Thursday, January 15, 2009

Exchanges With Robert Sungenis on Geocentrism and Perceived Personal Attacks

[Earth.jpg]

[ source ]
Bob's words will be in blue. Older cited words of his will be in green. Some older words of mine that Bob cites will be indented.

* * * * *
I can't state my suggested policy for ethics all the time, but it is permanently on the sidebar. Here are some highlights of it, and I urge everyone to comply with this, especially in this discussion, since you have voiced your objection in no uncertain terms:

GOOD TALK
In order to better understand each other, we need to communicate, listen to each other, and become friends, if possible. Experience and knowledge of human nature teaches us that good, constructive dialogue is not possible unless there is openness, charity, and respect and courtesy shown to the other person. God gave us two ears and one mouth, but it seems that many folks use their one mouth four times as much as their two ears. I want dialogue to occur here, not lectures, speeches, and "mutual monologues." By all means, render your own opinion, but then be open to talking about it and having it challenged in a friendly manner.
RESPECT OTHERS AND ACT CHARITABLY
PLEASE keep in mind at all times that just because a person may hold what we believe is an erroneous viewpoint, that this is not necessarily (and, I think, relatively rarely) because they are wicked, evil, or obstinate. They may need to simply be more educated. They may have had extremely bad teachers and mentors, or a terrible life history (i.e., various influential and debilitating handicaps). They may in fact change their mind very quickly if shown another viewpoint. Act like Jesus did towards the Roman centurion. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and be unassuming about their motives and intents. We can't read minds or hearts. In any event, "you catch more bees with honey, not vinegar." And we can learn many things from almost anyone.

* * *

[Y]ou tried to play the geocentrism card, another thing about which you know very little, but it looked good on paper so that you could display the "nut" factor.

This is a complete falsehood and bum rap. I have never made geocentrism an issue at all: especially (as you claim) not in terms of introducing it in some cynical ploy to make you look like a nut, in order to discredit everything you say. I only made a few responses in passing when you or your friends brought it up and intruded it into the unrelated discussion on God's attributes. This is easily proven by the public documentation of this whole sordid "pseudo-debate." In my original first critique on the topic (that is now modified to a general paper without reference to you at all) neither the words "geocentrism" nor "heliocentrism" ever appeared at all. In the 44-comment combox for that paper (now removed), I made one simple statement:

But of course, Sungenis wars against Einstein too, as well as heliocentrism, and he thinks the earth doesn't rotate.
That was enough, Dave. It is plain from the way you phrased your objection that you were out to make me look like a nut. Many others have said the same, and with the same intent. I suggest you go read over your context again and reexamine your original intent.

I'm more than happy to reexamine the context and my intent, and will now analyze that at some length, since you insist on making a non-issue a huge issue. You're reading an awful lot into a one-sentence passing remark in a combox, and you are convinced that I am on a vendetta to prove that you are a "nut." You put me in the box with all your severe critics (probably more than half of them fellow "traditionalists" and/or former direct associates of yours in your apostolate: neither of which I have ever been), as if there is no distinction between us, when there certainly is. That's one issue.

Another question in this regard is just what one would have to say to be making out that someone is an actual nut or lunatic or kook (which, of course, goes far beyond merely disagreeing with their positions). Mark Shea and several other of your critics have said this about you, but to my knowledge I have not. One must, along these lines, distinguish between the following propositions:
1. I disagree with position x of person y.

2. I disagree strongly with position x of person y.

3. I profoundly disagree in the very strongest terms with position x of person y.

4. I think position x of person y is manifestly ludicrous.

5. I think position x of person y is so exceedingly ludicrous that it casts doubt on the person's fundamental reasoning or logical capacities.

6. I think position x of person y is so exceedingly ludicrous that it casts doubt on the person's fundamental reasoning or logical capacities and his character as well.

7. I think position x of person y is so exceedingly ludicrous that it casts doubt on the person's fundamental reasoning or logical capacities and his character as well, and moreover, discredits him as utterly incompetent in his field and altogether untrustworthy.

8. I think position x of person y is so exceedingly ludicrous that it casts doubt on the person's fundamental reasoning or logical capacities and his character as well, and moreover, discredits him as utterly incompetent in his field and altogether untrustworthy, and, worst of all, it causes one to suspect mental illness and possibly some actual severe clinical emotional disorder as well.
Note how the judgments get progressively more severe as one goes down the list. Your critics cover the whole spectrum. Your severest ones fall into the #6-8 range. At what point does the list start describing personal, ad hominem attacks? I think it is clearly true of #6-9, and arguably, but not necessarily of #5. My own position with regard to geocentrism (please note: this is extremely important if we are to progress forward) is #4. I also have applied some of the description in #5 to you, because I think espousal of such a view suggests serious problems in reasoning, as I have already stated.

But is that a personal attack? You have thrown the same thing back at me, suggesting my reasoning as seriously disturbed. So really, I have stated no more about you than you have about me. If you condemn me for doing that, you have to condemn yourself by the same token.

It is my contention that saying a person is hindered by severe reasoning and logical difficulties on a particular issue, is definitely not a personal attack (though I can understand on an emotional level why a person would perceive it as such). It is still going after a person's argument, insofar as their logical process is part and parcel of same. It is distinct from #6, where one starts to question a person's character, which is unarguably ad hominem. That's how I view all this. Keeping it in mind, let's now look at my one little ol' sentence that you are wrongly convinced proves that I am trying to make you out to be a nut:
But of course, Sungenis wars against Einstein too, as well as heliocentrism, and he thinks the earth doesn't rotate.
As with all controversial statements, it has to be interpreted in context. Especially important in understanding my meaning and intent are the two preceding paragraphs and the one ending line that was after the comment:
Placing God in time . . . smacks of process theology and rationalistic cults like Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons, that try to make God to be too much like human beings, and do not comprehend His marvelous transcendence.

