THE WHYS AND WHEREFORES OF GEOCENTRISMby
Walter van der Kamp
Bulletin of the Tychonian Society, No. 49, p. 18
The creationists stoutly denounced worldly biological input with regard to the verses 11-13 and 20-31 of Genesis 1, but apparently no scruples impeded them from more or less reconciling the pronouncements of modern cosmogony and cosmology with the matter-of-fact statements in Genesis 1:1-9 and 14-19. Yet, it dawned on me, when those theories are compared next to the plain text of Holy Writ, one cannot fail to see that they contradict God's Word as brazenly in the matter of His preparation of the Earth as post-Darwinian biology did with regard to the emergence of life on that same Earth. For it was clear to me, all ifs and buts notwithstanding, that the inspired report bears witness to instantaneous creation. Flora and fauna did not slowly evolve. God spoke and they were there. Believe the message from on high or reject it. Evidential demonstration pro or contra is out of the question; we cannot go back in time to have a look. Bones and stones won't help either; they are deaf-mute and unable to affirm or deny what scientists allege they tell us. Moreover: experiments cannot deliver logically sound proof. For even if a biochemist, by doing clever things to some murky soup, should, after discarding many intermediates, succeed in presenting us with a baboon, then this would only show that the thing can be done; not that long ago on our planet it did happen in such a step-by-step procedure.
With regard, however, to the formation of the Heaven(s) and the Earth the case is quite different. According to Genesis, God created those realms in the beginning. He let there be light on the first day, established the elementary properties of the surface and the space around the unique Earth on the second and third days, and called its flora into being. Only then, everything having been readied for animal and human life to come, did He put into place the furniture of the visible Heaven and laid out orbits and parameters.
To me this revealed account directly contradicted the theories of the queen of the sciences. What is more, it contradicted those theories with respect to a physical aspect that is open to investigation, the status of our Earth in relation to the immense scheme of observable being. I began to see that if one were to deal with the description of that status in Genesis in a manner similar to Creationism's use of the text, one would be compelled to conclude that the Earth and all that dwell therein was positioned in the center of Heaven's wide expanse. The text says that, to give light to an already existing Earth, God created two lights and then the stars also; assigning to them severally their intricate courses in the dome of the skies. One cannot convincingly extract from the clear-cut prose any imtimation that on the world's fourth day, the Creator launched a planet, the "wanderer" on which we live, in an elliptical orbit and thereupon put a minor star selected from among assorted trillions as the great Sun in one of that orbit's foci. Nowhere does the text give the slightest hint that from then on day and night would be the result of Earth's rotation rather than of the great and lesser lights in their courses created for that purpose.
For the first time in my life I was attempting to read and re-read the whole of Genesis 1 in the steadfast, or stubborn, literally-believing-mood in which my Creationist brethren read its second half; and the process dazed me. I "knew" that the Earth orbits the Sun. I had learned that Galileo had only escaped being burned at the stake by recanting what he had demonstrated to be true. Yet the Old and New Testaments seemed to assume an unmoved, maybe even flat, Earth; with the Almighty on His throne far above it.
This contradiction, once lodged in my mind, proved incapable of removal. Try as I might to fit together the pieces of the puzzle, they did not match. Either Scripture was, at least with regards to cosmogony, to be taken with quite a few grains of salt, or science was leading us by the nose. The Good Book -- and on this point I was in agreement with those to whom it is no more than a quaint compendium of myths, -- the Good Book does not beat around the bush. From Genesis to Revelation it holds the premise of an unmoved Earth at the center of a rotating Heaven to be so self-evident that the mater needs no words to stress the fact's factuality. Yet even Christian astronomers told me in no uncertain terms that it was out of the question to absorb and understand the text as affirming the Earth's uniqueness. Doing so would amount to rehashing long-discarded, unthinkable, credulous, pre-Copernican fatuities. Spiritually our Earth might be significant, but physically; cosmologically ...?
