Friday, November 19, 2010

Robert Sungenis' Responses to Recent Critiques on This Blog Regarding God's Characteristics and Geocentrism (With My Replies)


Catholic "traditionalist" apologist Robert Sungenis wrote to me and ask that I post this. I am happy to oblige. See related papers:

Can God Change His Mind?: Dialogue With Bob Sungenis on God's Immutability, Omniscience, Atemporality, Simplicity, & Impassibility (Divine Emotions?)

Robert Sungenis' "Changeable God": More Documentation of His Erroneous Views (God Changing His Mind, Having Emotions, Being Bound to Time)

Geocentrism: Not at All an Infallible Dogma of the Catholic Church (David Palm)

Does the Church Support Robert Sungenis' Novel Theories? (Jonathan Field)

Jonathan Field vs. Robert Sungenis on the Latter's Errors Regarding the Theology of God, Part II

Profound Mysteries of the Faith (Like God's Timelessness) and Their Relationship To Reason
God's Immutability, Omniscience, Timelessness, & Impassibility / Anthropomorphism / Can God "Change His Mind"? Does God Have "Emotions"?

Church Fathers on the Immutability, Simplicity, Atemporality, and Impassibility of God


Biblical Evidence for Anthropopathism and God Condescending to Human Limitations of Understanding


* * *

What follows (black print) is from Robert Sungenis; my replies are in blue and in brackets.

* * * * *


First, I’ve only skimmed the immense dialogue taking place on this blog, and I do wish I had time to answer some of the questions that have been posed here. In lieu of my involvement, it looks like John Martin is quite capable of fielding most of the questions and objections, and I want to commend him for his efforts. John is from Australia, I believe, and we sent him the two volume set of Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right a while ago. By the looks of what John has written on this blog, he is positive proof that someone can read the books, comprehend what is being said, and then ably defend our historic Catholic doctrine of geocentrism. I trust John will continue to do a good job.
Second, early in this blog dialogue, Mr. Armstrong tried to divert the discussion into one concerning the contention he has with me about God’s immutability, suggesting that this was more important than geocentrism.


[I wasn't trying to "divert" anything. I simply put up earlier dialogues that had been removed by gentleman's agreement. Since Bob wanted to start critiquing my views on Galileo, it was fair game to put back up what had always been a perfectly legitimate concern. It has always been my policy (at the same time) to not debate the issue of geocentrism. But God's immutability and other characteristics are topics that are infinitely more important than the issue of geocentrism and heliocentrism, because that is theology proper (the theology of God Himself), as opposed to scientific speculation, which is not directly a matter of Catholic dogma, apart from the basics of asserting that God created; there is a primal pair of human beings, God creates each soul supernaturally, etc.]


Mr. Armstrong is accusing me of not holding to the Church’s teaching that God is immutable. Allow me to take this opportunity to clear the air. I FIRMLY BELIEVE IN GOD’S IMMUTABILITY, AND I FIRMLY BELIEVE IN THE CHURCH’S TEACHING ON THIS SUBJECT.


[Yes, that's what Bob always says, but various positions about God and His actions that he takes directly contradict this assertion (as his former associate Ben Douglass has noted in the past). It is simply illogical thought to an extraordinary degree]


What, however, Mr. Armstrong has decided to conclude on his own is, because I also believe Scripture when it says that God changes his mind upon the repentance or appeasement from man (e.g., Amos 7:1-6; Exodus 32:9-14), that I am contradicting the Church’s doctrine of God’s immutability. My answer is, NO I AM NOT. I believe both the Church’s teaching on immutability and the Scripture’s teaching on God changing his mind upon the repentance of man. The two are not mutually exclusive and there is no Church teaching that says they are. The Church has simply not addressed the statements in Scripture that say God changes his mind. You can prove this for yourself. Here listed are all the places in Denzinger that the Church teaches on God’s immutability (254, 346, 428, 462, 463, 703, 1701, 1782, 321, 1784, 2184, 706, 1655, 72, 143, 144, 327, 344, 257, 429, 462, 1463). In none of these does the Church ever teach that God cannot change his mind, or that divine immutability forbids God to change his mind. Why? Because the Church never has and never will contradict the face value, literal words of Scripture. If you examine the citations in Denzinger you will see that immutability simply means that the essence or substance of God does not change, not that God cannot change his mind. We combine the two by simply noting that God’s immutability foresees that he will act one way or the other when confronted by the free will decisions of man, and the Church has never taught anything differently (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 600). If, to the contrary, Mr. Armstrong can find any place in the official teachings of the Catholic Church which states that God, because he is immutable, cannot change his mind, then I will give him $1000 and retract my proposition. Note, we are not interested in Mr. Armstrong’s opinion, or the opinion of this or that theologian as to whether God’s immutability forbids him to change his mind. We are only interested in official Church teaching that says precisely that God’s immutability is mutually exclusive from God changing his mind and that the former will not allow the latter. The ball is in Mr. Armstrong’s court.
[it's all very simple: the doctrine of immutability (reiterated by the Church over and over, and de fide dogma) excludes all change whatever from God. God changing His mind is a change; therefore it cannot happen, according to the same doctrine. It also contradicts the notion of an omniscient God, as I have demonstrated. This is not rocket science (no pun intended). But if one gets into a habit of profoundly illogical thinking, as Bob has, then they will miss the obvious logical fact]
I would say, however, that Mr. Armstrong’s opening up this dialogue with a picture of Apollo 15 on the moon is, if not a “personal attack,” is very close to one, and definitely one that tries to poison the audience against me before they read what I have to say.

[it's not a personal attack; it is simply bringing to the fore a related, highly eccentric position, that is relevant in determining whether a person is trustworthy as an expert in scientific or specifically astronomical / cosmological matters. It's completely relevant]

It follows the usual demagoguery that has been used against me by Mr. Armstrong and my other ideological enemies on a continual basis, another one being the accusation that I am “anti-semitic,” which is a total falsehood. I am simply not afraid, and will not be intimidated, to speak against Jewish politics, religion and social mores.

