defender of the modern a-centric view ever expresses it otherwise, unless he is asked to catechize the uninstructed on celestial kinematics. The fact that this-worldly oriented education urges us to discard such felicitous simplicity does not in any way change our first-hand collective representations. And it is to these representations that Scripture adapts itself. It speaks, so to say, in a phenomenal mood, leaving with regard to astronomy, as well as with regard to biology, geology, and all other branches of scientific investigation, any theoretical underpinning severely alone. To quote, as already said, with Luther Joshua's "Sun, stand thou still" I consider therefore using the passage beyond its intended import. Genesis One and Two, and in the nature of things - no humans being there yet - unverifiable report by the God of Truth, I do not dare to doubt or theoretically to twist around. However, apart from that I shy away from any other "geocentric" text - well aware that on this point I part company with virtually all fundamentalists and orthodox Catholics. The Bible, as I see it, first and foremost presents us with a religious and ethical message, expressed on the level of the highest common factor of human comprehension. From the pristine awakening of consciousness in the Garden of Eden to our age in which science purports to be capable
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of superseding Divine revelation. Therefore I waive, apart from calling upon it in the context of the Armstrong Alert, any use of its supra-scientific message as evidence in my down-to-earth astronomical ratiocinations. Which message sublunar wisdom in any case refuses to accept, either wrongly as of no value for solving the fathomless riddle of life's destiny, or with some justification as not applicable to investigative science. Logically even my main Genesis 1:1-19 argument can, of course, easily be turned against me - as this is done, above all, by my theistic and progressive evolutionist brethren in the faith. "Precisely", it is retorted, "because these not yet in exact science engaged Adamites could in no way be expected to grasp Kepler's laws, Newton's gravitation, and Einstein's mathematical generalizations, the Bible tells a non-factual, attractive tale. But now we have been allowed to know better, and should therefore be leery of ascribing to the opening verses of Genesis any strict descriptive value."
I do not buy this specious argument. For behind it lurks, I hold, a conceit we should abhor. Even today less than one in a thousand humans has any clear understanding of the laws regulating the cosmic clockwork. Yet all of them, and the theologians of the International Council for Biblical Inerrancy to a man, believe just as firmly that the Earth goes around the Sun as their pre-Galilean ancestors were convinced of the opposite. If God had told - but He did not - the first men made in His image and after His likeness that He had used the creational procedure at the moment proclaimed to have been used, those men would have accepted this just as well as the world does this today... without bothering much about the brain-teasing intricacies of
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motions and forces. More important: the reasoning of these self-styled orthodox Christians, which I am attacking here, debases clear, intelligible divine words and exalts the A.D. 1988 believed-in human derivations from deaf and dumb phenomena. Derivations that in the ages past time after time were found just as fictitious as the present ones tomorrow or next year will turn out to be. I refuse to join such halting between two opinions, of which the one is founded on the certainty that the God of Truth speaks truth from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, and the other rests on the quicksand of ever-incomplete and never-final human theorizing.
However, to leave this rueful aside: rather give me the manful "either-or" of people who at bottom at least show true respect for the revelation they have decided to reject than the waffling of in-betweeners who run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Those who have done with all unobservable super-natural fancies will rightly remark that any report asserting to give us the story how the starry Heavens and the living Earth emerged into being can only be adjudicated in two ways. Either the Biblical one is factual Revelation given by an all-wise, all-knowing, Almighty Creator, and then he who tampers with it by means of human conjectures and refutations is a fool of fools, or else the Hexaemeron is the brainchild of self-styled visionaries, deserving to be complimented on it. For so much must be admitted: it gives "a portrayal of the creational events of a powerful and fundamental magnitude..., which by its level of thought and conceptual frame stands in the sharpest contrast with all other creation stories."(94) And 20th century science, pursued by men come of age, has made the choice to which Copernicanism in the long run could
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not but drive it: the Great Designer of Genesis is a daydreamer’s fiction.
I concede: there is no way around the impediment. If I would try to win my case by means of the many Bible texts that take in their message the attendant phenomena "as is", or would present poetical utterances as scientific endorsements, then I would go beyond my warrant in investigative astronomical discourse. As did, e.g. St. Boniface, who in 748 A.D. complained to Pope Zacharias that Abbot Virgilius of Salzburg believed in the existence of antipodes.95) Should I, with him, read Scripture as a vademecum then I must admit that he and the few still remaining "flat earth" theorists have a point. Even Mother Gea's sphericity I cannot convincingly deduce from the inspired text. We should, however not debase the Bible to an encyclopedia of all this-worldly knowledge. I may as well try to extract ethics from Euclid's Elements.
To get a hearing from the side of secular science I have to come with observable factual phenomena. And, alas, the same counts for the most solid creationist believers in an infallible Bible. They have been from earliest childhood so through and through Copernically brainwashed that it is virtually impossible to make them see that their childlike acceptance of Genesis 1:11-13 and 20-31 is without rhyme or reason when compared with their understanding of Genesis 1:1-19. Which "understanding" is not child-like at all, but flies in the face of what a first and faithful simple reading impresses on a mind not already "knowing" better!
In short: the tenor of Holy Writ is, all its phenomenalism granted, basically geostatic, I maintain. Agreed: to say this can - and will! - by judged as an
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example of credulous and infantile gullibility. Just let secularists and theologians present me with rock-hard evidence that such is the case. Then I shall offer my peccavi - but not earlier! And going two miles with them instead of one: a simple manner to obtain such evidence I have already suggested.
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Tradition has it that, when he was visiting Pope Innocent II in 1139 A.D., St. Malachy O'Morgair, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, gave this Pontiff a list of short and enigmatic Latin phrases prophetically alluding to the Servants of servants still to come after him until the end of our age. About the value of these auguries per se I withhold comment. Yet in the context of a history of astronomical science at least two of these mottoes appear to me singularly apt.
On April 4, 1615, during "what has been described as the first process against Galileo"(96) the only wise man in the trial, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), wrote a letter to the Carmelite monk Foscarini, who had published a book in defense of Copernicus. This well-known letter has generally "been interpreted as an assertion of the cognitive limits of scientific theories",(98) in this case specifically with regard to the validity of the heliocentric hypothesis. It is enlightening to read how the Study Group constituted by John Paul II, eager to see Galileo rehabilitated, plays down the force of Bellarmine's letter. "Historiography has commonly accepted Duhem's (1908) interpretation of the topics of the letter, although not necessarily his positive evaluation of them."(99) Why not? - no arguments are
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given! "To demonstrate that the appearances are saved by assuming the sun at the centre and the earth in the heavens is not the same thing as to demonstrate that in fact the sun is in the centre and the earth in the heavens", thus the Cardinal, "I believe that the first demonstration may exist, but I have very grave doubts about the second, and in case of doubt one may not abandon the Holy Scriptures as expounded by the holy Fathers. "(100) If there were a real proof, then, yes then..., but in 1615 there was none. And today, I repeat, there still is not any.
