Author Topic: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?  (Read 681 times)

Offline truly-a-philosofan

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It seems that some here believe that the Fathers of the Church taught, with mathematical unanimity, that the Earth is the center of the universe. Here’s a passage from one of the surviving works of the saintly Church father, Anatolius, who broke this unanimity:

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Eudemus relates in his Astrologies that Œnopides found out the circle of the zodiac and the cycle of the great year. And Thales discovered the eclipse of the sun and its period in the tropics in its constant inequality. And Anaximander discovered that the earth is poised in space, and moves round the axis of the universe. And Anaximenes discovered that the moon has her light from the sun, and found out also the way in which she suffers eclipse. And the rest of the mathematicians have also made additions to these discoveries.

Here’s the link: https://ccel.org/ccel/anatolius/paschal/anf06.vi.iii.iii.html

I’m not here to debate as to whether Geocentrism is true or not. I’m just providing an alternative to the pervading opinion that the Church fathers were unanimous on this.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2020, 05:12:13 AM by truly-a-philosofan »
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Offline The Theosist

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2020, 07:27:29 AM »
Anaximander was a geocentrist. Nice try. Did you even bother to look at his cosmology and what those words might mean, or if the translation is even correct?


Ancient geocentrism versus modern heliocentrism is a pseudo-debate, a non-issue, because the ancients provide no definition of their thesis by which it could be tested using the methods of physical science, let alone one that is commensurable with that of philosophically-sound modern physics. People who are unaware of this, or who can't understand the underlying linguistic and epistemological problem, are not even worth listening to on such matters.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2020, 07:41:38 AM by The Theosist »
 
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Offline Alnitak

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2020, 10:58:24 AM »
The Fathers must have also taught it as a certain matter of faith and morals: I highly doubt this even though they may have presumed the science of their times.
 
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Offline truly-a-philosofan

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2020, 03:28:53 AM »
Anaximander was a geocentrist. Nice try. Did you even bother to look at his cosmology and what those words might mean, or if the translation is even correct?


Ancient geocentrism versus modern heliocentrism is a pseudo-debate, a non-issue, because the ancients provide no definition of their thesis by which it could be tested using the methods of physical science, let alone one that is commensurable with that of philosophically-sound modern physics. People who are unaware of this, or who can't understand the underlying linguistic and epistemological problem, are not even worth listening to on such matters.

In fact, you’re right. It seems that there are four plausible explanations for this passage:

• St. Anatolius was simply mistaken in recalling which ancient philosopher had held which doctrine.

• The English translation available online did not translate this accurately in a manner that would have expelled doubts.

• Anaximander, though a geocentrist, still believed the Earth rotates on its axis.

• The philosopher had changed his mind and the saint simply recounted his later views.

Anyway, I reiterate that I’m agnostic to the question of Geocentrism itself and I have no stakes for or against it.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 03:38:23 AM by truly-a-philosofan »
For the evil of the soul, its own will takes the initiative; but for its good, the will of its Creator makes the first move; whether to make the soul which did not yet exist, or to recreate it when it had perished through its fall.

St. Augustine, City of God XIII:15
 

Offline Jayne

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2020, 01:21:35 PM »
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Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.

Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion."

St. Augustine, De Genesi Ad Litteram
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Offline The Theosist

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2020, 02:33:39 PM »
Quote
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.

Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion."

St. Augustine, De Genesi Ad Litteram

Your point? The geocentrism of the Fathers is not debatable, the Fathers' opinions of the meaning of scripture can hardly be considered foolish, and those who want to in some sense make absolute the relativistic motion of the Earth as defined by the concept of an inertial frame of reference, so as to contradict the Fathers and traditional Christian cosmology, are not even wrong but talking nonsense.

So to whom is this quotation intended to apply?
 
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Offline coffeeandcigarette

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2020, 03:44:26 PM »
Quote
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.

Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion."

St. Augustine, De Genesi Ad Litteram


This is why the flat-earthers and "there-were-no-dinosaurs" people need to be silenced. They drive people away from the faith, by yapping about their fringe scientific opinions and making the Church look foolish.
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2020, 03:48:08 PM »
Your point? The geocentrism of the Fathers is not debatable, the Fathers' opinions of the meaning of scripture can hardly be considered foolish, and those who want to in some sense make absolute the relativistic motion of the Earth as defined by the concept of an inertial frame of reference, so as to contradict the Fathers and traditional Christian cosmology, are not even wrong but talking nonsense.