[I haven't brought the Jewish issues that Bob is so incessantly concerned with into this at all. I've always avoided all of that controversy. From what I've seen, I think he is persistently wrong on that score, too, but since I haven't brought it up at all, it is irrelevant to the present discussion, and is, thus, a mere polemical diversion]

Be that as it may, as an American citizen, I do have the right, so says my government, to question, doubt or reject things that the American government says or does. It’s called “Freedom of Speech.” Hence, I do have the right to doubt whether the American government had the capability to send a man to the moon and bring him back to earth. I don’t have any question that the US could send a rocket to the moon, but sending a man and getting him back safely is another question altogether.

[sure: Bob can believe whatever he wants to believe. And we are free to believe that certain of his views are absurd, eccentric, and unworthy of acceptance. That's free speech too]

Hence, I think it is grossly misleading and totally unCatholic for Mr. Armstrong to poison the well by these antics.

[how is that the case by simply noting that he believes in such a thing? It's relevant to a consideration of whether one knows how to "do" science, to note that he believes that the moon landings were possibly not what they appeared to be. People need to know that. It is altogether relevant to the whole discussion. If a person is applying for a position as an English teacher and someone is brash and presumptuous enough to point out that the applicant is illiterate, that is not "poisoning the well"; it is, rather, an altogether relevant fact to consider as to qualification. It's a deal-breaker]

The only real and relevant question on this blog is: is Mr. Armstrong able to defend his staunch rejection of geocentric cosmology?

[whether I can or not; many others are able to do so, and I have appealed to them by linking to their analyses]

All the diversions of moon landings and God’s immutability are not going to answer that basic question. So, I would implore Mr. Armstrong to stay on topic and answer the questions put forth to him.

[again, immutability is not a diversion (it has nothing directly to do with whether geocentrism is true), but a separate problem in Bob's theology that needs to be addressed straight on. I have helped to put pressure on him. Hopefully others in much higher places will censure his opinions on these scores as they ought to be, lest unsuspecting readers get led astray into heresy regarding God's attributes]


Fourth, I see some discussion on this blog, mainly from Phil Vaz, that a few years ago Ken Cole gave an irrefutable proof for heliocentrism with his satellite trajectories. This is simply not the case, and if anyone would like to revisit this issue, I would happily oblige. Mark Wyatt at markjwyatt@yahoo.com can be contacted about this. Mark gave the definitive proof against Cole’s thesis, and it was shortly after that that Cole took his website and his arguments down, and they have not been put up by Mr. Cole since, more than five years ago. It was easy to refute Mr. Cole’s arguments, since Mr. Wyatt showed what we have always known, i.e., any movements in the heliocentric system are identical to those in the geocentric system, since all the distances and proportions are exactly the same. The only difference between the two systems is what is used as the center.
Lastly, if Mr. Armstrong would like to have an open and public debate, at my expense, on either the subject of geocentrism or God’s immutability, I would most happily oblige. All he needs to do is give the word and we will set it up.
Robert Sungenis
[I have made all my arguments in the papers linked to above. Bob minimized and ignored them at the time of our initial exchange (January 2009), saying I wrote too much and it was merely my logic (exactly as he is doing now). So it is his choice whether he wants to interact now with the argumentation or not. No skin off my back or loss to me if he again declines. But I don't engage in public oral debates. I do serious written debate, which is infinitely superior to the other format, for my money (everyone is entitled to their opinion on methodology). If Bob wants to do a "James White" and refuse all written debates and imply that all who use and prefer that format are intellectual cowards, let him. It has no effect on my personal opinions as to how best to engage in serious discussion. I'm not influenced or swayed by name-calling and chest-puffing tactics]

* * *

Bob wrote a second reply that I received on 11-20-10. I will again make some response. I received two more replies from him on 11-22-10 that have also been incorporated. I have now asked Bob to please post anything further on his site.

* * *

I’m not going to spend much time responding to Dave, but I will address a few loose ends that I believe need to be clarified.

[As usual; Bob took a pass on discussing immutability issues in January 2009; and he chooses to do so again here, while chiding me for not taking up my valuable time to argue about whether the earth rotates or not, or is 10,000 years old, or the center of the universe, etc.]

Bob (11-22-10): Dave, I’ll discuss God’s immutability anytime you want, especially since you have made this an issue of my credibility. As for whether the earth rotates and is less than 10,000 years old, well, in case you didn’t notice, that’s what all the Fathers said, all the medievals, about a half dozen popes, and no one in the Catholic Church has officially rescinded that position. So if you think this is an “odd” and “eccentric” view, it’s only because you don’t realize how far away you are from the Tradition of the Church and that’s because you’ve made popular science your ultimate authority, not the Church.

Dave (11-22-10): [the last clause is sheer nonsense]

* * *

First, if, as Dave claims, he didn’t respond to my critique of the chapter in his book because he thought “geocentrism is a ludicrous position,” then why does he bother putting up what he believes are proofs of heliocentrism on his site (including the proof of the orbiting satellite taking pictures of a rotating earth), and inviting others to put up their proofs as well? Somehow, when it comes to Robert Sungenis directly challenging David Armstrong on these issues, David goes into the “No Mas” posture. I find that rather perplexing.

[Why in the world would it be thought that one person has to personally engage in dialogues or write about about absolutely anything and everything under the sun? We all make choices of what we will spend time doing. I posted arguments from others and I have allowed geocentrists to also make their case on my site. So where's the beef?]

Bob (11-22-10): The beef? Obviously it’s that you try to answer everyone else’s arguments but mine, Dave. Yes, you made a choice to answer them and not me. Yes, it was your choice. I’m only pointing out the contradiction in that logic.

