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Friday, March 25, 2016

Robert Schadewald's straw man, judges LCMS; Copernicanism Part 8 (& an Easter message)

      This continues from Part 7, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & Contents 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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Robert Schadewald
      I move on from Luther to one of the more prominent antagonists that is found on the Internet today and one who is quite different from naysayers Faulkner and North who claim Christianity – Robert Schadewald († 2000).  Mr. Schadewald figures prominently in the public struggle to keep any notion of the idea of Creation out of public school teaching.  One indicator of his prominence is that the University of Wisconsin-Madison holds his collection at their library, the "Robert Schadewald Collection on Pseudo-Science" – all 884 items including A short explanation of Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism.  One wonders that the university was more than pleased to retain Schadewald's use of word "pseudo-science" for any reference to "Creation".  Go Badgers??  Objective science truth?
      Antagonists are quite happy to attach all manner of teachings to "Christianity" – alchemy, astrology, UFOs, perpetual motion, etc. and... the teaching of a "flat earth".  Wendy Schadewald (Robert's sister-in-law?) published posthumously in 2015 a writing of his online: The Plane Truth –  A History of the Flat-Earth Movement.  Perhaps one of the strongest arguments that Schadewald thought he had made against the Bible (and finally triumphed over it) is when he turns into a Bible expert and so claims the Bible teaches a "flat earth".  This attempt is clearly meant to establish that the Bible is "no textbook of science", and so anyone who holds to Biblical Creation or Geocentricity has no foundation for this physical view of the world, because 'science' has positively disproved both.  Schadewald would have us believe that he is a true champion for Science ... over the "Pseudo-science"... of Christianity.
      The problem I have with this is that as a schoolboy, I never learned from the Bible that the Earth was flat.  I read the Bible in my youth... and although most of my confirmation training was in using Luther's Small Catechism which concentrated on the doctrines of first importance (the Law, the Gospel, and their proper distinction, grace, means of grace, etc.), yet the historical and natural history aspects were also noted as being true.  I believed the Bible taught creation and that "the sun stood still" as Joshua commanded (and the Holy Ghost confirmed – Joshua 10:13).  But I never learned from the Bible that the Earth was flat.  And when I returned to my Christian faith, I determined to listen to the whole Bible on cassette tapes – twice.  I did this while traveling on business matters.  I recall listening to the account of Joshua and the Sun standing still, of Jonah in the belly of the fish.  And again, I did not learn from all this listening to the Bible that the Earth was flat.  So it was a surprise to find Schadewald desperately citing all manner of Bible verses which he claims to positively teach a "flat earth" and typically does not miss including a scoffing remark.  Dumb me... how could I have missed this "flat earth" teaching?  But as Luther taught, if the Bible did teach the Earth was flat, I would have to believe it because God said it, and then leave it until the Last Day until all was revealed.  Let the scoffers scoff!
      One can sense in Mr. Schadewald's fixation on talk of a "flat earth" a "straw man" argument because his 'science' proving Evolution is actually quite weak.  And could it be that he is even acknowledging that his scientific case for heliocentrism is not so strong as he would have us believe?... that he cannot actually objectively prove that heliocentrism is objective truth?  ... I will leave the scientific case for Creation to the vast documentation available elsewhere.  But I will cover the questionable science for heliocentrism in a future blog post.
      Ah, but C.F.W. Walther taught that even if man's 'science' seems to prove otherwise, a Christian should take the safe route and believe the Bible, even to the Last Day if man's 'science' seems to prove the Bible wrong.  A Christian is to know a priori that even in matters of natural history that the Bible is true.  — And what about those Christians who teach a "flat earth"?  Walther explains that a matter of natural science "is not an article of faith but is at most only an object of faith".  If  a "flat earth" (or a Geocentrist) Christian would impose their "world-view" on other Christians and make that a test of faith, Walther's counsel clearly counters that only those who teach that the Bible contains errors are stepping into the realm of heresy.  Schadewald seems at times to be quite close to doing just this... or does he?  Some of the "flat earth" Christians... perhaps less so.
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      Schadewald was prolific in researching many things.  The Appendix D: Geocentricity of his publication states:
"During the last third of the 20th century, the geocentric view made a remarkable comeback among ultra-conservative Christians as an adjunct to creation science."
I was unaware of this "comeback" by certain "ultra-conservative Christians".  He then went on to the sub-heading "Geocentricity Among Lutherans" and highlighted several Lutheran teachers and pastors.  I will call these:
Robert Schadewald's Hall of Fame (Shame?)
He goes on to mention a second group of American (German) Lutherans:
That Schadewald could compile such a complete listing (almost) was quite amazing to me.  How did he know so much about Walther and Pieper?  Where did he learn of Pastor Knak?  Did he go to a local LCMS or WELS pastor in Wisconsin to find this out?  He does not say. But his research helped my research greatly!  In fact I plan to make available almost all of the above publications in future blog posts, except J.R.L Lange's which are not so easy to procure.
      And so I must thank the University of Wisconsin-Madison and their Robert Schadewald Collection for making Luther, Walther, Pieper, Lindemann and Pasche famous!  Go Badgers! —  Ah, but Schadewald continues with a most perceptive comment about today's LCMS:
"As the 20th century progressed, however, the LCMS became more urban and sophisticated, and geocentricity largely faded from view."
Schadewald wasn't the only one who noticed this change in the LCMS from its former self.  I will record another outsider's similar comment later.
      Lastly, Schadewald gives more details of the resurgence of Geocentricity in "the last third of the 20th Century".  Among the names given are "two Cleveland astronomers, James N. Hanson and Gerardus Bouw".  We have heard earlier of these two from Drs. Danny Faulkner and Gary North in earlier blogs.  Were these LCMS Lutherans or any other Lutherans?... it seems not.  Their organization, the Association for Biblical Astronomy, is still active today and I will be reviewing their publications later.
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      But in reading of Mr. Schadewald, I came across some aspects that made me wonder just how "skeptical" he was... regarding Christianity.

