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View Full Version : Geocentrism/heliocentrism (sf Israel-Palestine)



Rincewind
29-09-2014, 10:28 AM
...biblical position on creation as per the understanding of the church fathers, medieval theologians, and Reformers.

You mean the understanding of the geocentrists?

Capablanca-Fan
03-10-2014, 12:12 AM
The main dogmatic geocentrism came from dogmatic Aristotelians at the universities. Geocentrism was the norm for everyone. But even medieval times, clergy-scientists like Buridan and Oresme questioned geocentrism with no problems from the Church. See Geokinetic revisionism (http://creation.com/cosmos-neil-degrasse-tyson-review#_Geokinetic_revisionism).

In any case, it is hard to justify GF's claims when they go against the teachings of the church for 1800 years of its history.

Rincewind
03-10-2014, 12:20 AM
In any case, it is hard to justify GF's claims when they go against the teachings of the church for 1800 years of its history.

Just like geocentrism.

Capablanca-Fan
03-10-2014, 01:51 PM
Just like geocentrism.

Never a dogma. Most in the church were following the science of the day. Only after the Aristotelian scientific establishment opposed Galileo and convinced the church that he was contradicting Scripture did it become an issue. So the church did exactly what evolutionary churchians do now: adopt the established scientific dogma of its day and twisted the Bible to fit.

Also, GF claimed "There is nothing biblical or Christian about" my position. Of course, he is incompetent in hermeneutics so can't demonstrate his case from the Bible. He also hasn't any church tradition to appeal to.

Rincewind
03-10-2014, 02:27 PM
Never a dogma.

There was dogmatic resistance to heliocentric models which appealed to scripture. For example Martin Luther. There was not much of a fuss before this time largely because it was not considered a big issue. Everyone just agreed the Earth was still and the heavens moved.

Capablanca-Fan
06-10-2014, 05:27 AM
There was dogmatic resistance to heliocentric models which appealed to scripture. For example Martin Luther.
Far from a sustained strong opposition, Luther’s only recorded comment on the issues is a single off-hand remark (hardly a concerted campaign), during a ‘table talk’ in 1539 (four years before the publication of Copernicus’ book). The Table Talk was based on notes taken by Luther’s students, which were later compiled and published in 1566―twenty years after Luther’s death. Luther actually said:


Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing that others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down. Even in these things that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth [Jos. 10:12].

Most atheopaths ignore the parts I have italicized. These show that a major reason for Luther’s objection was Copernicus’ challenging the establishment and common sense for its own sake (as Luther saw it). At the time, there was no hard evidence for geokineticism. And Kepler, a devout Lutheran, saw no conflict between the Bible and Lutheran theology. He showed how Joshua 10:12 could be explained as phenomenological language, using Luther’s own principles of Biblical interpretation!


There was not much of a fuss before this time largely because it was not considered a big issue. Everyone just agreed the Earth was still and the heavens moved.
That's the point. It was never considered a biblical dogma, but more of a scientific dogma.

Rincewind
06-10-2014, 09:37 AM
That's the point. It was never considered a biblical dogma, but more of a scientific dogma.

No there was no reason to have an alternative and so the lack of opposition was not due to the issue being considered outside of dogma but rather lack of an alternative. When an alternative (and more correct) theory came along scripture was used to justify the status quo. After all scripture did use language which said the sun moved and the earth was stationary and while today very few people take these passages literally. Geocentrism was a widely held belief system for the reason that it was taught by scripture.

Capablanca-Fan
08-10-2014, 11:32 AM
No there was no reason to have an alternative and so the lack of opposition was not due to the issue being considered outside of dogma but rather lack of an alternative.
Even in Galileo's time, there wasn't much evidence known for the alternative. His best ‘evidence’ was a fallacious theory of the tides.


When an alternative (and more correct) theory came along scripture was used to justify the status quo. After all scripture did use language which said the sun moved and the earth was stationary and while today very few people take these passages literally.
But Bishop Nicole Oresme (c. 1320–1325 – July 11, 1382) pointed out that these passages could be understood as phenomenological two centuries before Copernicus 1473 –1543):


by saying that this passage conforms to the normal use of popular speech just as it does in many other places … which are not to be taken literally.

