I’ve posted frequently (see my July 24 post) on the religious kooks who insist that Galileo and Copernicus and all later astronomers were wrong and that the earth, not the sun, is the center of the solar system. They base this weird notion on their own version of biblical literalism, since there are many passages in the Bible (e.g., Isaiah 11: 12, 40:22, 44:24; Joshua 10:12-14) which clearly present a geocentric world viewpoint (as was widely held in almost all ancient cultures and not overturned until the 1500s). Many are actually renegade Catholics who not only insist that Galileo was wrong and that the Church was right, but what the Inquisition did to Galileo was justified. Naturally, the Catholic Church is not too happy about these revisionists, since it has long come to terms with Galileo and scientific reality, and even apologized for its treatment of him. They don’t spend a lot of unnecessary time trying to repudiate or excommunicate these renegades who want to drag us back to the 14th century. I guess the Church is busy with other problems….
Recently, the Los Angeles Times ran an article on the latest version of the Catholic geocentrist movement. The article says:
“I have no idea who these people are,” said Brother Guy Consolmagno, curator of meteorites and spokesman for the Vatican Observatory. “Are they sincere, or is this a clever bit of theater?”
Those promoting geocentrism argue that heliocentrism, or the centuries-old consensus among scientists that Earth revolves around the sun, is a conspiracy to squelch the church’s influence.
“Heliocentrism becomes dangerous if it is being propped up as the true system when, in fact, it is a false system,” said Robert Sungenis, leader of a budding movement to get scientists to reconsider. “False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions — thus the state of the world today.… Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world, and governments and academia were subservient to her.”
Sungenis is no Don Quixote. Hundreds of curiosity seekers, skeptics and supporters attended a conference last fall titled “Galileo Was Wrong. The Church Was Right” near the University of Notre Dame campus inSouth Bend, Ind.
Astrophysicists at Notre Dame didn’t appreciate the group hitching its wagon to America’s flagship Catholic university and resurrecting a concept that’s extinct for a reason.
“It’s an idea whose time has come and gone,” astrophysics professor Peter Garnavich said. “There are some people who want to move the world back to the 1950s when it seemed like a better time. These are people who want to move the world back to the 1250s.”
After consulting with the neo-geocentrists and the Vatican observatory, the reporter next went to a logical additional source associated with biblical literalism: the loudest and more prominent creationist in the U.S., Ken Ham, of the Answers in Genesis organization and the creation “museum” in Petersburg, Kentucky. This is the same guy who insists that every word of the Bible must be interpreted literally or faith is meaningless, and who spends huge numbers of hours and dollars pushing biblical literalism and excoriating anyone who suggests that the Genesis creation story is metaphor or myth, not literally true.
And what do you think he said? Did he stick to his principles and defend geocentrism, which is found in many places in the Bible? No, he turned out to be a cafeteria Christian after all. As the Times reported:
“There’s a big difference between looking at the origin of the planets, the solar system and the universe and looking at presently how they move and how they are interrelated,” Ham said. “The Bible is neither geocentric or heliocentric. It does not give any specific information about the structure of the solar system.”
Ummm… sorry, Ken, but the Bible is actually MORE specific and detailed in its support of geocentrism than it is of your creation myth. What’s the matter, Ken? You can’t accept any deviation from literalism except when you decide the Bible isn’t clear or it’s metaphorical?
So what explains this inconsistency and flip-flopping in a man who insists on inerrancy, and won’t let anyone interpret the Bible metaphorically? Could it be that if he preached geocentrism, even his loyal fundie followers would laugh at him? If we pressed Pat Robertson or Oral Roberts or Mike Huckabee or the GOP presidential candidates who promote creationism, would they also agree with geocentrism? Somehow, I think not. The geocentrism vs. heliocentrism debate was over more 500 years ago, and only kooks and cranks are still waging it (along with creationists who insist the earth is flat, another idea found in the Bible). By contrast, over 150 years since Darwin’s book was published, a substantial percentage of people in the U.S. (but NOT in most European industrialized countries, nor in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, or other developed Asian countries) have still not rejected the equally outdated notions of creationism and come to terms with evolution. Apparently, 500 years is more than enough to get cultures to reject crazy religious notions, but 150 years are not enough (at least in the U.S.).
So, does this mean we still need to wait up to 350 years for creationism to finally die its long overdue death in the U.S.?