Dave (11-22-10): [The only problem is that it is not a "contradiction" at all to simply decide to spend time doing one thing or another. A real contradiction would be saying, for example, that I will reply to absolutely every challenge and critique that I receive, and then not do so. Since I have never stated the former, it is not an issue of contradiction at all. As I have pointed out in a related combox, I have always had a policy of deciding that certain things are not worth the effort to reply to or debate. This happens to be one of Bob's obsessions, so that offends him, but that is not my problem. I'm not gonna change the policy that works best for me simply because he is dissatisfied with it. The fact is, that I don't "answer everyone else’s arguments". Bob's premise is wrong; therefore he falsely thinks contradiction is present in my policy. There are many dozens of critiques of my work from anti-Catholics that I ignore. There are additional ones from Catholic "traditionalists" and others that I have no time for, either]

* * *

Second, as for David Palm’s and Jordanes’ claim that Galileo and geocentrism are not “magisterial issues,” that’s quite an amazing statement. To me it is proof that they refuse to deal with the reality of the situation. How much more “magisterial” could it be? Pius V taught us geocentrism in the Tridentine Catechism; Paul V accepted the conclusion of his Sacred Congregation that heliocentrism was a “formal heresy” and told Galileo never to teach it again; and Urban VIII said the same under a canonical trial and commanded all his papal nuncios to prohibit the teaching of heliocentrism; and Alexander VII put Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus on the Index; and Benedict XIV kept them on the Index. Bellarmine staked his claim on the consensus of the Fathers, and Trent taught that when the Fathers are in consensus we must hold to their conclusions. Palm and Jordanes only WISH it was not magisterial.

[Right. Well, if Bob is so confident, then let him write more endless tomes responding to them, too, rather than merely taking potshots. And it won't be here; it will have to be on his site]

Bob (11-22-10): Dave, just answer the question. If you believe “Jordanes and Palm did such a good job in showing that Galileo and geocentrism was not magisterial,” then the burden is on you, not them, to defend their position. How can you defend it when we have a list of at least a half-dozen popes dealing with the issue directly and making decisions on it?

Dave (11-22-10): [They have made a good case. If they wish to defend it further, that is up to them, not me. Why Bob would think it is my burden to defend their arguments rather than theirs, is, I confess another mystery and curiosity of his thinking]

* * *

Third, Dave says concerning the issue of God’s immutability, the following conclusion: “it's all very simple: the doctrine of immutability (reiterated by the Church over and over, and de fide dogma) excludes all change whatever from God. God changing His mind is a change; therefore it cannot happen, according to the same doctrine. It also contradicts the notion of an omniscient God, as I have demonstrated. This is not rocket science (no pun intended). But if one gets into a habit of profoundly illogical thinking, as Bob has, then they will miss the obvious logical fact.”

Did I not say in my challenge to Dave that I wasn’t interested in his opinion?

[It's not even my "opinion"; it is a very simple application of classic deductive logic. The fact that Bob doesn't grasp this virtually self-evident truth is sadly indicative of the serious problems he has in his thinking, leading to a number of erroneous conclusions]

Bob (11-22-10):

Huummm. So here is Dave’s “deductive logic”:

Premise 1: Scripture says God is immutable;

Premise 2: Scripture also says God changes his mind;

Conclusion 1: Scripture’s statement in Premise #2 is false.

Ah, so we just proved that Scripture is errant. That’s what Dave’s “classic deductive logic” leads to.
Dave (11-22-10): [so ridiculous and silly, in light of my past statements, that it is its own refutation]

* * *

Unfortunately, he continues to ignore this request and thus we arrive at an impasse every time this subject comes up. Let me say it again. I’m not interested in Dave’s logic or what he thinks the magisterium believes. I’m only interested in the official and explicit teaching of the magisterium.

[Yes, exactly]

So here it is again: Does the magisterium, when it teaches on God’s immutability, say also that God cannot, therefore, change his mind as Scripture says he does in passages such as Amos 7:1-6 or Exodus 32:9-14?

[Absolutely; it follows inexorably from what the magisterium has definitively stated]

Bob (11-22-10): And where did the Church officially say: “Absolutely; it follows inexorably from what the magisterium has definitively stated”? Answer: Nowhere. It only follows in Dave’s head because Dave thinks he’s more logical than the clear propositions of Sacred Scripture.

Dave (11-22-10): [more of the same ridiculous and silly stuff]

* * *

This is not rocket science. The answer is a clear and unequivocal NO. If Dave believes otherwise, I’ve offered him $1000 to find such a statement from the Church but apparently he can’t find it, and thus he has to fall back on his own human “logic” for a defense.

[Right. Logic is what it is . . .]

Come, let us reason together.

[That would be nice, wouldn't it? But with Bob's trashing of logic, he has made it impossible from the get-go]

Bob (11-22-10): “Trashing of logic”? Hardly. I just recognize its limitations when we are dealing with an infinite, triune and incarnate God. My preferred “logic” is to take Scripture for what it says, even if my logic can’t explain it.

* * *

If we had to prove our Catholic faith only by what is logical to the human mind, we’d have to throw out the majority of our religion. Is it logical that three beings who are all God are actually one God? Is it logical that a being can be both God and man at the same time? Is it logical that a piece of bread only looks like bread but is actually God? We can add many more such examples. Human logic will only take us so far. We depend on faith for the rest.

[Great. That would explain many of Bob's eccentric positions on things, if he takes such a dim view of logic, as applied to theology, and adopts virtually a fideistic outlook]

Bob (11-22-10): So is Dave telling us that he can explain the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Real Presence by human logic? If so, then he is the first person in history to do so.

Dave (11-22-10): [As has often happened in these sorry, pitiful exchanges, Bob doesn't grasp my position. I had already stated last time: "I have no problem whatever accepting paradox and beliefs that ultimately go beyond man's comprehension (while not involving self-contradiction)."]

* * *

So if Scripture says God is immutable and also says God changes his mind, then the “logical” position, if you will, is to believe both; and the “illogical” conclusion is to make one proposition true and insist the other is false.

[I see; so God is immutable and is also mutable, too. Makes perfect sense in "Bob-logic" . . . ]

Bob (11-22-10): Don’t put words into my mouth, Dave. I did not say that God would be “mutable” if he changed his mind upon man’s repentance. The truth is, God would be mutable if he DID NOT change his mind, since God has already said that he would forgive man if man repents of his sin. If he reneged on the forgiveness, then he would be mutable. How’s that for logic? You didn’t realize that it cuts both ways, did you?

