Thursday, October 13, 2011

Flip-flopping creationists

Donald Prothero, author of Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters, writes in the Skepticblog
"I’ve posted frequently. . . on the religious kooks who insist that Galileo and Copernicus and all later astronomers were wrong and that the earth, not the sun, is the center of the solar system. They base this weird notion on their own version of biblical literalism, since there are many passages in the Bible (e.g., Isaiah 11: 12, 40:22, 44:24; Joshua 10:12-14) which clearly present a geocentric world viewpoint (as was widely held in almost all ancient cultures and not overturned until the 1500s)..."

He reports on a Los Angeles Times article concerning the latest version of a geocentric movement within the Catholic church. Robert Sungenis uses scripture to demonstrate that Galileo was wrong, the Catholic Church was wrong to apologize for their mistreatment of him, and that everything was better back in the 1200s when the Church ran everything. (This, of course, embarrasses the modern Catholic Church to no end.)

What tickled me about the article was that Ken Ham was quoted for his keen insight. Ham, as this board's members know, employs biblical literalism to argue that the universe was created after the Babylonians invented glue, and that a senior citizen built the world's largest boat. But how does Ken Ham feel about the Bible's stance on geocentrism?

“There’s a big difference between looking at the origin of the planets, the solar system and the universe and looking at presently how they move and how they are interrelated,” Ham said. “The Bible is neither geocentric or heliocentric. It does not give any specific information about the structure of the solar system.”

Which of course is not true. The Bible makes a strong case for geocentrism, much stronger than heliocentrism, and even stronger than the young earth scenario that Ham insists we must take seriously. So what's the difference between one scientifically-discredited notion and the other? What makes one fringe theory only embraced by religious whackos and the other still fighting a holding action in the halls of government and schools?

Time, apparently. Geocentrism received its first body blow 500 years ago, so that now even Ken Ham thinks it's ridiculous, whereas Creationism has been in retreat for only 150 years. Which suggests that somewhere between now and the year 2461 creationism will be finally resigned to the dustbin of absurdity.

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