In taking this "Wait and see" standpoint with regard to final conclusions about all celestial matters terrestrially observable, the Cardinal echoed the so-called "instrumental" insights of, to name a few authorities, the heathen Claudius Ptolemy (c.100-170) in his Almagest, the Jew Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), the Catholic Thomas Aquinas (1224-1275), and the Lutheran Andreas Osiander (1498-1552), as the latter expressed it in his anonymous foreword to Copernicus, De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium. Tersely to formulate the opinion of these four distinctly heterogenous luminaries: a theory may be useful, but is therefore not yet truthful. There are only two methods that will enable us to overcome this limitation of all scientific endeavours groping for true facts behind the bare facts. Either an infinity of affirmative test results without any outcome queering the pitch, or otherwise the endorsing input of One Knowing Everything will offer us certainty. Sadly enough, the former way of doing cannot be walked to its end in potentially endless time, and the second option requires acceptance "in faith". For foolish is a pupil knowing less than his teacher who questions that teacher's dicta. A man may consider himself the
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measure of all physical things about which he knows something, but a meta-metaphysical judgement seat from where he will be authorized to affirm or disqualify a message presenting itself as metaphysical... that seat is must definitely not within his reach.
It is not only befuddled Biblicists, who profess such a humble outlook. Bellarmine, siding with savants of old, was also ahead of his time and now earns posthumous approvals. For after three centuries of an arrogant "scientific method" being the vogue, things have come full circle. Today "very few philosophers or scientists still think that scientific knowledge is, or can be, proven knowledge",(101) a statement that, I hold and have shown, needs no super-human intelligence for its affirmation. As John Paul II on May 9, 1983 warned an illustrious audience, including 33 Nobelists:epistemolo-gical frontiers impose indispensable rules and delimitations on our questing towards that which is universal and absolute.(102) No explanation, no theoretical approach has ever been without more or less plausible rivals. Hence for a final choice between them, hardheaded logic contends, the adjudicators will have to be conversant with all possible choices - which they are not. Myopic therefore is he who does not wisely always keep a back door open for an as yet unknown solution until he shall have found the philosopher's stone. I certainly do this with respect to the nuts and bolts of the astronomical model I prefer!
Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur - the world wants to be deceived, therefore be it deceived! Every attentive student of the Galileo affair knows that the man had not a shred of positive evidence. His telescopic observations made short work of Aristotle's ideas about
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the structure of celestial bodies, but nothing more, for "mountains on the moon prove it is not a perfectly crystalline sphere, but they do not prove that the Earth moves".( 103)
Be this as it may: the Chief Mathematician and Philosopher of Cosmo II de Medici had his mind made up, and therefore the sagacious words of Bellarmine fell on deaf ears. So equally did the latter's 1616 Declaration to Galileo Galilei , ostensibly on second thoughts toned down to bare minimum by denying any abjuration on Galileo's part, but by implication warning him to keep science as science and Revelation as Revelation.(104)
Unhappily, such a wise disengagement between these two incompatible kinds of information was not kept in sight. Pro and contra a geostatic view, as is the way of the world, the attitudes hardened. Eighteen years later, twelve years after the Cardinal's death, and his astute approach fallen into oblivion, the outcome of the 1533 Galileo trial put the Church of Rome in a corner she should have shunned at all costs. Pitting Revelation against human theorizing, the Inquisitors demeaned the former and unduly exalted the latter. If they had expressly allowed Galileo and his followers the use of the heliocentric theory as a working hypothesis but no more, then the Church's position would, from 1533 until today and for all time still to come, have been and be logically untouchable. Not only that: by unremittingly refusing to budge unless faced with indisputable evidence, mankind might have remained aware that Copernicus' model is only one out of many - as during the first half of the 17th century still was acknowledged.(105)
However, cutting down Galileo's claim to its right
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and real proposition of "hypothetically - not absolutely", and consequently thereafter dismissing the case as irrelevant with regard to the accepted understanding of the Biblical view on the Earth's position?... Diehard Aristotelians managed to keep that procedure, advocated in Bellarmine's Foscarini letter, out of the inquisitors' deliberations. And Rome soon afterwards had cause to regret the short-sighted language of the Holy Tribunal. Among other missed opportunities it robbed the Vatican of the chance to confront one of its arch-enemies, Newton, with a sound epistemological lesson, which today would be acclaimed to have been ad rem and might have caused the great Isaac's epigones not to be overly cocksure. For a heliocentric-style orrery is a nice piece of machinery to play with, but when it comes to explaining the fine points of calculation and prediction we have to stop the little brass ball representing our Earth and let, after the manner of Tycho Brahe, the Sun and its attendant planets whirr around Mother Gea. "So what, why not?" Bishop Berkeley (1685-1753) would have commented, chiding as he did Newton's appeal to water in a rotating bucket - a criticism now shared by all and sundry who believe in an Einsteinian Universe.(106) But in doing this they overlook the plain truth that a man finding himself within a system he cannot escape from will, if he is wise, abstain from confident pronounce-ments about the status of that system as a whole. Never neglect Russell's Caveat and the Armstrong Alert : theory concocted by observers "inside" and truth as seen by an "outside" bystander are two that the Holy Office should have maintained. And thereafter the Church could have let Galileo and his credulous disciples happily alone with their guesses and proofs-no proofs!
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Today the clamour for that Mathematics Professor of Padua University's rehabilitation demonstrates to all who want to see, and do not practice ostrich policy, the philosophical mainspring activating the be-all and end-all of its advocates. Their ultimate aim was already underground at work long before and during the course of the Italian Renaissance. Still in disguise it began to come to the fore in the 16th and 17th centuries by goading the scientific progress in a direction favouring a monistic materialist religion. From about 1750 on that final purpose has become more and more blatantly proclaimed. However, even in our time the sinister force that prompted a hailing and hallowing of the "Copernican Revolution" has not yet fully reached the end it desperately has had in view - but will never reach! - since Adam's from eternity pre-ordained fall at the world's beginning. There are still Churches and Christians to be ridiculed and pilloried for proclaiming a God, Who is a Creator and in His Risen Son, Jesus Christ, a Loving Father, Who wills that, as St. Paul reminded Timothy, all men should be saved.