It also makes an idol out of Newtonian science, as if time is an absolute that even God is subject to. This is not true. God created time, and time is relative to the observer: be he a person or God. Thus, Einstein's relativity was more in line with Christianity than Newtonian physics, raised to an absolute metaphysical position in the universe.

But of course, Sungenis wars against Einstein too, as well as heliocentrism, and he thinks the earth doesn't rotate.

Likewise, the Big Bang cosmology is more in line with the Bible than what preceded it (steady state universe, etc.).
Is this making you out to be a nut, or is it simply an argument about your views? I say, the latter. I know this because I am the world's biggest expert on my own opinions and what is in my head when I write things. Was it strong language? Yes, for sure; very forceful indeed (as my arguments usually tend to be). Is it legitimate? Yes.

First and foremost, it is a simple question of fact. You do oppose Einstein. You do oppose heliocentrism. You do think the earth doesn't rotate. So in a very straightforward, prima facie sense, how can it be ad hominem to merely accurately describe a person's view? How is that attacking them? You could argue, I suppose, that there is a cynical insinuation behind the remark. You think you can read in-between the lines. It's implied that no sensible person would hold such a view, so you may think. Well, that is half-true. As I said, my position is that of #4, meaning that I hold geocentrism to be manifestly ludicrous. So I think it is quite insensible to hold the view; absolutely. But does that reduce to attacking you or thinking you are a literal nutcase? No! It does not!

I think, for example, that anti-Catholicism is intellectual suicide. It doesn't follow, however, that everything an anti-Catholic writes is also intellectual suicide. I recommend lots of things written by anti-Catholics: for example: James White's writings on Muslims, or higher critics, or Mormonism, or the KJV-only folks. I recommended an article by Phillip Johnson, in my own recent writings, because his views on God's attributes (immutability, impassibility) are identical to my own. Obviously, if I felt these two men were nuts I couldn't recommend anything by them, because being nuts affects all of one's views.

I don't believe that about you. In fact, I stated this outright: "Folks, we ought to ignore the geocentrism foolishness. Talking about it simply plays into Bob's hands and his suspicion . . . that we dismiss everything he says because he is a geocentrist." Now, if I thought that being a geocentrist proved in and of itself that you were a nut and a kook, then how could I make this statement? It's the exact opposite of what you think. I said the exact same thing about Ben Douglass:
"Dave": Yet your more rabid/avid supporter, the youngster Ben Douglas appears to be totally is committed to the geocentrism theory....per his own site.

Me: How is that relevant to anything? If Ben accepts it, then he accepts a ridiculous position. Doesn't mean all his other positions are ridiculous . . .

(1-19-09 on my blog)
Ditto with you. But nuthood, it seems to me, would entail dismissing a person altogether (just like the anti-Catholics do with me!). Therefore, by my own internal logic, I can't possibly consider you a nut. I see severe problems with your reasoning processes. That is where I see the problem as residing: a logical difficulty, not a mental or emotional or moral problem. And I state that in the original combox from last May a little bit after my statement above that you so object to:
I think part of Bob's problem is that he is caught in a rut between his former Calvinist beliefs and Catholic heterodoxy. It's an example of what I mean by being "insufficiently converted." He is not yet thinking fully "Catholic" or "like a Roman,". . .

(5-15-08)
Now, you'll probably bristle at that and not like it at all (I wouldn't like it, either, said about me, and in fact, some anti-Catholics have made exactly this argument about me, too), but it is not a personal attack. It is a critique of a position that, in my opinion, shows profound influence from your former non-Catholic affiliations. You do something exactly analogous when you accuse "neo-Catholics" of being influenced by Catholic liberal modernists: some influence other than orthodox Catholicism. You just don't like it when others opine the same about you. We see aspects of fundamentalist Calvinist interpretation and theologizing in some of your views.

Moreover, my contextual point in the disputed statement was as follows (this was my line of thought):
1) God is outside of time. This is the Church's positions. In this current debate, that was backed up, courtesy of Ben Douglass, from the Catechism:

205: He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.

338: Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The world began when God's word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun.

600: To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his grace:

645: Yet at the same time [Jesus'] authentic, real [resurrected] body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills...

646: In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space.
2) Einstein's position on relativity with regard to time, therefore, is in line with the Church, whereas Newton the Arian's position is not.

3) In other words, the Church agrees with standard, orthodox physics, as accepted today.

4) But we would fully expect Bob Sungenis to dissent, seeing that he not only "wars against" Einstein but also against "heliocentrism, and he thinks the earth doesn't rotate" too (both diametrically opposed to current scientific consensus).

5) This is what I describe in context as making "an idol out of Newtonian science, as if time is an absolute that even God is subject to."

6) So the conclusion is that Sungenis finds himself at odds with the Church's agreement with the profound scientific consensus concerning time.
This is an argument that someone is wrong, and profoundly so, not that he is a nut. Present science could very well be shown to be wrong, just as it has many times before; just as it has been (partially) in Newton's case. But the problem is that you also have to grapple with Church dogma of God being outside of time. That is an additional consideration that you are not at liberty to reject, as you are certain scientific theories. I don't think you are a nut; I think your science is 500 years behind the times and that your interpretation of Church dogmas is too influenced by open theism and fundamentalism, and that your reasoning processes betray an odd influence of irrational fideism.