* * *

Incidentally, Dave’s “I won’t believe it unless it is acceptable to human logic” approach is precisely what led Luther and Calvin to their heretical views on absolute predestination, since they could not accept by human logic that God could predestine and predetermine all events and yet give man a free will.

[Not the point at all. Bob is completely out to sea. I'm not the one to explain elementary logic to him. I don't have the patience]

Bob (11-22-10): Ah, the “No Mas” argument again.

* * *

But the Catholic Church rejected the “logical” approach of Calvin and Luther and said that Scripture is true on both predestination and free will, regardless of whether we can “logically” explain it; and to this day the Catholic Church has not given an official explanation as to how the two can be joined together since her religion is not required to pass the human logic sniff test in order to be true.

[I have no problem whatever accepting paradox and beliefs that ultimately go beyond man's comprehension (while not involving self-contradiction). I have written about that many times. My epistemology is infinitely more complex and nuanced than Bob gives me credit for (largely following Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's thought in his Grammar of Assent). I do have a huge problem, however, with flat-out contradiction: of the sort that Bob wants to espouse on this matter. Biblical paradox and contradiction are two very different things]

Bob (11-22-10): So what Dave is telling us then, is that when Scripture says God is immutable and also says God changes his mind, then Scripture is giving us a contradiction? Perhaps the “contradiction” is in Dave’s hermeneutic.

* * *

Bob (11-22-10): Dave, take a good look at what you wrote in this present piece and you will see a lot of statements that could easily be viewed by someone as personal attacks. Take this one, for instance: [“Oh, there are plenty of "nuts" in the world who believe all manner of conspiracy theories. On that I heartily, happily agree with Bob! But it is rare to find so many such theories in any one place, such as one finds on Bob's site. It's almost encyclopedic when it comes to conspiracy theories”]. I suggest you stop projecting onto other people the very fault you have yourself.

Dave (11-22-10): [This is not a personal attack at all. The use of "nut" is rhetorical, because Bob was using it sarcastically, which is why I put it in quotes there. I was not calling him a nut at all. I was merely pointing out that conspiracy theories abound on Bob's site, which is not saying anything that he doesn't glory in himself by immersing himself in them. Anyone can search his site for "conspiracy" and related notions and see that]

. . . let me deal with this issue of the mirror on the moon. Somebody wrote in and said: “Has Sungenis not read his own book? "When a Lunar Laser Ranging experiment is performed, a laser beam is first aimed at the moon toward retro-reflectors placed on its surface previously by astronauts. The retro-reflectors have an ingenious design, which always reflects the captured beam exactly back along the path of the incoming ray. If any light beam strikes the reflector surface, it will return on the same path; there’s no deviation in direction, no correction angle. (Galileo Was Wrong, Vol. 1, p. 827). So, he uses data gained from mirrors placed on the moon by astronauts in order to prove geocentrism, but he doesn't really believe astronauts made it to the moon?”

The answer is simple. I didn’t write that section of the book. Dr. Bennett did. And it doesn’t come from page 827 since there is no page 827 in the book. If come from page 440.

[Ah; dissent in the ranks . . . geocentrists lack unity as to whether the moon landings really happened or not! A healthy diversity of opinion . . .]

Bob (11-22-10): No personal attack here, Dave? Ah huh.

Dave (11-22-10): [How in the world is that a "personal attack"? I was merely having some tongue-in-cheek fun with the fact that Bennett and Sungenis disagreed with each other]

* * *

And on the moon landing issue, Dave says: “how is that the case by simply noting that he believes in such a thing? It's relevant to a consideration of whether one knows how to ‘do’ science, to note that he believes that the moon landings were possibly not what they appeared to be. People need to know that. It is altogether relevant to the whole discussion. If a person is applying for a position as an English teacher and someone is brash and presumptuous enough to point out that the applicant is illiterate, that is not ‘poisoning the well’; it is, rather, an altogether relevant fact to consider as to qualification. It's a deal-breaker.”

RS: Yes, I guess this argument would have some impact if I was the only nut in the world who doubted the moon landings. You can check the Internet for yourself. Not only are there many people who have doubts, they have advanced degrees in science and photography to demonstrate their case. My Lord, if it were the case such that we had to accept everything our government told us without question, we Catholics would all be aborting our babies because the US government now tells us it’s OK.

[Oh, there are plenty of "nuts" in the world who believe all manner of conspiracy theories. On that I heartily, happily agree with Bob! But it is rare to find so many such theories in any one place, such as one finds on Bob's site. It's almost encyclopedic when it comes to conspiracy theories]

Bob (11-22-10): Really Dave? “encyclopedic”? [the original was a typo: "encyclopedia" -- so I changed Bob's word to reflect my original boo-boo] No personal attack intended? And you’re just an impeccably cool guy who always believes what he sees on the NEWS, right? You have no doubts, much less reject, anything your government tells you, right? Wow, what a wonderful world you live in. Gee, Dave, if that’s the case, I have this land in the Florida everglades you might be interested in…..

Dave (11-22-10): [Yes, really; many conspiracy theories are on Bob's site and discussed ad nauseum. How that fact leads him to think I supposedly have total trust in everything the US government does is also beyond me]

* * *

Be that as it may, let’s put the shoe on the other foot for a moment. On his website Dave was recently making the claim that we know the Earth rotates because cameras on satellites were taking time lapse photography of its rotation. Time and time again we pointed out to Dave that this illustration did not prove his case, since he couldn’t first prove that the satellite wasn’t rotating around the Earth by being carried in rotating space. But this went right over his head and he insisted that the satellite camera proved the Earth was rotating. So, by the same logic that Dave wouldn’t hire me as an English teacher if I was illiterate, I wouldn’t trust him to give any convincing arguments against geocentrism if he couldn’t even reason that a satellite taking pictures of the Earth does not prove that the Earth is rotating.