Observe what the wisdom of our age wants the Bishop of Rome, John Paul II, to do: he must be compelled to admit and declare that those among his flock are fools who prefer the Bible's information about the whence of the world above all scientific confabulations presently believed in. For by implication they may in the light of science then come to see how ludicrous an orthodox faith is that treasures Holy Writ as heavenly Wisdom, and not discards it as a sop for simpletons.*
The Tychonian theory the foremost astrophysicists now declare to be - I have already quoted Hoyle on this
See Addendum II
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score - "as good as anyone else's - but no better." Yet John Paul II is urged to proclaim Galileo to have been condemned unjustly for teaching the not to be doubted truth of a today no longer avowed heliocentric view. Why this double-tongued insistence? A moment of reflection on the doings and dicta of astronomers from Copernicus to Sagan will make this clear: the secular Weltanschauung, its abettors correctly sense, stands or falls in the long run with the status of Mother Earth in the Heavens around her. Believe that Copernicus had the last word about the issue, then you are logically bound to end up with a Universe in which we somewhere live on a trifling speck of dust. Believe that Tycho Brahe had his options right, then we find ourselves in a uniquely preferred place. Small wonder that Malachy laments the genesis of "A Perverse Race" as characterizing the fifth Pope Paul's (1605-1621) reign!
There is more. The rudimentary technology of the 16th century could not yet provide Tycho Brahe with instruments capable of measuring aberration or parallaxes. That great Dane should therefore not be blamed for concluding the Earth to be central in the roundelay of the stars. In this particular, as I have tried to show, his model has to be corrected. In reality the Sun is leading the motion of the stars fastened far away on the heavenly vault. From the geocentric point of view it is the Great Light, called into being on the fourth day of the Hexaemeron, that, ceaselessly toiling, carries the Universe's dome around us. Lo and behold, and wonder: "De Labore Solis" (the Labour of the Sun) will be such an important astronomical concern during the episcopate of Pope John Paul 11(1979-...) that Malachy selects it to mark that epoch!
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And That's the Reason Why!
As the late Arthur Koestler, certainly not a Bible-thumper, saw it, "the cosmic quest set in motion by Galileo and his successors has destroyed the medieval vision of an immutable social order in a walled-in universe together with its fixed hierarchy of moral values, and transformed the European landscape, society, culture, habits and general outlook, as thoroughly as if a new species had arisen on this planet.”(107) So it is, and I still have to find one historian of whatever religious or philosophical stripe who in essence disowns this appraisal or denies that the impact of the Copernican revolution has been far-reaching in its corollaries. Even more to the point in summarizing the final results of the "New Science" is Theo Löbsack, a German popularizer of the progress mankind has been able to make after discarding the Ptolemaic outlook of Antiquity and Middle Ages. "Galileo's way of thinking laid 350 years ago the foundation for the modern science and technology, and into what crisis he since has brought theological thinking is difficult to describe. Until today the Church fights for an inventory of religious truths that are no longer compatible with the insights gained by means of the inductive method: among them the dogmas and the notion of a Supreme Being, an Almighty Father in Heaven.”(108)
In a 1987 trumpet blast by means of a circular letter, calling upon all friends of science to join his anticreationist crusade, Isaac Asimov is also refreshingly candid. The battle, he warns, is not only against antievolutionism in physics and astronomy. It also concerns the fight against benighted dimwits "introducing
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inflexible concepts of sin, guilt, and a hierarchical relationship descending from God to man to woman to child."(109) Indeed it does, and I am grateful to read in black on white the motive lurking behind the vituperation and name-calling to which Asimov, et al. subject "the rotting corpse of Christianity.”(110)
The Half-Way House of the Creationists
Unreservedly siding with the brethren by those secularists attacked, I must, however, confess that I consider the strength of the creationist position seriously flawed. The Bible is primarily concerned about things not seen, less about the temporal things observable in the present age. If you will: the Scriptures tell us how to go to Heaven, not how the Heaven goes. The Good Book takes for granted an Earth at rest with respect to God's throne in that Heaven, and the celestial host therefore revolving around us. Details about the mechanics employed in this great design we have not been given. How its parameters are struck and the variables within it are circumscribed Genesis does not tell us. Hoyle, surveying the unending search for the "how” and "why" of the heavenly courses from the Babylonians to the twentieth century's relativists, rightly remarks "that each generation finds the universe to be stranger than the preceding generation ever conceived it to be."(1) For "veil after veil will lift - but there must be veil upon veil behind".(111) Lifting those veils - that interesting task God has granted to the sons of men to be exercised therewith, Ecclesiastes informs us. God's Message, after giving us the great outline, leaves further investigation to us.
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"What should we believe, and how then should we live?" Answers given by wisdom to such questions Holy Writ offers. For evidences in the natural sciences, I agree with John Calvin, we have to turn to textbooks dealing with those matters. And when, as is the case, modern astronomy keeps our Earth still dethroned, we may confidently declare it to be wrong, but shall have to show this by means of experiments. For scientism, though knowing the heliocentric dogma to be actually overtaken by new insights, still preaches that dogma to the uninformed as a "fact", to be accepted as gospel truth - and this, all logically valid evidences to the contrary. But when we, who frankly trust Our Maker's lucid information "in faith", with all those evidences on our side, hold on to a Universe called into being for the sake of us here on Earth... well, then practically even the staunchest believers in an inerrant Bible shake their heads. And when asked to show me the errors of my way, about nine out of ten do not even deign me worthy of an answer. Whilst the tenth refers me to Galileo. He has, hasn't he...?
Endlessly during eighteen years I have had to repeat the truth. No, he has not "proven" the Earth to be just one of the planets circling the Sun. It is a piously adored untruth foremost among the many in the history of western mankind's beliefs and disbeliefs. That Big Lie even they unreservedly still honour, who are skeptical about the truth-content of Darwinian theory old-style and all its out of embarrassments born modern reformulations. Many of those skeptics are clearly, or at least dimly, aware of the disastrous results to which "survival of the fittest", and that slogan's concomitant philosophical theses, have led. However, for one minute
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to doubt Copernican truth, after 1916 by the general theory of relativity effectively demoted to a simple illustration for the unlearned and no more - the possibility of doing that has not yet even dawned on them.