You can take me at my word or not. Your choice. Your critics are not one huge homogeneous mass of clones, believe it or not.

* * *

I take such comments seriously, and you shouldn’t make them unless you intend to be serious about them, which means defending what you glibly criticize, instead of saying that I should talk to someone else if I want to argue about geocentrism.

First of all, I'm under no obligation to spend hours of my time defending every single sentence that I write in passing. That is not reasonable. If we followed that strict of a guideline in everything we wrote, you and I both would be in a heap of trouble, as it would take more than a lifetime to comprehensively defend for eight hours every sentence that we write. So this is a completely unreasonable demand.

Secondly, as I've shown repeatedly, geocentrism is not my concern. Believe it if you like. It doesn't affect anything else directly. Believe what you will about the universe. But don't expect that people won't find that strange, either (on an intellectual level). At any rate, it's not my beef, and not what I am willing to spend time on. My concern is with Church dogma concerning God's attributes. That is what I have defended and argued about. Geocentrism continues to have nothing to do with that. Others (including Gary Hoge) have fought that battle.

Thirdly, it's a fallacy that I have to be able to exhaustively defend everything that I hold. This is like the Protestant misconception that every single Christian must have exhaustive theological knowledge and know how to defend every jot and tittle of their belief, or else not hold it at all. I'm not required to do that (just as I am not in theology, even being an apologist). I accept heliocentrism on the massive authority of scientific consensus. I have no problem with you holding the contrary if you like. I just think you are wrong.

I did read quite a bit of Gary Hoge's critique. I would agree with that. If I recall correctly (I might be wrong), one of his arguments was that, for the entire universe to rotate around the earth every day, this would require galaxies and stars to travel faster than the speed of light, which is impossible. That would be a legitimate, respectable argument against your position. Others can make that attempt. I don't claim to be any expert in science. But I have a working knowledge of the main beliefs of science and it is not irrational to appeal to that. We all do it in many areas of life, and it is foolish to deny that we do.

* * *

Now, I realize that you have taken a lot of flak from a lot of people on this issue and others, and it is quite understandable from a human or emotional perspective that you may have mixed me up in all that, but there are facts here to be grappled with and you are making false charges against me that have no truth in them at all. It remains a fact that I didn't in the past, and haven't been recently making geocentrism an issue. I made a simple reply to someone who brought up geocentrism n my blog:

Of course heliocentrism has been proven. Do you think the earth's rotation is not proven either (as Bob thinks?). It's not a matter of personal opinion, but of scientific demonstration. Sorry to hear that you are so undecided.
The same person then replied again:
Yet your more rabid/avid supporter, the youngster Ben Douglas appears to be totally is committed to the geocentrism theory....per his own site.
Again, I made a very short reply:
How is that relevant to anything? If Ben accepts it, then he accepts a ridiculous position. Doesn't mean all his other positions are ridiculous . . .
And I made a brief argument about the alleged non-rotating earth:
Astronauts could see the earth rotating as they were in space. What is that: an optical illusion? It is certainly empirical observation, which falls within the general or broad realm of scientific inquiry. And of course they could see that the sun was not moving in relation to them, whereas the earth was rotating and proceeding in its orbit of the sun. Otherwise, the calculations for landing on the moon would have been all off. They would have come back to the earth but it wouldn't be there, because they had assumed heliocentrism and a moving earth. So instead of landing in the Pacific they would have landed nowhere and proceeded on in space. :-) I believe Gary Hoge (who has since utterly disappeared from the Internet for some reason) made this argument or similar ones in his discussion with Bob.
How is this disrespectful at all? It was simply an argument made. It may be a good or bad argument, like anything else, but it was not trying to mock or make out that you were a blithering idiot. It was simply a nutshell version of some of the argument that Gary Hoge made: the same one you have publicly thanked him for, in terms of his being a gentleman.

Unfortunately, you opened up this can of worms when you said: "But of course, Sungenis wars against Einstein too, as well as heliocentrism, and he thinks the earth doesn't rotate."

See my above lengthy explanation.


* * *

Also, Jordanes had stated earlier in the combox thread that he didn't think you asserted that the moon landings were faked. Someone ("Pete") produced "documentation" that you did believe this. I find this to be insufficiently documented, as it was based on "gossipy"-type hearsay from a former associate, and from a post on a hostile website. So if you think the lunar landings actually happened, I'd be happy to hear you clarify that, so that it can be stated as a matter of record on my blog that this is an unjust charge against you.

I do not know whether they were real or fake. But even if I did believe they were fake, would it be any sillier than NASA believing there might be life on Mars because they found some methane gas beneath the surface, as they touted the other day on national television, or would it be any sillier than believing in 2003 that there were actually WMD’s in Iraq, or would it be any sillier than believing in 2007 that credit default swaps were good banking practices? Pick your poison, Dave. The fact that your blog buddies even brought this up, and that you, now, are trying to make an issue of it, shows that you will dig up and publicize any piece of dirt or suspicion about me to create a negative image.

