Saturday, April 22, 2006

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Oh, and...

The story of the Galileo controversy bores me to tears, and the fact that Robert Sungenis is trying to resurrect heliocentrism is, well, sad and funny. But it's sort of an interesting fact, perhaps not really relevant to anything, that while Galileo may have been right about the interpretation of Scripture, his opponents seem to have been correct about the actual facts of the case.

Now I can't say that for sure, because I am not a physicist, and I have no idea as to whether Einstein's general theory of relativity is really and completely true. But if it is - then the correct evaluation of things is this: that either geocentrism, or heliocentrism, or in fact anything-centrism are all valid interpretations of the world, and the only thing to choose between them (so far as physics is concerned) is convenience. In other words, heliocentrism makes the math much easier, but that's all you can really say - which is just what Cdl. Bellarmine said, not that he was thinking of Einstein's theory.

To be sure, it makes the math a LOT easier. To think of the world in geocentric terms, you would have to suppose that the entire universe is subjected to an extremely weird gravitational field, which allows it to whirl around the earth. Or something like that; I can't say I fathom the details. But the basic idea of the general theory is that any frame of reference can be taken as "at rest" - including what we would think of as "accelerating" frames of reference. These latter, can instead be interpreted as subject to a gravitational field. Likewise an object in a gravitational field, can instead be interpreted as accelerating. The special theory only supposed that frames of reference in constant motion were all equally valid.

On the other hand, I keep hearing that quantum theory in one or another of its branches, predicts that the gravitational force is mediated by a "graviton", which seems to suggest that some things are really and truly accelerating, while others are really and truly in a gravitational field. Maybe not though.

I just think it's kinda funny. Of course if I were addressing the whole "the Church is the enemy of Science" nonsense I wouldn't mention it, as it only confuses the issue because fools will say "he's advocating geocentrism!" I would just point out that Galileo is all they've got, which is pretty pathetic when you're talking about the oldest and largest institution, uh, ever. Scientists have resisted many more correct scientific theories than Cardinals ever did. That doesn't reflect all that badly on the scientists, as evaluating scientific theories is their business, and everyone makes mistakes - on the other hand, it doesn't reflect so terribly on the Cardinals either.