[I wasn't claiming any particular expertise myself in making arguments against geocentrism. So if I did indeed blow this argument (others may judge that), I did. Big wow. If so, it wouldn't prove anything one way or the other as to the entire issue at hand, since it doesn't rest on one measly little argument to begin with]

Bob (11-22-10): Right. So the next question is: what other proof do you have for heliocentrism, Dave? I would like to give you a “Big wow” if you could produce such a proof rather than the “No Mas” argument.

Dave (11-22-10): [I already declined to enter such a discussion. I am not hounded into discussions that I think are worthless by schoolyard tactics of taunting and chest-puffing]

* * *

Bob (11-22-10): Patience? Come on, Dave. How many blogs have you devoted to nothing more than attacking me since 2004?

Dave (11-22-10): [None that I am aware of. Again, Bob seems to have me mixed up with someone else]
Bob (11-22-10): And when I confront you directly you always retreat into the “No Mas” zone or claim you “lack patience.” The truth is, we have discovered that you have no magisterial statement that proves your case against me on the issue of God’s immutability, so perhaps you will be kind enough to retract your diatribe at the beginning of his blog that casts me as some inept theologian. And it looks like you will not proposition Jordanes or Palm to engage me in a debate on geocentrism, even though you were so confident that they had totally trounced my claims of the Magisterium’s involvement on the geocentric issue. C’est la vie. Thanks, Dave. I can now rest easier tonight. When you want to deal with me and the issues directly, you have my email address.

* * *

This is all I’m going to say. I’ll close by reiterating my challenge to Dave. (A) If he can find an official magisterial statement that says God cannot change his mind (e.g., Amos 7:1-6) because he is immutable, I’ll give him $1000 dollars. And (B) if he, or even Jordanes or Mr. Palm, want to have an open and public debate about geocentrism, I will arrange the debate at my expense. Just give me the word. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. Is Dave Armstrong, Jordanes or Mr. Palm?

[I have devoted enough time to all this. Given Bob's cluelessness even on something as simple as straightforward deductive logic, I have exhausted my own patience. More power to those who are willing to pursue such absurd "discussions" with him, where even logic itself is under direct assault]

* * *

I wrote to Bob on 11-22-10 (indented portions below) after receiving his latest reply, with his third response, incorporated above:

Hi Bob,

Okay, I'll do it [i.e., post it] one more time (and probably make a few more replies). I'll tack it on to the existing paper.

After this, though, it'd be better for you to post on your own site. I have both sides on mine: yours and that of your supporters such as johnmartin and Rick Delano. You have nothing of my recent stuff on your site, so no one would even know if and how I responded. Yet here you are asking me to post your words again on my site. I'm happy to do that, but after this you're on your own.

I've devoted far more than enough time to this. Again, we see that no true dialogue is taking place. You are unwilling.

Bob (11-22-10): I am more than willing, Dave. It is you who has demonstrated the "no mas" position on geocentrism, and you who continues to depend on your own logic rather than the Magisterium for the immutability issue. Bottom line: if you want to have a dialogue, I'll give you a dialogue. Start a thread on either subject on your blog, and I'll contribute to each of your responses.

Dave (11-22-10): [I have already made all the arguments about immutability issues in posts that have been on my site since January 2009. Bob took a pass then, and he continues to do so now, by making the silly, vapid "argument" that it is merely my own logic, rather than inexorable conclusions from clear magisterial statements. Someone else will have to do this debate with him now. I ain't interested. I have documented his errors on theology proper. That's been my role. Someone else will have to persuade him to cease and desist in promulgating these ideas]

Bob (11-22-10): . . . I only dealt with your erroneous [sic] about the Galileo affair. That's all. I only opened up a new discussion when I saw your pitiful treatment of the Galileo issue in a book store I just happened to be browsing one day.

Bob (11-22-10): . . . I only want the truth, Dave. If you have it, speak it. If not, I'm not interested.

Bob (11-22-10): I couldn't resist the temptation when you called your book the "One Minute Apologist" and spent what appeared to be exactly one minute on the Galileo issue, but then prided yourself on having answered all the important questions about it. The way I see it, Dave, is that you refuse to deal with the big questions on the Galileo issue and prefer to stuff it all in a box labeled "absurd and eccentric: no need to bother with this." God has given me something with which I intend on changing the world, and I'm not going away. The conference was just the start of what I and my associates are planning. You can either join us by supporting our Catholic tradition, or you can support the anti-biblical conclusions of status-quo science.

Dave (11-22-10): [Note the extreme disdain of anyone who disagrees with Bob: to do so is to not support "Catholic tradition" and to support "anti-biblical conclusions."]

Bob (11-22-10): Bottom line: If you want a dialogue, start one, and I will oblige. In the meantime, let's be gentlemen about it.

Dave (11-22-10): [I've always been a "gentleman" towards Bob. I have bent over backwards to be charitable to Bob. He happily admitted this in January 2009 when we made our gentleman's agreement and I removed public materials, even though I hadn't changed my mind on his serious theological errors. Rick DeLano concurred by saying that I had acted in a classy fashion, etc. I have all the e-mails. I do think he has very serious deficiencies in several areas of his thinking, and too-often manifested problems in understanding logic and how language (particularly biblical language) works. I was willing to discuss immutability in January 2009. Bob didn't want to and he has already offered the same evasive, condescending claptrap now in response to my arguments. Let him. I'm no longer interested. I have exposed and documented his errors. What he does now is up to him. If he seeks "dialogue" on this it will have to be with someone else, I'm afraid, because my patience (as well as any interest I may have once had) is altogether exhausted]

***

26 comments:

S said...

Sungenis: "I do have the right to doubt whether the American government had the capability to send a man to the moon and bring him back to earth. I don’t have any question that the US could send a rocket to the moon, but sending a man and getting him back safely is another question altogether."

Has Sungenis not read his own book?

