The Day the Earth Stood Still: Geocentrism Resurrection

There are days when I think about shuttering Jericho and giving up the blogosphere. I ask myself, Matt, why do this any longer? The purpose of this blog was originally to provide friends and family with an explanation for my own change in perspective on faith matters, and it was also meant to provide resources for other inquirers. Jericho has probably done as much as it will do for the former, and may or may not be of use for the latter. So, I think that perhaps I could – or should – walk on.

And then it happens again. PURPOSE crosses my threshold, in the form of awe-striking nonsense that deserves debunking. And in the process of debunking this bit of nonsense, we will find a useful object lesson regarding Creationism too, followed by some proposed guidelines for better navigation of the science battlefield.

But I get ahead of myself… Watch in wonder, for the answers are coming in Spring 2014…

~

That’s right: Geocentrism, with a capital “G”, is back. Yes, that’s correct, we’re talking about the proposition that the sun, and indeed the entire cosmos, all revolve around a fixed immovable earth. The past 500 years of astronomy were mistaken. And based upon the trailer, it looks to be a well-produced video. The disturbing initial air of legitimacy is bolstered by interview footage with well-known physicists like Michio Kaku and Lawrence Krauss who appear to be attesting to the burgeoning revelation that will shortly send fault lines throughout modern cosmology.

Yep, these guys are for real: http://galileowaswrong.com/geocentrism-101/

Of course, for anyone that has read Kaku and Krauss, it is immediately apparent that what is happening here is dishonest to the point of extremis. Just like 9-11 Truther products or Creationism drivel, this “documentary” will seemingly synthesize two time-worn and immanently sellable ingredients: conspiracy theory and pseudo science. And you know the bad guy already. That’s right – the scientific community and/or the government has lied to us all.

Never you mind that we have mobile phones, GPS, electricity and air transportation. Banish from thought the internal combustion engine, refrigeration, trauma care, disease inoculation, television, the internet, and our unprecedented global population. What you need to know is that they have contrived these Wachowski illusions in order to blind us to the Morpheic truth: that Genesis was correct all along. The earth does not move. And they do not want you to know.

The invisible ether? Yeah, turns out that its real. That is, if you make the big buy on this particular conspiracy. How big?  Grand enough that Einsteinian relativity turns out to be just a patch job for Newtonian physics, which actually work perfectly if you assume that the earth is the unmoving center. Einstein, it would seem, was not so much a physics genius as a politico-religious wunderkind, mesmerizing the masses to lull us out of our throne at Cosmic Center.  The Catholic church? Yep, it was right about the whole Galileo affair.

Sigh. As a science person, I felt some inner compulsion to investigate a bit more. Like a dutiful and self-appointed sin-eater, I sat through a distractedly nauseating 90 minutes of explanatory lecture from Robert Sungenis, one of the men behind the current effort. His credentials for overturning 500 years of scientific understanding? Why, he has a Ph.D. from Calamus International University, a distance-learning institution located in Republic of Vanuatu, which is an island off the east coast of Australia. And yes, Calamus U may be found on Wikipedia’s list of unaccredited universities. One cannot help but think of the similar qualifications of creationists like Ken Ham or Kent Hovind. Ham’s highest educational earning is a Bachelor’s degree, not rising quite to the level of Hovind, who has a Ph.D. from the unaccredited correspondence school, Liberty University (below).

That’s right – Ham and Hovind are in the same educational bracket as Sungenis. And they are here to tell us what the entirety of the scientific community has wrong. It is a problem that each of them will actually hold sway over some percentage of a well-meaning but insufficiently educated populace. As such, I think that it is important to draw attention to the standard modus operandi for such wayward science crusaders.

Some will think that the bid for Geocentrism is radically different from the Creationist movement. It is not. In both cases, the exact same tactics are being employed. They both seek to engender distrust in scientific institutions while attempting to redefine what is and is not “true science”. They both rewrite the taxonomy of science, changing the meanings of terms and leaving the layman in befuddlement, with a mindful of definitional debris. They both tell the common man that his common sense was right all along – the world is simple, what you see is what you get, and what you’ve got in your head doesn’t require improvement. They both tell the religious that their faith tradition has been right, ever since the Bronze Age. They both offer affirmation, consolation, and importance.