To quote a well-informed doubter, the molecular biologist Michael Denton, about the question of evolution: "The acceptance of the idea one hundred years ago initiated an intellectual revolution more significant and far reaching than even the Copernican and Newtonian revolutions in the 16th and 17th centuries:"(112) And fifty-two pages later: "It was because Darwinian theory broke man's link with God and set him adrift in a cosmos without purpose or end that its impact was so fundamental. No other intellectual revolution in modern times (with the possible exception of the Copernican) so profoundly affected the way men viewed themselves and their place in the universe.(113)
I cannot see it otherwise: when making these observations this author is running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. Starting with Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle Denton titles the first chapter of his book "Genesis Rejected". I declare this to be a myopic choice. Yes, Genesis has been rejected. Yet not just by Darwin, but already by Copernicus and his self-styled prophet Galileo Galilei. The latter opened Pandora's box by brushing aside the clear information of Genesis 1:1-19. Small wonder that consequently the second half of the chapter in the long run had to suffer the same treatment. Denton comes close to realizing this when much later in his book he shows himself to be conscious of the impact that an obvious extrapolation of the basic heliocentric
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scheme would have if it were confirmed. If our Earth is not a unique creation, but just a sample of numberless likewise advantageously placed planets around other "Great Lights" in their millions, and hence life were to prove widespread, then this "would of course have a very important bearing on the question how life generated on earth. For it would undoubtedly provide powerful circumstantial evidence for the traditional evolutionary scenario, enhancing enormously the credibility of the belief that the route from chemistry to life can be surmounted by simple natural processes, wherever the right conditions exist.”(114) True enough, but may I reverse the direction of reasoning by asking if ever the chemical soup-to-ape fantasia would have been dreamt of in any man's philosophy on an Earth, as our ancestors from before 1543 knew it to be, at the visible Heavens' centre? Denton should remember John Donne's well-know lines written in 1611. "And new philosophy calls all in doubt.. 'Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone."(115) Then already, and not only after 1859!
Of course I agree that the dethronement did not show its inevitable corollaries immediately. A stone released to roll down a hillside has to accelerate before it can do much damage. Traditional restraints delayed the death of Adam from Newton to Darwin(116), but did not stop the decline, and today there are many thoughtful men who openly acknowledge that the emergence of Holocaust and Gulag, of racism and breakdown of ethical norms, has been fostered, if not initiated, by Darwin's monkey-to-still-evolving-monkey syndrome. God died in the 19th century, and man is dying in the 20th century", Norman Geisler, a staunch
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defender of Biblical Inerrancy, declares.(117) I have no quarrel with this hyperbole: but would like to remind him of Schiller's proverbial lines:
"Truly, this is the curse of evil done:
It must go on forever bearing evil. "(118)
Why did, as Geisler sees it, God die only after the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859? The book merely articulated the logical outcome of a trend of thought that began to infiltrate Western man's mind once the consequences of Newton's cosmic model came to be realized. "The Divine Antifex had therefore less and less to do in the world. He did not even have to conserve it, as the world, more and more, became able to dispense with this service."(119) - thus Alexandre Koyré.
Just meditate about it for a few minutes: what if the approach of Cardinal Bellarmine had won the day in 1633, and the Catholic Churchmen had stuck to their guns with a "Proof, please", challenging generation after generation of astronomers to provide it? "For", as Osiander had put it in his foreword to Copernicus' book, "these hypotheses need not to be true nor even probable; if they provide a calculus consistent with the observations, that alone is sufficient... the astronomer will accept above all others the one which is the easiest to grasp. The philosopher will perhaps seek the semblance of truth. But neither of them will understand or state anything certain, unless it has been divinely revealed to him...So far as hypotheses are concerned, let no one accept anything certain from astronomy, which cannot furnish it, lest he accept as the truth ideas
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conceived for another purpose, and depart from this study a greater fool than when he entered it.”(130) To which words I cannot but add Hoyle's appraisal that they "agree remarkably well with the outlook of modern theoretical physics, and are not at all inept, as earlier generations have supposed."(121)
What if Tycho Brahe's view had been more strenuously adhered to? His system "had the merit of being theoretically equivalent to the Copernican, without the apparent defect of ascribing motion to the Earth; it made possible a scientifically adequate geostatic astronomy, irrefutable by any test of observation that Galileo or anyone else could impose on it."(122) To object that Newtonian kinematics and Kepler's laws decidedly put an end to its tenability is not warranted. Jupiter's many moons circle, obedient to all these generalizing laws, their wandering star whilst that planet in its turn just as law-abidingly describes steady orbits around the Sun. Until we have found a firm hold on space, and consequently can pinpoint absolute motion, we may put the fulcrum of the Solar System wheresoever it pleases us. Newton, fully aware of the difficulty, thought to have solved it for his mechanomorphic model by means of his well-known whirling water-filled bucket. However - as is now generally admitted - Bishop Berkeley, preempting so to say Mach and Einstein, convincingly showed that this demonstration did not settle the issue. The most and best we can do when positing a Sun immovably fixed in space is to demonstrate the Earth's 30 km/sec motion while revolving around it. So long as that has not been accomplished, Galileo may get a hearing, but no one is compelled to take him seriously.
To argue that Bradley's discovery and his
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accounting for it would have provided Tychonian theorists clear evidence for that motion of the Earth is, as I have shown, an overhasty conclusion. More: if then and there after 1727 Boscovich' water-filled telescope had been utilized to test Bradley's contention, that contention would have been found wanting. The only change in the geocentric model necessitated by the outcome of the experiment would have been the one advocated in the present essay: a starry dome not hinged on the Earth but on the Sun. Any stringent reason to exchange the proven cosmic structure for an unproven heliocentric guess nobody could have postulated. Let me quote a knowledgeable, almost two centuries after Galileo not yet by the general opinion browbeaten, witness for the true theoretical situation in his days: Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) still declared: "I have already known a long time that we do not yet have proof for the system of Copernicus, but I shall not take the risk to be the first one attacking it.(123)
Even when a good hundred years after Bradley, three astronomers - Bessel, Henderson and Struve -detected the first parallaxes, their findings could, as is done in this essay, without difficulty be accommodated to the geocentric model. And surely the last devotees of Copernicus would have been disconcerted after à la Michelson and Morley, in vain having tried to vindicate their prophet. To be sure, they would have been rescued again by the ingenious ad hoc of Poincaré’s "principle of relativity", as - utilizing Lorentz' equations - elaborated by Einstein. However, and no mistake: every logician will agree with me: that principle - and that to the detriment of its extrapolations - is no more than an ad hoc, not to be taken too seriously, for it explains
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something by means of the very phenomenon it was invented to explain. That is: by taking, all three-dimensional data to the contrary, a whirlabout Earth for granted.