Indeed, Oresme basically answered all the arguments that would be used against Galileo 250 years later. He also plotted motion graphically 300 years before René Descartes is supposed to have come up with the idea (http://www.historytoday.com/james-hannam/lost-pioneers-science), and anticipated integration by realizing that the area under a velocity-time graph = distance travelled, using this to prove the Mean Speed Theorem before Galileo is alleged to have done so.

Oresme's teacher, the logician and clergyman John Buridan (c. 1300 – after 1358) even anticipated Galileo and Einstein (http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/10/modern-sciences-christian-sources) by pointing out that the passages were written from the reference frame of the earth, and that observers from somewhere else would do the same:


If anyone is in a moving ship and imagines that he is at rest, then should he see another ship, which is truly at rest, it will appear to him that the other ship is moved . … And so, we also posit that the sphere of the sun is everywhere at rest and the earth in carrying us would be rotated.

Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464) likewise (http://www.schillerinstitute.org/fid_97-01/012_cusa_moved.html):


Hence, if we consider the various movements of the spheres, we will see that it is not possible for the world-machine to have as a fixed and immovable center, either our perceptible earth or air or fire or any other thing. For, with regard to motion, we do not come to an unqualifiedly minimum, i.e., a fixed center. Hence the world does not have a fixed circumference. ... Therefore, since it is not possible for the world to be enclosed between a physical center and a physical circumference, the world of which God is the center and the circumference is not understood. ...
Therefore, the earth which cannot be the center, cannot be devoid of all motion. Instead, it is even necessary that the earth be moved. ...

And since we can discern motion only in relation to something fixed, viz., either poles or centers, and since we presuppose these poles or centers when we measure motions, we find that as we go about conjecturing, we err with regard to all measurements. And we are surprised when we do not find that the stars are in the right position according to the rules of measurement of the ancients.


Geocentrism was a widely held belief system for the reason that it was taught by scripture.
Historically, it was held because it seemed like common sense. Most of the church has not been dogmatic that Scripture teaches, even high-ranking theological contemporaries of Galileo like Cardinal Bellarmine. After Galileo and Pope Urban died, Jesuit astronomers taught geokineticism to Chinese astronomers.

Rincewind
08-10-2014, 01:35 PM
If all you have as evidence is the "testimony" of a blatant catholic apologist like James Hannam I'm afraid I can't take you very seriously at all. The guy gives about the most unbalanced history of scientific thought imaginable riding his hobby-horse of medieval natural philosophy for all it's worth. Certainly nothing of what Buridan's work anticipated Einstein in any meaningful way. To make the claim has probably more to do with not understanding the difference between relativistic and non-relativistic mechanics. In some ways calling Einstein's theory Special Relativity is to blame as it is not the equality of all frames that was the key part of Einstein's contribution.

And while there were people producing interesting "scientific" work in the pre-enlightenment period. To pretend that the majority of the church was open to helicentricity belies the facts.

Capablanca-Fan
08-10-2014, 03:13 PM
If all you have as evidence is the "testimony" of a blatant catholic apologist like James Hannam I'm afraid I can't take you very seriously at all.
Who cares what you think? Dr Hannam has an earned doctorate in the history of science from Cambridge Uni. He is also critical of the Catholic Church in places. One atheist Tim O'Neill, favorably reviewed Hannam's book God's Philosophers and said (http://www.strangenotions.com/gods-philosophers/):


About once every 3–4 months on forums like RichardDawkins.net we get some discussion where someone invokes the old “Conflict Thesis”. That evolves into the usual ritual kicking of the Middle Ages as a benighted intellectual wasteland where humanity was shackled to superstition and oppressed by cackling minions of the Evil Old Catholic Church. The hoary standards are brought out on cue. Giordiano Bruno is presented as a wise and noble martyr for science instead of the irritating mystical New Age kook he actually was. Hypatia is presented as another such martyr and the mythical Christian destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria is spoken of in hushed tones, despite both these ideas being totally untrue.28The Galileo Affair is ushered in as evidence of a brave scientist standing up to the unscientific obscurantism of the Church, despite that case being as much about science as it was about Scripture. …

