mardi 17 janvier 2012

Answering a site that ridicules Church Fathers on Geocentrism

I found a pretty impressive passage - on first look* - against consensus of Church Fathers being actually infallible also in matters of science. On first look, as an unbroken tirade, like here - we shall get back to each item afterwards:

Here are some of the many examples in which the Fathers are wrong on details, even from a modern geocentrist perspective. Again, these should all count against establishing any sort of patristic consensus given the standards deployed elsewhere.

Augustine: "And yet, when it pleased Him who with sovereignty and supreme power regulates all He has created, a star conspicuous among the rest by its size and splendor changed its color, size, form, and, most wonderful of all, the order and law of its course!" (City of God, Book XXI, Ch 8) But the sun is NOT conspicuous for its size and splendor. There are billions of stars as big or bigger than it.

Clement of Rome: "The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to His command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation." (First Epistle to the Corinthians, Ch XX). Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that the moon's path DOES change and the distance to the earth DOES change. Do geocentrists deny this?

Gregory Nanzianzus: "The sun is extolled by David for its beauty, its greatness, its swift course, and its power, splendid as a bridegroom, majestic as a giant; while, from the extent of its circuit, it has such power that it equally sheds its light from one end of heaven to the other, and the heat thereof is in no wise lessened by distance. (Funeral Orations for St. Basil, 66). Try saying that while on Mercury vs. Pluto.

Gregory of Nyssa: "And how does earth below form the foundation of the whole, and what is it that keeps it firmly in its place? what is it that controls its downward tendency?" (Answer to Eunomius’ Second Book) There is nothing pulling the earth "down".

Gregory of Nyssa: "And when you look at the waning and waxing moon you are taught other truths by the visible figure of that heavenly body, viz. that it is in itself devoid of light, and that it revolves in the circle nearest to the earth" (On the Soul and Resurrection). Not a "circle", sorry. Geocentrists have for centuries had to admit that the orbits are ellipses.

Hippolytus: “But that the circle of the sun is twenty-seven times larger than the moon, and that the sun is situated in the highest (quarter of the firmament); whereas the orbs of the fixed stars in the lowest.” (Refutation of All Heresies, Bk V, Ch 22) Wrong twice.

Archelaus: “Then, again, the living Spirit created the luminaries, which are fragments of the soul" (Disputation with Manes, 22) The stars are "fragments of the soul"? Well, no, sorry.....St. Jerome thought the idea was idiotic.

Gregory of Nyssa: "when the body of heaven compassed all things round, and those bodies which are heavy and of downward tendency, the earth and the water, holding each other in, took the middle place of the universe" (On the Making of Man, 30, 1, 1) The earth is in the center of the universe because it's the heaviest? Well, no. And also, this is a purely pseudo-scientific reason for saying the earth is in the center rather than suggesting it was from Tradition. Sorry there, too

Basil: “the celestial bodies move in a circular course” (Nine Homilies of the Haxameron, Homily I ) No, they do not "move in a circular course". Again, they are ellipses. Geocentrists agree with that, do they not?

St. Cyril of Jerusalem states that the “firmament” is literally comprised of water. But modern geocentrists don’t believe that.

There are many more examples that could be cited, but I think this is sufficient to demonstrate the problem. According to a certain apologist's standards, if these witnesses can't get the details right then they simply cannot be said to form a unanimous witness.


There is one, exactly one point on which they are unanimous: geostasis or geocentrism. There is another question if any of them is wrong from the perspective of a modern geocentric:

Augustine: "And yet, when it pleased Him who with sovereignty and supreme power regulates all He has created, a star conspicuous among the rest by its size and splendor changed its color, size, form, and, most wonderful of all, the order and law of its course!" (City of God, Book XXI, Ch 8) But the sun is NOT conspicuous for its size and splendor. There are billions of stars as big or bigger than it.


Only if trigonometrics from parallax supposition could stand without heliocentric or geokinetic supposition. If alpha Centuari is "four light years" away, because that is parallax measure, then a very bright star showing no parallax at all might well be thought of as very far and therefore, if still seen as bright, very big, very bright, brighter than the sun. But if the fixed stars are about 1 light month away, if the parallax is false perspective created by angels dancing with the stars to God's glory, nothing says Sirius need be a bit bigger or brighter than the sun.