In the wistful "what if" scientific fantasia I have myself allowed the Tychonian astronomical establish-ment would, I envisage, have treated those erring Copernicans better than in the harsh climate of today's blinkered secularism the stargazers treat the geocentrists.
My convinced geocentrists would have been epistemologically prudent enough to forego the use of the qualification "unthinkable". They would have allowed a Sun-centered Universe, adrift or not adrift in a
- let us admit it! - strict definition eluding spatiality, a logical possibility. Therefore, wanting to be true, unbiased scientists, they would have been on the lookout for any chance to test the truth of their theory. And diehard Copernicans suggesting an experiment capable of overthrowing the Earth-centered paradigm, would have immediately been granted a serious hearing and enthusiastic cooperation in performing it.
A year before and a year after Einstein burst upon the scene in 1905, a Lutheran pastor, F.E. Pasche, published books in defence of the pre-Copernican view.(124) Whether the Germania Publishing Company of Milwaukee found it a bad bargain to market these books I do not know, but that no second printing became necessary stands to reason. Yet, I find the coincidence remarkable. Geocentricity was apparently, at least among scientifically mal-adjusted German immigrant circles in Wisconsin, still alive and well on planet Earth when a German in Switzerland published a theory
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aimed at destroying the last shreds of its credibility. What careful experiments had not been able to accomplish this "Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper",(52) would once and for all do. For the "unthinkable" spectre, by test-results threateningly again conjured up out of the murky medieval depths of superstition, the special theory of relativity effectively, it seemed, would exorcise. Small wonder that physicists in general and astronomers in particular took to this proposal as ducks to the water. However, I doubt whether many of them sufficiently realized how this undertaking, welcomed as a panacea par excellence for physical theory, in fact would move the basic problem back to square one. That is to say: to the alternatives outlined by Cardinal Bellarmine in his Foscarini letter. To declare that from Einstein's point of view both Tycho Brahe's and Copernicus’ models are "as good as anybody else's - but no better" is one thing - to substantiate this is another. I appreciate Hoyle's confession that after all Tychonians cannot be labeled outright fools, but it is not good enough. Before I accept Sir Fred's judgement and am constrained to pronounce myself satisfied with such an insubstantial equality, I want what is called "proof". On the prerequisites for such a proof I agree with a creationist like Robert Kofahl.(125) With him I concur that the quest has to be conducted in, and confined to, the empirically approachable natural world. Do I then ask too much when on these terms I challenge Hoyle, et al., to authenticate their claim? By urging, nay: beseeching, them to perform the common sense extra-terrestrial, but still sublunary, measurements of the speed of light suggested in this paper? Measurements of which the
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theoretical considerations suggesting them rest on a modus tollendo tollens that will make the outcome logically binding? And if this outcome is found to be squarely contradicting Poincaré's principle of relativity -will it not have to be admitted already a century ago to have been attested by Airy's failure?
No reasoning can start form nothingness. I here posit the perception of spatiality shared by all sentient beings as a given, beyond and above which our understanding can not truly levitate itself. Furthermore I accept the constant velocity of light (on Earth) with respect to that spatiality, whatever distinctive qualities and entities theorists may theorize both to have or hold. And then there are only far-fetched possibilities to circumvent the principle of contradiction. To make no bones about it: in the event that Einstein turns out to be wrong the Earth either is at rest in a the stars encompassing space that knows place, and consequently absolute motion, or the Earth is moving together with its tied-aether bubble. However, the spaces-moving-around-spaces postulates of the schesis theories of the type today still forwarded by Theocharis and Zappfe(39), I reject as desperate artificialities without the slightest shred of evidence supporting them that not even better fits the geocentric model. Those theories are only devised coûte que coûte to save Copernicus.
It is either Einstein or Tycho Brahe. And with that I rest my case!
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Science and the Christian Faith
There are, and I still have to dwell on these as yet, a few non-physical but for mankind's world view crucially important facets of the issue. If indeed the positions of the Earth on the twenty-second days of June and December are an in principle measurable 299.106 km apart, then the astronomical establishment has a formidable case. If this distance cannot be paced off because it does not exist, then its popularizers are talking through their hats and preaching a world view of a value less than null and void.
If Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was correct in declaring the stars to be just far-away Suns, and Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) plainly wrong in denying this, then macro-evolution from a Big Bang to advanced anthropoids fabricating Big Bombs acquires by implication and extrapolation an attractive probability. There is then the immense Cosmos of so and so many billions of years and miles with uncountable galaxies harbouring numberless varieties of stars and nebulae, all these without any truly apprehensible system scattered through the unbounded Heavens. Somewhere in an out-of-the way corner of that Universe on a cooling speck of star dust circling a minor fireball we live our lives, from now on as by benevolent chance not aborted younger than five-month fetuses, to certain death and decomposition. Whence it all came, why we are there, and how everything will end or be recycled - we shall never know. For who, after accepting the Universe preached by the Sagans and Goulds, can without mindwrenching rational contortions still believe in a Bible that already begins its message with a make-believe story of an in six days completed creation of an unique Earth?
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Clearly: Genesis 1:1-19 is strangely without rhyme or reason when its account is compared with the after the Copernican Revolution obtained "facts". And strangest of all are the rear-guard skirmishes of creationists staunchly believing the literal truth of the Biblical report, but only from Genesis 1:20 on. In one respect I cannot blame them: from their tenderest years on they have been bamboozled into believing Galileo to have been a scientific prophet without peer. A five-year old grandson of mine, for instance, attending a (Christian) kindergarten came up to me the other day and took me to task about the error he has heard his father and me talking about. "Grandpa”, he remonstrated, "teacher says that the Earth goes around the Sun." Yes, and two plus two equals four - never doubt it!
