Friday, February 04, 2011

Neo-Geo Double Standards and Exaggerations on Magisterial Documents (Guest Post by David Palm)

[cross-posted from the original on David Palm's blog]


Jane: I don't know what we did, but it must've been something dreadful.

Michael: He sent the police after us and the army and everything.

Jane: Michael, don't exaggerate.




One thing I have noticed in reading neo-geocentrist material is that so far, to a man, they materially exaggerate the nature and authority of the magisterial documents generated in the Galileo incident and, as a corollary, consistently downplay the nature and authority of the documents that have emanated from the Holy See since that time.

Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S. presents a good summary that supports what I have already laid out elsewhere:

In the case of Rome's 17th-century insistence on geocentrism, we have a teaching which: (a) was promulgated only in disciplinary documents, not in formally doctrinal ones; (b) was never promulgated directly and personally by any Pope, only indirectly, through the instrumentality of the Vatican Congregations of the Index and the Holy Office; (c) was endorsed by the papacy for only 141 years (1616-1757); (d) was never greeted with the emphatic and morally unanimous endorsement of the world's Bishops, only a respectful acquiescence; and (e) never in any case affected the concrete lives and destinies of any more than a handful of professional scientists such as Galileo. (Roma Locuta Est - Causa Finita Est)

Father makes some important points. I would emphasize with him that the documents with which we are dealing are uniformly disciplinary—he is correct that the Catholic Church has never issued any doctrinal decree affirming, geocentrism. And he is right that there is no document specifically on geocentrism "promulgated directly and personally by any Pope". But that is not how the matter is presented by the neo-geocentrists. They consistently exaggerate the authority of the relevant documents.

I first noticed this when dialoguing with one "Cassini" (a pseudonym) on the Catholic Answers Forum. I noticed that he consistently referred to the 1616 decree from the Congregation of the Index and the 1633 decree from the Congregation of the Holy Office as "papal decrees". This is an error of fact, plain and simple. I said in my reply to him:

the 1616 and 1633 decrees concerning Galileo were not “papal decrees”. Period. They were issued by Roman congregations. A papal decree and a decree from a Roman congregation are two different things. No amount of cajoling can make one into the other. In fact, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that the 1633 decree “did not receive the pope’s signature”.

In fact, neither decree was actually signed by the Pope. I will return to this point in a moment. For now it is sufficient to note that these are not papal decrees. But they are consistently presented by neo-geocentrists as if they are. In an extended discussion on Dave Armstrong's blog, "johnmartin" (also a pseudonym) spoke of the 1616 and 1633 decrees as "Papal statements". And neo-geocentrist Mark Wyatt edited the Wikipedia article on "Modern Geocentrism" to say this: "three popes have made official declarations against Galileo and Copernicus' writings (as well as other heliocentric writings) and in support of the geocentrist viewpoint" (Wikipedia, "Modern Geocentrism", 21 Oct 2005).

But the prize for the most egregious exaggeration has to go to Bob Sungenis, who recently wrote: "all the popes prior to the last 100 years were directly preaching against heliocentrism." Really now? Every Pope, from St. Peter to St. Pius X was "directly preaching against heliocentrism"? An interesting assertion, but total nonsense. It is distinctly reminiscent of Sungenis' false claim on his other fixation—the Jews—that, "all popes prior to the [sic] Vatican II have made very strong statements against fraternizing with the Jewish religion" (documented here and here, section 8.) Sungenis' nonsensical exaggeration that "all the popes prior to the last 100 years were directly preaching against heliocentrism" strikes a stark contrast with Fr. Harrison's factual statement that "Rome's 17th-century insistence on geocentrism . . . was never promulgated directly and personally by any Pope".

Father Harrison's statement is a fact, but there is one seventeenth-century papal document that has at least some connection to the geocentrism controversy. It is a papal bull called Speculatores Domus Israel promulgated by Alexander VII. It is true that in some sense it touches upon the geocentrism controversy. But even here we find the neo-geocentrists materially misrepresenting the content and the authority of the document.

First, the facts. In 1664, Pope Alexander VII undertook to republish the Index of Forbidden Books. The Index at that time contained hundreds of works, spanning dozens of different topics. Along with the republication of the Index, Pope Alexander also attached the various decrees that had been promulgated by his predecessors in conjunction with various works being placed on the Index ("the aforesaid earlier classifications and annotations (wherever these exist) will be cited, along with the decrees by which the books were originally censured.") His stated reason for doing so was "quo rei ab initio gestae series innotescat," or, following Fr. Brian Harrison's translation, "In this way the case history of each censured book will be made known" (GWW2, p. 225).

The salient point to consider is that this papal bull was not about Copernicanism. It was about which books were to be placed on the Index. This fact is obscured by the way neo-geocentrists cite this bull. Yes, amongst the many decrees that were included were those connected with the various prohibitions of heliocentric works. But it does not place any special weight on heliocentrism, nor does it explicitly cite the text of any of the prior decrees, whether on heliocentrism or any other topic. It lends no additional weight to any of the decrees attached to it—rather, as Alexander VII states himself, his purpose was to establish "the case history of each censured book".