And sadly, both Geocentrism and Creationism are dead wrong.

Unfossilized dinosaur blood. Flood evidences in the Grand Canyon. Carbon dating conspiracies. The concoction of Relativity. Irreducible complexity. The reality of cosmic ether. There is nothing to any of these so-called problems of science.

Deconstructing the Geocentric Gambit: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/09/14/geocentrism-seriously/

Dinosaur Blood Fiasco: https://jerichobrisance.com/2013/11/30/from-the-inbox-dinosaur-blood-and-creationist-contentions/

TELLING THE DIFFERENCE

But how can the layman actually tell the difference?

Some will want to dig into the details, but most will not. With so much information, what is a normal person to do? Are we left to choose an arbitrary knowledge camp? I don’t think so…

I will propose a very simple winnowing method to separate conspiracy and pseudo-science from legitimate knowledge: simply ask whether the asserted facts are embraced by experts from the relevant field of science across ideological lines.  We need (1) the right kind of experts (2) agreeing on the relevant facts (3) irrespective of their ideological views.

Example 1: Cosmology.

Did the big bang happen?

The right kind of experts here are cosmologists. That’s what they do. Not “scientists”. Not biologists or oceanographers. We would not seek “expert opinion” from electricians if we were inquiring about the foundation of a house. The wrong kind of expert is the same as no expert at all.

And we find that yes, cosmologists of all religious or ideological stripes consider the Big Bang to be factually accurate. Christian cosmologists say so. Atheist cosmologists say so. The facts that all of these scientists agree on as facts support the cosmology of the Big Bang and an Old Earth. The speed of light remains the same, irrespective of one’s religion.

But on the other side of this, we find that only a very particular type of scientist considers the Big Bang false. Only a special kind of scientist thinks that the earth is young. Holders of that position come almost entirely from a single group: religious fundamentalists (both Christian and Muslim). These camps reject and/or change the facts. They have special facts – facts that only the fundamentalists consider to be true.

As a scientist, you can be religious and still consider the Big Bang as fact and the earth as old (nearly all do: Christian, Hindu, Atheist, doesn’t matter). But only people of certain religious convictions consider the earth young and the Big Bang as false. The distinction here is everything. 

Example 2: Evolution

Did humans evolve from lower species?

The right kind of experts here are biologists. Not lawyers. Not engineers. Not physicists. The wrong kind of expert is the same as no expert at all.

And we find that, yes, biologists of every religious and non-religious persuasion agree that the veritable mountains of evidence support evolutionary theory. Francis Collins, Darrel Falk, Dennis Venema, and the Catholic Church all support evolutionary theory as fact, and they do so as believing Christians. Meanwhile, atheists like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Gould, etc. Ideology cannot be blamed for evolutionary fact – there are too many Christian evolutionists, actively working in the field. Irrespective of religious views or ideology, there are facts that they all agree on.

We do not need a faith position to measure the temperature outside. Nor indeed, to recognize that fossils of certain types are always found in rock layers of a certain age. Nor still, to recognize that the markers in DNA demonstrate common descent.

But to reject evolutionary development, once again, you need the dogma of religion and a special alternate set of facts. As a biologist, you can be religious and still consider evolutionary development as factual (nearly all do). But only the religious consider evolution to be false and Intelligent Design to have merit. The distinction here is everything. 

CONCLUSION

The layman probably should be skeptical, but the skepticism needs a compass. To ferret out the truth, one must clear away the opinion fog emanating from people who are not subject matter experts. We need to understand the facts as understood by experts relevant to the field in question. One must ask whether the propositions on the table require a particular ideology to embrace or not. If relevant experts from both religious and non-religious dispositions embrace the same facts, then those facts are likely pretty firm.