It’s not hard to kick this nonsense to pieces, especially since the people presenting it know next to nothing about history and have simply picked up these strange ideas from websites and popular books. The assertions collapse as soon as you hit them with hard evidence. I love to totally stump these propagators by asking them to present me with the name of one—just one—scientist burned, persecuted, or oppressed for their science in the Middle Ages. They always fail to come up with any. They usually try to crowbar Galileo back into the Middle Ages, which is amusing considering he was a contemporary of Descartes. When asked why they have failed to produce any such scientists given the Church was apparently so busily oppressing them, they often resort to claiming that the Evil Old Church did such a good job of oppression that everyone was too scared to practice science. By the time I produce a laundry list of Medieval scientists—like Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa—and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church, my opponents usually scratch their heads in puzzlement at what just went wrong.


The guy gives about the most unbalanced history of scientific thought imaginable riding his hobby-horse of medieval natural philosophy for all it's worth.
Not just Hannam, but a century earlier by the French thermodyamicist and philosopher/historian of science Pierre Duhem.


Certainly nothing of what Buridan's work anticipated Einstein in any meaningful way. To make the claim has probably more to do with not understanding the difference between relativistic and non-relativistic mechanics.
Both Galileo and Einstein recognized the importance of reference frames.


In some ways calling Einstein's theory Special Relativity is to blame as it is not the equality of all frames that was the key part of Einstein's contribution.
I've also pointed out that his own preferred term was ‘Invariance Theory’.


And while there were people producing interesting "scientific" work in the pre-enlightenment period.
Galileo was pre-enlightenment!


To pretend that the majority of the church was open to helicentricity belies the facts.
The real pretence is that the majority of the church was hostile to geokineticism on biblical grounds. I cited high-ranking churchmen who toyed with geokineticism centuries before Copernicus and Galileo.

Rincewind
08-10-2014, 03:54 PM
The point is John Hannam is more apologist than historian. His book is a popular history book and not a scholarly contribution and not everyone has given such a favourable write-ups. See for example the review by Charles Freeman who wrote a lengthy very critical review and regarding the balance. Particularly overemphasising the contribution of the medieval antecedents of Galileo and Copernicus and under-selling the Greek and Arab antecedents.

Hannam's thesis seems to be to credit the church wherever possible and so present the church as (on balance) as a positive progressive force. I agree that there have been people making the case the church was more regressive than once can reasonably claim. However Hannam's book doesn't write the wrong by making a claim too far in the opposite direction.

Capablanca-Fan
10-10-2014, 07:48 AM
The point is John Hannam is more apologist than historian.
He is very highly qualified in the history of science. This is the opposite of the discredited 19th century junk by John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White that you love that promotes the "conflict thesis" and lie that the medieval and Renaissance church taught a flat earth. In fact, what Hannam says is largely supported by academic historians, while much of the popular press and the science popularizers like Carl Sagan and his protégé Neil deGrasse Tyson are still stuck on Draper and White who academic historians reject.

In any case, Hannam is hardly gung-ho about what he calls "Holy Science", and is critical of the Church in places.


His book is a popular history book and not a scholarly contribution
If it was written in the same academic style as his scholarly Ph.D. thesis on the science in medieval Europe, then it would have a limited readership.


and not everyone has given such a favourable write-ups. See for example the review by Charles Freeman who wrote a lengthy very critical review
What, you think a review in a Humanist publication is the epitome of objectivity? Freeman is not a Ph.D. historian but a soi-disant "freelance academic" aka amateur, and clearly has an atheopathic axe to grind. Even another atheist, Tim O'Neill, ripped Freeman's book The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason as "Fundamentally flawed". Hannam also reviewed Freeman's book (http://www.bede.org.uk/closing.htm):


Of course, very little of this pagan irrationality has been passed down to us. The fact is that early Christians were not very interested in the details of pagan religion and preserved hardly any of its literature. They thought that the Greek myths were picturesque stories and we inherited that belief. Thus, we have now completely lost the ability to see them as part of a living religious tradition. However, Christians were very interested in Greek philosophy, science and medicine. This is what they preserved by the laborious process of hand copying. They handed down to us Euclid, Ptolemy, Plato, Aristotle, Galen and Simplicius. Edward Grant calculated that an incredible 15,000 pages of Greek commentary on Aristotle dating from the 2nd to 6th centuries AD have come down to us. Every single one of those pages had to be copied and recopied by Christian scholars. So, the crowning irony of all this is that Freeman’s slanted view of the ancient Greeks as a supremely rational lot is almost entirely due to the activities of the very Christians he blames for defeating reason.