I was left to conclude that reading Genesis 1 in a long-superseded medieval manner amounted to reading it through the wrong heuristic spectacles. How could I conclude otherwise, educated as I had been under the aegis of the pre-World War II paradigm of "science has now proven?" On top of that, I was only a neophyte in the disciplines concerned. When, however, in an attempt to be better instructed I surveyed the many exegetical reconciliations between scientific facts and the exigencies of the varieties of dogmas of divine inspiration that the theologians have put together, I found only one that I could accept; namely, that what seems plain expository prose in Scripture should be taken as plain expository prose unless there are compelling reasons not from without, but in the context of the passage, to judge differently. My "high" view of the Scriptures obliged me to reject all the others as ingenious circumlocutions devised to overcome the difficulties. Moreover, in all honesty I could not blame the sincere and serious unbelievers who ridiculed all tinkering with the clear text in order to have the Bible say what it does not say. And gradually it dawned on me that at the bottom of the clash between secular science, (loosely defined as an inductive method to approach and understanding of the cosmos,) and any form of supernatural religion is an either-or. No quarter given, no quarter expected; an accommodational give-and-take is out of the question.
I believe that it is not difficult to see this characterization of the struggle as true. The starting points for deliberations on either side are of a radically different character. The Christian's trust in Divine Revelation versus the humanist faith in the results of man's ratiocinations is to me a case of rockbottom versus quagmire. The Good Book makes once-for-all authoritative statements about the past and the future which no one is permitted to change; but the history of science is a kaleidoscopic succession of theories here-today and gone-tomorrow. The former freely offers inspired (that is, God-breathed) Good News. The latter presents emanation from brains which the Almighty has created, emanations which in the nature of things are "here below" not truly verifiable as the necessary verification of verifications leads him who thinks the thing is possible into an infinite regress. In the disciplines of astronomy and evolutionary biology especially, all the accepted theories are logically flawed by posing probabilities as certainties; because much of their theorizing is based on the proposition: If P, then Q, and hence if Q, then P. But if fact P causes observation Q, that does not prove that Q can only be caused by P.
Now it would be worse than shortsighted not to admit that attesting to the trustworthiness of Holy Writ, and it alone, does not get a man irrefutably out of darkness into the light. In fact, for Protestants to lift up their voices and with the reformers of the sixteenth century to cry "Sola Scriptura" (with the use of Scripture alone, as opposed to other authorities) is to flog a dead horse; and for Catholics, at least with regard to scientific theories, it is to cause discord among the brethren. In nine out of ten instances it basically means "by Scripture alone as that Scripture is understood rightly by me as a trustworthy authority, and therefore wrongly by you, if you happen to disagree with me." Alas, verification of such self-assured utterances is, as it turns out, quite as impossible in this instance as it is in the secular sciences: we cannot contact Heaven for verification of our dicta, and therewith silence the opposition.
When I had traveled this far, I began to anticipate that my inclination toward the "childish" (but to me child-like) acceptance of the text might well be challenged by even the staunchest defenders of Biblical inerrancy. And so it was. To the last man they asked me wearily if I did not know that the Earth goes around the Sun.
Let me confine myself to the previously mentioned, and to my thinking the only reasonably acceptable reconciliation between the aforementioned non-verifiable opposites. I hold that it be may well to remind ourselves how those things stood at the dawn of the present era after the Flood. The first contemplative scientists, the common descendants of Noah, began mankind's climb to our present civilization and its astronomy based on visibly equal terms. What those old and venerable cuneiform tablets told about God's creative labors and their completion at least fit the appearances perfectly. To formulate it with Plato: the Genesis story "saved the phenomena." Around the land, i.e. the Earth, on which everyone firmly stands, the heavens, turning on a slanted north-south axis, for the ancient sages then as for us now, daily revolved from east to west. And no mistake about it: with respect to all we think and say and do, we still accept these "raw" phenomena as trustworthily and adequately representing the state of affairs. No navigator now lays out courses starting his calculations from a moving Earth. No astronomer points his precision telescope on the basis of computations involving the three or more motions of the Earth through star-studded space. Scientists and farmers alike describe the movements of their man-made contraptions, regardless of their size, not relative to the supposedly static stars, but relative to the fields and buildings founded on an Earth at rest.