Where we should be skeptical is with regard to single-camp “facts”. The temperature outside has nothing to do with our religion. Nor do any other legitimate facts. Our feelers should shoot up rapidly when we find that we are being offered “special facts” from nonsense authorities like Ham, Hovind, and Sungenis. Their assertions are generally as contrived as their credentials. They offer the elixirs of consolation and affirmation, as all good shaman are wont to do.

Thanks

A word of thanks to ignorantianescia for the heads up on this nonsense!

Comments

  1. Wow — This gave me the creeps. The ramifications are daunting if people take this seriously. Here’s an excerpt from a comment made on Before It Was News by Sungenis:

    “In the end, we have made this movie for you, for the human race, so that people can finally use the scientific evidence to support man’s significance, and give him meaning and purpose, instead of the constant drumbeat we have heard from people like Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku that we are nothing, lost among the myriad of stars in a lonely corner of the universe and forgotten by anyone or anything significant. I know you will truly enjoy this movie. Robert Sungenis.”

    And Matt — it will be a sad day on WP if you ever pull the plug. I refer people to your brilliant posts and resources often. Thank you for all you do.

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    • Well, thanks, I appreciate that. I’ll stick around for a while longer.

      I’m just trying to keep up with something meaningful – your posts always have so much info, always impressive to me.

      That quote was golden. The “product” that’s being sold is PRETTY transparent.

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    • ignorantianescia says:

      The irony is that in the mediaeval geocentric worldview (for which they had good reasons that are now obsolete) centre spot was the worst place to be. Outside the universe God resided, who was perfect, while motion was perfect in the heavens. It was sublunar motion that was very much subject to imperfections and the worst spot was Hell, located in the very centre of the universe.

      Copernicus thus improved the status of the Earth by upgrading it as a satellite of the Sun. It was only later than people came to see heliocentrism as a fair dose of humility for humanity. I’m not sure when that happened, but I believe it was already used by Freud. Who without a fair dose of humility included his own theory of psychoanalysis as the punchline.

      The funniest part is that Sungenis (what’s in a name?) assumes in that quote a modern interpretation of the significance of heliocentrism for humans in order to promote his theory and that way manages to misrepresent both sides completely. The sooner we stop promoting our views of human significance in science, the better.

      “Myth 6” in Galileo Goes to Jail, edited by Numbers, covers the issues in detail for further reading.

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  2. From your “From the Inbox” post you linked:

    “Please consider how the church dealt with Galileo”

    Exactly.

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  3. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory

    KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held “theory of gravity” is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

    Rev. Gabriel Burdett explains Intelligent Falling.

    “Things fall, not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down,” said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

    Burdett added: “Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, ‘I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.’ Of course, he is alluding to a higher power.”

    (Fortunately, unlike Matt’s post above, this is a lampoon, from The Onion.)

    And here I thought I was the only one who had an actual photo of the double-wide that is “Liberty University” – now can anyone show me to the Girl’s Dorm?

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  4. holy crap! I admire the people behind Snopes.com…. you’ve outclassed them here

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  5. Where is the principal’s office at that university?
    I think there are people who have gone bonkers!

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  6. This type of thing really gets my blood boiling. Such deceit, it’s mind blowing. It is willful ignorance at its most egregious. It’s also dangerous because kids of fundie parents will be shown this. That is an abuse of power.

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      • Oh dear, this is priceless:

        Additional experiences include:

        1. Conducted up to twelve Creation/Evolution Seminars a year for thirty years

        5. Staff geologist of Creation Evidence Museum, Glen Rose, TX

        7. Preached the gospel as an evangelist for over 40 years

        I see she has also never had tenure at a single university. Quite the “academic.”

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      • Brilliant answer on the post Ark.

        I grew up listening to Baugh! We made annual pilgrimages to the Creation Evidences Museum with other homeschool families. The museum is about the same size as that Liberty University photo. I can still hear his eloquent lilting voice, very hypnotic.