But what do neo-geocentrists do with this papal bull? First, they emphasize that this was truly a papal action, which is true as far as it goes. Some Vatican documents are reviewed by the Pope and ordered to be published by him, but they only carry the authority of the curial dicastery that actually wrote the document and do not carry the authority of a papal document or act. Such documents are referred to as having been approved “in forma communi.” Other documents are reviewed by the Pope and approved by him in a special way such that they are officially made “his own” and therefore acquire the full authority of a formal papal act. Such documents are referred to as having been approved “in forma specifica.” When a Pope wants to elevate the weight and authority of a document from “in forma communi” to “in forma specifica” all he must do is to sign it with the Latin phrase “in forma specifica approbavit.” (Consecrated Phrases: a Latin Theological Dictionary, p. 62)

But while it is true that Speculatores Domus Israel represents a papal action put forward in forma specifica (with papal authority), we need to ask, for what purpose was that authority invoked? To promulgate a doctrinal decree on heliocentrism? No. It was invoked to promulgate a disciplinary document.

Now neo-geocentrists will on the one hand admit the importance of this distinction. Speaking of Alexander VII's bull, one neo-geo plays up its importance by appealing to its approval in forma specifica:

In this way, the pope’s decree against books teaching heliocentrism was in the forma specifica venue, one of the highest magisterial vehicles for the dissemination of papal authority. (GWW, vol. 2, p. 224).

Interestingly, in his response to me, this same individual took a dramatically different tack when the distinction between in forma communi and in forma specifica was to his disadvantage. In that case, he soft-pedaled the fact that the 1616 and 1633 decrees of the Congregation of the Index and the Holy Office were both approved only in forma communi, not in forma specifica ("Response to David Palm on the Galileo Issue", p. 10). While this double standard is telling enough, his assertion elsewhere that the authority of another document promulgated by this same Pope somehow bleeds over to elevate the authority of Speculatores Domus Israel is downright silly:

What is significant about the genre of Alexander VII’s decree is not only its forma specifica venue but also how popes following him regarded Alexander’s previous decrees. For example, in Pius IX’s dogmatic declaration on the Immaculate Conception in 1854, he cites as supporting documentation the writings of Alexander VII more than any other pope. In reference to Alexander VII’s apostolic constitution, Sollicitudo Omnium Esslesiarum [sic] of December 8, 1661, Pius IX says Alexander VII “authoritatively and decisively declared the mind of the Church” (GWW, vol. 2, p. 226.)

So, according to his argument, Alexander VII issued an apostolic constitution, a document bearing the Church's highest authority. This apostolic constitution was on a topic entirely unrelated to Copernicanism. But it was cited by a later Pope. And this somehow automatically elevates the authority of all of Alexander VII's decrees, even one manifestly issued in a form bearing a lesser authority and on a disciplinary topic at that. Anyone who knows anything about ecclesiastical documents will see that this is utter nonsense.

Second, the neo-geocentrists play up various strongly-worded phrases in the document. Thus Pope Alexander states that he "approve with Apostolic authority by the tenor of these presents, and: command and enjoin all persons everywhere to yield this Index a constant and complete obedience..." (Wikipedia, Alexander VII). Certainly this is a strongly-worded phrase. But to what is it directed? Is it directed to establishing anti-heliocentrism as a binding doctrine of the Church? No, it is directed to the republication of the Index of Forbidden Books. Catholics are indeed expected to respect and obey the Pope, even in a disciplinary matter such as the Index of Forbidden Books. But again this does not make any particular thing on the Index a matter of binding doctrine. The Index itself was duly modified several times—including the removal of the various Copernican works—and was eventually done away with altogether. Clearly, then, these are matters of discipline and not of doctrine, even though certainly Catholics are expected to abide by the disciplinary injunctions of the Pope.

But the most egregious abuse of this papal document is when the neo-geocentrists misrepresent it as if its main topic was Copernicanism. For example, Mark Wyatt stated in his edit of the Wikipedia article on Modern Geocentrism: "Alexander VII, in a Papal Bull declared that 'the Pythagorean doctrine concerning the mobility of the earth and the immobility of the sun is false and altogether incompatible with divine Scripture' and the principles advocated by Copernicus on the position and movement of the earth to be “repugnant to Scripture and to its true and Catholic interpretation" (Wikipedia, "Modern Geocentrism", 25 Oct 2005.) This gives the impression that the central topic of the bull was the condemnation of Copernicanism. But this is simply false. The subject of the bull was the republication of the Index of Forbidden Books. Many decrees, not just those dealing with Copernicanism, were attached to this publication in order that a complete history may be established. And—this is important—in no case was the text of any of them cited in the bull. It is highly misleading to state, as Wyatt did, that Alexander VII's bull "declared" anything with respect to Copernicanism. It is false to present Speculatores Domus Israel as if its subject was Copernicanism.