It is relevant if a person believes something that is considered extremely eccentric or bizarre by 999 people out of a 1000. You reiterate that you don't know. I was fair enough to you to get your opinion directly, rather than from hearsay. You want to take an agnostic position now. That's fine. But you have to accept that it is a very radical position to take. I would place this one on #5 of my spectrum above, of disagreements. I see it as a more serious error than geocentrism.

Besides, that was a guy named Armstrong who first walked on the moon, and I'll fight to the death any such aspersions cast upon one of my own clan! We're quite proud of that accomplishment.

* * *

Once the facts are in, then, it is readily apparent that I am not guilty of what you accuse me of: using geocentrism as part of my overall argument, in an attempt to mock and discredit you, and to help cause others to pour scorn out upon you for holding these positions. I've never gotten into all that debate. In fact, I have often advised several of your worst critics to lay off of you, and simply ignore these things. Obviously, they haven't followed my advice. But it is the opposite of the truth for you to include me in quite paranoid fashion as part of all these massive efforts to cast aspersions upon you.
But geocentrism played no part in my critique at all, as I have already documented. If you resent people talking about it and criticizing you, then cease bringing it up.

* * *
In another instance you brought up the issue out of the blue, not I:
Are the Fathers really an issue for you, Dave? After all, the Fathers were in 100% consensus on geocentrism against the Greek heliocentrists, yet you reject it out of hand.

Patristic consensus is not applicable to science, but to theology.

This is where you got your wires crossed, Dave. Cardinal Bellarmine, Pope Paul V, Pope Urban VIII all said that geocentrism is applicable to the patristic period because geocentrism is taught by Scripture, and to deny Scripture means that one has denied the faith. If you don’t believe me, then I have a whole book for you to read on the subject, fully documented. I’ll send it to you free of charge.

Science has proved them wrong. It is not a matter of faith or morals. I gladly accept all free books!:

PO Box 3262
Melvindale, MI 48122

Thanks!

* * *

So I find it rather hypocritical that you call the Fathers to your aid on another topic.

Not at all. It's the difference between science and theology. Very simple.

Interestingly enough, Ben Douglass is a geocentrist, yet you wouldn’t be able to figure that out on this particular blog.

It was mentioned on my blog.

How convenient for him to keep silent about his allegiance to one view when he wants to use group pressure to win an argument on another issue. So much for honesty.

His or yours? He openly acknowledged it on my blog and I stated that I thought it was a ridiculous view.
You also cited my earlier words against a non-rotating earth:
Astronauts could see the earth rotating as they were in space. What is that: an optical illusion? It is certainly empirical observation, which falls within the general or broad realm of scientific inquiry.

This just shows how much out of your league you are to argue against geocentrism, Dave. Anyone who is the least bit familiar with physics knows that if the astronauts are rotating with the universe as it rotates around the earth, then the earth will appear to them to be rotating. Try again. God be with you.

The only problem with that is that (I"m sure) NASA didn't do the math involved in calculating moon landings and returns to earth by assuming a medieval scientific position of a rotating universe around the earth. So they still would have been unable to return the rocket back to earth if they had done massively wrong equations. Therefore, heliocentrism is supported by the successful space launches (as my friend Gary Hoge argued). Apollo 13 had problems, though. Maybe they did geocentric equations for that flight, which is why it didn't work . . . :-) :-)
Again, you don’t know the issues, Dave. Both the heliocentric and the geocentric coordinates would give the same results, because the distances and geometric proportions between the earth, moon and sun, are the same. This is why NASA and JPL can either use what they call the ECI frame (the geocentric frame) or the SBC frame (the solar barycentric or heliocentric frame), and they switch back and forth between the two. Actually, the ECI frame is easier since it involves less math.

Great; if I don't know the issues, all the more reason that I shouldn't debate them. Thanks for backing up my contention. Others do know all the relevant issues involved, and they overwhelmingly disagree with you.


* * *

I have simply said I think geocentrism is a ridiculous position. I never said you were a "nut" or anything like it. These are your positions. If you are embarrassed by them, that is your problem. I've made a few passing remarks when it was brought up by others. I dared to make one small argument about the rotating earth and was rewarded by a blisteringly personal, condescending, mocking remark by one of your associates.

* * *

And you continue to allow others, who don't have the guts to give us their real name, to post even more snide and denigrating comments without so much as a caution to them.

As I stated, free speech reigns on my blog. Some things have been said about you that were too harsh, and that I wouldn't agree with. You are a controversial figure, whether justly so or not, but you are. So people have strong feelings. I'm a bit controversial myself, so I understand that. I've been called everything in the book and then some. It's all part of our job as apologists, I reckon. One person stated that he thought you might be using a different name and posting on another site. I defended you and said I would not make such an accusation without solid proof.


16 comments:

Rick DeLano said...