The opinions of the Fathers on the meaning of Scripture, may, under certain circumstances, be considered wrong.  This is explained in the encyclical Providentissimus Deus (par 19):

Quote
The unshrinking defence of the Holy Scripture, however, does not require that we should equally uphold all the opinions which each of the Fathers or the more recent interpreters have put forth in explaining it; for it may be that, in commenting on passages where physical matters occur, they have sometimes expressed the ideas of their own times, and thus made statements which in these days have been abandoned as incorrect. Hence, in their interpretations, we must carefully note what they lay down as belonging to faith, or as intimately connected with faith-what they are unanimous in. For "in those things which do not come under the obligation of faith, the Saints were at liberty to hold divergent opinions, just as we ourselves are,"(55) according to the saying of St. Thomas. And in another place he says most admirably: "When philosophers are agreed upon a point, and it is not contrary to our faith, it is safer, in my opinion, neither to lay down such a point as a dogma of faith, even though it is perhaps so presented by the philosophers, nor to reject it as against faith, lest we thus give to the wise of this world an occasion of despising our faith."(56) The Catholic interpreter, although he should show that those facts of natural science which investigators affirm to be now quite certain are not contrary to the Scripture rightly explained, must nevertheless always bear in mind, that much which has been held and proved as certain has afterwards been called in question and rejected.

We are free to disagree with the Fathers on the question of geocentrism, even if they were unanimous on it, because it is not a matter of faith.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 03:50:07 PM by Jayne »
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Offline The Theosist

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2020, 04:24:25 PM »
Your point? The geocentrism of the Fathers is not debatable, the Fathers' opinions of the meaning of scripture can hardly be considered foolish, and those who want to in some sense make absolute the relativistic motion of the Earth as defined by the concept of an inertial frame of reference, so as to contradict the Fathers and traditional Christian cosmology, are not even wrong but talking nonsense.

The opinions of the Fathers on the meaning of Scripture, may, under certain circumstances, be considered wrong.  This is explained in the encyclical Providentissimus Deus (par 19):

I never said they couldn't be wrong. You have not answered my question. Are you going to answer it or not?

What is the point of quoting Augustine here and at whom is it supposed to be directed? Who are you implying is ignorant, talking nonsense and maintaining foolish opinions?

Quote
The unshrinking defence of the Holy Scripture, however, does not require that we should equally uphold all the opinions which each of the Fathers or the more recent interpreters have put forth in explaining it; for it may be that, in commenting on passages where physical matters occur, they have sometimes expressed the ideas of their own times, and thus made statements which in these days have been abandoned as incorrect. Hence, in their interpretations, we must carefully note what they lay down as belonging to faith, or as intimately connected with faith-what they are unanimous in. For "in those things which do not come under the obligation of faith, the Saints were at liberty to hold divergent opinions, just as we ourselves are,"(55) according to the saying of St. Thomas. And in another place he says most admirably: "When philosophers are agreed upon a point, and it is not contrary to our faith, it is safer, in my opinion, neither to lay down such a point as a dogma of faith, even though it is perhaps so presented by the philosophers, nor to reject it as against faith, lest we thus give to the wise of this world an occasion of despising our faith."(56) The Catholic interpreter, although he should show that those facts of natural science which investigators affirm to be now quite certain are not contrary to the Scripture rightly explained, must nevertheless always bear in mind, that much which has been held and proved as certain has afterwards been called in question and rejected.
[/quote]

It's not a mere expression of an idea of the times or an inconsequential opinion when it concerns the very cosmology of God's creation and the reading of scriptural passages and terms which deal with such or imply a particular view of it. To think so is absurd. And everyone who has seen what that very opinion has lead to in the matter of permitting the denial of the Fathers in favour of Darwinism, an utter ruination of the Christian faith through the ruination of its fundamental view of the creation and man's origin and natural place in it, knows it's absurd.

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We are free to disagree with the Fathers on the question of geocentrism, even if they were unanimous on it, because it is not a matter of faith.

Such a "disagreement" is a meaningless inanity when it involves taking a specific modern meaning of the question of "geocentrism", based in the  conceptual apparatus of a type of physics by which "motion" and "centre" are operationally defined, and without any basis for doing so projecting it onto what the Fathers might have meant by the Earth being "motionless" and the "centre". This is a fallacious equivocation, leading to a juxtaposition of two incommensurable ideas, and is comparing apples with potatoes.

"Absolute xyz-centrism" is for physics a contradiction in terms, and the denial of "absolute geocentrism" a proposition which does not figure in its vocabulary and is in principle not testable by any of its methods.

 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2020, 04:28:51 PM »
You have not answered my question. Are you going to answer it or not?

I am not.  You do not seem like a person I would enjoy discussing this (or anything else) with.
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Offline The Theosist

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2020, 04:30:55 PM »
This is why the flat-earthers and "there-were-no-dinosaurs" people need to be silenced. They drive people away from the faith, by yapping about their fringe scientific opinions and making the Church look foolish.

Yet physical relativism isn't a fringe scientific opinion. It's the science's definition of its own terms. One shouldn't confuse theoretical models of instrumental effects with an ontological reality whose status is not decided or even dealt with by the former.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 04:37:33 PM by The Theosist »
 
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Offline The Theosist

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2020, 04:36:54 PM »
You have not answered my question. Are you going to answer it or not?

I am not.  You do not seem like a person I would enjoy discussing this (or anything else) with.