Therefore only after reading the opening verses of the Bible as interpreted and elucidated by the wisdom of the world, do the protagonists of a strictly orthodox six-day creation abound in fervent testimonies about the ingenuous matter-of-fact manner Moses has employed in narrating to them the happenings during the Hexamaeron's days five and six. And rare are the orthodox theologians who realize that by taking such an approach to the plain text of Scripture they are halting between two opinions. Forgetting how "the exegete must explain what is written and restrict himself to that"(126) they go to work by the light of questionable information from science. By means of introducing poetical hyperboles, sleight of hand glosses, doubtful comparisons, and by applying desperate scientific ad hocs, they delude themselves into believing that thereby they have God's report of His doings effectively cramped on the passe-partout of secular astrophysics.
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Why does standard-creationism play this risky game? If "the things that natural science is positing lie hidden in or behind the simple childish language of Genesis One"(127), why then this "childish" - where are we told that is the case? - restricted to the first half of the Revelation's first chapter and not applied to the second half? “The Lord means what he says, and says what He means." If this adage does not apply to the beginning of the Torah , where remains then our certainty that the rest of Scripture is plain truth? Time and again, in the New Testament as well as in the Old, the authors refer to Genesis as a trustworthy historical text. Nowhere, neither in the Bible's first ten chapters, nor in all that follows, do we find the slightest hint or warning that the information about the creation of Heaven and Earth, of Sun, Moon, and the stars also, must not be taken as an eyewitness' report just as straighiforwardly as that of the creation of man and beast.
If the proponents of modern astronomy have hit the mark I can see how Biblical Christianity may well appear to them as a soothing syrup for incurable parochial minds. As a faith by analogy equal to the tribal religion of an untutored people, not yet touched by civilization, among whom in days of old a few wise souls concluded that for the purpose of keeping societal life on an even keel a with divine authority festooned ethics and a "pie in the sky" are practical necessities. For myself, if in the matter here at stake I am wrong and the modern picture of the Heavens will turn out to be incontrovertibly established... well, I shall hold the faith, but will also realize that the world with David Hume (1711-1776) may well characterize that faith to be "some unaccountable operation of the mind between disbelief
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and conviction, but approaching much nearer to the former than to the latter."(128) However, to quote Pascal for the last time: the heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.
It has, happily, not yet come to that. Of the believers in the ruling varieties of cosmological models, all of them are bound to admit that the cornerstone of their imposing theoretical edifices - the Earth's motion - is on their own acquiescence not testable. Over and against this I have shown the scheme of Tycho Brahe - adapted to the "aberration" only having become observable many years after his death - to be easily testable. Hence I refuse until further notice to renounce the conviction of that cantankerous Dane with his partly silver nose. Until, that is, the experiment I insist on shall - be sure: it will not! - have given a result putting me in the wrong.
With due apology for harping on a final aspect of the epistemological string I have been twanging again and again: there is still an important consideration not to be passed over or brushed aside. Even if the genuineness of the geocentric theory were to be warranted by the facts, the Goulds and Asimovs of our age, I realize, would not be put out of countenance in the least. They might grant us the probable or apparent existence of a Something or Someone, an Intelligence acting in and through the Intelligent Universe.(129) Yet, trying to clinch my case by pointing a Hoyle, a Jastrow, and all their variegated compatriots to that analogy of Archdeacon Paley's watchmaker will not make Christians of these sincere seekers for supra-sensible truth. They may well with the Athenians of St. Paul's day become theists paying homage to an Unknown God, to a Maker, but nothing more - if even that much! For when said
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Archdeacon finds a watch on crossing a heath(l30), he may indeed infer that this object has been produced by a watchmaker, because he has seen, or has been told by trustworthy witnesses, that watchmakers design and fabricate such timepieces. However: analogies, I must agree with Hume, are not very compelling arguments. A watch is not exactly a Universe, and who has ever noticed a Creator creating Universes? Furthermore: whether the nowhere to be seen artisan who made the watch in case is a scoundrel or a saint - Paley cannot conclude that from his find. Only after using it for a few days he will be able to tell us whether the maker is an excellent craftsman or a clumsy niggler.
From the day of Cicero's De Natura Deorum to Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, and until the end of our time and age, these defects always did and always will greatly diminish the force of the argument from design as a tool in Christian apologetics, which above all has to account for the origin of evil - a task natural theology is unable convincingly to tackle. Grant the Omnipotent and Greatest of all Watchmakers high up there in the sky the creation of those constructs built of subatomic particles everywhere around us, together with our sensorial ability to transform these aggregates of quarks into collective representations, that is: into the things we see. Yet, looking at His handiworks here below, the secularists will say that in any case He has bungled the job. That this prima facie seems to be true, I do not, as already said, deny. Disastrous "Acts of God" in nature, terminal cancer wards in hospitals, devilish deeds, hatred, famines, poisonous snakes, malformed babies - what loving Great Father would subject His children to such calamities, which by
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definition He should be powerful enough to ward off? And even more to the point: consider the twentythousand plus Christian denominations, each of them claiming to be right with regard to the doctrines on which all the other ones are wrong. It appears that His Spirit is not even strong enough to keep His disciples in line. A real benevolent all-wise and all-powerful Divinity ought to do better!
Agreed - again at first sight, that is. But the first cue to a worthier and less hasty appraisal the atheists and questioning theists have in that "ought”.(131) For from where do we get, if not from a moral Maker, this standard that a priori enables us to be sure what "ought" and "ought not" to be the case? Around us and in us, our thoughts accusing or else excusing God and one another, and our own selves? Are there not even pains and deprivations we gladly suffer for a desirable purpose? What, as Thomas Hardy heard Nature ask, if "some high Plan betides, as yet not understood, of evil stormed by good?" What if He, Who knows the end from the beginning, needed the presently damaged Creation as a necessary prelude and probation for the Golden Age to come? What, as from Thomas Aquinas to our days many good and wise men have maintained, the world that now is must be the best possible way to achieve the best possible world into which we shall be resurrected by a God, Who is love? When Hardy, in the line following the one just quoted, deems us to be "the Forlorn Hope over which Achievement strides", he is wrong. We are not expendable pawns in an unknowable Great Game, but precious in the sight of God.
Castles in Spain, dim-witted daydreams? I think not. However to expound the severe rationality of that
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"way", as the Bible calls it, is to engage in a theodicy. And to repeat a remark already made: such a theodicy is a subject too high for a paper which, when all is said and done, merely pleads the desirability of a tentative this- worldly step aimed at underscoring the credibility of a Great Plan. That which may be known of God, His eternal power and Godhead, is manifest in us and understood by the things that are made. His Great Plan we have to believe until it shall be revealed at its completion.