Dr. Sungenis utterly buries you as a matter of simple scientific fact, Dave. I am shocked that you would embarrass yourself by posting this dialogue at least a year *after* you received "Galileo Was Wrong". Your quote below is hilariously, completely obtuse. It requires effort to be this wrong about something, Dave: "Astronauts could see the earth rotating as they were in space. What is that: an optical illusion?" (Yes, Dave. Just as it is an optical illusion to say "the Sun rises", as if the mere visual observation proves the existence of a preferred reference frame). "It is certainly empirical observation, which falls within the general or broad realm of scientific inquiry." (Actually, Dave, scientists are the folks who notice that the same motions we refer to as the Sun "rising", could equally be accounted for by the earth rotating. Literate folk understand this as a consequence of a main postulate of the Theory of Relativity. You are an embarrassment to the Catholic Church because you have willfully refused to understand this). "And of course they could see that the sun was not moving in relation to them, whereas the earth was rotating and proceeding in its orbit of the sun. Otherwise, the calculations for landing on the moon would have been all off." Dave, if you had even bothered to consult the Einstein you (falsely) claim to defend, he would have assisted you in coming to grasp what the "Relative" in "Relativity" means. He would have assisted you in coming to grasp that your argument above is absurd, exactly as it is absurd to say that because we observe the Sun to rise while on Earth, we have therefore "proved" geocentrism. I despair of you ever growing intellectually, Dave, because you have had over a year to correct the laughable, utterly juvenile botch-job of your above argument, and have chosen instead to proudly show forth your obstinate illiteracy. I do not think you are up to the task here, Dave. Let's allow Dr. Einstein the last word: "The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS [coordinate system] could be used with equal justification. The two sentences, 'the sun is at rest and the earth moves', or 'the sun moves and the earth is at rest', would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems]."
 
---"The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta, Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, New York, Simon and Schuster 1938, 1966 p.212

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your kind words. You are a true Christian gentleman.

I am shocked that you would embarrass yourself by posting this dialogue at least a year *after* you received "Galileo Was Wrong".

Umm, you would do well to get your facts straight. This was posted at the same time I had the other dialogues with Bob (later modified by mutual agreement, so as to remove his portions), and roughly at the time that I received the books (January 2009). I didn't ask for those. He decided to give them to me, and I profusely thanked him at the time.

It ain't rocket science (no pun intended). You look at the top of the paper to see the date it was put up. This one tells us: "January 15, 2009."

This can be verified by consulting my January 2009 archives, where you can see all the papers having to do with God and time, etc.:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html

You have to go to the third page ("older posts") in this archive, and then the present post is about the fourth one down.

I also have a note from Bob in the book he sent me, dated January 2009. So I could hardly have read the book by the time I posted this piece.

Just when my dialogue with Bob was getting interesting, and I was asking him to provide me with quotes from Church fathers that supported his views on God (which he did not do then and has yet to do), I recall that you suggested we end it.

This one was left because it clarified an important issue. Bob thought I was trying to imply that he was a "nut" and I clarified that I was NOT doing so.

You are an embarrassment to the Catholic Church . . .

Etc.

1) I suggest you ratchet down your rhetoric since I have taken great pains to be fair to Bob, in the midst of massive criticism that he has received from within the apologetics community. And he knows this full well. I've stayed out of virtually all of the sizzling debates that have gone on.

That I differ from Bob on various opinions is well known. But I have not made it a personal thing. You have, and it is neither a wise nor charitable nor prudent move on your part. Nor (I submit) does it help Bob, to start attacking me personally at this juncture.

2) If you (and/or Bob) are so embarrassed by my alleged gross (scientific) ignorance, then I suggest that I not receive any more fundraising letters, referring to conferences on geocentrism. Even if I desired to support such a cause (I don't), I don't have the money to support another apologetics apostolate, when I am barely keeping my own afloat in these tough economic times. I do this full-time, too, you know. And I don't beg and pull people's arms with fundraising letters. I have a simple plea on my blog that simply makes the need known.

3) Funny you should try to enlist Einstein to your cause, when Bob says things about him like the following:

"I ask, who has the superstition? In case you didn’t know, that’s what this argument will eventually boil down to. In the end, either you accept that Earth is the immobile center of the universe where there is no 'relativity,' or you will be forced to accept the crazy world of the agnostic Albert Einstein [Dave: actually, he was a pantheist and specifically demied being an atheist] where nothing is as it appears to be.

"Mr. Hoge has cast his lot with the atheistic and agnostic leaders of modern pseudo-science, many of which are on the Pontifical Academy of Science and consistently feed the pope garbage about man descending from apes and the universe being billions of years old."

http://www.catholicintl.com/oldgeo/hogevssungenis3.htm

Dave Armstrong said...

"Accordingly, an earth of approximately 10,000 to 15,000 years old agrees with much current scientific evidence on a number of fronts."

http://www.catholicintl.com/epologetics/articles/science/genesis.htm

Rick DeLano said...

Dave: The article was posted in January 2009. It is now June 2010. This means that yes, over a year has passed since the referenced, shockingly illiterate and embarrassing quote was initially posted and refuted, and aslmost that long since Dr. Sungenis charitably provided you with his exhaustively researched and annotated "Galileo Was Wrong". Had you bothered to read it you would have found, among many other things, the Einstein quote which concludes my post above. If you had read only *that quote*, Dave, you would have managed to grasp that your "astronauts" argument was a botch-job. You could have withdrawn it, and saved us both the unpleasant but necessary task of addressing yet again this simple truth: your argument is false, it is scientifically illiterate, and it is an embarrassment, as can be readily attested by any reader who has completed even a high-school physics review of the Theory of Relativity. You have certainly had plenty of time to read Dr. Sungenis' book, and remove the referenced botch-job of an "argument", but this you have not done. Instead you have left it up- and, just so that we are clear about the magnitude of your obstinacy- you have left this incompetent folly up on a Catholic apologetics site in the context of an excoriation of a fellow Catholic as "manifestly ludicrous". The irony here ought not be minimized, Dave. What *is* manifestly ludicrous, is your hilarious botch-job:

"Astronauts could see the earth rotating as they were in space. What is that: an optical illusion?" It is certainly empirical observation, which falls within the general or broad realm of scientific inquiry." And of course they could see that the sun was not moving in relation to them, whereas the earth was rotating and proceeding in its orbit of the sun. Otherwise, the calculations for landing on the moon would have been all off."

