Science v Scientism

Postby Axelgear on Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:16 pm

Tom Mazanec wrote:Earth is denser than the sun.


Fixed, thanks. Mea maxima culpa. The Sun is more massive (Not to be confused with size) than Earth, not denser.

For those of you interested, the Sun has a density about a fourth that of the Earth (0.255 of Earth actually), but has a mass over 332,000 times that of Earth. Earth has a radius of about 6400 kilometres, while the Sun's radius I am not sure of, but it has a diameter of approximately 700,000 kilometres, so that alone should tell you it's huge.
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Postby Tom Mazanec on Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:34 pm

I believe its RADIUS is about 700,000 kilometers.
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Postby Axelgear on Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:22 am

You can stop correcting me... All I'm running on really is an old textbook and some of the notes in it are hard to read... But again, yes, I hath gotten the word wrong.
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Postby Rangers on Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:30 am

Dang it, can't you get your facts off the internet like everyone else? What is is book nonsense, anyway?
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Postby TMLutas on Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:14 am

BlackfootFerret wrote:It's important to note that both religious philosophers and scientists have a common goal: To discover Truth, or as much of it as humans are capable of finding.

Science has embarrased organized religion many times, proving, for example, that the Sun is the center of the solar system instead of the Earth. Or that the 'Sphere of Fixed Stars' isn't just a Christmas display for the benefit of Earth, but are actually countless other Suns and worlds in addition to our own.


The reason that Galileo was tried was not his advocacy of science. It was because he was misusing religion in order to strengthen his scientific arguments with the sun orbits around the earth astronomers. He said that the Church must interpret scripture in a way that endorsed heliocentrism. The Church declined and they were right to decline that. They took the very sensible position that God did what God did and scripture should be interpreted in ways that allow both sides of a controversy to be true until it is definitively proven that one side is right or wrong. Heliocentrism was not definitively proven until the mid-1800s detection of stellar parallax.

The Church did err in Gallileo's case in making him renounce his beliefs and, eventually, an apology and penance was announced by JP II to close the matter but they had long ago reconciled with the science. It really was a matter of personalities. Galileo systematically alienated his Church supporters and enraged his opponents and it eventually got way too personal.

But this is exactly the mirror image of what I'm talking about with scientism. Galileo should have been disciplined for trying to recruit the priests to settle a scientific controversy. This should be condemned by scientists too but it almost never is.
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Postby Tom Mazanec on Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:47 am

Actually, heliocentrism was proven in 1728 by Bradley's discovery of aberration of starlight. The Church taught Geocentrism for about a century after that (I have a B.S. in Astronomy :) ).
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Postby TMLutas on Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:11 pm

Tom Mazanec wrote:Actually, heliocentrism was proven in 1728 by Bradley's discovery of aberration of starlight. The Church taught Geocentrism for about a century after that (I have a B.S. in Astronomy :) ).


wikipedia wrote:Pope Benedict XIV suspended the ban on heliocentric works on April 16, 1757 based on Isaac Newton's work. Pope Pius VII approved a decree in 1822 by the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition to allow the printing of heliocentric books in Rome.


Something did happen 100 years later but that was just housekeeping, a permission to print in Rome. The ban was lifted 70 years earlier. For a secondary issue (heliocentrism v geocentrism does not save souls) the Church moved slowly but not that slowly.
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Postby Tom Mazanec on Tue Dec 05, 2006 7:54 pm

I read of a Catholic catechism that taught Geocentrism as Faith in the 1820s. There are still a few Catholic Geocentrists according to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Geocentrism
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Postby Axelgear on Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:51 pm

TMLutas wrote:The Church did err in Gallileo's case in making him renounce his beliefs and, eventually, an apology and penance was announced by JP II to close the matter but they had long ago reconciled with the science. It really was a matter of personalities. Galileo systematically alienated his Church supporters and enraged his opponents and it eventually got way too personal.

But this is exactly the mirror image of what I'm talking about with scientism. Galileo should have been disciplined for trying to recruit the priests to settle a scientific controversy. This should be condemned by scientists too but it almost never is.


It should be noted Galileo was never given an apology. The Catholic Church never apologized and I'm not sure about the penance. Galileo was "Forgiven for his crimes" in 1996 I believe it was, and his family was never apologized to.

As to Galileo recruiting Priests, I've never heard of this. Galileo never even tried to convince the Church as far as I know. He merely took his and Copernicus's writings, translated them into Italian (Which the common people could read, unlike Latin which only members of the church and the nobles could read), and had it mass-printed. Galileo brought the word to the people directly, and the reason he so quickly renoiunced his beliefs were simply that it was too late to stop it at that point. It wasn't necessary for him to die for his beliefs if they were already being spread and learned by so many.

The fact of the matter is, Galileo (And to a lesser extent Copernicus and the long-forgotten Ionians (Ionia is/was a Greek colony that was renowned for their understanding of the universe, who understood things like particulate matter around 2600 years ago)) was correct. I've always read that his methods were quite well thought out and not as devious as you say he was, and until I recieve some proof, I'm inclined to believe my version.

