web metrics

In response to James Hanson's paper, “Occam's Razor in the Hands of Copernicans, a Blunt Instrument” which appeared in the Winter 1997 issue of the Biblical Astronomer, Russel Moe wrote the following:

James Hanson's paper raises a question to me. If I approach his material from the viewpoint of various levels of “saving the appearances” (STA), I don't see the force of this argument.

What I might call the Level I STA is: preserve th angle of the line- of-sight position of the planets. (Where in the sky is it?) Ptolemy and the Aristotelians (and his spheres) did this, but, I believe, it soon became apparent that the Aristotelian view had discrepancies.

What I might call LEVEL II STA is: preserve the apparent diameter — distance — of the planet. (How big is it in the sky?) Aristotle's theory flunked here, but didn't Ptolemy's also?
What about Tycho's — either with ellipses or epicycles?

What I might call LEVEL III STA is: account for the “object's bulk” in the explanation — as well as the angle and the distance. (Why is it where it is?) Level III STA surpasses Level I's and II — most would feel justified in relegating them to the history book. Is not this the glory of Newtonian gravity? Granted, as Jim's paper shows, it is exceedingly abstract and intellectually challenging to compute.

The important question seems to be does Newtonian gravity satisfy Level III STA? Further, looking at Level I, II, and III STA, how do the Ptolemaic, Copernican, Tychonian, Newtonian, and Einsteinian systems compare? I believe this impinges on Jim's last paragraph. I don't know the applicablility of Occam's Razor if the various systems do not equally fulfill all three STA levels.

Has the Level III STA for the Tychonian model for geocentricity been expressed? I know there have been articles on “ultramundane particle systems” etc., but how to tie it all together? What about the experimental critiques of Newtonian gravity: perturbations during eclipses, variances in gravity in deep mines, perhaps others? It makes me wonder how gravity can be expressed without an appeal to astronomy — you know, as van der Kamp used to day, relying only on Mother Gaea.

Jim Hanson replies:

I didn't know there were levels of save-the-appearance (STA). In fact, I do not believe there is such a thing in the Bible (by the Bible I mean the KJV 1611, for there are all kinds of “lying wonders” in the modern versions).

When Joshua commanded the sun “stand still,” it did. When Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 1:5, states that the sun circuits the earth, it does. When the Bible has the mountains skipping away, and mountains melting, they will. God does not lie to us, he tells of physical reality whether we can perceive it or not. When the Bible chooses to speak symbolically or figuratively, it tells us so, e.g., in Revelation where waters represent the multitude of people. In my article on Occam's razor, I said nothing particularly sophisticated, but only that what modern science says is simple, is not, and that science's arguments upon simplicity are non- arguments.

Finally, I would like to add my two cents worth addressing Russel's three levels view. At this stage in geocentric theory, geocentricity can save all three levels of the appearances. Furthermore, the Ptolemaic, Copernican, Tychonian, Newtonian, and Einsteinian models can all be made to fit all three levels. Jim's question deals with the Copernican- Newtonian-Einsteinian model's complexity in fitting the observations, which is really the definition of save-the-appearance. The Copernican model claimed to be simpler than the Ptolemaic, but as observations were made by more and more precision, the Copernican model was abandoned, being replaced first by the Newtonian and later the Einsteinian models. None of the models can explain gravity except the corpuscular models, but it is left with the question of whence the corpuscles.

The advantage of the geocentric model at this time is that it can explain more phenomena with fewer premises than can the old heliocentric or modern acentric model. The geocentric model combines celestial mechanics, dynamics, kinematics, relativity, and some quantum mechanical “effects” all in one framework, namely, gravity, instead of five more- or-less independent fields.

Translated from WS2000 on 11 February 2005 by ws2html.