To quote an instructor at a Royal Air Force College: "We therefore teach navigators that the stars are fixed to the Celestial sphere, which is centered on a fixed Earth, and around which it rotates in accordance with laws clearly deductible from common sense observations. The Sun and the moon move across the inner surface of this sphere, and hence perforce go around the Earth. This means that students of navigation must unlearn a lot of the confused dogma they learned in school. Most of them find this remarkably easy, because dogma is as may be, but the real world is as we perceive it to be."
And it is to these first-hand observable, raw phenomena, not to the foundationally-tentative theories about "the truth behind the veil of facts," that the Bible may well have been adapting itself. For these phenomena are the same for all men, everywhere and always, while the astronomers have been compelled to change their insights time after time.
"Nice try," it will be said, "but once before, after such specious talk, your bible-thumping compatriots had to wriggle themselves out of a nasty embarrassment." True: during the first millennium A.D. many of the learned, as well as the great majority of unlearned Christians, did erroneously attribute more than a phenomenal value to their pre-scientific observations. That Holy Writ teaches a "flat" Earth was, considering the way the bible expresses itself, a warranted conclusion at the time. Prima facie, it is indeed flat. Before our space age nobody actually observed its spherical shape. Therefore, to declare this view to present the truth about God's handiwork was in Antiquity both reasonable and defensible. Even today, among the strictest Anabaptist groups there still seem to be some patriarchs left to whom the Word of Truth, by them they are sure rightly-divided, teaches the undoubted levelness of the world. One should not so quickly deride these old-time pillars of staunch orthodoxy who predicted and feared that accepting the heathenish Ptolemaic sphericity in the long run would lead to the negation of God's Message altogether. It was Jerusalem contra Athens, revelation against human reasoning. In A.D. 748 Saint Boniface, apostle to the Germans, complained that a certain abbot, Vergilius, held the heresy of the existence of antipodes; and many of us, had we been there, might well have sided with the former's literalism against the latter's liberalism.
Once bitten, twice shy; prudence is the mother of wisdom, and "flat-earthers" are now out of the running. Hence, what if, I had to ask myself, Tycho Brahe's synthesis of biblical information and astronomical observation were after all to be just as far from the mark as the flat Earth, as far off as indeed every one is quite sure it is? What if, viewed against the mighty concourse of the cosmos, our globe is indeed but a tiny wandering satellite of a minor star, notwithstanding my eyes and what seems to me to be the biblical assertions.
These questions had to be faced and dealt with before I could fully commit myself to an unheard of geocentric position. For although among the hoi polloi of this world millions may not yet have realized that the Earth goes around the Sun, among those with even the slightest bit of book learning, there are no doubts on that score. Theologians, without exception, long ago dropped any claim for an actual and factual meaning of the first half of Genesis 1. Why not let bygones be bygones?
After considerable thought it seemed to me that the theoretical shift from flatness to roundness could not really be compared to the change from Earth-to-Sun-centered cosmology. The former merely changed the Earth's form. Its place and station were not affected. High above the diurnally rotating starry heavens God remained enthroned, and Adam and Eve's descendants, be it mired in a slough of sin, could still easily believe His promise of a better world to come.
Towards the end of the Middle Ages, it must be admitted however, doubts did begin to creep in about the veracity of this hallowed celestial scenario. Phenomena, after all, are undeniably only phenomena; and appearances may be deceptive. Might not the Bible possibly have limited its appeal to a truth fine and fitting for common men, and might not the Earth, as a matter of real fact, be without the place faith had ascribed to it? That is to say: could not, however theologically abhorrent it be, natural philosophy pronounce the truth to be otherwise?
