“Ego-centric” (Geocentrism)

geo

Of the many anti-science ideas afloat today, perhaps the most egomaniacal is the geocentric one, which requires a belief that the universe literally revolves around you.  

To show this is the incentive for holding such a position, I offer this quote from scipturecatholic.com: “If the earth is indeed the center, then God is trying to tell us that we are special to him. We are unique.”

The website then dismisses contrary evidence with this strawman: “This is why the atheists and agnostics want so badly to disprove geocentrism, because if they can do that, they can argue that there is no God. They want to argue that there is no God because they don’t want to be accountable to him.”

Of course, one could argue that there is no god without bringing up geocentrism, just like one could argue for helicocentrism without asserting it proves there is no god. So without addressing the existence of any deities, we will examine the substantial proof of helicocentrism.

First, the other view. The egotism addressed earlier is, of course, unrelated to whether  the sun and its planets orbit Earth, but this position requires suspending what we know about astronomy and physics. Almost all adherents are a subset of Catholics, for whom the Bible and papal dictates are preferable to observation, research, and confirmation. A tiny number of Orthodox Jews and even fewer Muslims also embrace the cause.

I occasionally see digs from fundamentalists that scientists (especially Darwin) are held in such high regard by the pro-science crowd that they are secular saints whose dogma must never be questioned. In truth, Darwin’s ideas have been added to, subtracted from, and refined as more evidence has been gathered since the Origin of Species was published. That’s how science works and the development of the heliocentric model is an excellent example of this.

While Ptolemy considered the universe geocentric, he deduced that astronomical bodies were moving, and he came up with the idea of planets being in motion around Earth. In order to account for Mars’ seeming retrograde motion, his model incorporated the Red Planet’s trajectory as having a large circle and a second smaller circle on which it moved.  

About 1400 years later, Copernicus suggested a heliocentric model where Earth is one of several planets circling about the sun. This accounted for retrograde motion, but was inconsistent with the observed positon of the planets. Kepler solved that problem when he hypothesized that planets have an elliptical orbit, and subsequent observations supported this.

The invention of the telescope allowed Galileo to collect strong evidence of helicocentrism, such as noticing that Jovian moons were orbiting Jupiter rather than Earth. Newton further solidified the idea by developing a model for gravity that included planets with elliptical orbits.

This systematic, fact-based approach is far more admirable than the stance of groups such as Catholic Apologists International, whose leader, Robert Sungenis, wrote, “The geocentric cosmological view of the universe is in accordance with the literal, infallible, and inspired Word of God which, according to Pope Leo XIII, is inerrant in all matters.”

A literal reading would also require denying the existence of earthquakes, as Psalm 105:5 reads, “Thou didst set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be shaken.”

I am unconcerned with a man’s faith, but when he tries to cram into the scientific arena, I respond with counterproofs.

Proofs such as Venusian phases. Venus and the sun could not both orbit Earth and move farther away from each other. Yet Venus appears lighter or darker (and larger or smaller) depending on its phase. In the heliocentric model Venus is largest when it’s closest to Earth and smallest when it’s on the other side of the Sun, and this is consistent with what astronomers observe.  

Let’s continue the stroll through our galactic neighborhood and hit Neptune. If all astronomical bodies were rotating around Earth, then everything more than 2.5 billion miles away would need to exceed warp speed to complete its orbit within 24 hours. The fact that the eighth planet is unable to do so is a fatal blow to geocentrism. Meanwhile, Jupiter and Saturn would need to approach the speed of light to complete a daily orbit, meaning they would be demonstrating relativistic length contraction. Their observed shape would resemble the side of a quarter rather than the coin when looking at George Washington’s profile.

Then there is the Coriolis Effect, which affects satellites, missiles, and long range artillery shells. When the Germans attacked Paris from 75 miles away in World War I, they took the Coriolis Effect into account. This effect exists only because we are on a rotating planet. Someone looking at Earth from space would see objects tending to move in straight lines but being pulled into curving paths by Earth’s gravity.

Also, If Earth moves, the stars should appear to shift in position. A man identified online only as Mr. Emmanuel earned my great sympathy by debating Sungenis, and told him, “Just as a person walking into the rain sees raindrops hitting at a slant, moving with respect to starlight causes the starlight to appear to come at an angle to its true path. If light starts from 300,000 kilometers away, it will take one second to reach Earth. In one second, Earth moves 30 kilometers in its orbit. So the starlight will hit 30 kilometers from its original aiming point.” In what passed for Sungenis’ retort, he chirped, “You’re just parroting someone else without understanding what is being said.” Even if it was parroted and not understood, that wouldn’t impact it being true.

Emmanuel also noted that geocentrism violates the laws of physics. There are no known cases of massive objects circling around lighter ones. The conservation of momentum requires that when one object circles another, the center of mass of that system must remain fixed. When one object is much larger than the other, like the earth and moon or the sun and earth, the center of mass is within the larger object.

It won’t take long to present the other side because there really isn’t one. Unlike Youth Earth Creationists, Flat Earthers, and moon landing deniers, geocentrists seldom mess with sprinkling in a calculus term or attempting to confuse visitors with winding essays. They mostly limits themselves to quoting Bible verses and attacking nonbelievers. For instance, the Kolbe Center’s main plank is that helicocentrism is a moral failing. It never explains why, and even if Earth whirling around its star were somehow ethically bankrupt, that would have no bearing on whether it’s happening.

Similarly, fixedearth.com’s contributions to astronomy are summed up in this unsubstantiated assertion/ad hominem: “Earth is not rotating nor is it going around the sun. The universe is not one ten-trillionth the size we are told. The Bible teaches that Earth is stationary and immovable at the center of a small universe, with the sun, moon, and stars going around it every day. Today’s cosmology fulfills an anti-Bible religious plan disguised as science.”

It also claims that true science supports biblical teaching. So if something seems to support the Bible, they consider it science, neatly completing this affirming the consequent fallacy. Fixedearth.com also throws in doses of anti-Semitism and manages to blame evolution for obesity, UFOs, and Madonna.

There are many more examples but they’re all the same. Sungenis will infrequently throw some mathematics into his argument, but mostly answers science with scripture, a personal attack, or both. When Emmanuel outlined arguments such as those addressed here, and cited astronomers as his sources, Sungeies, responded with, “It’s amazing to me how you can follow these atheists. If I were you, I would take a good hard look into my soul and find out where my allegiances really are.”

Like our planet does to the sun, geocentrists keep going round and round.

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