The Armstrong Alert

Compared with Birch’s unreachable and therefore non-scientific point of view, that of the geocentric simpleton is ergo on two counts slightly better founded. The latter, first of all, has the witness of everyman’s straightforward observation on his side, and secondly, he openly states that he accepts the metaphysical message of the Bible, which message, when read without preconceived notions, takes the central position of the Earth to be simply self-evident. For, it reminds us, the Creator had in the Heavens already hung that Earth upon nothing three days before Sun and Moon, and the stars also, were called into being. We may reject said message as quasi-transcendent information, but it at least claims the support of a long and venerable preCopernican tradition in natural philosophy, whereas Birch, apparently not realizing what he is doing, sins against the central tenet of post-Copernican, this-worldly “new science”, which tenet does not allow a meta, a “behind”, in the realm of physics.

I therefore hold and repeat that we shall do well to have a careful look at the cavalier manner in which theorists manipulate rest and motion in their treatment of the problems these concepts set them. What in one context, they assert really moves, is in another context said to be at rest, and vice versa. Worse, and I obstinately want to drive the charge home: in their deliberations they instinctively deem themselves the equal of Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover and have virtually succeeded in prompting all of us to join them in committing that folly. They look at the totality of being in the manner we as children have been brainwashed to look at drawings of the Solar System. Not to mention, later on, at the rotating discus of a Milky Way of stars adrift among the countless galaxies contained in an astounding variety of models of the Universe! But that Universe is not an object which we can observe against a background at rest, and those models we cannot identify with the real. Finding ourselves in a room of a large building we may draw blueprints of that building to our hearts’ content; however only after stepping outside shall we be able either to verify or to reject our fancy figurations. Nobody can turn around and look objectively at the Universe he shall have left behind. The vacuity of the transcendent foundational fiction that such extra-cosmical kinemetical judgments are possible disqualifies, soberly beheld, any confident assertion about any body orbiting another one. As far as this is concerned there is but one seemingly unblemished astronomical and soberly-scientific approach: that of the anti-absolutist Ernst Mach (1838-1916), for whom only relative motions existed.