The obvious proof that Speculatores Domus Israel was a disciplinary document is that the contents of the Index were duly modified several times and eventually the Index was done away with altogether.

So, to summarize, the Congregation of the Index, which issued the public 1616 decree, had as its competence which works should and should not be included on the Index of Forbidden Books. At that time it was ruled that works presenting the Pythagorean theory as a thesis rather than a hypothesis should not be read by Catholics and therefore a number of works that did so were put on the Index. It was therefore a disciplinary decree and not irreformable.

The Index of Forbidden Books was duly and authoritatively updated several times, including the deletion of all of the works concerning Copernicanism from the Index. This, then, covers not only the 1616 decree but also Pope Alexander VII's republication of the Index, prefaced by the papal bull Speculatores Domus Israel.

The 1633 decree of the Holy Office, which was also approved in forma communi, concerned the person of Galileo and his breach of the 1616 decree by continuing to publish books and teach the Copernican hypothesis as a thesis. This too was a disciplinary action against him. Yes, it was publicly announced, as the geocentrists have pointed out. But the Catholic Encyclopedia rightly states:

As to the second trial in 1633, this was concerned not so much with the doctrine as with the person of Galileo, and his manifest breach of contract in not abstaining from the active propaganda of Copernican doctrines. The sentence, passed upon him in consequence, clearly implied a condemnation of Copernicanism, but it made no formal decree on the subject, and did not receive the pope's signature. (Galileo)
The seventeenth-century Popes knew perfectly well how to promulgate doctrinal decrees binding on the whole Church. But they consistently refrained from doing so with regard to geocentrism.

(The neo-geocentrists constantly insist that only another formal, canonical trial can reverse the 1633 decree. They assert that "Canon Law" says so, while never actually citing Canon Law to that effect. They cite various private conversations or correspondences to try and establish this assertion, but never anything official or magisterial. Readers should always be aware of this lack of supporting evidence when evaluating such claims.)

I propose that the Church officially reversed the disciplinary actions of the seventeenth century as follows:

16 August 1820 The Congregation of the Holy Office, with the pope's approval, decrees that Catholic astronomer Joseph Settele can be allowed to treat the earth's motion as an established fact. . . .

11 September 1822 The Congregation of the Holy Office decides to allow in general the publication of books treating of the earth's motion in accordance with modern astronomy. . . .

25 September 1822 Pope Pius VII ratifies this decision. . . . (from Finocchiaro, Retrying Galileo, p. 307)
Thus the Holy Office—the same Roman congregation that was involved in 1633—reexamined the issue and gave permission throughout the Church to present non-Pythagorean views of the solar system as theses rather than just as hypotheses, a reversal of the discipline expressed in the 1616/1633/1664 decrees. Note well that this is not simply a matter of removing books from the Index. This was an act of the Holy Office giving positive permission for Catholics to teach non-Pythagorean views of the solar system. This really is, then, the reform and reversal of the earlier ruling.

In addition, as I have already pointed out, the Church also laid out general principles on which such questions may be addressed. Pope Leo XIII stated in the papal encyclical Providentissimus Deus 18-19 that the Holy Spirit did not put any such information about the physical nature of the universe in sacred Scripture. This was reiterated by his successor Pius XII in Divino Afflante Spiritu 3. And this is bolstered by John Paul II in his speech to the Pontifical Academy of Science in which he echoes his predecessors by stating that, "the Bible does not concern itself with the details of the physical world" (here). As neo-geocentrist advocate "Cassini" has candidly admitted, "The only interpretation of note in the history of the Church that the encyclical [Providentissimus Deus] could be referring to was the fixed sun/moving earth heresy [sic]" (link). Neo-geocentrists have yet to propose any reasonable alternative issue that Leo XIII (echoed by Pius XII) was addressing.

Thus it is the official papal doctrinal teaching that the matter of geocentrism is not a matter of faith and morals and that Catholics are free to hold various views on cosmology.

But even if this were a matter of faith and morals the decrees of Roman congregations—especially those confirmed only in forma communi—are not infallible or irreformable. By definition "not infallible" means liable to err. As Ludwig Ott states:

With regard to the doctrinal teaching of the Church it must be well noted that not all the assertions of the Teaching Authority of the Church on questions of Faith and morals are infallible and consequently irrevocable. Only those are infallible which emanate from General Councils representing the whole episcopate, and the Papal Decisions Ex Cathedra (cf. D 1839). The ordinary and usual form of the Papal teaching activity is not infallible. Further, the decisions of the Roman Congregations (Holy Office, Bible Commission) are not infallible. Nevertheless normally they are to be accepted with an inner assent which is based on the high supernatural authority of the Holy See (assensus internus supernaturalis, assensus religiosus). The so-called "silentium obsequiosum." that is "reverent silence," does not generally suffice. By way of exception, the obligation of inner agreement may cease if a competent expert, after a renewed scientific investigation of all grounds, arrives at the positive conviction that the decision rests on an error. (Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 10; emphasis mine).