        It wasn’t till Wikipedia came along that I was able to see a better bio on him. And that even other creationists distance themselves from Baugh. Wowser.

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        • He wasn’t happy over my touting of Herzog and Finkelstien etc and promised to produce ‘evidence’ that Moses and the Exodus was not, in fact ,a Myth .
          I should have guessed, shouldn’t I?
          The hero of his video, Dear Don, even climbed Mount Ararat looking for Noah’s Ark.
          I thought Ron Wyatt found it already ?

          Sigh…..and the band played on.

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    • Blood boiling – you said it brother. It ticked me off so much… And it really is the same strategy/tactics as whats behind the Creationist and Truther movements. And people are vulnerable to it.

      Like

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Yeah, but in a way, don’t you think it’s a good thing? I mean, even the Republicans are backing away from these whack-jobs in droves, and the more the Bachmanns and Palins are kept out of office, the better chance that clearer heads will decide the curriculum for the next textbook revision in 8 more years.

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        • True. In fact, that was sort of what I thought about when I wrote that piece… if the same supporting arguments are used for something asinine like Geocentrism, maybe that’s enough to shake people to reconsider the ID/Creationism thing. I tried to boil it down to a simple layman’s-level epistemology at the end. Maybe it will help somebody. I’m a dig into the data sort of guy, but a lot of folks aren’t. Skeptical of the wrong things.

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          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            “I’m a dig into the data sort of guy, but a lot of folks aren’t. Skeptical of the wrong things.”

            That seems to be a trend among theists – “Don’t dig too deeply!“, “Pay no attention to the priest behind the curtain!“, etc.

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  7. How the hell did they get Krauss in this piece of garbage? He should sue….

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  8. Hold on there! Substituting one hierarchical god for another will just get us into hot water (again). To me it appears we are special. Until someone shows me something differently, we have miraculously evolved in the “sweet spot” of the universe. Why? Don’t know but will not ASSUME that we are insignificant until it is proven to me. I am really, truly from Missouri.

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    • Well, needless to say, I’m neither arguing for or against significance. Just pointing out what product is actually being sold by this tripe-ridden “documentary”. I found it very sad/laughable that it was the subtitle of the film, #areyousignificant. At least they leave no doubt. Geez.

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    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Beautiful state! One of my favorites.

      Like

    • Mariah Windrider says:

      Well, yes, we evolved in a sweet spot in the Universe. Duh, because advanced life forms are probably pretty rare compared to very simple ones and require a lot of sweet spot characteristics. So, if you’re an advanced life form, you probably inhabit a nice, stable, sweet spot in the Universe, not too close to too many troublemaker stars, or erratic radiation, but somewhere with a nice view of the night sky with some really stand out patterns in the star field, liquid water in most places, stable medium temperatures, and, of course, thanks to the earlier life forms, plenty of Oxygen to use in a nice high quality respiration/metabolism so you have plenty of energy. Because you probably wouldn’t have developed in a different environment. Anything that is pretty rare is significant. I put my nickel bet on our not finding life in a lot of the solar systems that we will survey, and of those that have any life at all, advanced life will be even more rare. Does that mean that I’m special? Sure, just ask my kids!

      Like

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Actually, Mariah, it takes three contiguous SuperNovae before the element, gold, can be formed. Therefore that which comprises you and I have been through one such explosion, the dust and gasses of which joined with other dust and gas to form a second, which exploded and created a third, so the likelihood of all of our atoms coming together to become “us” was really much slimmer than most of us realize.

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  9. Matt, you’d better stick around for a while. Now I may be the odd theist around here, but consider, the god that these creationist/geocentrist types are into must be a really lousy engineer. Think about it, he has to constantly fiddle with things to get them working right. I mean, really, if you’re going to have a deity, at least find one that can build it right!

    Oh, and be careful what you say about someone’s credentials! I paid good money for my doctorate, and even got this neat frame-able certificate to go with it. I bought it when I got a promotion at work one year, felt it went nicely with the new cubicle.

    Like

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