So far as the philosophical and religious aspects of the issue are concerned, which - sound reason will acknowledge - cannot be solved by reason. On the other hand I ask the reader to realize: Christianity is not only what outsiders might well conclude it to be from observing the antics of the electronic soul-savers among my brethren in the faith.
Not worthy of any serious refutation? I am aware that this will be the verdict of virtually all readers who have taken the trouble to follow me thus far in my defense of Tycho Brahe. Well, to lecture me must therefore be easy for them. Just let them present me with one astronomical observation that physically and logically gives short shift to my thesis, and I shall retract every word I have said. However, to save those readers fruitless efforts, let me - and this together with the truly prominent pundits in the fields of science and philosophy! - warn them that such an observation cannot be found. At bottom it is my implicit medieval credulity against their equally credulous faith in the scientific method. And that is a controversy not susceptible to proof, pro or contra.
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Allow me, as far as provability is concerned, to summarize the whole matter. First of all: nobody can deny that at the end of the 19th century the Newtonian view of the cosmos was in dire straits, and that ultimately only Einstein rescued astronomy out of the Ptolemaic cul-de-sac into which it had reasoned itself. However, as I have shown, that great man's ingenious theories are not only inadmissibly tainted by a metaphysical stance, but also scientifically suspect by reason of two elementary logical fallacies. From the circumstance that here on Earth we cannot detect motion relative to space it does not follow that such is nowhere possible. I note in passing that L. Essen challenges the "common view that the special theory of relativity is well supported by experimental evidence, although this may not be true of the general theory".(132) More importantly: I consider the sad actuality that all this evidence is obtained by affirming the consequent and is therefore not in the least compelling. "If relativity is true we shall be doing this to obtain that . Here is the that, and therefore..." Fiddlesticks. There may be a quite different phenomenon behind that outcome. Last but not least, I hold that the general theory, as I have demonstrated, is in its present form untenable. Looking at the star Alpha Centauri from an Earth circling the Sun, parallax measurements and trigonometry would assure us that the two are 1.3 parsecs, or more than 4.2 light years apart. But looking from an Earth circled by the Sun, the distance turns out to be less than one twenty-fifth of that amount. Now these values cannot both be true, and the theory's assertion that the second view is as good as the first, but not better, is consequently wrong.
The desirability of a test is thereby certainly even
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more stressed, because it will logically and physically settle the matter. If a suitable modification of either Hoek's experiment performed in 1868 or that proposed by me in 1968 produces a null result, Einstein will at last be acceptably verified. For the reasoning behind these proposals is modus tollendo tollens and therefore logically binding. On the other hand: if the result will be positive and the observed interference consistent with the speed of the used apparatus, then space knows proper place and movement real rest.
Yet will it settle the matter, logically and physically?... Russell's Caveat, re-worded in a form he would have scorned, must have the last word.
"Saving the appearances", that is promoting a plausible guess at what we prefer, or believe to be, the truth behind the veil of the observations we are wont to call "facts" - it is a game we can all play to our hearts' content. And astronomers, judging from their papers, enjoy it to the full.(88) However, without subsequent verification our guesses are no more than doubtable desiderata, as yet binding no one.
For this-worldly science careful testing of all theories is a sine qua non. Whether we build our models of the Universe on sacred or secular givens, our ideas remain tentative until duly verified. But even the most solid experimental affirmations and the failure of all efforts at falsification do not, I maintain, provide us with a final, a definite answer to the question how the Heavens go. Our experimental set-ups may be impeccable and our reasoning logically faultless - a not yet realized aspect of the natural world may one day come to the fore and upset our tidy schemes. It has happened time after time, and who can guarantee that it will not happen again?
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Is it therefore impossible to declare any model of the cosmos truly true? Is there not any unassailable logical reasoning or physical observation compelling us to prefer in astronomy one postulate above all the other ones put forward and believed in throughout human history? No, there is not. Man sees what he wants to see, but cannot prove his view to be correct. As Meno put it to Socrates: if you do not already know which view is the true one, "even if you come right up against it, how will you know that what you have found is the thing you didn't know?"
Socrates rebuttal of this argument is revealing: he has to fall back on "men and women who understand the truth of religion."(133) Precisely so: only a metaphysical message from a Bystander, for Whom alone the cosmos is an object not participated in, will give short shift to an otherwise endless theorizing. I unconditionally accept such a metaphysical input - the same that Tycho Brahe decided to believe in. Assuredly nobody can possibly do more than decide what to believe. And Homo Sapiens should not forget to realize that he may not have come to whatever decision he takes uninfluenced by and independently from everything else. For his mental make-up and logical capacity he has not himself created out of nothing - he acquired it somehow from somewhere.
Let me repeat: I reject any effort to drag the Bible into court as a scientific textbook. To do that is to demean its character. However, Genesis chronicles, as many myths profess to do, how Earth and man came into existence and degenerated into their present fallen state. And this with a self-evident authority, not mincing matters. As George Roche remarks: "We may think of
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Genesis as fanciful, but next to all other creation myths it is as prosaic as a newspaper report"(134)
I agree: there is neither the slightest mythical, nor any scientific or theoretical flavour to the commonplace language Moses employs. And this prosaic, plain, factual report I believe. The Earth has no equal in the space around us, created as she was in the beginning, with only from the fourth day on Sun, Moon, and stars beginning to orbit her for signs, seasons, and days. The inspired text does not contain any hint that thereby the Earth was degraded to one of a set of specks of matter circling a minor star. Whatever astronomers assert to the contrary, they will never be able convincingly to demonstrate this downfall to have happened.
To repeat: I believe and ergo know - particulars subject to further investigation - that the Tychonian view is the true one. But I admit, as already said, that an outcome of my experiment favouring this view will not verify it absolutely. Even holding this outcome to be theoretically and practically untouchable won't help, for such a positive evaluation of the result also brings grist to the mill of all Stokes-type theories. On the other hand: if the test will affirm Einstein's hypothesis, then this just as well keeps a number of anti-relativistic theories in the running. In short: whatever the data acquired by any experiment: those who use these data to bolster their proposals will do well to attach a "maybe" rider.
