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Monday, May 23, 2016

Schöpffer: King, Lamont question Copernicanism; Part 18c

      This continues from Part 18b, 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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      We continue with Carl Schöpffer's narrative as he departed from Karl von Raumer.  Here he meets with a King and an astronomer.  Schöpffer then tells of two startling events in his life, yet in a comforting way... for a Christian:

To my justification.
(continued from Part 18b)

King Ludwig I
From Erlangen I went to Munich, where the aged King Ludwig I conversed with me in a friendly way and for a long time, and expressed in his guileless manner: “I do not understand it, but it's always seemed ridiculous to me that we should so tumble about head over heels in the world.”  Finally he requested of me: “Nevertheless, speak also with [page 6] [Johann von] Lamont who is a very clever man.  Just say that I recommended you to him.”
Johann von Lamont
hypotheses –
It was actually not my intention to go  to Lamont, the Munich astronomer at that time, because I already knew that from these kind of people nothing was to be learned.  Even the astronomers are in a bad situation — although it would indeed be certainly nobler and simpler to free themselves by frank confession of the same.  Lamont allowed, due to the recommendation of King Ludwig, not to oppose me so gruffly as Encke had done, but he betrayed his embarrassment and just said, “You and the world in general, are in error: there has never been a real astronomer to speak of a Copernican system; we know only a Copernican hypothesis.  Whether this is true or false, any real astronomer is quite indifferent.” — “I know that quite well,” I replied, “but you should then not let the laity be under the delusion that astronomers consider the Copernican hypothesis as a truth.” — “I have never dealt with amateur astronomy,” replied Lamont; “if Littrow and Mädler teach the people superstitions by selling hypotheses for truths, so that's their business.”
J. v. Littrow  ––––  J. H. v. Mädler
 selling hypotheses for truths?

From Munich I went to Württemberg, where a high and truth-loving Lady had invited me to spend a few weeks at her lovely mansion on the Neckar river. Although it does not belong here, I can not refrain to tell how I was saved on that journey from apparent threat of death.  Between Augsburg and Ulm, the railway was not yet finished, and for a distance of a few miles, the travelers were transported in mail carriages.  The path that this mail wagon drove went quite steeply down at one point and was close to a towering steep slope. The road was covered with slippery ice and therefore placed an ice chain on a rear wheel, but in the wrong way so that the ice chain even caused the car to be dragged closer and closer to the abyss.  The coachman tried everything possible, but the carriage was not to be brought to a halt and [page 7] slipped continuously toward the deep.  Three Jews who were sitting with me in the carriage began to scream loudly when they saw death facing them — because the life we ​​thirst for had no hope of coming when we plunged down into the abyss.  As serious as the situation was, so I could only but smile when I saw the great despair of my neighbors.  No sparrow falls from the sky without the Father's will [Matt. 10:29]; were my end secured, so it would have affected me in the same moment in a room the same as in the mail car. With such conviction looking forward, I never knew fear in my life.  The fateful moment, however, appeared; the car slid off from the edge of the road, laid down, — a strong crack, a loud cry of three Jews, then deep silence.  Just where the carriage had fallen down, there stood an old cherry tree.  The carriage had landed on it, the horses stopped at the same moment, and we were saved.
I will not detain you with the story of my stay in the Neckar valley, not even with the release from a second mortal danger in which I came to return to my home and from which I was also saved by a miracle, — but note presently that I had made the decision to go for a year to Göttingen to use the resources of the local library.  And there I wanted to come to a serious decision on the questions of whether Copernicus or Tycho? and likewise another question for me: whether Volcanism or Neptunism?
What I experienced during my stay in Göttingen borders so strongly to the fictional that I hardly dared the message. The first day in Göttingen proceeded in a most ominous way for me. I went over Groner Street.  Suddenly a red light flared up, a terrible crash shook the air, thick darkness surrounded me while I heard a strange rattling and crackling around me.  I could smell that the darkness that surrounded me was caused by powder smoke and thick dust, and stopped in amazement [page 8] at the outcome to be expected of this adventure. When the smoke and dust had cleared enough so that I could see, I noticed that a home was missing its roof and on the other hand, the road was covered with bricks and debris of various kinds. There with his teaching master the apprentice of a merchant disgruntled with his teaching master had placed himself in a powder keg, ignited the powder and blown himself up with the roof into the air. Three people on the street were injured, I had remained untouched, although just around me the bricks were the most dense.
(conclusion follows next)

    The two harrowing events that Schöpffer describes might seem to be out of place, but he would rather have his readers know the peace that a Christian knows, the peace in knowing a Father who does not miss a sparrow falling and numbers the hair of our head, Matt. 10:29-30.
      Some might say that Lamont would not be one to count among those who questioned Copernicanism, but didn't he call some hypotheses "superstitions"?  And what adds to this account is that Lamont was still living († 1879) when Schöpffer's book was published in 1869.  Lamont could have publicly renounced Schöpffer, but there does not seem to be any publicity about this. —  Ah, but we are not quite finished with "Schöpffer's List"... in the next Part 18d, we conclude with another astonishing name, on the same high level as Humboldt.