Wednesday, March 2, 2011

St Augustine was a Geocentric ... in face of what, Mr. Sungenis?

Mr. Olar’s appeal to Augustine and Aquinas might have some bite, that is, until we realize that both these saints were dyed-in-the-wool geocentrists, and who chose this cosmological stance in the face of the Greeks of the former’s day who were touting heliocentrism and the Indians of the latter’s day who were touting the same. Here’s a few quotes from Augustine to prove the point: “the whole earth is suspended on nothing. For perhaps the world keeps its central place by the same law that attracts to its center all heavy bodies” (City of God, Bk XIII, Ch 18). “Who else save Joshua the son of Nun divided the stream of the Jordan for the people to pass over, and by the utterance of a prayer to God bridled and stopped the revolving sun? (Tractates, XCI, Ch XV, 24-25, 2). “…the day is finished by the motion of the sun, and by his circuit from east to east….as the sun is accustomed to accomplish his whole course in from morning to morning….because, when at the prayer of one the sun stood still in order that he might achieve his victorious battle, the sun stood still, but time went on (Confessions, Bk XI, Ch XXIII, 30). (source, scroll down to p. 6)

My emphasis.

I really see no reason to say that the Greeks of St Augustine's day were touting heliocentrism. Aristotle was as Geocentric as Augustine. The Pythagorean and Epicurean authors who were not were long since dead and by St Augustine's time had few followers.

As for Indian's of St Thomas Aquinas' time touting Heliocentrism - have I understood him right?

Which Indians? What did St Thomas Aquinas know about them? What did he care about them? Was he saying Hindoos were different from other Pagans because of this Heliocentrism "they were touting"? One thing is sure, the quote from Summa, Part I Q 68 Article 4 was not written in polemics against supposedly heliocentric Hindoos but against people saying there was only one heaven, look at it, I trust Sungenis got the quote right:

“The Earth stands in relation to the heaven as the center of a circle to its circumference. But as one center may have many circumferences, so, though there is but one Earth, there may be many heavens”

What is the context? It is labelled Answer to Objection 1. Read a little higher on then and get Objection 1:

It would seem that there is only one heaven. For the heaven is contrasted with the earth, in the words, "In the beginning God created heaven and earth."But there is only one earth. Therefore there is only one heaven. (source)

St Thomas Aquinas was dealing with a literalist - real or strawamn, does not matter, St Thomas enjoyd answering anyway and the objections given come from too diverse sources (when real) to make libel on any other school of thought, maybe it was some very young theology student - and one who knew not Hebrew. I do not know much either, but I do know that Heaven in Hebrew is Ha-Shamayim, and that that is a plural. Whether St Thomas knew that or not, I am not sure. What is sure is that he did not answer a purely linguistic argument (Ha-Shamayim is translated Caelum, which is singular in the Vulgate), but an argument from parallel: as the earth is one, so the Heaven must be one too.

St Thomas' answer does not actually polemise against Heliocentrism at all, it is assuming Geocentrism as commonly acknowledged Common Sense. But it does answer a real straw man in newer Heliocentric Polemics: the guys who say now that Earth being centre equals Earth having a "favoured position" are dealing with a flat idea, where the centre of a field is nobler than the circumference, St Thomas is dealing with a round idea, where Heavens are larger and brighter and faster - all of them synonyms to nobler - precisely because they are Circumference.

Now, where could Sungenis have gotten the idea that in face of Patristic Geocentrism we have Greek Pagan Heliocentrism? Probably from the ignorants he is arguing against. The ones who say, all day long: "hey, the Greeks knew the Earth was round and some were even Heliocentrics, when the Christians came around and backward as they were banned knowledge, were Geocentrics and believed the Earth was flat!" - The guys who made a film like Agora, about Hypatia, or who believe that when watching.