Numerous Catholic scholars and scientists of great erudition and fidelity to the teaching of the Church have concluded that, indeed, the 1616 and 1633 decrees of the Roman congregations do rest on an error. Indeed, a Roman Pontiff has explicitly admitted that there was an error. Pope John Paul II said publicly that, "The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture" and that "the sentence of 1633 was not irreformable . . . the debate which had not ceased to evolve thereafter, was closed in 1820 with the imprimatur given to the work of Canon Settele" (here).

It is clear that the Church considers this matter to have been officially dealt with and that Catholics have freedom to embrace the view of cosmology that they believe best fits the scientific evidence.

And my personal advice to the neo-geos — Don't exaggerate.

21 comments:

Jordanes551 said...

Excellent work, David. You've laid out and documented in detail what was previously established about the level of authority of the Church's "geocentrism" documents, the moment when the Church reversed the erroneous judgment in favor of geocentrism and against heliocentrism, and the current state of the question as far as the Church is concerned.

scotju said...

Messers Palm and Armstrong, the the statement," that Catholics have the freedom to embrace the view of cosmology that best fits the scientific evidence" is nonsense. Science isn't absolute knowledge. Only the sacred tradition handed down by the Church is absolute. Science is a bundle of facts, speculations, truth and error. Right now, "science" (along with some very foolish Catholic bloggers) claim evolution was how life came to earth. This is the "view of cosmology" that you have to embrace that "fits the scientific evidence" if you wish to be "scientific". Of course, you, along with Messers Palm(?) and Shea believe in so-called theistic evolution. Sadly for you, the sacred scriptures says God created the world and all life on it in six, twenty four hour days. No, Catholics are not free to embrace any cosmology that fits what is called 'science'. The cosmology must conform to what the sacred tradition reveals to us. And that tradition plainly teaches that the earth is the center of the universe, not the sun. Otherwise Joshua's long day wouldn't make much sense if the sun was in the center of the universe.

Dave Armstrong said...

the sacred scriptures says God created the world and all life on it in six, twenty four hour days.

St. Augustine and many others taught that "yom" (Hebrew, "day") is not by any means restricted to the meaning of 24 hours.

You are ignorant of the latitude with which the word can be interpreted. It either means ONLY 24 hours or it has a wider range of meanings. Hebrew lexicons determine that, not ultra-literal arbitrary dogmas of exegesis and hermeneutics dreamt up by fundamentalist geocentrists.

You appeal to Augustine if he teaches geocentrism, then you spit on him when he teaches the old earth and notions that are suggestive of some sort of progressive creation and/or possible (theistic) evolution. This is one of the many double standards in geocentrism that David Palm and others have noted.

Jordanes551 said...

Science is a bundle of facts, speculations, truth and error.

It is impossible to know things that are not true. Therefore science cannot be a bundle of facts, speculations, truth and error.

Sadly for you, the sacred scriptures says God created the world and all life on it in six, twenty four hour days.

No, the Scriptures do not say that.

No, Catholics are not free to embrace any cosmology that fits what is called 'science'. The cosmology must conform to what the sacred tradition reveals to us.

No, the cosmology need not "conform," merely not contradict. Catholic are indeed free to embrace any cosmology that does not contradict divine revelation. Once again, the exegetical rules of Aquinas:

"In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to observed, as Augustine teaches (Gen. ad lit. i, 18). The first is, to hold the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation, only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it, if it be proved with certainty to be false; lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing."

http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/sum077.htm

And Blessed Leo XIII taught us:

"The unshrinking defence of the Holy Scripture, however, does not require that we should equally uphold all the opinions which each of the Fathers or the more recent interpreters have put forth in explaining it; for it may be that, in commenting on passages where physical matters occur, they have sometimes expressed the ideas of their own times, and thus made statements which in these days have been abandoned as incorrect. Hence, in their interpretations, we must carefully note what they lay down as belonging to faith, or as intimately connected with faith-what they are unanimous in. For "in those things which do not come under the obligation of faith, the Saints were at liberty to hold divergent opinions, just as we ourselves are,"(55) according to the saying of St. Thomas. And in another place he says most admirably: "When philosophers are agreed upon a point, and it is not contrary to our faith, it is safer, in my opinion, neither to lay down such a point as a dogma of faith, even though it is perhaps so presented by the philosophers, nor to reject it as against faith, lest we thus give to the wise of this world an occasion of despising our faith."(56) The Catholic interpreter, although he should show that those facts of natural science which investigators affirm to be now quite certain are not contrary to the Scripture rightly explained, must nevertheless always bear in mind, that much which has been held and proved as certain has afterwards been called in question and rejected." (Providentissimus Deus 19)

Jordanes551 said...

And that tradition plainly teaches that the earth is the center of the universe, not the sun.