And you who came into this discussion with a snide quotation of Augustine and a passive aggressive manner are clearly a most agreeable person. Right, I don't need an answer from you, as your intention to mock the defenders of the ancient Hebrew and Patristic cosmological tradition is obvious enough. And there's no point in discussing a matter of physics and the ontological status of theories, or the underlying problem of the philosophy of language, when you don't know the first thing about either.
 
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Offline queen.saints

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2020, 06:15:44 AM »
There’s a lovely lady flat-earther who’s a housekeeper for one of the SSPX priories. She’s not driving anyone away from the Faith. She’s a warm person, a hard worker, and a joy to be around. Your heart is what will ultimately lead people to the Faith or drive them away from it, not scientific opinions, fringe or otherwise.
 
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2020, 08:58:43 AM »
There’s a lovely lady flat-earther who’s a housekeeper for one of the SSPX priories. She’s not driving anyone away from the Faith. She’s a warm person, a hard worker, and a joy to be around. Your heart is what will ultimately lead people to the Faith or drive them away from it, not scientific opinions, fringe or otherwise.

Willfully believing in falsehoods would seem to indicate a bad heart though. Because if Jesus is truth then to hate truth is to hate Jesus. As for this particular woman, I'm not in the position to judge her. Maybe she's spent too much time around the flat earth crowd and has been honestly duped. And perhaps she'll change her mind if and when she comes to realize that she's wrong. However, if she or other Christian flat earthers give off the impression that Christianity is some sort of crazy flat earth cult, then we have a problem. Most people would rather avoid crazy cults which are out of touch with reality. (Even more so when the people promoting flat earth and other such views come across as stubborn and arrogant.)

Flat earth really isn't comparable to geocentrism though, as the former is a question of science whereas the latter is not, and the latter has historical basis among Christians whereas the former does not.
Obviously science can't prove its own axioms, but for flat earth to be true you'd more or less need to reject the axioms without any good reason for doing so, and then you'd need to come up with some crazy new theory, probably ad hoc, to account for the fact that the earth is measured/observed as round when it's really flat. That, or you could go with the conspiracy theory, bearing false witness against all the reputable astronomers, baselessly accusing them of lying about the measurements and faking the photographs and stuff.
Geocentrism, on the other hand, isn't a question of science. Science cannot tell us what's at the center of the universe, whether there even is a center, or even whether space is absolute rather than relative. Since it's an open question, there's nothing wrong with choosing to believe in geocentrism over heliocentrism or acentrism, especially seeing as geocentrism was clearly the majority view at least prior to the Renaissance. (However, we do need to reject the idea that planets travel in perfect circles as well as the idea that everything above the moon is perfect and unchanging, both of which science has shown to be false.)
« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 09:08:51 AM by Daniel »
 
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Offline queen.saints

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Re: Geocentrism a Unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers? Really?
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2020, 07:59:09 AM »
There’s a lovely lady flat-earther who’s a housekeeper for one of the SSPX priories. She’s not driving anyone away from the Faith. She’s a warm person, a hard worker, and a joy to be around. Your heart is what will ultimately lead people to the Faith or drive them away from it, not scientific opinions, fringe or otherwise.

Willfully believing in falsehoods would seem to indicate a bad heart though. Because if Jesus is truth then to hate truth is to hate Jesus. As for this particular woman, I'm not in the position to judge her. Maybe she's spent too much time around the flat earth crowd and has been honestly duped. And perhaps she'll change her mind if and when she comes to realize that she's wrong. However, if she or other Christian flat earthers give off the impression that Christianity is some sort of crazy flat earth cult, then we have a problem. Most people would rather avoid crazy cults which are out of touch with reality. (Even more so when the people promoting flat earth and other such views come across as stubborn and arrogant.)

Flat earth really isn't comparable to geocentrism though, as the former is a question of science whereas the latter is not, and the latter has historical basis among Christians whereas the former does not.
Obviously science can't prove its own axioms, but for flat earth to be true you'd more or less need to reject the axioms without any good reason for doing so, and then you'd need to come up with some crazy new theory, probably ad hoc, to account for the fact that the earth is measured/observed as round when it's really flat. That, or you could go with the conspiracy theory, bearing false witness against all the reputable astronomers, baselessly accusing them of lying about the measurements and faking the photographs and stuff.
Geocentrism, on the other hand, isn't a question of science. Science cannot tell us what's at the center of the universe, whether there even is a center, or even whether space is absolute rather than relative. Since it's an open question, there's nothing wrong with choosing to believe in geocentrism over heliocentrism or acentrism, especially seeing as geocentrism was clearly the majority view at least prior to the Renaissance. (However, we do need to reject the idea that planets travel in perfect circles as well as the idea that everything above the moon is perfect and unchanging, both of which science has shown to be false.)

Good people, quietly going about their lives, fulfilling the duties of their state in life on the one hand. Ourselves, wasting incredible amounts of time on the internet loudly arguing about scientific ideas on the other.

Who has the bad heart? Who’s the arrogant and stubborn one? Who is more like a little child and shall enter into the kingdom of heaven?
 
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