De Labore Solis

However, cutting down Galileo’s claim to its right and real proposition of “hypothetically – not absolutely”, and consequently thereafter dismissing the case as irrelevant with regard to the accepted understanding of the Biblical view on the Earth’s position?… Diehard Aristotelians managed to keep that procedure, advocated in Bellarmine’s Foscarini letter, out of the inquisitors’ deliberations. And Rome soon afterwards had cause to regret the short-sighted language of the Holy Tribunal. Among other missed opportunities it robbed the Vatican of the chance to confront one of its arch-enemies, Newton, with a sound epistemological lesson, which today would be acclaimed to have been ad rem and might have caused the great Isaac’s epigones not to be overly cocksure. For a heliocentric-style orrery is a nice piece of machinery to play with, but when it comes to explaining the fine points of calculation and prediction we have to stop the little brass ball representing our Earth and let, after the manner of Tycho Brahe, the Sun and its attendant planets whirr around Mother Gea. “So what, why not?” Bishop Berkeley (1685-1753) would have commented, chiding as he did Newton’s appeal to water in a rotating bucket – a criticism now shared by all and sundry who believe in an Einsteinian Universe.(106) But in doing this they overlook the plain truth that a man finding himself within a system he cannot escape from will, if he is wise, abstain from confident pronounce-ments about the status of that system as a whole. Never neglect Russell’s Caveat and the Armstrong Alert : theory concocted by observers “inside” and truth as seen by an “outside” bystander are two that the Holy Office should have maintained. And thereafter the Church could have let Galileo and his credulous disciples happily alone with their guesses and proofs-no proofs!

Today the clamour for that Mathematics Professor of Padua University’s rehabilitation demonstrates to all who want to see, and do not practice ostrich policy, the philosophical mainspring activating the be-all and end-all of its advocates. Their ultimate aim was already underground at work long before and during the course of the Italian Renaissance. Still in disguise it began to come to the fore in the 16th and 17th centuries by goading the scientific progress in a direction favouring a monistic materialist religion. From about 1750 on that final purpose has become more and more blatantly proclaimed. However, even in our time the sinister force that prompted a hailing and hallowing of the “Copernican Revolution” has not yet fully reached the end it desperately has had in view – but will never reach! – since Adam’s from eternity pre-ordained fall at the world’s beginning. There are still Churches and Christians to be ridiculed and pilloried for proclaiming a God, Who is a Creator and in His Risen Son, Jesus Christ, a Loving Father, Who wills that, as St. Paul reminded Timothy, all men should be saved.

Observe what the wisdom of our age wants the Bishop of Rome, John Paul II, to do: he must be compelled to admit and declare that those among his flock are fools who prefer the Bible’s information about the whence of the world above all scientific confabulations presently believed in. For by implication they may in the light of science then come to see how ludicrous an orthodox faith is that treasures Holy Writ as heavenly Wisdom, and not discards it as a sop for simpletons. (See Addendum II)

The Tychonian theory the foremost astrophysicists now declare to be – I have already quoted Hoyle on this score – “as good as anyone else’s – but no better.” Yet John Paul II is urged to proclaim Galileo to have been condemned unjustly for teaching the not to be doubted truth of a today no longer avowed heliocentric view. Why this double-tongued insistence? A moment of reflection on the doings and dicta of astronomers from Copernicus to Sagan will make this clear: the secular Weltanschauung, its abettors correctly sense, stands or falls in the long run with the status of Mother Earth in the Heavens around her. Believe that Copernicus had the last word about the issue, then you are logically bound to end up with a Universe in which we somewhere live on a trifling speck of dust. Believe that Tycho Brahe had his options right, then we find ourselves in a uniquely preferred place. Small wonder that Malachy laments the genesis of “A Perverse Race” as characterizing the fifth Pope Paul’s (1605-1621) reign!

There is more. The rudimentary technology of the 16th century could not yet provide Tycho Brahe with instruments capable of measuring aberration or parallaxes. That great Dane should therefore not be blamed for concluding the Earth to be central in the roundelay of the stars. In this particular, as I have tried to show, his model has to be corrected. In reality the Sun is leading the motion of the stars fastened far away on the heavenly vault. From the geocentric point of view it is the Great Light, called into being on the fourth day of the Hexaemeron, that, ceaselessly toiling, carries the Universe’s dome around us. Lo and behold, and wonder: “De Labore Solis” (the Labour of the Sun) will be such an important astronomical concern during the episcopate of Pope John Paul 11(1979-…) that Malachy selects it to mark that epoch!