The Church disagrees, and has never held infallibly and irreformably that geocentrism is an article of the faith. If she had, she could never have reversed the Galileo decrees during the Canon Settele affair.

Otherwise Joshua's long day wouldn't make much sense if the sun was in the center of the universe.

Nonsense. Again, listen to Blessed Leo XIII (who hands on the interpretive rules of St. Augustine):

". . . . we must remember, first, that the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately, the Holy Ghost "Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things (that is to say, the essential nature of the things of the visible universe), things in no way profitable unto salvation."(53) Hence they did not seek to penetrate the secrets of nature, but rather described and dealt with things in more or less figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time, and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even by the most eminent men of science. Ordinary speech primarily and properly describes what comes under the senses; and somewhat in the same way the sacred writers-as the Angelic Doctor also reminds us - `went by what sensibly appeared,"(54) or put down what God, speaking to men, signified, in the way men could understand and were accustomed to."

The Book of Joshua's description of the sun and moon "standing still" no more proves that the earth is stationary and the sun orbits the earth than the Bible's account of the dimensions of the sacred implements in Solomon's Temple proves that the value of Pi is 3.

You need to start reading the Bible like a Catholic, not like a hyperliteralist "fundamentalist" Protestant.

Rick DeLano said...

Ironically, it is Mr. Palm who will downplay the authority of the Church’s official condemnation of heliocentrism in the Galileo case, and will attempt to obfuscate a very simple truth, one which any honest individual can establish without any doubt at all- this condemnation has never been reversed by any subsequent official and binding act of the magisterium.

There is a very good reason why it hasn’t been, and this reason constitutes the point upon which Mr. Palm and his fellow neo- Catholics’ attempts will continue to founder until the Church chooses in Her wisdom to clarify this extremely anomalous episode.

Mr. Palm states:
"Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S. presents a good summary that supports what I have already laid out elsewhere:

In the case of Rome's 17th-century insistence on geocentrism, we have a teaching which: (a) was promulgated only in disciplinary documents, not in formally doctrinal ones; (b) was never promulgated directly and personally by any Pope, only indirectly, through the instrumentality of the Vatican Congregations of the Index and the Holy Office; (c) was endorsed by the papacy for only 141 years (1616-1757); (d) was never greeted with the emphatic and morally unanimous endorsement of the world's Bishops, only a respectful acquiescence; and (e) never in any case affected the concrete lives and destinies of any more than a handful of professional scientists such as Galileo. (Roma Locuta Est - Causa Finita Est)"


>> I thank Mr.Palm (as well as Father Harrison) for acknowledging that geocentrism was in fact insisted upon by the Holy See, was in fact enforced in disciplinary documents issued *with universal effect by the explicit command of Popes*, and was in fact considered a doctrine of the Faith , not only for the 16 centuries prior to its challenge by Galileo, but for well over a century *after* the challenge was officially declared heretical and enforced as such by papal sentence. It has never been reversed, and of course the mere abandonment in practice of reiteration or enforcement of a given teaching does nothing to reverse it. It is quite clear that Mr. Palm, as well as Father Harrison, are confronted with a doctrine that has been taught *and enforced* as part of the ordinary magisterium of the Church. It was taught in catechisms, was unanimously held by Fathers, and was enforced by the Holy Office itself, in a sentence issued and enforced by the command of a Pope.

It now falls to them to prove that these factors can be ignored or set aside.

It is my position that they cannot be.

Rick DeLano said...

******************
DP: "Father makes some important points. I would emphasize with him that the documents with which we are dealing are uniformly disciplinary—he is correct that the Catholic Church has never issued any doctrinal decree affirming, geocentrism."

>>The disciplinary nature of the document does nothing to establish Mr. Palm’s case, since what that disciplinary document is enforcing is a *doctrine*. If the Holy Office condemns a theologian today for teaching aberrant theology, how absurd would it be for an apologist to suggest that this condemnation was never an official teaching of the Church, since it was only found in “disciplinary documents”?

But this is precisely the gambit upon which Mr. Palm depends here.

A moment’s reflection will disclose that such contortions are necessary *only if we first assume* what in fact Mr. Palm can not prove- i.e., that geocentrism is false, and that scientific evidence has proven the Church to be in error in its condemnation of Galileo.

This is a crucial point, and we must examine it carefully.

No objective observer can question that the Church, in Her official capacity as teacher of the Faith, condemned heliocentrism officially, and enforced that decision, in 1616 and again in 1633.
The justification given by the Church at that time was that geocentrism was taught by Scripture, and was a unanimous interpretation of Scripture on the part of the Fathers. (Please read the previous sentence three times, very slowly.)
No subsequent binding doctrinal *or* disciplinary act of the magisterium has ever set this official act aside, or reversed it. If any teaching contradicts the Faith once delivered, then it will be condemned in disciplinary documents, should the teaching pertinaciously contradict the Faith. This is precisely what occurred in the case of Galileo.
The Papal sentence against Galileo of 1633 explicitly claims that these are questions of the Faith, and the actions taken against Galileo are taken on the basis that Galileo has contradicted the Faith.