The straight answer to both them and Sungenis is: Greeks and any other Romans of the Fourth Century were either Christian or Pagan. Educated Pagans were either Neoplatonics (the real Hypatia offered a lover her menstruations, adding "this is what you are in love with" - a Neoplatonic antisexual taunt if ever there was one) or Aristotelians, even Stoicism was seen as "not quite right", whereas Epicurus was seen as "quite wrong". Pythagoras was seen as a good specialist, inadequate for over-all theories, but it was one remote disciple of his, not himself who was heliocentric. Platonics were Geocentric as far as they bothered about matter at all. Aristotelians were Geocentric. Christians were Geocentric. Platonics thought the world round as far as they bothered. Aristotelians thought the world round. Christians thought the world round, as far as we know their writings except one Church Father who thought the philosophers wrong on that.

So, if Christians were Geocentric and Round Earthed it was not in face of any opposition, it was not in face of anyone "touting" anything else, as little as when many Christians today are round earthed believe in atoms and think earth circles sun, sun circles centre of Milky Way galaxy, which maybe circles centre of universe. The one Church Father who did believe the earth flat at least showed thereby that accepting whatever the specialists say is not a duty for a Christian.

If I am still Geocentric, if I still think it was Providential of God to make all pre-Tridentine Church Fathers Geocentrics (as far as they spoke about it) and one even flat earthed, though in itself that is wrong, it is not because of what Pagan Greeks were supposedly touting, and Church Fathers supposedly aswering by their Geocentrism, it is because Heliocentrism is bound up with a Cartesian view of the Cosmos I consider mistaken. As I consider the affirmations of Geocentrism in Scripture Providential. Here is Catholic Encyclopedia:

Again, he wholly neglected discoveries far more fundamental than his own, made by his great contemporary Kepler, the value of which he either did not perceive or entirely ignored. Since the first and second of his famous laws were already published by Kepler in 1609 and the third, ten years later, it is truly inconceivable, as Delambre says, that Galileo should not once have made any mention of these discoveries, far more difficult than his own, which finally led Newton to determine the general principle which forms the very soul of the celestial mechanism thus established. It is, moreover, undeniable, that the proofs which Galileo adduced in support of the heliocentric system of Copernicus, as against the geocentric of Ptolemy and the ancients, were far from conclusive, and failed to convince such men as Tycho Brahé (who, however, did not live to see the telescope) and Lord Bacon, who to the end remained an unbeliever. Milton also, who visited Galileo in his old age (1638), appears to have suspended his judgment, for there are passages in his great poem which seem to favour both systems.

From Galileo article of Catholic Encyclopedia. Here again: "which finally led Newton to determine the general principle which forms the very soul of the celestial mechanism thus established." So the Heavens move for Gravity alone, it is even their "soul"? And it is, thus, the soul of a mere "mechanism"? Ah, how well did Pope Urban VIII do after all in condemning the proposition "that the earth is not immobile centre of the universe but moves yearly around the sun and every day around itself".

Hans-Georg Lundahl
2 March 2011

Update. Of course I am with Mr. Sungenis, Ph. D. of Calamus University, on this one:

Apparently, Mr. Olar is of the fallacious opinion that a spacecraft taking time-lapse photography of the earth proves that the earth rotates. No it doesn’t. This is one of the more common elementary mistakes made by people on a geocentric witch hunt who don’t know the physics behind what they are saying. ... As far as Mr. Olar knows, the space in which the craft is set could be rotating around the earth. Taking timelapse photography of the earth would then make it appear as if the earth were rotating.

This does not mean St Augustine or St Thomas were passionate Geocentrics, it was, as said their default option - there was no-one around to be passionate against about it - but it means, again, it was providential that Geocentrism was their default option. I mean it is so stupid in Theology to discount a Biblical or Patristic view merely because "it was the default option back then." God in his Providence chose the when's and the where's for Revelation.


Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

Here is a take on what Pagan Greek philosophy was touting a few decades before St Augustine wrote - not exactly heliocentrism.

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

Creds to Tim O'Neill, who is an atheist for knowing that.

Less knowledgeable atheists have accused him of being a Christian in secret.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Do NOT forget to read the next one, where I say that Freemasons are all Heliocentric