In 1543 Copernicus answered "Yes." And his heliocentric model, dethroning the Earth and enthroning the Sun in Heaven's center, initiated a turnabout without equal in the Western Weltanschauung. Seventy years later Kepler and Galileo successfully popularized that model, and in 1687 Isaac Newton's Principia confirmed it for all the world. The "New Science" came, saw, and conquered, and the Church of Rome which in 1643 had still condemned Galileo, tried in vain to thwart the progress of that science. Even for the Vatican's own faithful flocks the Inquisition's verdict soon became the dead letter it is today. As Pope's proposed epitaph for Newton had it:
Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said "Let Newton be," and all was light.
Having come this far in reading about the matter, I found myself in a quandary. All books and everyone consulted warned me that it would be worse than preposterous to contradict and dismiss the results of three centuries of observations. On the other hand, it was equally difficult to swallow the view that Holy Scripture fobs us off with fictions presented as factual truths; and that it does so in a rather clear prosaic style. What is more, though sauce for the geocentric goose then ought to be no less a sauce for the creationist gander, I still refused to bend the knee to Darwin and his proselytes. Their tedious, inane prattle about something called "Nature" through endless ages evolving and adapting the stupendous variety of living creatures disgusted me. "Nature," with a "somehow-intuitively-acquired" understanding of all physical sciences, "somehow" perfectly synchronizing the tiniest individual evolvements for stabilizing countless finely-tuned ecosystems? And this for the most divergent climatic conditions? No, never!
Yet, to chop Genesis 1 in half, honoring the second part as real history, but the first as merely stressing and professing the omnipotence of the Creator of Heaven and Earth? This I could not do, nor did I dare. At the same time I almost despaired of following the tortuous rationalizations of exegetes who were trying to evade such a cavalier treatment of the text. Some of them I found to read the "made" of Genesis 1:16 as "made visible," for how could there have been light at the instant of God's Fiat Lux, they decided, if the Sun had not already been circling the Earth? The "stars also," others alleged, must have been there and were perhaps only on the fourth day equipped with light rays from four to ten billion light-years long. Furthermore, although the passage does not mention motion, that must somehow be read into it, for Galileo established that the Earth races around the Sun at a speed, as we now know, of more than 100,000 km/hr.
It would be embarrassing, I decided, to advance such feats of interpretation in a discussion with any sort of evolutionist. For fools they would be if they did not pin us down on such a glaring inconsistency. Consider: if it is acceptable to emasculate the clear, concise, descriptive report of Genesis 1:1-19 (verses 11 and 12 excepted by the creationists, of course) into a general pious platitude about God having created everything, why then create such a hue and cry about an understanding of instantaneousness in verses 20-27 as evolution in the course of countless days?
To cut a long and rambling story short, I felt myself driven to a final choice. Either biology and astronomy lord it over Scripture, throwing light on it and helping us to understand it better, or Scripture's dicta rule supreme and give infallible guidance to human theorizing about where we are and whence we come. If the former be the case, then the Genesis testimony about the Earth's primacy in time and space appears to be a believer's wistful pipe dream. After all, our planet is to be viewed in the context of an immense cosmos, in worth comparable to a grain of sand in the Sahara. Then the cinder on which our life evolved as previously mentioned, is no more than a member of a satellite set circling a minor star, which together with billions of equals and betters has coagulated into the spiral galaxy we call the Milky Way. Which galaxy, in turn, is just one aggregate of countless suns among similar aggregates of suns. The Bible's matter of fact statement, however, claims that the Earth is the first celestial body created. To sustain the analogy, it reveals that the grain of sand named Gea was already in place when the Sahara, i.e. the concourse of sun, moon, and stars, was put around it. But if such a total misapprehension of how it all happened, thus the secularists, does not convince everyone that Scripture's supposedly sacred report is no more than some man's mythological imagination, then nothing will. I was familiar with the argument, sometimes resorted to, that discards such scientific pillorying of the Word as beside the point. For, so this rebuttal runs, these denunciations do not in any way impugn Scripture's veracity. The Good Book means to picture our planet's position as unique only "spiritually." In its astronomical outlook the Bible sticks to the collective representations, the directly sensible phenomena, if you will, shared by all humans from Adam to the end of the age. But Holy Writ really, so the reasoning goes, tells us how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go. It is interested in the world's salvation, not in its physical situation.
