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Monday, March 21, 2016

Dr. Gary North: "Geocentrism: An Astrophysicist’s Comments" -- Copernicanism Part 5

      This continues from Part 4b, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & ToC in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question.
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Dr. Gary North
      I return now to modern science issues with Geocentricity.  Along with finding the objections of Dr. Danny Faulkner, I then ran into Dr. Gary North's objections.  North also claims Christianity (Presbyterian Church in America) and participates in the online Ron Paul Curriculum, ostensibly a Christian offering for homeschoolers.  So would he too follow Faulkner's support of "Copernicanism", i.e. criticizing Geocentricity?... Apparently so, for in his document "Geocentrism: An Astrophysicist’s Comments" he states the following "very simple, very obvious question":
"If the earth is stationary, why don’t the communications satellites fall down?"
When I read this question, it hit me like a ton of bricks... for it seemed to me that the idea of centrifugal forces were involved in maintaining the position of satellites and this directly involved the notion of the Earth spinning on its axis with the satellites hanging out there spinning with the Earth just to stay in equilibrium.  How can one explain this?  Dr. North explains that he follows "modern astrophysics" which says these satellites are:
"... in geosynchronous orbit with the rotation of the earth. The gravity of the earth does not pull them back to the earth because the centrifugal force of their orbits exactly counteract the force of gravity. They hang above the earth – not motionless, but seemingly motionless. They whirl around the axis of the earth, but synchronized with the whirling of the earth around its axis."
Well that explanation caused me a certain amount of discomfort for it seems to be perfectly plausible!  Dr. North mentions having heard and corresponded with Dr. James N. Hanson [sic] on geocentricity and essentially scoffs at Hanson's responses saying they (geocentrists)
"...refuse to say how the satellites stay up there. Apparently, the satellites are held up there by the force of equations."
North says almost nothing about the qualifications of Dr. Hanson or his "apologetic", and so was quite dismissive of geocentricity.  At least Faulkner admitted Dr. Bouw's qualifications.
      At this point, North hired a theoretical physicist, Dr. Michael Martin Nieto of Los Alamos National Laboratories who admittedly did not write from a biblical standpoint.  Nieto purports to take the high road in the discussion by saying that he "stands up to the values of scientific discussion" ... leaving the impression from the outset that anyone who argues for geocentricity does not stand with the same values.  From that point Nieto makes the standard claims of modern science — calling on Kepler, Galileo and Newton to bolster his "claim"... Hmmm, didn't he use the word "claim"? ... and "theory"?  ... and " standard scientific opinion"?  All these words do not say that heliocentrism (as opposed to geocentricity) is a certainty, but rather a "claim", a "theory", an "opinion".  The most helpful statement from Nieto was this:
"An accepted theory will have been found to make correct predictions in a wide area of physics.  Even so, we keep testing it in newer and newer areas. Finally, we find a place where the theory fails. Then we construct a new theory which predicts not only all the correct results of the old theory, but also predicts correctly where the old theory fails. From our point of view it is not that Newton was wrong, but that Einstein is “righter.” Einstein stands on the shoulders of Newton.  Now we (including myself) are looking for places where Einstein’s theory fails so that we can find a new theory which is “righter” than Einstein’s."
But in the end, Nieto concludes that "geocentrism... is not a scientific belief" because it "cannot 1) predict experimental observations that are seen now, or 2) cannot predict things which are found later." —  There is one experiment that Nieto discounts in his conclusion and that is that when I go out my back door in the morning, I observe the Sun going around the Earth... all day long.  I remember doing that very experiment when I returned to my Christian faith.  I walked outside and traced in the sky the path that the Sun took that day.  Geocentrism fitted that observation perfectly!  (Oh, that is too simplistic?... not valid?...) — So reading this paper from a theoretical physicist caused me a certain amount of discomfort...  But at this point I recalled something that C.F.W. Walther said in his essay at the 1868 Eastern District convention... it had to do with how to handle Biblical narratives that may be difficult to explain with our current scientific methods.  So in the next Part 6, I want to present the full section of Walther's comments against Copernicanism to the pastors of the Eastern District... and also to us.
(For those that would like to "jump ahead", they may read the "unprintable" response of Martin Selbrede to Nieto's essay here.)

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