Therefore the burden of proof resides with Mr. Palm, to show that the Holy Office erred in its two crucial teachings; first, that Scripture teaches that the Sun moves and the Earth is at rest, and second, that this is a unanimous interpretation of the Fathers.

He will not be able to do this.
***************

Rick DeLano said...

DP: "And he is right that there is no document specifically on geocentrism "promulgated directly and personally by any Pope". But that is not how the matter is presented by the neo-geocentrists. They consistently exaggerate the authority of the relevant documents."

>> It is unimportant what Mr. Palm may or may not have encountered in commbox chats. The facts of the case are as related above. If Mr. Palm wishes to establish his case, it is there that he must undertake the task.
***************
DP: "I first noticed this when dialoguing with one "Cassini" (a pseudonym) on the Catholic Answers Forum. I noticed that he consistently referred to the 1616 decree from the Congregation of the Index and the 1633 decree from the Congregation of the Holy Office as "papal decrees". This is an error of fact, plain and simple. I said in my reply to him:

the 1616 and 1633 decrees concerning Galileo were not “papal decrees”. Period. They were issued by Roman congregations. A papal decree and a decree from a Roman congregation are two different things. No amount of cajoling can make one into the other. In fact, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that the 1633 decree “did not receive the pope’s signature”.

>> Again, notice how Mr.Palm attempts to insinuate that the Popes knew nothing and had less to do with the condemnation of Galileo. This is simply ludicrous, as any student of the Galileo affair will discover. There is no teaching of the Church that requires a signature on a piece of paper to exist before a Pope can issue a command or a disciplinary finding. He can, does, and has issued such findings through the relevant curial dicasteries, in this case the Holy Office.

The 1633 decision against Galileo is in fact a *papal sentence*. It was issued with the approval, knowledge, and authority of a sitting Pope. It was issued with His Authority, and distributed by His command throughout Europe.

Regardless of what Mr. Palm might think about it, the Successors of Peter, entrusted with the defense of the Faith, determined that Galileo’s ideas constituted a direct contradiction of the Faith, as determined by Sacred Scripture and the unanimous interpretation of the Fathers.

No subsequent act of the magisterium has ever reversed the authoritative acts of these Successors of Peter.

The ambiguity which certainly does exist, results from the subsequent decision to cease enforcing these decisions.

That subsequent decision is most certainly NOT a matter of Faith, but is instead a prudential and disciplinary decision, and hence could very easily turn out to have been merely tactical or prudential, or even wrong.

But it is clear that the Church believed heliocentrism to be heretical in 1633, and the Pope acted forcefully to ensure that this finding was enforced and upheld throughout Christendom.

It is up to Mr. Palm to show us when this finding was reversed.

He will not be able to do so.

Rick DeLano said...

It is up to the modern defenders of geocentrism to acknowledge that the highly anomalous nature of this affair- including science allegedly providing conclusive proof of heliocentrism (which so-called “conclusive proofs” collapsed utterly upon the adoption of the Theory of Relativity)- constitute excellent grounds upon which to extend the greatest presumption of latitude in examining this question, since the Church might well be called to clarify it as modern cosmological observations continue to provide absolutely stunning evidence of a geocentric cosmos. Perhaps the Church will discern that a development in doctrine is underway in this regard, and indeed perhaps instead we will see that the Popes and Fathers were right all along, and the claim of modernity to have dispensed with geocentrism as a teaching of the Faith will itself prove to have been instead a terrible case of allowing science to intrude in an unwarranted fashion upon the Faith as received and taught by the ordinary magisterium.

In any case, Mr. Palm will be unable to provide two things:

He will be unable to provide an official act of the magisterium overturning or reversing the official condemnation of heliocentrism in the papal sentance of 1633;
He will be unable to provide a scientific proof of heliocentrism.

As a matter of interest, it is worth noting that the official condemnation of heliocentrism as “heretical”, back in 1633, prophetically anticipates discoveries of science which would only occur many decades later, when observations showed that the Sun itself was certainly rotating upon its own axis, and allegedly moving with respect to the galactic center.

It is my position that the Church’s teaching on this point has been abandoned, but never reversed, and any claim that science has disproven geocentrism is utterly without sound basis, in the face of *utterly disproven* scientific claims advanced in the 19th century and subsequently falsified by experiment, such as the crucial Michelson-Morley, Sagnac, and related interferometer experiments..

I will continue examining Mr. Palm’s thoughts as time allows, but his foundational premise has already been effectively rejoined here.

Paul said...

Three comments:

1) Excellent piece. I marvel at your patience, charity and thoroughness.

2) I'm starting to wonder if geocentrists are all either unemployed or independently wealthy. I'm not sure how else to explain the inordinate amount of free time they seem to have in promoting and defending such incredible inanity across the blogosphere.

3) I do find the existence of geocentrists to be a counterfactual to theory of evolution - in particular, the notion of the survival of the fittest.

