Bob Sungenis writes:
Mark has been kind enough to allow me respond to his August 8 blog entry as a means to settle a dispute between us.
My contention to Mark is that I am not really bothered by him, or anyone else, disagreeing with me on cosmology. What I am concerned with is the manner in which the disagreement is voiced. Making sarcastic mock debates of my CNN appearance as a vehicle to voice objections about my cosmological views is way out of line. It is immature. It is unChristian. It is prideful and intended to be hurtful. Disagree with me all you want, but do it in a respectful and mature manner. If not, the only ones whose credibility is at stake is yours. I can defend my cosmological beliefs, but I know you cannot defend your unkind mocking of me.
Since Mark has given me this forum, I was trying to think of the most influential thing I could say to you. After some thought, I concluded that I would bring to light two recent incidents, from two different perspectives, that would bring home what I am trying to say.
First, in a June/July 2002 article in First Things (the magazine of Fr. Richard Neuhaus), Lutheran professor Paul Jersiid of Lutheran Theological Seminary, said the following regarding whether to allow homosexuals into the ministry:
“It should be patently clear that the significant advances in our understanding of homosexuality are not irrelevant to what the Church has traditionally thought the Bible says about it. It would not be the first time that changing circumstances have ushered in a reassessment of what the Bible says on any number of topics. To cite but one example, the scientific shift from geocentric to heliocentric thinking constituted a far more significant and potentially devastating threat to Bible-believing Christians than any changes we might anticipate from a more adequate understanding of homosexuality.”
We see, of course, as Jersiid goes on to argue, that basing any doctrine on a literal interpretation of Scripture, after the Copernican revolution, is fraught with danger, if not catastrophic. In opposing Scripture’s language, a modern exegete can simply claim that this-or-that scientific theory has overturned what the Scripture literally says, since science, because it is objective and only goes by the facts of the evidence, will give us a greater understanding than the Bible of the real nature of homosexuality (and, I might add, the cosmos).
Can you see, as I do, that Jersiid is basing his argumentation for homosexual ministers on the fact that the Scripture has been preempted by science on the nature of man? To bring it closer to home, isn’t that precisely what occurred in the mind of many or our bishops of the last three decades, as they all allowed homosexuals to enter our seminaries under the guise that the “science of psychology” had given us a better understanding of homosexuality than Scripture? In fact, just a few months ago, a Bishop (I forget his name) made the news for saying just that. Scripture, he said, was too antiquated, too judgmental, too rigid in calling homosexuality a sin, and that science had revealed to us that homosexuality was only a disease, and one of a hereditary nature at that. Thirty years later we find them molesting our children, and making a bigger “credibility” problem for the Catholic Church than I could ever do in espousing an alternate cosmology.
This is not my argument, this is Jersiid’s argument, and the Bishop’s argument. If they use it, rest assured that many, many people will use it, and I’ve seen them do it. It is uncanny the number of people who have told me that they don’t have to accept what Scripture says since, after all, science has shown Scripture to be obsolete. Hence, we see that the Heliocentric debate does not occur in a vacuum. It is directly related to the issues of our day, and as you can see, it has been exploited to the extreme.
Here’s another perspective from which to view the Heliocentric debate.
As of yesterday, the world suddenly was alerted to the fact that Einstein’s theory of Relativity may not be, and probably is not, correct. Its been all over the news. Here we are, on the verge of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s celebrated theory (1905-2005), and two scientists from Australia report in the most prestigious science journal on the planet, Nature, that the speed of light is not constant - the bedrock of Einstein’s theory of Relativity.
On our website I had been telling people for almost a year that Einstein’s theory was not correct. You wouldn’t believe the castigation I received, especially from members of Steve Ray’s board, for even entertaining such an idea. They accused me of being a fringe nut case, an unCatholic, narrow minded bigot who shouldn’t be delving into such areas. They accused me of causing embarrassment for Catholicism by bringing us back to the stone age of medieval superstition. But as you can see, it didn’t take long for me to be vindicated by this breaking news from Australia.
