Via, among many others, Herschel, Laplace, Kant, Doppler, and Kapteyn, the consequences drawn from the denial of a Stellatum have led modern astronomers to accept a theoretical stance, which convinces them that they “know” how we together with the Sun circle the centre of the Milky Way. We do that with a velocity of circa 250 km/sec., while in the meantime our galaxy and its neighbouring stellar swarms may well hurtle at 600 km/sec towards the Virgo cluster of star systems. Of course these supervelocities cannot in any way be directly determined, and do not expect aberration to reveal them. The fixed stars around us move along with us at distances of many light years; and the countless galaxies that expand space by rushing away from us and each other, or if you prefer, are outward bound in that space – the experts express themselves not too clearly on this point… those galaxies are so far away that centuries will have to pass before we shall perceive sizable changes in positions. There is with respect to aberration here even a fitting parallel with Fresnel’s aether drift: we are unable to observe the aberration caused by those galactic whirls and swirls; only the change in it resulting from our going around our local Great Light the telescopes show us. Now it is beyond dispute: unobservables may exist, but do not have to exist. From which follows that when all is said and done there may be nothing beyond and above Bradley’s miniscule angle. And if we take the Einstein solution seriously, holding that under its aegis the geocentric theory according to Hoyle is “as good as anyone else’s – but no better”, then we are, I posit, saddled with a perplexing quandary, which quandary – as I have already hinted at – Sir Fred will simply have overlooked as irrelevant for a Universe ruled by relativity. His adage, even a child can see this, surely holds for a Solar System adrift in a space that knows no place, and no handhold on the Heavens. However, his space-time continuum is a mental construct of which, without as well as with the help of the most elaborate instruments, his senses and those of all men can only observe and apprehend the three dimensions of the everyday world. A world, and we may do well to realize this, that allows us to fly to the Moon and to land instruments on Mars. And out of which we only at all costs must try to escape into “unthinkable” curved space, if we do not want to live in the geocentric Universe that all down-to-earth tests urge us to accept.
The triangulation of space, on which this today generally accepted vista rests, starts from a base line that no experiment can soundly show to be there. The “proofs” for its existence are too rashly drawn from a no-win situation. Under the constraints of classical science this base line is the diameter of the ellipse that the Earth at a velocity of 30 km/sec describes around the Sun. Alas – that velocity cannot in any way be directly demonstrated. One of its derivations, here the length of said base line necessary to determine by means of parallaxes the distances to the nearest stars, remains open to questions. And that the same must be said about the card castle of extrapolations brought into play after ignoring this weakness, I have already laid bare.
Brushing these uncertainties aside by means of the principle of relativity introduces only another dubiety. We may be able in many ways to measure our average distance from the Sun to everyone’s satisfaction – whether that 149.5 times 106 km radius has been measured from the focus of either Earth or Sun, or results from these two bodies circling a common centre, Einstein cannot tell us. Any conclusion as to that is as good as anyone else’s – but no better. Again it is the momentous “Believe it, or not” – that verisimilitude of respectability beyond which the oldest and yet newest philosophy of science does not permit us to proceed on the way to truly true truth.
The selfsame ambiguity confronts us with respect to aberration. Neither classically, nor relatively, does the phenomenon allow an astronomer to make a logically defensible choice between an Earth-caused or star-caused answer. But in case Einsteinian relativity will be found wanting, aberration becomes the trump-card in the neo-Tychonian game, restoring the Stellatum of old.
Suffer me – and this in the space and time beyond which mankind cannot measure motion or rest – to defend this assertion, unheard of since Kepler and more than a century ago so clearly suggested again by Airy’s failure to confirm Copernicus.
The first step in tackling the issue evenhandedly is to keep in mind Russell’s Reminder and the Armstrong Alert. For if there is a supernatural Bystander, for Whom the Heavens and the Earth on which we find ourselves are the first objects that He called into being and if since then He has constrained these by laws under which according to His will they operate – then He has the last word. And whether we, immanent observers and no more, have our options about the Universe right or wrong, only He knows.The question before all questions is in that case: does He share some of that knowledge with us, or does He leave us completely in the dark?
If our Universe is all there is, and if there are no higher orders of existence, then the positivists are right in crying foul when “rumours of transcendence in physics”.(4) will begin to be seriously considered.
My position I have made clear. Even on the natural level God has let mankind know enough to leave them without excuse. And His message, conveyed to us in the pre-scientific, simply describing terms of Genesis One, I accept without any reservation. That message intimates the pre-eminence of the Earth as self-evident.
Therefore our habitat is not a typical by-product of a by chance progressing cosmic mega-evolution, but the intricate multiform artifact, for the sake of which all other material objects in Heaven’s wide expanse are assigned their specific signal functions. The natural world hence must be “rightly viewed as the backdrop for the world of men and women”.(74)
- Some Desiderata Not to be Overlooked
- Why Impossible?