Pardon the sarcasm. But the combination of such lunacy married with such utter and arrogant self-confidence in said lunacy is a bit much to stomach.

Again, though, well done.

Rick DeLano said...

Paul:

I must confess to a certain disquiet. You apparently mean to impugn as lunatic and inane what the greatest Saints and Doctors of the Catholic Church have understood to be the teaching of Scripture- indeed what is in fact the literal meaning of Scripture, as unanimously held by the Fathers.

It would also be nice if, when tossing around such terms, one bothers at least to *attempt* to establish one's case.

But I suppose you must conclude that Einstein is just as inane, just as arrogant, just as lunatic, since, alas for you, he is forced to admit as a conseqeunce of his theory of Relativity:

"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

Perhaps there exists a degree of inanity, of lunacy, and of illiterate arrogance lurking in the words of folks like you who consider themselves quite capable of dispensing with Scripture, the magisterium, the Fathers, the Doctors, and even the founder of the Theory of Relativity to boot- and all without so much as even a hand-waving *attempt* at demonstration?

I hope you can come back and do better next time, Paul.

Sincerely.

Paul said...

The last thing that can be said of a lunatic is that his actions are causeless. If any human acts may loosely be called causeless; they are the minor acts of a healthy man; whistling as he walks; slashing the grass with a stick…Everyone who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze. If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment...The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

The madman’s explanation of a thing is always complete, and often in a purely rational sense, satisfactory. Or, to speak more strictly, the insane explanation, if not conclusive, is at least unanswerable; this may be observed specially in the two or three commonest kinds of madness. If a man says (for instance) that men have a conspiracy against him, you cannot dispute it except by saying that all the men deny that they are conspirators; which is exactly what conspirators would do. His explanation covers the facts as much as yours. Or if a man says that he is the rightful King of England, it is no complete answer to say that the existing authorities call him mad; for if he were King of England that be the wisest thing for the existing authorities to do. Or if a man says that he is Jesus Christ, it is no answer to tell him that the world denies his divinity; for the world denied Christ’s.

Nevertheless he is wrong. But if we attempt to trace his error in exact terms, we shall not find it quite so easy as we had supposed. Perhaps the nearest we can get to expressing it is to say this: that his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle. A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle; but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large. In the same way the insane explanation is quite as complete as the sane one, but it is not the world. There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity; you may see it in many modern religions. Now speaking quite externally and empirically, we may say that the strongest and most unmistakable mark of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction. The lunatic’s theory explains a large number of things, but it does not explain them in a large way. I mean that if you or I were dealing with a mind that was growing morbid, we should be chiefly concerned not so much to give it arguments as to give it air, to convince it that there was something cleaner and cooler outside the suffocation of a single argument. Suppose, for instance, it were the first case that I took as typical; suppose it were the case of a man who accused everybody of conspiring against him. If we could express our deepest feelings of protest and appeal against this obsession, I suppose we should say something like this: “Oh, I admit that you have your case and have it by heart, and that many things do fit into other things as you say. I admit that your explanation explains a great deal; but what a great deal it leaves out! Are there no other stories in the world except yours; and are all men busy with your business?"

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, pp 22-25

johnmartin said...

DA- You are ignorant of the latitude with which the word can be interpreted. It either means ONLY 24 hours or it has a wider range of meanings. Hebrew lexicons determine that, not ultra-literal arbitrary dogmas of exegesis and hermeneutics dreamt up by fundamentalist geocentrists.

JM - Dave, do you have any quotes from the church fathers on the meaning of the Genesis creation days? Robert Sungenis presents a compelling case for the fathers teaching a literal six day creation week in (from memory) his Genesis commentary.

Paul said...

A sampling of the world according to the geocentric prophet/writer of the geocentric "bible" after a brief Internet search:


NASA is creating crop circles with laser beams from satellites in order to destroy the faith of Christians.

NASA is creating UFOS for essentially the same reason (and to procure more government support).

Jews are the true culprits behind 9-11.

Jews are listening in on your phone calls (and tunneling under your house?).

Jews destroyed the Clinton presidency by using Monica Lewinsky as a secret agent.

NASA did not send a man to the moon. Rather it conspired with Hollywood to perpetrate hoax.

The Latin word for "moon"? Luna. From whence we get the words lunacy and lunatic.


In light of the paranoid, conspiratorial view of life presented by the geocentric prophet, one can understand why a disciple would suffer from "a certain disquiet."

You will pardon me if I am not as riveted by this subject as the geocentrists. Good night. But the best of luck slaying that windmill.

johnmartin said...

Good comments Rick.

As per usual, Palms arguments are shot through with holes. He has either a poor understanding of church ecclesiology, or he's made undemonstrated science theory part of his faith. I'm not sure which one to choose, and neither are comforting.

