Sunday, May 18, 2008

Modern Geocentrism

Naftali was kind enough to give me a copy of a tract that he received in the mail. This isn’t any ordinary tract. It is geocentrist. That’s right: There are people who still believe the sun revolves around the earth. They even direct you to a website, , apparently run by one Gerardus D. Bouw who has a PhD in astronomy from Case Western University and is a professor emeritus at a small Methodist university.

I’m not going to discuss in detail why geocentrism is stupid or why this website contradicts itself. I will however briefly note that the proponents cannot make up their minds whether all evidence is completely consistent with both geocentrism and the standard view of the universe, or whether there is in fact actual evidence for geocentrism. Logically, either but not both of these can be true.[1]

There are four similarities in both the geocentrists’ rhetoric and the rhetoric of anti-evolution proponents.

First, the geocentrists base their views on their interpretation of the Bible. According to the pamphlet, “The change in theories damaged our viewpoint of the Bible, which is geocentric. The King James Bible is openly geocentric.” This is almost identical to what anti-evolutionists say. For example, Answers in Genesis, the largest Young Earth Creationist ministry in the United States, emphasizes that it is devoted to “defending the Bible from the very first verse."

Second, the geocentrists assert that “if the earth is not fixed on center stage of the universe, then life on earth and man himself are essentially meaningless.”[2] This claim is identical to claims made by all sorts of anti-evolutionists, such as young earth creationist Henry Morris and intelligent design proponent Phillip Johnson.

Third, the geocentrists attempt to disguise what they talking about by changing its name. However, their disguises are even more superficial than those of the anti-evolution proponents. The geocentrists claim that they aren’t proponents of ideologically-driven “geocentrism” but rather the modern, scientific notion of “geocentricity,” just as creationism became creation science and then later became intelligent design and “sudden emergence theory.”

Fourth, the geocentrists emphasize that they have supporters who have PhDs, some of which are even in physics and astronomy. This claim is identical to how anti-evolution proponents point how they have supporters who have PhDs in mathematics, chemistry, and even cell biology.

To all this one might retort that geocentrists are a tiny minority. However, 18% of the population of the United States thinks that the sun revolves around the earth. Geocentrism is so common that Answers in Genesis has felt a need to respond to it in multiple articles on its website. The next time an anti-evolution proponent makes one of these arguments, ask the person, “Hey! I’ve heard geocentrists make the same claim. How is your claim any different?”

[1] Actually, I can’t resist pointing out another example of how interesting these people are. Bouw correctly explains arrow notation and then uses it to make an apologetic argument for how you don’t want to be in hell for 10↑↑10 years and that eternity is even worse.

[2] Bouw also claims that heliocentrism leads to the mistaken notion that man is the measure of all things as opposed to God. I’m a bit confused how to reconcile this with the claim that humanity not being at the center of the universe makes humanity meaningless.

Edit: Fixed mistake pointed out be Harry below.


Anonymous said...

18% of the population of the United States thinks that the earth revolves around the sun

Uh, you seem to have that backwards.

KLP said...

I got the same thing in the mail on Saturday. These things make me chuckle, but my fiancée gets genuinely bent out of shape at the mention of such things. Sadly, she destroyed the document before I could send for my own free copy of the Geocentric Bible. :(

Etienne said...

I wonder if I could get this stuff added to the curriculum of a few public schools if I renamed it "intelligent gravitation"?

ERV said...

Everyone has gotten that tract but me :(

Everyone got 'The Atlas of Creation' too.

Maaaan :(

Daniel said...

"I'm not going to discuss in detail why geocentrism is stupid"

That's because it not stupid, you are.

Truth Keeper

Anonymous said...

Just noticed this: The anchors in this entry are broken; they point to the edit post page on Blogger.