Clement of Rome: "The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to His command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation." (First Epistle to the Corinthians, Ch XX). Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that the moon's path DOES change and the distance to the earth DOES change. Do geocentrists deny this?


A distance to earth that changes with an ellipse if the ellipse is fixed, does nowise contradict this. Regular variation is not deviation.

Gregory Nanzianzus: "The sun is extolled by David for its beauty, its greatness, its swift course, and its power, splendid as a bridegroom, majestic as a giant; while, from the extent of its circuit, it has such power that it equally sheds its light from one end of heaven to the other, and the heat thereof is in no wise lessened by distance. (Funeral Orations for St. Basil, 66). Try saying that while on Mercury vs. Pluto.


It is not the distance that lessens heat, but the dispersion. Or one may say that St Gregory was wrong or that he was speaking of the fact that it is still hot when it reaches us, with some rhetoric.

Gregory of Nyssa: "And how does earth below form the foundation of the whole, and what is it that keeps it firmly in its place? what is it that controls its downward tendency?" (Answer to Eunomius’ Second Book) There is nothing pulling the earth "down".


Actually there is a down: inward towards the centre of the earth. But Mr Smartass is quoting a rhetorical question without continuing quote on to a probably as to physical details agnostic answer.

Gregory of Nyssa: "And when you look at the waning and waxing moon you are taught other truths by the visible figure of that heavenly body, viz. that it is in itself devoid of light, and that it revolves in the circle nearest to the earth" (On the Soul and Resurrection). Not a "circle", sorry. Geocentrists have for centuries had to admit that the orbits are ellipses.


Basil: “the celestial bodies move in a circular course” (Nine Homilies of the Haxameron, Homily I ) No, they do not "move in a circular course". Again, they are ellipses. Geocentrists agree with that, do they not?


Circle very obviously is the word for orbit. It may even be a mistranslation for a word meaning circuit. The point is that the moon is in the orbit closest to earth - which even heliocentrics do not deny. And that the celestial bodies do not move in straight lines or zigzags, but in rounded courses of regular shape. Asking a Church Father to distinguish ellips from circle (they did not know the circles were ellipses, but would hardly have cared if they had) is like asking an Aaronitic priest to give the decimals for pi, instead of "three and some more". Which is as correct as the degree of accuracy goes, either of them.

Hippolytus: “But that the circle of the sun is twenty-seven times larger than the moon, and that the sun is situated in the highest (quarter of the firmament); whereas the orbs of the fixed stars in the lowest.” (Refutation of All Heresies, Bk V, Ch 22) Wrong twice.


Do you get your refutations from sites like BadAstronomy? Note "but that" ... where "that" may well refer to someone else's opinion, where "but" may well refer to his disagreement. Besides, is Hippolytus a Church Father?

Archelaus: “Then, again, the living Spirit created the luminaries, which are fragments of the soul" (Disputation with Manes, 22) The stars are "fragments of the soul"? Well, no, sorry.....St. Jerome thought the idea was idiotic.


And Bishop Tempier damned as heretical the saying that a star is moved by an inner principle, as an animal is moved by a soul. He did not condemn the position that stars are carried around by angels as lanterns carried by men, however. And, f y i, Archelaus is not a Church Father.** Besides, even if we had been, he was opposed by St. Jerome, and thus there would not have been any patristic consensus.

Gregory of Nyssa: "when the body of heaven compassed all things round, and those bodies which are heavy and of downward tendency, the earth and the water, holding each other in, took the middle place of the universe" (On the Making of Man, 30, 1, 1) The earth is in the center of the universe because it's the heaviest? Well, no. And also, this is a purely pseudo-scientific reason for saying the earth is in the center rather than suggesting it was from Tradition. Sorry there, too


Have you weighed any heavenly body on a scale? Hardly. Jupiter may have a greater total weight, which we do not know, unless we tie our causes down to accepting only gravitation, inertia and mass as causes for heavenly bodies' movement, while accepting that on earth lanterns can move because there are in fact guys moving them. But Jupiter is clearly made of non-rocky stuff. However, on this view we do have a problem why there is rocky stuff well outside/above earth. Beats me. Admitted.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem states that the “firmament” is literally comprised of water. But modern geocentrists don’t believe that.