Regarding Palms need to demonstrate the church has overturned a doctrine it once taught as part of the faith. If Palm attempts to do this, he is trapped. For if the church has taught the stationary earth as part of the ordinary magesterium, then to overturn this doctrine ruins the doctrine of infallibility and the binding nature of the ordinary magesterium.

Simple logic dictates the past Papal statements regarding a stationary earth, make overturning such statements metaphysically impossible for the magesterium to do.

Therefore Palms position is metaphysically impossible and therefore absurd.

Prediction - Palm will most likely not respond in substance to your arguments or my observations concerning his article.

JM

johnmartin said...

Paul - A sampling of the world according to the geocentric prophet/writer of the geocentric "bible" after a brief Internet search:

JM - The mandatory conspiracy theory allegation and ad hominem attacks, based upon selective quoting are the signs of a failed, or non existent case.

JM

scotju said...

Jordanes551, you're obvisously willfully ignorant of the history of science. Otherwise, you never would have claimed the statement "Science is a bundle of facts, speculations, truth and error" is wrong. Scientists are quite capable of being bigoted and biased, holding on to wrong ideas and beliefs against what is actually in front of them, and sometimes (honestly) misunderstanding evidence like any other human being. The history of science shows this over and over again. The acceptance of the theory of evolution is a good example of what I have just said. There's absoltely no proof for macro-evolution, but the vast majority of the scientific community accepts it as true. Why? They don't want to believe in God or divine creation. George Gaylord Simpson admitted this many years ago. Yep, science is only as good as the honestly of each individual scientist.

Jordan551, you need to start believing what Genesis One actually says, rather than reading your science falsely called biases into the text. If you want to deceive yourself by branding a literal belief in Genesis one as "hyperliteralist, fundamentalist, Protestant" go ahead and do so. I'll gladly stand with the "hyperliteralist, fundamentalist", Catholic Church Fathers who did not allow the "bundle of facts, speculations, truth, and errors" of their days to distort the sacred tradition handed down to them.

Jordanes551 said...

Jordanes551, you're obvisously willfully ignorant of the history of science.

Mr. Dalton, you are not and never will be in any position to issue such a judgment. What you are so quick to conclude is a moral failing on my part is in fact your failure to comprehend what I said.

Otherwise, you never would have claimed the statement "Science is a bundle of facts, speculations, truth and error" is wrong.

So, are you going to maintain that it is possible to know things that are not true?

You're being careless in your statements, and apparently do not distinguish between "science" proper and the normal state of affairs in scientific endeavor and inquiry.

There's absoltely no proof for macro-evolution,

Only someone who doesn't know what he's talking about would utter such a hyperbole. And that comes from someone who is not at all convinced that God created any, let alone all, species through an evolutionary process.

They don't want to believe in God or divine creation.

Evolution and belief in God/divine creation are not mutually exclusive, though many scientists and fundamentalist Christians don't understand that.

Jordan551, you need to start believing what Genesis One actually says,

I believe exactly what the Church says it says, nothing more, nothing less.

rather than reading your science falsely called biases into the text.

Another fundamentalist shibboleth, lifting St. Paul's "science falsely so called" out of context and applying it to the modern natural sciences. St. Paul, however, did not refer to "science" but to GNOSIS. It was early Gnostic heresy, not modern natural sciences, that he was warning against.

If you want to deceive yourself by branding a literal belief in Genesis one as "hyperliteralist, fundamentalist, Protestant" go ahead and do so.

Whatever. The fact remains, however, that the Bible nowhere says the days of Creation Week were 24-hour days, nor does the Bible teach that the earth is the unmoving center around which all the billions and billions of galaxies, stars, planets, and nebulae whirl.

I'll gladly stand with the "hyperliteralist, fundamentalist", Catholic Church Fathers who did not allow the "bundle of facts, speculations, truth, and errors" of their days to distort the sacred tradition handed down to them.

Hate to disappoint you, Mr. Dalton, but there aren't any hyperliteralist, fundamentalist Catholic Church Fathers. There are only Catholic Church Fathers. So I'm afraid you'll have to ditch your hyperliteralism and fundamentalism and start reading the Bible like a Catholic.

Rick DeLano said...

Paul:

Alas, it is worse for you this time.

It were better to simply admit that you could not refute your opponent, than to descend to the ignoble depths of insinuating that he is a madman, simply because you lack the intellectual apparatus to refute him.

Shameful.

Rick DeLano said...

I am happy to report that I have had the pleasure of reviewing some initial comments of Fr. Brian Harrison in response to my posts above.

I have decided to address Fr. Harrison's suggestions and expand my above comments into a more complete reply to Mr. Palm.

It will be posted upon completion at:

www.galileowaswrong.blogspot.com

Dave Armstrong said...

Dave, do you have any quotes from the church fathers on the meaning of the Genesis creation days

See:

Dialogue on Materialist Evolutionary Theory and Intelligent Design (including St. Augustine's and St. Thomas Aquinas' Views on Creation and Evolution) (vs. five agnostics)

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/03/dialogue-on-materialist-evolutionary.html