"When a Lunar Laser Ranging experiment is performed, a laser beam is first aimed at the moon toward retro-reflectors placed on its surface previously by astronauts. The retro-reflectors have an ingenious design, which always reflects the captured beam exactly back along the path of the incoming ray. If any light beam strikes the reflector surface, it will return on the same path; there’s no deviation in direction, no correction angle." (Galileo Was Wrong, Vol. 1, p. 827)

So, he uses data gained from mirrors placed on the moon by astronauts in order to prove geocentrism, but he doesn't really believe astronauts made it to the moon?

And as I pointed out to Sungenis' apprentice Johnmartin in another comment box, he can't really try to argue that he believes the mirrors were placed there by robots because one of his main arguments was that the computer technology wasn't nearly sophisticated enough to send a man to the moon:

"Any intelligent person who has studied the issue is going to have doubts as to whether the United States had the capability to put a man on the moon in 1969 when, for example, the processing power of a 1969 computer was less than one-tenth of that in a typical cell phone of today" (Sungenis: Response to Jared Olar) http://galileowaswrong.com/galileowaswrong/features/4.pdf

If we didn't possess a computer sophisticated enough to do the calculations necessary to land a manned ship on the moon, then we certainly didn't have one sophisticated enough to both land an UNmanned ship on the moon and also to make a robot that could place a mirror properly on the moon. Regardless, the book indicates that the mirrors were placed there by "astronauts."

I would be very interested to hear his explanation for this. It seems to me that either the mirrors are there and he should stop propagating NASA lunar-landing hoax theories or they're not there and he should remove this section of his proof for geocentrism.

Dave Armstrong said...

Touche! Brilliant . . . and what will be the answer from Bob (not one of his bulldog underlings)?

Dave Armstrong said...

Bob sent another reply and I gave some additional counter-replies, as of 11:20 PM EST Saturday night.

Mark said...

R. Sungenis: "The answer is simple. I didn’t write that section of the book. Dr. Bennett did."

A "simple" answer that resolves nothing - typical Sungenis folderol. The point "S" made stands untouched regardless of who wrote what section of Galileo Is Wrong. This parsing of his book into "his and mine" is schizophrenic idiocy. He would rather throw his own book and co-author under the bus rather than having the humility(or at least the common sense!) to admit that his unimportant conspiracy theory is wrong.

But it really is simple, isn't it? Either the book is correct or it's not. Either the mirrors are present or they are not, Mr. Sungenis. If they are present, then stop spreading your ignorant conspiracy theories and admit you were wrong. If you don't believe they are present, then have the integrity to remove this section from your book.

And I had to laugh out loud when reading Sungenis' description of those who don't doubt that men landed on the moon.

Sungenis: "Any intelligent person who has studied the issue is going to have doubts as to whether the United States had the capability to put a man on the moon in 1969..."

So what, pray tell, what does that say about his own co-author's brain power?

Alas, I have to agree with him, there. Neither he nor his co-author know what they are talking about.

Mark said...

If you and your readers are interested in some enlightening comments from a well-respected and acclaimed PhD in physics who corresponded with Bennett and Sungenis, go here and review the comments:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/bloggers/1657397/posts

You'll note more of their weird double-mindedness where Sungenis/Bennett use scientific information when it benefits them, but then deny its fundamental legitimacy.

For example, Dr. Stephen Barr writes to a Sungenis acolyte:

(Begin Quotes):

By the way, Robert Bennett told me, when I pressed him, that he does not believe in either special or general relativity! I can send you the e-mail where he said this to me. Bennett talks (as you do) about the Lense-Thirring effect and the dragging of inertial frames, but the Lense-Thirring effect is something that exists in General Relativity and not in Newtonian physics. Yet Bennett says he believes in Newtonian physics and not General Relativity. He totally inconsistent!

He rejects GR and then appeals to a GR effect.

I just looked you up in the ISI database and find that no one named M.J. Wyatt has ever published a research paper in physics. There is an M.J. Wyatt who has published a few papers in engineering. What are your credentials for arguing about General Relativity with someone who has taught graduate courses in it at a major university? (In fact I am teaching it again next fall.) You have what some people call Chutzpah. Look, fellah. I do this stuff for a living. Do you also tell brain surgeons and airline pilots about the technicalities of their fields? Sorry to be harsh, but God is not served by his followers speaking nonsense.

....

Mark said...

If you and your readers are interested in some enlightening comments from a real PhD in physics who corresponded with Bennett, go here and review the comments:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/bloggers/1657397/posts

You'll note more of their odd double-mindedness where Sungenis/Bennett use accepted scientific information when it benefits them, but then deny it's fundamental legitimacy.

For example, Dr. Stephen Barr writes to a Sungenis acolyte:

By the way, Robert Bennett told me, when I pressed him, that he does not believe in either special or general relativity! I can send you the e-mail where he said this to me. Bennett talks (as you do) about the Lense-Thirring effect and the dragging of inertial frames, but the Lense-Thirring effect is something that exists in General Relativity and not in Newtonian physics. Yet Bennett says he believes in Newtonian physics and not General Relativity. He totally inconsistent!

He rejects GR and then appeals to a GR effect.

Mark said...

(quotes from Dr. Barr continued)

I just looked you up in the ISI database and find that no one named M.J. Wyatt has ever published a research paper in physics. There is an M.J. Wyatt who has published a few papers in engineering. What are your credentials for arguing about General Relativity with someone who has taught graduate courses in it at a major university? (In fact I am teaching it again next fall.) You have what some people call Chutzpah.

Look, fellah. I do this stuff for a living. Do you also tell brain surgeons and airline pilots about the technicalities of their fields? Sorry to be harsh, but God is not served by his followers speaking nonsense.

......

Bennett is an ignoramus when it comes to physics and Sungenis is a bigger one. Sungenis wrote some brilliant theological works (like "Not by Faith Alone") but he is now dabbling in things he knows zippo about. He still obviously has the fundamentalist idea of every man his own Pope, except that instead of rejecting 2,000 years of Church Tradition, as he used to do as a fundamentalist, he now rejects 400 years of well established physics.