Hannam responded to Freeman (https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/2441/in-defence-of-gods-philosophers), pointing out that he had not ignored Islamic and Greek precedents, and had in fact covered things Freeman claim were ignored, but he was writing about science in Medieval Europe, and also notes the limitations of Greek and Islamic science:


Returning to ancient Greek science: while we can laud its achievements, we cannot escape the fact that modern science arose in Western Europe in the early modern era, not in Athens or Alexandria. A dispassionate look at Greek science finds no signs of it making the conceptual leap necessary to achieve a “scientific revolution”. The most inventive period was over by 200BC and much less progress was made after this date until the start of the Christian era in 500AD (Freeman correctly identifies the Christian John Philoponus in this context). What is remarkable is that we find Hero of Alexandria (writing in about 50AD) parroting Aristotle’s assertion from 300BC that heavy objects fall faster than light ones. Hero also took his explanation of the vacuum from Strato of Lampsacus who lived three hundred years previously. Ptolemy (fl. 150AD) was a fine mathematician, but made few original advances in astronomy. The title of his book Almagest means “The Great” in Arabic, but it was called simply Mathematical Synthesis in Greek. That is exactly what it was.

Galen, a famous physician of the second century AD, wrote an enormous amount but it is hard to see how he advanced the clinical effectiveness of medicine one iota. The essential theory he adopted, on the balance of the humours, was six hundred years old and had not become any less wrong in the meantime. He was also unable to dissect humans and so made a serious of mistakes in anatomy that it would take 1,300 years to correct.

As much as ancient Greeks enjoyed intellectual freedom (although Socrates would probably disagree on this point), they failed to launch modern science. Nor did they look remotely like they were going to. All this should alert us to the fact that empiricism and rationalism, however laudable, are not in themselves sufficient conditions for science to progress. Whatever those conditions are (and I suggest that Christian metaphysics might have provided some of them), they were absent in ancient Athens and Alexandria but present in Christian Western Europe.

Here is another good review by Australian post-doc astrophysicist Luke Barnes (http://letterstonature.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/book-review-gods-philosophers-by-james-hannam/).


and regarding the balance. Particularly overemphasising the contribution of the medieval antecedents of Galileo and Copernicus and under-selling the Greek and Arab antecedents.
One could dispute that as well: how Greek science was straightjacketed by Aristotelian philosophy which didn't have controlled experiments but just observation and deduction, and "Islamic science" was mostly by Dhimmis in conquered territory such as the Persians like Avicenna and Omar Khayyam. Before the rise of Islam, 6th-century Greek-speaking Christians had settled in the Sasanian or neo-Persian Empire. One of the leading "Muslim" medical centres in Nisibus in Syria was actually Nestorian Christian. See also Robert Reilly, The Closing of the Muslim Mind (http://www.amazon.com/The-Closing-Muslim-Mind-Intellectual/dp/1610170024), 2012.


Hannam's thesis seems to be to credit the church wherever possible and so present the church as (on balance) as a positive progressive force.
And he documents it with the facts. Many of the medieval scientists were clergy.


I agree that there have been people making the case the church was more regressive than once can reasonably claim.
This is what the atheist Tim O'Neill encounters frequently.


However Hannam's book doesn't write the wrong by making a claim too far in the opposite direction.
Yet his claims can be backed up easily. E.g. Graney, Christopher M. (2013, October). Mass, Speed, Direction: John Buridan’s 14th-century concept of momentum, The Physics Teacher 51(7):411–414, October 2013 | doi:10.1119/1.4820853.