But I thought I was the center of the universe!

Word to the wise: if you have a remarkably unaccepted scientific theory, and some lay person asks some innocent questions to try to understand your idea: BE NICE TO THEM. Even if they tell you they’re skeptical. BE NICE TO THEM. Getting defensive is no way to recruit followers. Especially smart ones.

So there was a video series on YouTube last month about geocentricity, which can vary in belief, but this particular presenter states that the sun revolves around the Earth (as opposed to the whole universe going around the Earth, as some geocentrists claim). I’m embedding them here, but it’s really a bunch of convoluted language surrounding one famous (Michelson-Morley) and three “hidden” experiments, made to sound like these experiments prove that the cosmology and astronomy we understand today are completely wrong.

The presenter (Malcolm Bowden) makes it sound like he believes (and he probably does, but who can know for sure?) that the only reason his model isn’t widely accepted is because it would be a colossal restructuring (thus inconvenience) of everything we know about space. I don’t think he understands the psychology of scientists – the idea of something that monumental would have inquisitive minds clamoring to be in on the ground floor, if the hypothesis was sound, and made predictions that didn’t contradict science that has been consistently supported by observation and evidence (like Einstein’s Theories of Relativity).

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

I posted comments asking the following questions, which are not all of the questions that popped into my head, but I figured would make a good starting point:

So many questions, so few characters available… I am open to new ideas, but of course this challenges every understanding I have of the cosmos, and this extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence, which has not been fully provided in this series. How do you explain the following:

1) Why are we able to move through the ‘ether’ (which also requires more compelling evidence), but celestial bodies cannot?

2) What is the source of this density?

3) What would the geocentric ‘solar system’ look like? If all the system’s bodies orbit the earth, wouldn’t the sun’s orbit at some point demolish planets with orbits near it?

4) How do you account for astronomical calculations that are correct using the currently accepted model? For example, we can predict how and when Mars, Venus or even the moon will be visible because of its illumination by the sun at a particular angle to earth.

5) If the celestial bodies are truly analogous to corks in water, how can you account for their predictable and stable paths, unlike corks in water?

6) Does this model suggest that the earth’s gravity is truly substantial enough to affect every celestial body so that they all orbit this planet? It seems to me that, if this were the case, the earth would not be able to support its own pressures.

I must admit, I *strongly* disagree with your claims, but am open to further evidence.

Here are the responses received (my comments in [brackets and italics]:

some answers from MB [Malcolm Bowden]
1. The planets DO move through the ather. They circle the sun on paths determined by the Mechanic laws of the universe. [Hmmm. Okay, it was three weeks ago, maybe I misunderstood something in the video. I can’t bring myself to sit through the videos to figure out what I was referencing. If you watch them and catch a part that might explain my question, please let me know…]
2. The simplest way is to imagine an orrery (mechanical system of the planets) with the sun at the centre. BUT then you pick it up holding the earth, and the whole system rotates around the earth – BUT THEY MAINTAIN THE SAME MOVEMENTS AND RELATIONSHIPS AS BEFORE. So nothing between them changes. THIS should answer most of our questions. [Yeah, I’m no physicist, not by a long shot, but I would imagine that this would still create a solar system that does different things and appears different from our vantage point. Somebody’s going to have to paint me a picture to demonstrate how everything stays the same in both models… Oh, and no, that doesn’t even come close to answering questions 2, 5 or 6]

Answer to (6). It is not the earth’s gravity that holds the plants together. They circle the Sun BUT the sun circles the earth. It is the aether that controls the movements of the planets around the earth. [In that case, wouldn’t the Earth at some point collide with or gravitationally affect some other body differently? Maybe I’ll get it when someone draws that picture].
You say “open to further evidence” I have provided four experiments (3 kept secret) what more do you want? They were carried out by secular scientists who did NOT accept geocentricity!

Well, I would have thought it was clear, but I’d like clear, compelling answers to my questions, instead of a bunch of gobbledy-gook manipulating the outcomes of various experiments to support your claims. I was actually trying to be sincere and offer an opportunity to explore this further, despite my extreme skepticism, because I believe in an exchange of ideas, and wanted to hear an intelligent and well-thought-out response. I don’t think I got that. I was open about where I was coming from, but sincere in wanting to hear more that would support his claims and solidly refute contradictory evidence.

The response, my friends, is what can be called a “red flag.” If there was more compelling evidence than it just does, and why won’t you just accept it, then you can bet it would have been in the reply.

So until I hear something more compelling, geocentricity is simply the attempt to resolve the cognitive dissonance brought about by the insignificance of Earth and her inhabitants compared to the desire for us all to matter to the imaginary man in the sky.

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Goodbye, for all the wrong reasons

I don’t know if you’ve heard of VenomFangX – depending on one’s particular stance in the theist/atheist debates, he is either one to greatly admire or greatly disdain (respectively). I personally find the boy willfully ignorant, smug and juvenile. I don’t think I can make that clear enough. I am not a fan.

Yesterday, Shawn (aka VenomFangX) posted a video on YouTube simply titled “Goodbye.” In it, he describes death threats from someone or some people who have specific enough details about his life/home to make the threats a real concern. So for the sake of his family, he is choosing to shut his YouTube ministry down.

I admit it – I’m not entirely convinced this is not just a brilliant attempt at martyrdom. But the scary thing is, I would be completely unsurprised if his claims are true, and I’m inclined to believe that it is. There are some crazy-ass people in this world. So I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. If nothing else, he is passionate about his message, and it’s hard to imagine he would walk away out of boredom, or in the face of adversity – he’s been experiencing that pretty much since he started getting noticed on YouTube.

So here’s the deal – I get why atheists and scientists are frustrated with this guy. He refuses to listen to reason, he dismisses evidence against his claims because they don’t support his own personal views, and he continues to propagate erroneous scientific and historical facts to “prove” that God exists. But no person, regardless of creed, regardless of whether they are right or wrong, should be subjected to violence or the threat of such, when his or her message is peaceful and non-threatening to the safety of others. It is disgusting that this is happening, that Shawn and his family are having to experience this. And it does nothing to debate him or disprove his points.

I wish Shawn and his family the best, and I acknowledge that he has to do what he feels necessary to protect himself. I would have preferred to see him shut down his ministry because he finally opened his mind and eyes to reason, logic and science, and not because some Neanderthal bully couldn’t think of words intelligent enough to attempt that, so stooped to swinging his club.

I tried to post a comment on Shawn’s video to tell him that I wished him well, even though I’d never agreed with his videos, but because dissenters are the work of Satan, non-worshiping posters don’t make it to his boards. I hope he took a moment to read the full comment before dismissing it, because I meant it sincerely.

So I’m asking – begging – people to have some common sense. There are things like this flying on both sides of the fence now. PZ Myers has received several death threats from Catholics and other Christians in response to Wafergate, and PZ’s followers have responded to some of the worst of them in kind, much to PZ’s chagrin.

Do people not realize that these threats and vituperations accomplish nothing? They’re cancer and poison and only serve to highlight the other side’s point about overreaction and thuggery. If we’re in this debate, we’re passionate about protecting what we perceive to be the truth, and sometimes it can be like we’re banging our head on a sharp pointy stick over and over again. But there are better solutions that abusing or killing the opposition. That won’t stop their message, it only hurts yours.

So, please grow up, and learn to cope with anger and frustration with more intelligent mechanisms. Don’t spew your venom onto everyone else. Go sweat it out in a rigorous kickboxing routine and let it evaporate.