Just as he used to think he could figure out the whole Bible on his own without the aid of Tradition, so now he thinks he can figure out the physical universe on his own without knowing what theoretical physicists have been up to for the last 400 years. Chutzpah to the nth degree....

...

I am the author of "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith". Bennett is an ignoramus, and you can quote me on that.

....

I have talked enough to Robert Bennett by e-mail to be able to say that he does not even understand physics at the level of a college freshman physics major. He misunderstands basic things. If he has a Ph.D. it cannot be in theoretical physics from any reputable physics department. He uses terms like "inertial frame", and "Lense-Thirring effect" without any understanding. He made arguments to me about stellar parallax that involved elementary blunders.

My own credentials? I have a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Princeton Univ. (1978) and have published over 125 papers in research journals on fundamental physics.

(End Quotes)

Dave Armstrong said...

Mark,

Interesting info., but could you please refrain from personal attacks? I can hardly object to Sungenis' personal attacks against me and not also speak out against attacks made towards him as well.

We can strongly critique ideas without getting into that.

Thank you.

Ronnie said...

Dr. Sungenis:
"Because the Church never has and never will contradict the face value, literal words of Scripture."

[u]Romans 3:22[/u]
23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

But the Catholic Church teaches Mary never sinned. Obviously Dr. Sungenis doesn't understand Catholic theology as well as he things.

S said...

I see that Sungenis tried to answer the contradiction about the mirrors on the moon. He wrote, “The answer is simple. I didn’t write that section of the book. Dr. Bennett did. And it doesn’t come from page 827 since there is no page 827 in the book. If come from page 440.”

I looked at the page again and it says “827” at the bottom. Maybe he’s looking at a different edition or format than I am. I think there are four or five editions and a variety of formats.

No matter because his solution doesn’t really address the central problem. As I said, it seems to me that either the mirrors are there and he needs to admit that NASA did put men on the moon or his lunar-landing hoax theories are valid and he needs to remove this section of the proof for geocentrism. Who wrote what in the book is really irrelevant. So, Houston, we've still got a problem. It's odd that he can't see that.

Thanks again for hosting these discussions, Dave. But I think that will do it for me. I’ve spent too much time on them already – and I know my wife agrees! LOL As I'm hoping to convince her to make me an extra one of her delectable pies this Thanksgiving, I’d best make myself more available for all the preparations. :-)

By the way, I took a look at some of your other articles and you have some great material here. I was particularly touched by the ode you wrote to your wife. Good stuff. I plan to refer some friends who are looking for resource material to your website. I hope to be back after the holy-days. Have a nice Thanksgiving and a blessed Christmas.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks very much for the kind words. All the best to you and your family, too, as the blessed Advent season approaches.

James said...

Douay-Rheims Bible -- Matt. 21:16 -
And said to him: Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus said to them: Yea, have you never read: Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Douay-Rheims Bible -- 1 Cor. 1:27 -
But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong.
**********************************

I would commend to your readers an article by an author who is considered weak and foolish by those who consider themselves strong and worldly wise: "Recanting Galileo" by Solange Hertz which should be found at http://philossophiasirach.blogspot.com/2010/11/galileo-galilei.html and http://ldolphin.org/geocentricity/index.html.

James B. Phillips

Dave Armstrong said...

As of 1:30 AM EST on 11-23-10 (Tuesday) I have added two more replies from Bob and my own counter-replies.

Now it turns out that some idiot on Mark Shea's blog was pretending to be me and using the nick "Mr. Armstrong." Bob Sungenis mistakenly assumed this was me (the person was running him down).

I will happily acknowledge any retractions and removals Bob makes as a result of my replies and the info. that a person was unethically pretending to be me, but other than that I'm done with all this, including dialogues with Bob on immutability.

Ain't interested any more after his latest replies regarding the immutability issue . . .

Bob has apologized for the mistaken identity error in a private e-mail to me. I appreciate that.

Paul said...

Three comments.

* What is with the prophetic-apocalyptic warnings and presumptuous invocations of God’s name? “God has given me something with which I intend on changing the world, and I'm not going away. The conference was just the start of what I and my associates are planning.” “I’ve sent them my books free of charge, but they refuse to read them… I’m sure they will answer to God for their negligence.”

* I'm sure you'll be glad to know that you weren’t being impersonated at Shea's blog. I read in the comments there that it was a joking reference to astronaut Neil Armstrong and not you.

* I struggle understanding immutability, too. I sometimes wonder if the answer may lie in the distinction between the temporal and the eternal perspectives. Change is a fundamental aspect of time and God did/ does enter into time in order to interact with His creation. But from the eternal perspective, God does not and cannot change. Regardless, at least from what I'm reading at your blog, Sungenis was sloppy. He needs to be more careful when writing about a dogma like that so that no one is confused or led astray about God.

Nice job keeping the teaching straight and orthodox.

But have you ever heard this joke? Q: What was God doing before the creation? A: Nothing. He didn’t have time.

S said...

I noticed that Sungenis is still trying to answer the contradiction between him and his Galileo Was Wrong co-author (Bennett) on the loooong thread. If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could you copy and post this reply over there as well, Dave? It would be good to have it in both places, if you don't mind.

IMO, all he’s done with his "new information" is to model the propagandist/conspiracy theorist mindset. As I previously told Johnmartin (http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/11/robert-sungenis-opts-for-personal.html?showComment=1289532816869#c2770407935333708365), they're guilty of the very things that they accuse modern science of. They approach the evidence with an extreme bias that blinds them to the facts in front of their eyes or they fail to honestly seek out contrary evidence in the first place.

Sungenis first waved off the contradiction between Bennett and him with a non-answer that gave the appearance of being an answer. Then, after it was exposed that his answer didn't actually answer anything, he didn’t even acknowledge that fact and instead went off to find "new evidence" to "vindicate" himself (in his own words). And that's exactly what a propagandist/conspiracy theorist would do. His belief is dictating his "fact" search rather than allowing his fact search to dictate his belief. His recommendation of the “excellent documentary” video put out by other conspiracy theorists rather than information put out by reputable scientists also fits the propagandist/conspiracy theorist mold.

