G. Settele and the Final Annulment of the 1616 Decree against Copernicanism
This link is the 1823 decree against Anfossi with its background. Take your time to read it before reading on here.
Well, first of all I note that Giuseppe Settele in the affair of his astronomic textbook and Anfossi showed exactly the kind of lack of humility that has recently been reproached Galileo in the very recent thesis, which is horrible, that Galileo was condemned for his attitude and not his doctrine.
Second I note that this essay by Juan Casanovas mingles arguments for "Relative Helio-Focalism" and for this "Relative Helio-Focalism" not being identic to the Absolute Helio-Centrism which was condemned in 1633 by the Holy Office of Pope Urban VIII, the decision of which was confirmed by same Pope by his sending it to all Universities. It even ignores the sentence in 1633, unless I read it too sloppily.
But third and foremost, I note that the Pope back then did not forbid Geocentrism. To this date Geocentrism - yes, even Absolute Geocentrism - has never been forbidden. Not by the Catholic Church which has authority from God. It has sometimes been forbidden by Freemasons in France, I suppose, and by Communists in Russia, unless you will say that neither actually bothered to make "such a simple thing" law. But Freemasons and their Lodges, Communists and their Parties have no authority from God.
Neither have I, at least not as far as Ecclesiastical Authority is concerned. But that does not amount to any forbidding either or Geocentrism or of stating it openly. It is one thing I cannot forbid others to be Heliocentric (or relatively heliofocal), but I can say it is not forbidden but even - through the sentence of 1633, through Joshua, as it is most likely to be understood, and a few more - recommended to be Geocentric or Geostatic. So, I have a right to argue for it.
Anfossi [Fr. Anfossi O.P.] showed his lack of appreciation of the issue, when he considered that the world system proposed by Settele in 1820, following his contemporaries, was the same which had been condemned.
Not quite. You see, what had been condemned in 1633 was not "a world system" of non-Geocentrism, Galileo's differring - on the writer's view - from that of Giuseppe Settele as much as Ptolemy, Aristotle, Tycho Brahe and Hebrew Traditional Astronomy differ between them. What had been condemned were two central theses, two theses central to it and of the two, at least the less condemned, the non-stillness of earth, was included in the new system as well.
I cannot get the Latin Bullarium text right now for the edict of 1633: on the pages from Cherubini on the Bullarium of Pope Urban VIII, such as are available on www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu I mean, the verdict is not there. So, I do not know if the more condemned thesis, the one condemned as formally heretical, was condemned as "that the sun stands still in the centre of the universe and does not move" [i e at all when you think of it] or as "that the sun stands still in the centre of the universe and does not move as observed" - this site gives this quote, Sungenis gives the other and says, on top of it, that the Pope back then had no access to the document, since France had not given the Vatican its archives back. If the more condemned thesis, the formally heretical one was "that the sun stands still in the centre of the universe and does not move as observed" then that one too is included in the new system, but not if it was just "that the sun stands still in the centre of the universe and does not move".
Now, this is a long discussion of the authority of the Catholic Church and how it relates to our possible freedom to be Heliocentric. But, the point is, I am not someone desperately wanting to be Heliocentric and hampered only by an appreciation and possibly an erroneous such of what the Catholic Church has said. I am Geocentric with just sometimes a shortlived openness for the possibility spatial voyages like that of sonds Voyager I and II could at longlast have, to those having access to the truth of these voyages, proven that Heliocentrism is the only thing that will work. But to my mind, nothing short of a proof from the trajectories of these sonds will prove Geocentrism wrong.
Let us see what Giuseppe Settele presented, we have already dealt with the supposed non-identity of his system with that of Galileo, which had been condemned.
Anfossi had failed to realise that modern science had already undergone a profound change begun in Galileo's time, in which great use is made of mathematics. Already Clavius, and in this he was copying Ptolemy ...
But Ptolemy had been proven wrong on several points, by both Tycho Brahe and Galileo, and on points where Galileo's proofs were not reproved by the Church decrees at all!
... had warned the philosophers, that in matters of cosmology a mathematical proof had more strength and persuasive power than philosophical argument.
To anyone who is or supposes me to be overly ridden by authorities, I can observe that neither Clavius nor Ptolemy are infallible. But as to the comment itself, there are indeed philosophical arguments that are weak and mathematical ones that are as strong as the calculations are correct. There are also philosophical arguments that are as strong as the syllogism is correct and mathematical ones that are as weak as the misapplication of mathematics is weak.
So, what was the "impressive list of proofs" that Settele could present in favour of Earth moving? Was it perhaps, as in some dishonest court pleading, most impressive as a list and least if you took the time to look each argument in the face?
- That the sun is no longer at the center of the world?
- Not a proof for earth not being there, perhaps? Just a proof - if you call that a proof - that the new system was not involved in the condemnations of 1616 and 1633.
- That the orbits are elliptic?
- Elliptic or circular orbits were so not the issue in 1633.
- That the orbits are mutually connected and dependent?