Funnily enough, spectral analysis has spotted water (=H2O) and "water-stuff"=H, (atomic or?)=H2 more than any other substance in "outer space". Which gave a Modern Scientist (i e believer in modern cosmology) who was also a Christian the right to ask "if the universe has no beginning, where does all the hydrogen come from?" - Dom Stanley Jaki, cited in Unwanted Priest.

The initial contrast between Pope Urban VIII and Popes from Benedict XIV to Benedict XVI is not quite backed up by the Honorius case. Because the Honorius case is a bit close to the "later-Popes-case" precisely insofar as Honorius too was a non-interventionist Pope.

We have one Pope condemning by officialising the decision of 1633, we have since not had any Pope condemning him for that, as Honorius was condemned, or even, up to John Paul II - whose Papacy is known to be disputed, and not only by rival claimants, not only by people believing Cardinal Siri was Pope (neither position of which I find horrible as such though I have taken distance from one or other of these rival claimants), but also by people with no agenda as to who is Pope, only a suspicion ranging to certainty in some cases - at least subjective such - that he was not a such.

Condemnations banning all heliocentric works were withdrawn after Aberration was discovered. I have not yet come across Bradley's complete reasoning. Here is wiki:

The aberration of light (also referred to as astronomical aberration or stellar aberration) is an astronomical phenomenon which produces an apparent motion of celestial objects about their real locations. It was discovered in 1725 and later explained by the third Astronomer Royal, James Bradley, who attributed it to the finite speed of light and the motion of Earth in its orbit around the Sun.[1][2]


This was about a century before discovering so called parallax. Question is: was Bradley right about this? When he thought the real locations were not moving as in the appearance, what was his rationale? Was he just assuming, without evidence, that gravitation and inertia, therefore mass, stand for all movements above us? In that case he added no disgrace on geocentrics who do believe angels move stars.

What was it CSL - you have him on the headpiece of your blog - quoted Owen Barfield as saying, again? Oh, I know Owen Barfield was esoteric, but so was Newton.

It is not enough to ask whether a particular theory has been abandoned, but one must ask oneself when it was disprove, by whom, and above all how thoroughly. Otherwise one can be despising a theory out of mere chronological snobbery.

Now, I do not believe geocentrism to be a part of the core of the Catholic Faith - I do not find it scandalous in people having not considered every aspect of Joshua's miracle to be heliocentrics. But as an ex-Lutheran, I believe a heliocentric take, either lowers the person doing the miracle in respect of knwing what he was doing, or makes him insincere, in a way very badly parallalled by non-demonic interpretations of Jesus' exorcisms in the New Testament. That theory was one pet peeve among Lutheran modernists, a k a Adaptation Theory - adapting message to capacity of hearers. That the word of truth - nil hoc veritatis verbo verius - certainly did not do. And I do not think he allowed Joshua to do so while doing that miracle either. And, as already stated, this is far from a central point of the faith or worthy of dogmatisation in itself, but involving attitudes where I think Galileo actually hinted at the Adaptation Theory about Biblical veracity, I think Urban VIII had a legitimate point. And it has not been infallibly reversed. None of the future Popes known to be such by all Roman Catholics ever used the forma extraordinaria in order to impose any real reversion of faith in the matter. They just washed their hands.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Mairie du III/Paris
17-I-2012

*Geocentrism: Not at All an Infallible Dogma of the Catholic Church (David Palm and "Jordanes")
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/11/geocentrism-not-at-all-infallible-dogma.html

**Tempier's condemnations, ch. 12 - in reedition of systematic nature - errores de celo et stellis:
http://enfrancaissurantimodernism.blogspot.com/2012/01/capitulum-xii.html

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