Another illustration of Sungenis' propagandist/conspiracy theorist mindset is that he knew about this contradiction several years ago, before his book was published (unless he wants to say that he never read Bennett’s chapter). But only now, after the contradiction was publicly exposed, did he make any effort to resolve it.

So, did Sungenis’ “new information” accomplished anything? Not really.

First, how does Sungenis' "new evidence" "vindicate" him and Bennett from "any contradiction", as he claims? Bennett says in Galileo Was Wrong that there are mirrors "placed on [the moon's] surface by astronauts" and Sungenis supports and promotes conspiracy theories that astronauts never went to the moon. Either Bennett is wrong or Sungenis is wrong. That contradiction remains.

Second, while it’s apparently possible to detect laser light that has bounced off the lunar surface, it’s clear that this is not what happened and continues to happen with the lunar laser experiments run by scientists around the world (the ones referenced and used by Bennett). Why? A few reasons.

As stated at the University of California at San Diego website:

“We measure to the retroreflector arrays left on the moon by the Apollo astronauts, and by an unmanned Soviet rover carrying a French-built reflector. These define very specific points of reference on the lunar surface. This is far better than measuring to the rough-and-tumble surface. We would never have any hope of measuring the lunar distance to millimeter precision without these well-defined reflectors. We aim at one reflector at a time when performing the measurement.”
http://physics.ucsd.edu/~tmurphy/apollo/basics.html

(continued below)

Dave Armstrong said...

I will cross-post this reply to the long thread. Thanks for it.

S said...

In other words, it’s not possible to obtain consistent, repeatable, precise measurements by bouncing lasers off the irregular lunar surface, but scientists can and do attain that level of consistent, repeatable precision when bouncing lasers off the retro-reflectors. This is a primary reason why the U.S. and the Soviet Union put the retro-reflectors there in the first place – because they dramatically enhance accuracy. Unlike the surface of the retro-reflectors, the lunar surface is obviously far from uniform. As a result, when laser photons return to the earth from the irregular lunar surface (the laser burst covers about a 1 mile wide diameter when it hits the moon), the distances recorded will vary significantly from test to test. But when a laser photon from a laser burst hits the fixed retro-reflector, the measurements are extremely consistent and precise. Even back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s scientists were able to attain a precision level of 10-15 centimeters. From the mid-1980’s they could measure to within one centimeter. Now they can measure to within 1 millimeter. (See: http://spie.org/x38304.xml?ArticleID=x38304)

Continued below

S said...

Now, could it just be that there just happens to be a reflective rock located at each of the sites where NASA says we placed mirrors and that's what's giving consistent readings? No. Why? Because scientists from all over the world are able to focus these laser bursts at these same lunar locations and get the same accurate results. No matter where the laser burst is fired from around the globe, the light returns to that same location. No naturally formed object has such a reflective property. Conversely, this is *exactly* what a retro-reflector array is *designed* to do: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retroreflector

Bennett himself mentions this in Galileo Was Wrong: “The retro-reflectors have an ingenious design, which always reflects the captured beam exactly back along the path of the incoming ray. If any light beam strikes the reflector surface, it will return on the same path; there’s no deviation in direction, no correction angle.” (GWW, p. 827)

(continued below)

S said...

Another factor to consider, as the article below states, is that the nature of the return signal indicates that it must be bouncing off something well under a meter in size vs. photons reflected from the lunar surface. Also, returns from other non-lunar landing areas are "featureless", meaning that there is no evidence of something unusually reflective anywhere other than where we and the Russians landed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-party_evidence_for_Apollo_Moon_landings#Retroreflectors

I don’t see the relevance of the Russian mirrors placed on the moon in 2005 that Sungenis mentioned. Scientists around the world have been using these retro-reflectors - some for decades now - and they get their results by focusing where NASA landed and placed retro-reflectors.

So, he still should either remove this section of Galileo Was Wrong or stop promoting NASA lunar landing conspiracy theories.

S said...

Here are some helpful links on this topic:

http://www.clavius.org/

http://physics.ucsd.edu/~tmurphy/apollo/basics.html

http://spie.org/x38304.xml?ArticleID=x38304

(more to follow, below)

S said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Laser_Ranging_experiment

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-party_evidence_for_Apollo_Moon_landings#Retroreflectors

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Laser_Ranging_Experiment

Dave Armstrong said...

The two initial comments of yours were cross-posted and are there (just checked). The old comments total was 444; now it is 446, and I closed the combox again. You have to make sure you're on the last page of the comments (comments 401-446).

I went through the spam filter and found many duplicate posts. One didn't seem to make it through at all, so I allowed it in. It starts with "Now, could it just be . . ."

Dave Armstrong said...

I think it is sufficient. You have that stuff here, anyway.

S said...

Fair enough. I'll delete my comments about fixing it then. Merry Christmas!

S said...

A friend of mine came across this while searching for something else and thought it might be worth sharing it here.

http://www.kl7uw.com/mw3456.htm

Notice the 5th paragraph:

"I came on board at Goldstone as the last two Apollo Moon missions were being conducted. Dick set up a ten-foot comm dish in his yard with a simple circular horn, diode mixer, and signal generator to pick up the carrier of the Apollo orbiting the Moon. It was pretty neat to hear the changing doppler as the orbiter circled behind the Moon and the signal dropped out and came back about 20-minutes later!"

So these men independently set up a dish antenna and pointed it at the moon at the very time that NASA said there was going to be an orbiter around the moon and, just by some happy coincidence, managed to pick up signals with just the expected doppler characteristics (notice that it had a 20 minute period, which would NOT be the case if it was just an earth orbiter, which would be much longer). How about that.

Well, I suppose the conspiracy theorists like Sungenis will say these guys must be part of the hoax, too. They were just paid off by NASA. :-/

Dave Armstrong said...

That's a great anecdote. Thanks!