- Well, how did Settele prove that one of them could not be exceptional? Sun having Earth in one focus of its ellipsis and Earth having Sun in one focus of its ellipsis are mathematically equivalent. Only, Sun having Earth in one focus of its ellipsis is exceptional, since otherwise it is such and such planet that has Sun in one focus of its ellipsis.
So, mutually connected and dependent elliptic orbits are not quite compatible at face value with Geocentrism, but then you have to prove the orbits are mutually connected and dependent rather than just mathematically coinciding.
- Kepler's laws?
- Basically identic to previous argument.
- Newtonian universal gravitation?
- Is it itself a proven fact? Can it be proven independently of the new cosmology?
- The aberration of light, nutation, the annual parallax of the fixed stars?
- There are observations which have been labelled thus and therefore interpreted as if Earth moves. The charge on Heliocentrics is to prove philosophically that none of these can be interpreted at all if Earth stands still or that at least one of them cannot.
- The eastbound drift of falling bodies?
- According to Chaberlot's essay, this has not been observed till recently: it is one centimeter drift per hundred meter fall.
Has it been observed at all? Dropping a pebble one hundred meters to see if it drifts one centimeter eastward is risky business. It is awkward to be sure it is really the fall of the pebble that drifts eastward rather than the top of the building that drifts westward one centimeter. And a pebble falling from hundred meter's heighth is rather lethal. I would not want to do the experiment.
- The movement of translation of the sun or more properly the solar system?
- If it means "in relation to the stars in general" it is not a proven fact any more than it is proven the stars are not doing the movement, as with parallax and possibly aberration too.
- Torricelli had proven weightiness of atmospheric air, thereby disposing of an argument ...?
- Yes, one argument less for geocentrism. OK. But it was anyway not my main argument.
Here is the problem: it had been argued from Geocentric side that if Earth rotated, then atmosphere would get away due to centrifugal forces. If Torricelli proves atmospheric air is weighty, then Heliocentrics of any colour can answer that no, gravitation keeps atmosphere in place. So, yes, one argument less for Geocentrism, but not one argument more against it.
- Annual parallax of α-Lyrae = 4.4 seconds of an arc?
- Now, that was the Piltdown man of Heliocentrism, and Settele makes a figure of Theilhard de Chardin.
- Next item again not for Heliocentrism, but against its being duly condemned by the Church.
- "First absurd in philosophy, consequently absurd in theology" - but philosophical absurdity no longer valid ...?
- Olivieri - the friend of Settele - insists:
on the fact that the theologians had first seen Copernicus's theories as absurd and false in their underlying philosophy and later and consequently as against the Holy Scripture. Olivieri reasons that if those presumed philosophical absurdities are no longer valid, then also the theological censure should be dropped.
First problem: later does not mean consequently. A philosophical absurdity can be detected before a Scriptural one comes to notice. And the Scriptural one can still be independent of the Philosophical one.
Second problem: the philosophical absurdity of Heliocentrism can be the condition on which Biblical Inerrancy is maintained, rather than the cause of Biblical Inerrancy being seen as involved.
Third problem: philosophical absurdity does not mean simply "scientific impossibility" but rather includes also things like holes in the argument, an absurd thesis - prima facie at least - that lacks proof. And as I see it Olivieri and Settele did not produce such either.
Now, you may say "wait a minute! Stars cannot move around in circles in time with the sun!"
Well that depends on whether they are moved only by automatically working causes or by willing causes.
A pen drops to the ground. OK, to the floor actually in this case (I just dropped it so as not to lie). I am not in the least surprised it fell to the ground. That is all it can do, when dropped. If it were to stop where I had held it or in midair, it would prove to a normal mind that someone else held it. If no one else was visible, one could conclude an angel held it.
When St Patrick hung his gloves on a beam of light shining into his cell and they stayed on it, that does not mean this was no longer working, it means an angel, impressed of how he neglected his gloves to praise God, held the gloves for him.
Now, I am afraid Settele forgot about the possibility of heavenly bodies being held and moved about by angels in the text-book. He did not think about it, as far as I know, and then show why even Christians cannot believe that - there is no reason why we couldn't. He just forgot about the mere possibility. When Astrophysics is not based on Atheism, it is based on this kind of forgetfulness.
Now, what did St Thomas have to say about the matter?
I answer that, Philosophers have differed on this question. Anaxagoras, for instance, as Augustine mentions (De Civ. Dei xviii, 41), "was condemned by the Athenians for teaching that the sun was a fiery mass of stone, and neither a god nor even a living being." On the other hand, the Platonists held that the heavenly bodies have life. Nor was there less diversity of opinion among the Doctors of the Church. It was the belief of Origen (Peri Archon i) and Jerome that these bodies were alive, and the latter seems to explain in that sense the words (Ecclesiastes 1:6), "The spirit goeth forward, surveying all places round about." But Basil (Hom. iii, vi in Hexaem.) and Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii) maintain that the heavenly bodies are inanimate. Augustine leaves the matter in doubt, without committing himself to either theory, though he goes so far as to say that if the heavenly bodies are really living beings, their souls must be akin to the angelic nature (Gen. ad lit. ii, 18; Enchiridion lviii).