This is a grade-school level catastrophic blunder, Dave. This has been pointed out to you repeatedly, including via my above quote of Einstein himself, for well over a year. And yet you consider it perfectly "Christian" to continue to post it here, and indeed to advance it in support of your claim that Dr. Sungenis' position is "manifestly ludicrous". I hope you are beginning to see the depth of the hole into which you have dug yourself here, Dave. Your financial problems are certainly to be regretted, but if you intend to ask for the financial support of Catholics who, like myself, have been known to pony up in support of world-class Catholic apologists, please be assured that uncorrected botch-jobs like the one referenced here are not conducive to a prudent comittment of limited financial resources in these exceedingly tough times. By the way, Dave. It is true that Einstein has many aspects of his work which are highly controversial. One of them, however, is *not* the fact that one cannot discern, by mere observation, whether a given object is rotating on its axis, or whether its observer is orbiting the object. One need not subscribe, of course, to every syllable advanced by a scientist, in order to subscribe to that which the scientist says, which has been established as experimentally certain. But you knew that. Or at least I sincerely hope you did. It would be difficult to conduct an effective Catholic apologetics ministry if you didn't.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for your thoughts and continuing charity, Rick. We always think the best of others in the Christian life (1 Corinthians 13). I will continue to try my best to do so with you, despite your manifest faults.

God bless you.

Adomnan said...

Rick DeLano: Let's allow Dr. Einstein the last word: "The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS [coordinate system] could be used with equal justification. The two sentences, 'the sun is at rest and the earth moves', or 'the sun moves and the earth is at rest', would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems]."

Adomnan: Einstein must have had in mind a coordinate system in the vicinity of earth.

Once we get much beyond our solar system, however, to regard the earth as immobile (not rotating) and the center around which everything revolves would lead to absurd conclusions.

One of the nearest stars to the sun (or earth) is Alpha Centauri, which is actually a binary star system about 26 trillion miles distant. If Alpha Centauri were revolving around a stationary earth, it would cover about 165 trillion miles in 24 hours (a circle with radius 26 trillion). But to do this, the star would have to be moving much faster than the speed of light. Yet Einstein says nothing can move faster than the speed of light.

And Alpha Centauri is, as I said, one of the nearest stars.

So, there seems to be a contradiction if Einstein's comments are understood to apply to the whole universe, rather than just to a local coordinate system; that is, Einstein would be contradicting his own theory.

Either that, or the hypothesis of a stationary earth as center of a universal system of coordinates would entail positing that the "fixed stars" are much closer than astronomers tell us they are. And Einstein, of course, would not agree with that.

Rick DeLano said...

Adomnan: What you call an "absurd conclusion" is instead an inescapable consequence of all present cosmologies. Even if we adopt the Standard Theory and its "hot Big Bang" hypothesis, we are faced with the *fact* of observed redshifts which must be interpreted as evidence of superluminal velocities. In the case of present standard theory cosmology, the observed superluminal redshifts are explained by recourse to the "absurd" argument that space itself is expanding and carrying the redshifted objects along with it, thus the objects themselves are not violating the "speed limit" of light velocity proposed in (Special) Relativity.

In the geocentric cosmology, "space" (conceived as a "sea" or "plenum" of Planck-particles) is itself rotating about a barycentric Earth, and also carrying the heavenly bodies along with it. Again, the proper velocities of the objects are well within the prescribed limits of the speed of light, and the superluminal velocities are instead ascribed to the medium- "space".

But it is important to note that even (Special) Relativity has had to adjust its original restrictions on superluminal velocities, and in a way quite important for the geocentric hypothesis. In the later development of General Relativity, objects *can* exceed the speed of light, and can in fact obtain any velocity whatever given a gravitational field of sufficient strength.

In light of this gravitational exception, it is highly interesting to note another solution for the observed superluminal redshifts in our universe has recently been published in "Physical Review Letters" by 3 Oxford University astrophysicists who suggest that the Earth is in fact sitting at the center of an underdensity at the center of the observable Universe. This fascinating "absurdity" can be read in full here:

http://arxiv.org/abs/0807.1443

and includes this powerful, radical and- ahem- some might wish to claim- "manifestly ridiculous" quote:

"A fundamental presupposition of modern cosmology is the Copernican Principle; that we are not in a central, or otherwise special region of the Universe. Studies of Type Ia supernovae, together with the Copernican Principle, have led to the inference that the Universe is accelerating in its expansion. The usual explanation for this is that there must exist a `Dark Energy', to drive the acceleration. Alternatively, it could be the case that the Copernican Principle is invalid, and that the data has been interpreted within an inappropriate theoretical frame-work. If we were to live in a special place in the Universe, near the centre of a void where the local matter density is low, then the supernovae observations could be accounted for without the addition of dark energy."

It is important to distinguish between our personal metaphysical prejudices, and scientific proof. There is simply no scientific proof whatsoever that the Earth is in motion. All cosmological theories which attempt to account for all observations will strike those deeply indoctrinated into one or another set of presuppositions as "absurd". This is a psychological, not a scientific, objection however.

Since science cannot presently provide us any confirmation of the metaphysical assumption of an Earth in motion, we are left with Scripture, the unanimous interpretation of the Fathers, and the formal papal sentence of 1633, which has never subsequently been reversed or derogated by any magisterial act of comparable authority.