But that’s not all. Here are the dire ramifications of what these two astrophysicists from Australia have given to us. As I stated on our website, Einstein’s theory of Relativity was formulated for the express purpose of relieving the world of having to believe that the earth was standing still in space. Here’s what Einstein’s biographer, Ronald J. Clark, says in his book, Einstein: The Life and Times (page 109-110):
“The problem which now faced science was considerable. For there seemed to be only three alternatives. The first was that the earth was standing still, which meant scuttling the whole Copernican theory and was unthinkable. The second was that the ether was carried along by the earth in its passage through space, a possibility which had already been ruled out to the satisfaction of the scientific community by a number of experiments, notably those of English astronomer James Bradley. The third solution was that the ether simply did not exist, which to many nineteenth century scientists was equivalent to scrapping current views of light, electricity, and magnetism, and starting again.”
Notice the import of what Clark is saying. One of Einstein’s options concerning the results of the Michelson-Morley ether experiment of 1887 was to conclude that the earth was standing still, motionless in space. But that idea, of course, would be a severe embarrassment to science which, for 600 years, kept telling everybody that the earth was moving around the sun. Surely Einstein would not consider upsetting the great Copernican revolution, even though the evidence from Michelson-Morley dictated just that.
Instead, as Clark reports, Einstein settled on “scrapping the current views of light, electricity and magnetism, and starting again,” so that he could save the world from having to believe that the earth was motionless. In order to do that, Einstein, literally, had to reinvent physics. He had to postulate that time warped; that mass increased to infinity; that one twin sent away from the other at the speed of light would one day find his brother old and decrepit while he enjoyed the pleasures of youth. Yes, Einstein had to change every fundamental law of physics to save us from believing in geocentrism, but there was one dimension he had to keep the same, and that was the speed of light. It had to constant, or nothing would work in the new universe Einstein was giving us. Everything else in the universe was “relative,” but light had to be constant — otherwise, he would have to admit, as biographer Ronald Clark tells us, that the earth was standing still.
Now I grant you that this does not prove that the earth is motionless. I only bring this new scientific discovery to your attention to show you that one of the most sacrosanct theories known to man in the modern age, Einstein’s theory of Relativity, which everyone thought was proven beyond doubt for the previous 97 years, has suddenly been shown to be unproven, and in fact, the new evidence shows that it is wrong. If that is the case with Relativity, what does that say about Heliocentrism, an equally sacrosanct theory of science? On a pound-for-pound basis, there were more “proofs” for Relativity before its apparent fall than there are for Heliocentrism, yet, as we have seen, Relativity has just experienced a shot to the bow that is devastating. And as we have seen, Heliocentrism is directly related to Relativity, as Einstein himself admitted.
Now considering these things, is it really such a stretch of credulity for Robert Sungenis to suggest that the earth may indeed be standing still, especially since he backs it up with evidence from Scripture, the Fathers, Papal decrees, and scientific evidence? If Relativity can be put into doubt even merely by the scientific evidence (without evidence from Scripture, the Fathers and Papal decrees), how much more pause should be given to someone who asks his Catholic colleagues to take a second look at whether the earth is really moving as Copernicus and Einstein said they were?
In fact, as of August 9, 2002, in order to defend my views of cosmology against those who would seek to castigate me for believing in “medieval superstitions,” all I need do is point to the evidence gathered by the two Australian astrophysicists and say: “Did not you and the world believe that Relativity was also a foregone conclusion until these scientists showed you that it is not? What makes you think that Heliocentrism, considering all the Scriptural, Patristic, Papal, not to mention scientific evidence, against it, cannot also someday be dethroned?”
If anything, the recent discoveries by the two Australian scientists should make everyone of us take a long pause before we attack a fellow Catholic apologist with such sarcastic mockery (i.e., the CNN mock debate). You can believe in Heliocentrism all you want, but please, before you make all of us lose our “credibility” by having the world witness the rank and hurtful humor that was posted on Mr. Shea’ blog, think long and hard about what you are doing, for as with the theory of Relativity, you may find someday that two other renowned scientists will suddenly tell you that the earth is indeed standing still, just as Scripture literally tells us. That day may or may not come, but if the recent events in the scientific world are any indication how fast theories can change in science, then that alone should make each one of you refrain from any mockery you may be tempted to cast against me.
May God be with you all.