To be frank, I wanted nothing to do with this cheap way out. If Genesis had begun with chapter 12, "Now the Lord had said unto Abram ...," then such an extra-mundane treatment of the Bible might have been defensible. This, however, depending on our basic premise with regard to special versus general revelation, is either happily or regrettably not the case. The first half of the first chapter of the Book of Origins reports what the most learned contemporary astrophysicist and the least civilized headhunter would have seen had they been there when the Almighty's sevenfold "Let there be" called things that were not into being. The clear-cut prose relates what came to pass without further scientific pretensions or particulars about the laws and forces that ensure the world's steadfast equilibrium. And going on further, Genesis reports with the same non-investigative pre-theoretical attitude the emergence of life, the fall of man, the Great Flood, and the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel. Thereafter, picking up the thread of the Greatest Story ever told at Abram's calling, the Pentateuch tells its tales in the same unembellished narrative style that it employed from Genesis 1:1 on. In the same manner of folk tales, which touches the heart far more than sophisticated language ever will, we hear the truth about the world's beginnings and about Israel's disobedience in the desert.
Should I then, I had to ask myself, exchange Moses' matter-of-fact account with its compelling ring of truth? Should I barter it away for any of the man-made hypotheses that have come and gone? For Aristotle's eternal world with its crystal spheres, Kepler's magnetic powers of a deified Sun, Galileo's unproven Copernicanism, Newton's laws about Earth as one satellite in a set of ten, Einstein's fields of force now superseding that classical, myopic view? Or should I throw myself at the feet of whatever modelmaker of universes is yet to come?
Be this as it may, as I was looking for a way to escape the predicament in which such questions threatened to bring me, I felt relentlessly driven toward a question I was afraid to ask, a question which would in our age of science raise a doubt too ridiculous to be even pitiable. Yet what if God's Word with regard to the world's foundation were to be speaking the truth -- and the more I thought about it the less I doubted it -- rather than the science of cosmogony and its concomitant disciplines...? What if post-Copernican astronomy had to be rejected? Lock, stock, and barrel?
Once again I plowed my way through book after book, and soon I began to become aware of a fact so inconceivable that I could only suppose myself to have lost touch with reality. Whatever I read, whomever I asked, nowhere could I find a physically and logically sound refutation of the Bible's Earth-centered picture. The textbooks took our annual revolution around the Sun to be so self-evident that no further verification was necessary. Anyone accosted about the matter assured me that, as everyone knows, Copernicus had settled the point long ago. "Proof?" The answer evoked by all my queries came down to: "Why should we have to prove something we know to be true?" Darwinists, for instance, when looking around for a clincher in a debate with unbelievers, are wont to maintain that the evolution of life on Earth is just as undeniable a fact as the Earth's revolution around the Sun.
I quested far and wide, and everywhere I came face to face with a dishonesty, a misleading practice, I never had thought possible. None, but none among the fanciful assertions of the believers in Galileo's Sun-centered astronomical gospel has ever been proven. It is after Eve's seduction in the Garden of Eden the most monstrous deception ever foisted on mankind. The procedure for bringing it about has been an old, but effective one. The late non-lamented Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's henchman for propaganda, used it with great success in Nazi Germany: proclaim a lie again, and again, then in due course all people will believe you. Or, to cite C. S. Lewis: "Hypothesis, my dear young friend, establishes itself by a cumulative process, or to use popular language: if you make the same guess often enough it ceases to be a guess and becomes a scientific fact."
Sure, and no mistake about it: since 1543, experiments to affirm Copernicus' phantasm have been executed by the dozen. Who, after all, could refuse to believe a model so alluringly and satisfyingly simple? But the tests "proving" heliocentrism were all logically valid, and those disproving it the theorists managed to hush up or twist around by so-called ad hocs, that just had to be true for else ... and so on!