If there were a stock market for cosmological theories, this last decade would have been an excellent time to go long geocentrism. Long and strong........

Adomnan said...

Rick DeLano: What you call an "absurd conclusion" is instead an inescapable consequence of all present cosmologies.

This is a psychological, not a scientific, objection however.

Adomnan: Be that as it may. I can't accept "psychologically" then that there are hundreds of billions of objects out there as large as the sun or larger moving at millions and billions of miles per microsecond.

And I'm not going to entertain that idea because of the "scientific" implications of the utterances of bronze-age prophets, no matter how inspired they were.

The Bible is not a scientific textbook, any more than it is a treatise on differential calculus, a handbook of modern accounting techniques or an encyclopedia of pharmacology. The inspiration of the sacred scriptures concerns spiritual truths (something that would interest even chalcolithic prophets), not physics or chemistry or geology.

I need hardly add that nobody is under any moral or religious obligation whatsoever to embrace geocentrism. Given that I personally see no religious value in this discussion of alternative "science," I probably won't continue it. Others may want to, though.

Rick DeLano said...

Thank you for your acknowledgement that your objection is psychological, and not scientific, in nature. Obviously, however, you *do* accept objects moving at superluminal velocities, if you accept Standard Theory. You simply ascribe these velocities to the expansion of space. The geocentrist ascribes them to the rotation of space. Science cannot presently provide us with conclusive evidence to decide the matter. You dismiss Sacred Scripture as the work of "bronze age prophets", but neglect to add the important fact that these bronze age prophets were in fact inspired in every word they wrote by God Himself. It is a dogma of the Catholic Faith that the Scriptures have God for their Author and hence, contain wisdom far beyond the human knowledge of bronze age prophets. It is true that no one is bound to accept geocentrism. It is also true that no one is bound to reject it. I personally rely upon the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture as unanimously interpreted by the Fathers and so resist the temptation to abandon an ancient, apostolic, patristic and unanimous interpretation of Scripture based upon the (utterly false) claim that science has somehow "disproven" it. It most certainly has not. All the best.

Dave Armstrong said...

At least you didn't personally insult Adomnan. Great progress!

Robert Sungenis said...

Dave, greetings. I hope all is well. Before I get to the geocentrism issue, I just want to say that a quick glance at your side bar that lists various Catholic apologetics organizations didn't include www.catholicintl.com of the Bellarmine Theological Forum. Of all that we have done to defend the Catholic Church I'm curious why you don't list us. Is it just because you and I happen to disagree on a few things, or have you come to the conclusion that BTF doesn't represent the truths of the Catholic Church, or is there some other reason? Please be specific. I would like to discuss this with you.

As for geocentrism, I'll need to ask you this important question first and please answer honestly. Did you read the two volume set, Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right I sent you? Now, before you answer, don't say you read it if you only glanced at it or happen to read just a few pages. Be honest with us. One reason I ask is that if you had read even one/sixth of Volume 1, you would have never made the assertion that the astronauts could see the earth rotating, since you would have immediately learned from our book that modern science won't support your contention.

Along those lines, this is the perennial problem I run into with those, such as yourself, who object to geocentrism -- they simply won't make a scholarly study of the issue and, for one reason or another, choose to rely on old but discredited arguments. The same goes for Adomnan. Had he read our book, he would have learned (from a whole chapter we devote to the issue) that superluminal speeds are not only supported by modern science but these same scientists have no objection to saying that the stars can rotate around the earth as well as the earth can rotate within them. You can find this in Chapter 9 of Galileo Was Wrong. You will find it very interesting reading. They all admit that they choose the rotating earth scenario purely from philosophical prejudices, not scientific facts.

Now, as for my supporter Rick Delano, let me tell you Dave, despite your impression of him, he is one of the most devout and informative Catholic apologists today. Like me, Rick's incentive is to find the truth. Unlike you, apparently, he has made a steadfast effort to study the issue first, and it is from this research that he makes his assertions. Like many of us, Rick gets perturbed when he sees people such as yourself attack geocentrism with the same fallacious arguments, and, instead of answering him with refined and corrected counterarguments, seek to exploit his seeming lack of patience with those who refuse to answer him with cogent scientific arguments. I can well understand his frustration, since most Catholics I've encountered have little or no knowledge of the science behind geocentrism yet don't hesitate to make fun of it and incite other people to do the same. This must stop, Dave, and I suggest that you take the lead, since, by the looks of your website you consider yourself to be a leader of the Catholic apologetics movement. The bottom line is, if you want to make a scientific assertion, then, when challenged, back your assertion up with scientific facts, and be ready to engage your opponent for the long haul.

Moreover, I will help you in any way I can. If you feel you have a legitimate scientific objection to geocentrism, run it by me before you post it on your website, and, if I don't convince you, I can at least give you the counter arguments to your assertions, and you can post both your position and my counterposition. That would be the fairest way to handle things, and it would eliminate much of the acerbic atmosphere that this topic often generates, and, by the comments you have posted on this blog, I think you, in part, are responsible for.

I hope you thoughtfully consider what I've said. God be with you.

Robert Sungenis

James said...

Dave,

Since it has been over a year now since Dr. Sungenis sent you his two volume set, Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right and asked you the simple questions he posted above please be so kind as to post a reply to same.

If you have not had the time and or interest to take a careful read of his above work at least a simple acknowledgment of his post would be most appreciated.