I do not want anyone to be in doubt about my rock-bottom position on this vexing, insuperable last-ditch issue. Evidences in support of my geocentric theory may come forward and multiply. However, I do not build my conviction on any or many affirmative data. We - "on our own" - cannot and never shall absolutely
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"know” astronomy. Or to reformulate Russell's Caveat :
without accepting Divine input, the queen of the sciences, and all the other sciences also, will forever remain bereft of ultimates.
That input we have, and it being metaphysically qualified is surely not subject to verification. Take it, or leave it!
Even verifications have to be verified, and this in the nature of things here below ad infinitum . Bradley's discovery of aberration "verified" Newton's heliocentric theory in the eyes of virtually all his contemporaries, and Berkeley's objections were brushed aside. But when Airy, already doubtful of the outcome, decided to verify Bradley's verification he got nowhere. That verification, courtesy of Fresnel, was taken to "verify" the obvious: either we move relative to the stars or the stars relative to us. Pro or contra Copernicus, it was decided, it had substantially nothing to say. What it, and also the Michelson and Morley result, did was to throw doubt on Newton's neat and tidy model, and in doing that pave the way for Einstein's theories. Now, A.D. 1988, astronomy lives by the grace of relativity, but is that relativity truly verified by experiments? "Yes", say the modern equivalents of the Newtonian know-alls. "No", retort the Berkeleyans of today, and mightily they labour to produce verifications of their dissection of those relativistic verifications.(75)
The matter reminds one of a well-know line from
Juvenal's Satires: "Sed quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?" -But who is to guard the guardians themselves?" Whichever way we turn, we cannot escape an infinite regress. Who verifies our verifications?
That this essay will be judged to be overly
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repetitive I realize. I confess: it is even purposely so. That many questions remain I do not deny. But to answer these before the central thesis here defended has been vindicated would be premature. For almost twenty years of debate and of discussing the Tychonian theory have taught me that many, if not most, people need time and reflection fully to grasp the crucial importance of the atheist Russell's Caveat and the Christian Armstrong's Alert when contemplating the question "how the Heavens go".
When C.S. Lewis tells us that his lifelong friend, Owen Barfield, "has read all the right books and has got the wrong thing out of everyone"(135), then I must on a number of important issues agree with him. Yet when in a closely reasoned thesis about mankind's relation to science and God, Barfield castigates our mechanomorphical "new science” outlook, I think he says things relevant to the geocentric approach in astronomy put forward by the present essay.
The modern worldview reducing us to ephemeral objects among objects, to conglomerates of quarks and no more, with at best allowing a distant God in a mode of being not unlike our own... "if incalculable disaster is to be avoided"(136), a re-awakening will have to be brought about of the medieval conception, realizing man to be a microcosmos embedded in the macrocosmos surrounding him. And not only that: the God beyond and above all sensory approach and yet closer to us than our own selves will have to be adored and honoured in every man's doing. As St. Paul A.D. 51 told the Epicureans and Stoics of Athens; "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being". In Him, Who has revealed Himself by the Incarnation of the Logos, the Word."
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A reviewer of my Dutch book Houvast aan het Hemelruim (A Hold on the Spacious Heavens), published in 1985, writes that he has "learned from history that we must place not too much confidence in the 'findings' of scientists, including those of Galileo". Therefore he gives me "the benefit as well as the disadvantage of the doubt". And after confessing that he would be very surprised if I were right, he adds: "I almost hope he is right. It makes me feel a little bit more secure as a universe dweller to know that the Earth is at the centre."(137)
My reviewer does not almost have to hope this. That the Earth, created in the beginning, hangs immovably upon nothing in space, God's Revelation considers this for granted. Therefore science cannot disprove this fact, and truly sagacious astronomers, whatever the ontological stance they prefer, very well know that a logically sound refutation of geocentricity is anyway unattainable.
During the night before October 24, Anno Domini 1601, Tycho Brahe, lying on his deathbed, was frequently heard to exclaim that he hoped he should not have lived in vain.(138) He has not: that obstreperous Dane was on the right track! Airy's Failure to discredit geocentricity has shown this for all to see!
Deprive modern cosmology of the certainty of its mathematical underpinnings - then there is not much solidity left. "Now Gödel's incompleteness theorem", thus Stanley L. Jaki, "states that the proof of consistency of any non-trivial set of mathematical axioms can be found only outside that set, and in that sense no mathematical system can be an ultimate system... The mental road to the extracosmic Absolute remains therefore fully open".(139)
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Tycho Brahe refused to leave that road in his cosmological considerations. His help he found - as I do! - in the name of the LORD, Who made Heaven and Earth.
PSALM XCII, DOMINUS REGNAVIT
The LORD reigneth,
he is clothed with majesty:
the LORD is clothed with strength,
wherewith he hath girded himself:
the world also is stablished,
that it cannot be moved.
Thy throne is established of old:
thou art from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, 0 LORD,
the floods have lifted up their voice,
the floods lift up their waves.
The LORD on high is mightier
than the noise of many waters, yea
than the mighty waves of the sea.
Thy testimonies are very sure:
holiness becometh thine house,
O LORD, for ever.
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For the benefit of math-phobes I add a Gedankenexperiment that will, I suppose, convey the basic idea behind this outline.
magine two airplanes, A and B, flying past us on a windless day, first north-south and after that east-west. We measure their speeds relative to us and both times find these to be 300 and 225 km/hr. The ratio between those two velocities is therefore 4/3. And this confirms what we know already: we are at rest. Next we station ourselves on a flat car of a slowly moving east-west train and ask the pilots of the planes to repeat those two performances. That during their north-south flight they must pass us slightly off course we may neglect. However, when the planes roar past parallel to the railroad tracks we find the ratio between their velocities to be 296/221. Question: what is the speed of our train? Remembering that for the first two fly-pasts the ratio was 4/3, we easily find the answer:
Hence our train rolls at 4 km/hr.
In the real experiment the air becomes space, the two ray rays of light, the one traveling through an empty tube, the other through a tube filled with water, the flat-car a space satellite or fast aircraft.
The first earth-bound test we have performed and it showed an Earth absolutely at rest in space. The second we would like to see performed. If then the ratio between the velocities of the two rays (observable by a change of the light fringes) still turns out to be the same, the STR will have been vindicated. If the fringe pattern agrees with the speed of the satellite, that theory has been falsified, and the geocentric theory strongly favoured.
Hoek's 1868 experiment will serve too. But it observes, as in the Michelson and Morley trial, two
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returning rays, and that will evoke (viz. the enormous literature on the particular of that M. and M. probe) endless theoretical considerations and evaluations.