When towards the end of the nineteenth century the whole anti-biblical enterprise ran stuck, the search for proof could, however, be happily abandoned. For the new, and wondrously fitting principle of Poincare settled the issue once and for all, and, after having been couched by Einstein in mathematical terms, it has been believed ever since. Expounded by its proponents as a mystery which only great minds can understand, it declares that we move but cannot prove it. For move we must: an Earth at rest in the rotating Heaven's center is "unthinkable." As C. S. Lewis' infernal Screwtape might have said it, whenever and wherever that notion should present itself as a viable alternative to any form of post-Copernicanism, it should be instantly squashed. For a dismissal of the heliocentric model would put into peril the still not completely successful anti-Christian crusade. Spawned from below in the Renaissance and ever since effectively promoted, it cannot tolerate being thwarted. A return to a Ptolemaic view would endanger the final victory over the by now almost wholly eradicated acceptance of the Bible as a Message from Him Who cannot lie. With the Great Lie of Galileo, lest perchance God be glorified again, Homo Sapiens must be kept brainwashed.
I am aware that many a reader at this point may well feel obliged to protest against, and to part with, such megalomaniac opinions of a self-appointed pansophist who does not shrink back from considering himself wiser than the wisest men throughout modern history. Scholars, surely, are not such fools as those accusing trumpetblasts declare them to be? Surely theologians are not without reason when they take note of modern astronomy in their expounding of the Creator's report in Genesis 1:1-19?
They are not? Please reflect for a few moments on what follows here before judging.
In order for a new look at something, a new hypothesis, to be accepted as a theory, that is an acceptable explanation of something we observe, this hypothesis has to be tested by means of experiments. Now there is really only one way to go about this: that is to conduct experiments that must give certain results if the hypothesis in question is to be granted verisimilitude. When those results are obtained, the hypothesis gains in credibility. If they are not, we do well to review our allegiance to the hypothesis. Let me now restrict my discourse on this point to the four centuries of attempts to establish the truth of a not-Earth-centered Universe and enlarge on something previously alluded to.
The proposition "If A then B, and if B, then A," called the affirmation of the consequent, may please its users, but, as I suggested earlier, cannot deliver what we call "proofs," only confirm probabilities. We can never be sure that the B we observe is not caused by a circumstance we are not, or cannot yet, be aware of, or, as may happen, a factor which we are disinclined to consider. Astronomers have long been hobbled by this logical unpleasantness, witness Galileo himself who, as all are agreed now, never did prove his "Eppur si muove." In a Universe centered on the Sun in which the Earth revolves around the Sun, we'll see the phenomena we see. Quite true, yet if the universe centered on the Sun revolves with that Sun around the Earth, we'll see the same thing. The only way to establish the heliocentric theorem is to show irrefutably that Mother Gea is in motion.
It goes without saying therefore that the astronomers have tried assiduously to do this with the use of the much more difficult proposition "If A, then B, and hence if no B, no A." If Earth is in motion, then motion must be detectable, and hence if such motion is not detectable then the Earth is not in motion. Alas, they drew blank after blank, which by means of clever constructs, all resting on the Copernican proviso, they had to show as not to the purpose. In 1887, after the famous Michelson and Morley experiment failed conclusively, in the eyes of classical science, to show the Earth's revolution about the Sun, there was the devil to pay.
And paid he was. A totally different approach to overcome the baffling, no-win situation in which the astronomers had landed themselves brought the desired relief. Beginning with the idea of Lorentz and proceeding via Poincare, Einstein's Theory of Relativity of 1905 came, saw, and conquered. Or, to trace the genesis of their weird, illogical undertaking to a quite different level: the idea was "in the air." The Prince of the air took care of that when he stopped an upcoming danger to the strategy that had since 1543 slighted the Word so successfully. The simple truth of the matter, thus the gospel of relativity had it, was, as mentioned earlier, that we move but cannot prove it. And he who does not accept this cure-all for even the last lingering doubt about the minor status of our Earth by cosmic standards will never learn wisdom.