A proof that the heavenly bodies are moved by the direct influence and contact of some spiritual substance, and not, like bodies of specific gravity, by nature, lies in the fact that whereas nature moves to one fixed end which having attained, it rests; this does not appear in the movement of heavenly bodies. Hence it follows that they are moved by some intellectual substances. Augustine appears to be of the same opinion when he expresses his belief that all corporeal things are ruled by God through the spirit of life (De Trin. iii, 4).
From what has been said, then, it is clear that the heavenly bodies are not living beings in the same sense as plants and animals, and that if they are called so, it can only be equivocally. It will also be seen that the difference of opinion between those who affirm, and those who deny, that these bodies have life, is not a difference of things but of words.
This is from:
S Th I P Q 70 A3 or
I Part, on God and Creation
Question 70 on the Creation of the Luminaries
Article 3, whether they are living beings
Herein he is quite at one with Bishop Stephen Tempier, reputed his opponent, but that was not the case here, Stephen only suspected St Thomas of Averroist or other necessitist errors that were not his. If you know Latin, look it up in Stephen Tempier's condemnations. I have taken the systematic list of condemnations, and put it online on my blogs, here are two relevant chapters:
Capitulum VII, errores de intelligentia sive de angelo
Capitulum XII, errores de celo et de stellis
These systematic chapters form an appendix to the edition that David Piché made in 1999. I have not plagiarised his main work, page against page with his translations, most of them not wrong, and I have added my own annotations. Each condemned sentence is given both its number within the chapter and its number in the original, and possibly more scrambled version of the condemnations from 1 to 219.
So, if Settele and later commentators forgot that angels could be moving the stars, does that invalidate Heliocentrism? I think it invalidates it as not being proven. Not as being absurdly impossible. It is rather absurd unless proven because roundabout.
Juan Casanovas quoted St Thomas as saying something which I cannot find in new advent Summa. He gave reference as "Summa Theol. I q.32 a.1 ad 3" - but the text for that is:
Reply to Objection 3. There are two reason why the knowledge of the divine persons was necessary for us. It was necessary for the right idea of creation. The fact of saying that God made all things by His Word excludes the error of those who say that God produced things by necessity. When we say that in Him there is a procession of love, we show that God produced creatures not because He needed them, nor because of any other extrinsic reason, but on account of the love of His own goodness. So Moses, when he had said, "In the beginning God created heaven and earth," subjoined, "God said, Let there be light," to manifest the divine Word; and then said, "God saw the light that it was good," to show proof of the divine love. The same is also found in the other works of creation. In another way, and chiefly, that we may think rightly concerning the salvation of the human race, accomplished by the Incarnate Son, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
You see, I q.32 is still the Section about the Holy Trinity, not yet about Creation.
But the quote he gives - no doubt present somewhere else in Saint Thomas, or is there any remote possibility this is a forged quote? - is:
In astrologia ponitur ratio epicyclorum, quod hac positione facta, possunt salvari apparentia sensibilia circa motus coelestes, non tamen ratio haec est sufficienter probans, quia etiam forte alia positione facta salvari possunt.
Now, the fact is that the position is sound. Epicycles and excentrics such as Ptolemy imagined are not the only possibilities to save the appearances - that is to leave them as possible straight effects of something real and therefore real appearances rather than illusions - but then that applies to parallax phenomenon, to aberration phenomenon, to nutation phenomonenon too. And therefore these do not prove Heliocentrism, since they are not proven to have been rightly identified in their causality by astronomers.
Juan Casanovas concludes on a note quite incompatible with Catholicism:
Scientific theories are not always definitive ... Nevertheless philosophers and theologians should have kept pace with contemporary scientific developments and settled old theological questions like that with the literal sense of the Holy Scriptures in order to avoid in time any conflict with science.
The literal sense of the Holy Scriptures has been settled. And the decree of 1616, St Robert Bellarmine, and later Pope Urban VIII were applying it. The decision for Settele and against Anfossi did not pretend to do away with it, but to be still applying it. Pope Leo XIII in Providentissimus Deus refers to Biblical inerrancy as still quite applicable. Juan Casanovas asks for a thing which simply is not there in the Catholic Church. He asks fixed doctrine to "keep pace with contemporary developments of science" - and there is no such thing as doing that with a fixed doctrine. A mountain cannot keep pace with a race horse. A house cannot keep pace with a car. Nor should they. And cars and race horses are statistically likelier to come to wrong places than houses and mountains.
I am proud of a doctrine that does not keep pace with contemporary developments in science. I am proud of a doctrine that is sometimes in conflict with contemporary consensus or near consensus in science. And if you ever find me ashamed of it in the future, it will not be because I found a reason against what I now believe, it will be because men have either forged my statement or mistreated me by brainwashing - or rather it will not be at all, if God is with me.
Martyrs of Tyrus in Phoenicia
under Diocletian's persecution