Sincerely,
James B. Phillips

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi James,

I simply missed it at the time. It was probably posted on a day where there were several comments, and so I missed it in the sideboard. I'll be happy to make some replies.

Dave Armstrong said...

Dave, greetings. I hope all is well.

Pretty good. Hope you are well these days too. I missed your comment at the time, as I explained in the last comment.

Before I get to the geocentrism issue, I just want to say that a quick glance at your side bar that lists various Catholic apologetics organizations didn't include www.catholicintl.com of the Bellarmine Theological Forum. Of all that we have done to defend the Catholic Church I'm curious why you don't list us.

Is it just because you and I happen to disagree on a few things, or have you come to the conclusion that BTF doesn't represent the truths of the Catholic Church, or is there some other reason? Please be specific. I would like to discuss this with you.


I don't link to any "traditionalist" websites because I think they contain some significant errors. You don't link to me, either (you don't appear to have many links at all on your website; unless I missed them).

As for geocentrism, I'll need to ask you this important question first and please answer honestly. Did you read the two volume set, Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right I sent you?

No; haven't had time. There are hundreds of books in my library that I wish I had time to read. I'm too busy writing, defending the faith, and raising a family. I should take a speed-reading course.

Now, before you answer, don't say you read it if you only glanced at it or happen to read just a few pages. Be honest with us. One reason I ask is that if you had read even one/sixth of Volume 1, you would have never made the assertion that the astronauts could see the earth rotating, since you would have immediately learned from our book that modern science won't support your contention.

Okay; whatever.

Dave Armstrong said...

Along those lines, this is the perennial problem I run into with those, such as yourself, who object to geocentrism -- they simply won't make a scholarly study of the issue and, for one reason or another, choose to rely on old but discredited arguments. The same goes for Adomnan. Had he read our book, he would have learned (from a whole chapter we devote to the issue) that superluminal speeds are not only supported by modern science but these same scientists have no objection to saying that the stars can rotate around the earth as well as the earth can rotate within them. You can find this in Chapter 9 of Galileo Was Wrong. You will find it very interesting reading. They all admit that they choose the rotating earth scenario purely from philosophical prejudices, not scientific facts.

I think it would be interesting reading, but I doubt that I'd be persuaded of the position, with probably 99.99% of scientists opposed to it.

Now, as for my supporter Rick Delano, let me tell you Dave, despite your impression of him, he is one of the most devout and informative Catholic apologists today.

If he is so devout, he can exercise rudimentary charity in dealing with those he disagrees with. You and I seem to be able to write cordially. Is it really so difficult for him to do so, too?

Like me, Rick's incentive is to find the truth. Unlike you, apparently, he has made a steadfast effort to study the issue first, and it is from this research that he makes his assertions.

Lots of issues to study and debate.

Like many of us, Rick gets perturbed when he sees people such as yourself attack geocentrism with the same fallacious arguments, and, instead of answering him with refined and corrected counterarguments, seek to exploit his seeming lack of patience with those who refuse to answer him with cogent scientific arguments. I can well understand his frustration, since most Catholics I've encountered have little or no knowledge of the science behind geocentrism yet don't hesitate to make fun of it and incite other people to do the same.

I don't make fun of it or write about it much at all.

This must stop, Dave, and I suggest that you take the lead, since, by the looks of your website you consider yourself to be a leader of the Catholic apologetics movement.

I'm just a "player" as you are. My main interest in science is how materialistic atheists abuse it (I've been writing about that lately). That is something that has a direct bearing on influence of others. Geocentrism is about #1,978, 456 on my list of priorities to study and write about. Sorry.

Dave Armstrong said...

The bottom line is, if you want to make a scientific assertion, then, when challenged, back your assertion up with scientific facts, and be ready to engage your opponent for the long haul.

I haven't studied the issue in the great depth that you have. I haven't tried to debate the issue. It doesn't follow, however, that I can't regard it as an eccentric position on the current spectrum. We all have opinions on various issues that we haven't personally studied in extreme depth. No one has the time to be an expert on everything. But knowing a bunch of particular facts does not resolve every problem or end all discussion because premises are adopted and built upon that may themselves be questionable.

Moreover, I will help you in any way I can. If you feel you have a legitimate scientific objection to geocentrism, run it by me before you post it on your website, and, if I don't convince you, I can at least give you the counter arguments to your assertions, and you can post both your position and my counterposition.

Like I said, I have little interest in the topic at this time. Again, all apologists make choices as to what to write about. You see the wide variety of topics I have written about. But I concentrate on one thing at a time. Currently, it is mostly atheism and its relation to science and its many false presuppositions that is my interest.

That would be the fairest way to handle things, and it would eliminate much of the acerbic atmosphere that this topic often generates, and, by the comments you have posted on this blog, I think you, in part, are responsible for.

Rick charged in here acting like an ass. That's not my fault. He made a stupid charge that I posted something a year after I actually did, and insulted me in many other ways. He set the tone before I said one word. Maybe you think that is a good way to do "apologetics" or to gain people's respect and make them willing to engage in dialogue. I do not, and respectfully suggest that you rebuke his behavior in this thread before you start criticising mine. He's your friend. He'll accept it from you. It's the same thing with the anti-Catholics. They won't accept any advice from you or I. But if one of their own says the same thing, they'll listen.

I hope you thoughtfully consider what I've said.

I did, which is why I have now replied, once I became aware that you posted this.

God be with you.

And with you.