Let me mention as an aside at this point that according to the General Theory of Relativity published a dozen years later, the geocentric view is "as good as anyone else's, but no better." What concerns us in the matter at hand is that Einstein's solution suffers from a weakness that prevents its testing by the "If not, then not" procedure still necessary, and that hence it remains as yet no more than a hypothesis supported only by logical powerless affirmations of the consequent earlier referred to. The fact that it cannot be observed except through the phenomenon it is invented to explain -- and that phenomenon has never been proven! -- makes it impossible to validly test it. "If A, then B, and if B, then A." "If Einstein is right, then we cannot prove the Earth's motion. This motion we cannot prove. Hence Einstein is right." Not valid! the Earth may be at rest! To state that the motion of the Earth is already "proven," as e.g. Einstein did in his 1905 paper, is to beg the question.
Enough of this matter, as far as the scientific misappropriations of Galileo and Bacon's "New Science" are concerned. There is a far more sinister aspect to the affair. If the theorizing and marketing of the post-Copernican view as "assured result" on the basis of its unproven premise had not been undertaken by the minions of mankind's Archenemy, the whole theoretical to and fro could have been left to its practitioners. We, Christians, could then have let the scientific establishment people happily splash on in the murky pool of their prognostications. Theories have come and gone before, and will go on doing so until the present age ends. But such an "apartheid" from a more general view of reality has not been maintained, sadly enough. From its popularization by Kepler and Galileo on, the heliocentric theorem was pressed into the service of the the already growing "No God, no Master" movement. Kepler himself still castigated Giordano Bruno for that strange visionary's conjecture of the Sun being no more than a star among many thousands scattered through space. His faith in the Bible, be it tainted by his overdone reverence for Genesis' Great Light, did not allow such a heresy. Lamentably, his refusal to take Tycho Brahe's Biblically founded framework left that model in the cold and so hastened its demise, which death in turn removed the last hindrance to a triumphant advance of Bible criticism, Deism, and ultimately a disbelief in the Almighty Father in Heaven altogether.
The cosmic quest begun by Copernicus and his followers "transformed," thus the late Arthur Koestler, "the European landscape, society, culture, habits and general outlook as thoroughly as if a new species had arisen on this planet." Indeed, agrees the greatest of all German poets, Goethe: "Among all the discoveries and convictions not a single one has resulted in a deeper influence on the human spirit than the doctrine of Copernicus ... . Humanity has perhaps never been asked to do more, for consider all that went up in smoke as a result of this change becoming consciously realized: a second paradise, a world of innocence, lyricism and piety, the witness of the senses, the conviction of a poetic and religious faith ... ." Yes, concludes C. F. von Weizsaecker, "the Christian myth was beaten out of the field by the new science." Or as a German popularizer formulates it: "Galileo's way of thinking three hundred years ago laid the formation for modern science and theology, and into what crisis he has since brought theological thinking is difficult to describe. Until today the Church has been fighting for an inventory of religious truths that are no longer compatible with the insights gained by means of the inductive method, among them the dogmas and the notion of a Supreme Being."
"God died in the nineteenth century, and man is dying in the twentieth century," declared Norman Geisler from Dallas Theological Seminary, referring to the theory of evolution. I dare say that W. T. Jones in his History of Western Philosophy accurately pinpoints the reason why man, as Man, is dying. "The theory of natural selection brought home as nothing else could the radical change in Man's status in the universe, and made dramatically clear the attack on old values that had actually been implicit in the whole scientific development beginning in the sixteenth century."
Some paragraphs ago I asked you to bear with me for a while yet. Now you must judge whether for you the discussion proved worthwhile. As for me, when I had traveled this far, when I had begun to realize what grave changes accompanied, or were facilitated by the shift in cosmological thought, there was no turning back. And so in January 1968 I privately published a thirty-two page brochure, The heart of the Matter.