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Friday, April 1, 2016

World wide furor over Knak; A. D. White in America; Copernicanism Part 10b

      This continues from Part 10a, 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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      The furor over Pastor Knak's confession in Germany spilled over into a cacophony of derision in other parts of the world:
  • In July 1869, the English Unitarian magazine, the Theological Review published an essay "Schleiermacher and the German Church".  It included a report and comment of Pastor Knak and the Lisco-Knak affair of 1868 – pages 290-291.  The author, J. Frederick Smith, was just as dismissive of Knak as the editor of the Gartenlaube magazine.
  • In 1870, another author from England, Robert Willis, in his book Benedict de Spinoza; His Life, Correspondence, and Ethics, pg 184 (1870), in a footnote quotes the Smith article in the Theological Review of 1869. and equates Knak with a Roman Catholic Cardinal Cullen from Ireland and his "ultramontane" followers who taught the sun was 3 feet in diameter.
America:  "the great excitement in America"
Andrew Dickson White
Cornell University
  • In 1876, the February issue of The Popular Science Monthly published the article - "The Warefare of Science" by Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), President of Cornell University. President White figures prominently in the worldwide furor over Copernicanism because he was a prominent American who raised the furor to a fever pitch.  It seems likely that Pieper is referring to White's essays and book as the "great excitement in America".  On page 402, White says 
"Nor have attempts to renew the battle [of religion against science] been wanting in these latter days. ... the Lutheran assemblage at Berlin, in 1868, to protest against 'science falsely so called,' in the midst of which stood Pastor Knak denouncing the Copernican theory"
and on page 566, White wrote:
"...whose first utterances showed crass ignorance of the theories they attacked—there came quiet and wide-spread contempt; upon Pastor Knak, who stood forth and proclaimed views of the universe which he thought scriptural, but which most schoolboys knew to be childish, came a burst of good-natured derision from every quarter of the German nation.
    • In 1892, in the April issue of Popular Science, on page 737, A. D. White continued his attack against Pastor Knak's confession, but then on page 738 he announces the incredible news that in America (!) a Lutheran Teacher's Seminary in Addison, Illinois had an "eminent professor" who had taught against Copernicanism!? (Highlighting and info in square brackets [] are mine)
    Not so with American Lutheranism. In 1873 was published in St. Louis, at the publishing house of the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, a work entitled Astronomische Unterredung, [Astronomical Conversation, see here for scanned copy – not in Google Books.], the author being well known to be a late president of a Lutheran Teachers' Seminary. [J.C.W. Lindemann]
    No attack on the whole modern system of astronomy could be more bitter. On the first page of the introduction [page III] the author, after stating the two theories, asks, "Which is right?" and says: "It would be very simple to me which is right, if it were only a question of human import.  But the wise and truthful God has expressed Himself on this matter in the Bible. The entire Holy Scripture settles the question that the earth is the principal body (Hauptkörper) of the universe, that it stands fixed, and that sun and moon only serve to light it."
    The author then goes on to show from Scripture the folly not only of Copernicus and Newton, but of a long line of great astronomers in more recent times. He declares: "Let no one understand me as inquiring first where truth is to be found—in the Bible or with the astronomers. No, I know that beforehand—that my God never lies; never makes a mistake; out of His mouth comes only truth, when He speaks of the structure of the universe, of the earth, sun, moon, and stars. . . .
    "Because the truth of the Holy Scripture is involved in this, therefore the above question is of the highest importance to me. . . . Scientists and others lean upon the miserable reed (Rohrstab) that God teaches only the order of salvation, but not the order of the universe."
    Very noteworthy is the fact that this late survival of an ancient belief based upon text-worship is found not in the teachings of any zealous priest of the mother Church, but in those of an eminent professor in that branch of Protestantism which claims special enlightenment. [Lutheranism!]
    The old (German) Lutheran Synod of Missouri, the "ancient text-worhipers" in "that branch of Protestantism which claims special enlightenment", and Lindemann could not have asked for better publicity than that of Cornell University President Andrew Dickson White!  Evidently Mr. White knew the German language – he had been an American diplomat in Germany and elsewhere.  Too bad he did not translate Lindemann's whole pamphlet then!  (But see my next blog post)  The quotes of Lindemann's pamphlet are from its pages III, IV, and V.
    • Later on, in 1896, Cornell President White summarized into a compendium his earlier writings into a book -- A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom.  This book is widely cited in scholarly publications regarding the history of science in the "early modern" period, i.e. the time of Copernicus through Isaac Newton.
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    Tom Flynn
    for unbelief
          It is difficult to overestimate Cornell University President White's influence in America.  Cornell was considered the model for "non-sectarian" state supported universities in today's America... including the university I graduated from – Purdue University.  Thomas W. Flynn wrote a semi-biographical Introduction for a new edition (2012) of White's 1896 book by Transaction Publishers.  Mr. Flynn states that Andrew Dickson White
    "... broke with orthodoxy ... settled into a poised deism... Yet White never ceased to call himself a Christian." (pages xvii-xviii)
    Later Flynn reports (page xx):
    "...White never ceased to emphasize Cornell's embrace of generic Christianity, and on several occasions he made concessions to sectarian pressure. ... made clear that he wrote not to undermine but to defend religion...  Given White's intentions, his method was curious. [?] He wrote that 'theological views of science' have 'without exception... forced mankind away from the truth, and have caused Christendom to stumble for centuries into abysses of error and sorrow.'  Commitment to free inquiry made a scientist... and dogmatism a theologian.  This standard was not without its problems: for example... White placed St. Augustine firmly in both camps." (pages xx-xxi)
    So Flynn is quite perceptive in showing White's "curious" methods, that White's standards had "problems" of inconsistency.  Curiously, he admits that White's accounts of Galileo and Copernicus were "romanticized".  Flynn exposes White's curious, problematic methods "to defend religion" as he reports that
    ... White concluded that Christian theology had 'arrested the normal development of the physical sciences for over fifteen hundred years.' ... he charged beliefs concerning eternal punishment had ... [led to] brazen tortures and inhumane punishments."
    And Mr. Flynn shows that he could judge Cornell President White (like Alexander Graham Bell and Andrew Carnegie) that White's Warfare book (page xxi)
    "...dismayingly... constituted a devastating blow against Christianity."
    Summarizing, Mr. Flynn says (page xxii)
    Andrew Dickson White stands, however inadvertently, as one of the most effective and influential advocates for unbelief.
    Amazing! Tom Flynn's judgment matches what Franz Pieper would say, that White stands for... unbelief.  Ah, but Mr. White always wanted to be known as... a Christian?  Now I ask the reader: Who is a better spokesman for unbelief -- A. D. White or Tom Flynn?
          Dare I say that Andrew Dickson White would be pleased over today's official LCMS renunciation of the geocentric cosmology?  ... and a renunciation of the old (German) Missouri Synod's teaching?  Surely Tom Flynn (and Cornell University) is pleased with today's LCMS and their official denial of geocentrism and acceptance of Copernicanism.

    To: Cornell University
    Aren't you jealous that the University of Wisconsin-Madison received the "Robert Schadewald Collection on Pseudo-Science"... instead of you?
          I will return to our dear Pastor Gustav Knak who suffered much ridicule in a later post.  —  But the publicity that Cornell University's president gave to J.C.W. Lindemann calls for the publication of a full English translation of his pamphlet – in my next Part 11.  If Andrew Dickson White can publicize the "ancient" believing, "text-worship" of the old Missouri Synod in St. Louis, so can I.

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