1)   In the Appendix D: Geocentricity, under the sub-heading "Christian Opposition to Copernican Astronomy", Mr. Schadewald said:
"Taken literally, the Bible describes an immovable earth and mobile sun.  For example, 1 Chronicles 16:30 says, “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.” (New English Bible.  See also Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5, and Isaiah 45:18.) At Gibeon, Joshua commanded the sun to stand still but said nothing about the earth ceasing to rotate (Joshua 10:12).  Likewise, when Isaiah moved the shadow on the dial of Ahaz, it was the sun that moved ten degrees (Isaiah 38:8).  Religious opponents of Copernican astronomy cited these and other passages to justify their position."
This is a fair report of "the Bible taken literally"!... Schadewald does not omit the Joshua passage!  When reading other antagonists, it was not unusual for them to insert a note of scoffing or ridicule here and there in reporting this.  For example, Angus Armitage in his The World of Copernicus called those who still held the Biblical worldview against Copernicanism as "cranks".  Schadewald missed a perfect opportunity here to scoff at "the Bible taken literally" —

2) Another report of Mr. Schadewald that seemed not to fit with his normal scoffing of the Bible was by an associate at his passing – Eugenie C Scott [2018-01-08 link updated], co-founder of NCSE, the National Center for Science Education.  Emphases are mine:
"...his keen insight into the people and ideas of the creationism controversy. ... For Bob, more than any of us, personally knew and was friends with many of the people whose ideas we disagree with. ... he saw no contradiction in going out afterward for a beer with these same adversaries. He made a distinction between creationists whom he considered sincere and who treated the scientific data on evolution fairly (even if they rejected it), and others whom he considered "snake-oil salesmen". When one creationist recently lost most of his personal library in a fire, Bob generously boxed up duplicate copies of his books on the creation/evolution controversy and shipped them off. There are a number of creationists who personally will miss Bob, even though they may not miss his barbed criticisms of their scientific statements or his astute dissections of their logic."
The above admissions by Eugenie Scott quite amazed me.  She even admitted that the "any of us" staff of the NCSE other than Robert were largely not friends with "creationists", etc.  I wonder that this attitude of Robert Schadewald may have caused some tensions among the NCSE staff members.

3) Lois Schadewald (Robert's sister) said the following about Robert in her Preface:
" some ways, I think, he was never totally satisfied with anything he had written."
"It fascinated Bob to try to understand how someone could so firmly believe in an idea that almost everyone else would consider an indicator of insanity or, at least, naiveté."
These passages seemed to indicate something less than ridicule ("fascinated"?) of those who actually believed the Bible's account of creation and geocentricity.
==>> A note to Lois Schadewald:  
Martin Luther disapproved of Melanchthon's use of astrology, but did not consider this a heresy.  Why?  Because he considered Melanchthon firm on the first articles of Christianity (see his Small Catechism in your brother Robert's Collection) -- "by grace are ye saved, not of works" (Eph. 2:8-9).  And what about your brother Robert on the first articles of Christianity?  And what about you?... do you scoff at Martin Luther's Small Catechism?  The Bible is still true when it (literally) says
That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:19)
To Lois Schadewald and Eugenie C. Scott
==>> Would you scoff at this message?... the message of Easter?
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      In the next Part 9, I review Malcolm Bowden's YouTube videos on the science for Geocentricity.

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