As to Modern Geocentrism, that seems to me to be a bit like Flat Earth Theory: An amusing plot line for a story but little else.
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Postby TMLutas on Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:10 am

Tom Mazanec wrote:I read of a Catholic catechism that taught Geocentrism as Faith in the 1820s. There are still a few Catholic Geocentrists according to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Geocentrism


I hope you realize that catechisms, while they're supposed to be error free on matters of faith, are not error free as dogma. In other words, it does not affect the Catholic faith at all for a catechism to be published with error. It's merely an intensely personal embarrassment for the publishers and whoever gave their imprint to it.
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Postby TMLutas on Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:40 am

Axelgear wrote:
TMLutas wrote:The Church did err in Gallileo's case in making him renounce his beliefs and, eventually, an apology and penance was announced by JP II to close the matter but they had long ago reconciled with the science. It really was a matter of personalities. Galileo systematically alienated his Church supporters and enraged his opponents and it eventually got way too personal.

But this is exactly the mirror image of what I'm talking about with scientism. Galileo should have been disciplined for trying to recruit the priests to settle a scientific controversy. This should be condemned by scientists too but it almost never is.


It should be noted Galileo was never given an apology. The Catholic Church never apologized and I'm not sure about the penance. Galileo was "Forgiven for his crimes" in 1996 I believe it was, and his family was never apologized to.


Well, yes, the problem being that. theologically, asserting that the Church has to support your then unproven scientific theory is a crime. It should be a crime. The problem with the Galileo case from the point of view of the Church's misconduct was that he was convicted on the wrong grounds and that seems to have been a result of personal animus. You see, convicting him of theologically running in advance of scientific proof wouldn't have done much and the judges wanted to make the old man squirm.

Galileo made a guess, a correct guess as it turns out, and decided to insist that the Church support his guess in advance of proof. How that's supposed to be the proper poster child of science is beyond me.
Axelgear wrote:The fact of the matter is, Galileo (And to a lesser extent Copernicus and the long-forgotten Ionians (Ionia is/was a Greek colony that was renowned for their understanding of the universe, who understood things like particulate matter around 2600 years ago)) was correct. I've always read that his methods were quite well thought out and not as devious as you say he was, and until I recieve some proof, I'm inclined to believe my version.

The proof is that in researching accounts of heliocentrism you'll find that there are various dates for "final proofs" of heliocentrism and they all long post-date the death of Galileo. He believed and eventually science knew that heliocentrism was true but it was not in his lifetime that science knew and Galileo was in error to insist that the Church adjust its theology to his guess in order to stifle debate and unseat geocentric astronomers from the universities. If you read French, German, or Italian you can find the relevant speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

I hope you agree that so long as the debate is not settled scientifically, it is appropriate for churches to remain neutral in these little arguments. There was tremendous controversy over geocentrism, heliocentrism, and the modified geocentrism of Tycho Brahe at the time, legitimately so given the state of the evidence. Galileo did not actually kill geocentrism, though he dealt it some heavy wounds. That was the work of later astronomers. The Church should have remained neutral. It did not and that was a mistake.
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Postby Axelgear on Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:06 pm

Galileo did have what can be called observational proof, which is really the only proof we have of anything in space really. We didn't get proof the Earth was round until 1960-something (Great song, that is) when people took photos of Earth from space.

The facts are that Galileo may have been forceful (Though I have never heard of this) but he neither assaulted the church, nor defaced it, or in any way violated it besides stating his beliefs, which is a basic human right today. The Church did not remain neutral or scientifically objective, and Galileo did nothing but speak his mind. That is not a crime, and that should never be a crime.

Now, if Galileo had burned Bibles, beaten up monks, and written "Down with the Pope" on the walls of a Church, this would be another story. But he didn't. They burned his books, they threatened him with torture, and confined him to House Arrest for the rest of his life. Whether he used forceful words or not, he did nothing but exercise his right to speak, and I think the Church should recognize such a right as much as any legitimate government should.

Now, I think you proposed an elegant solution to this:

In scientific conflict, the Church should remain neutral. That suits me fine.
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Postby Maxgoof on Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:54 pm

Tom Mazanec wrote:I am reading PARALLEL UNIVERSES by Kaku. He states his belief that all physics can ultimately be reduced to one Cosmic Equation.


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Postby BlackfootFerret on Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:25 pm

Well, I see a lot of cases where people "believe what they want to believe" when it comes to interpreting observations and such. It really doesn't surprise me that some churches still advocate the Earth at the center of the solar system.

It just gets me a bit when people who don't have much grip on science claim science supports their religious view. For example, yes, it *is* about a 1/100000000etc chance that a random genetric mutation will produce a positive benefit in a creature instead of killing it or turning it into some sort of horrid misshapen thing. What they don't follow up on is that the lucky duck who rolled the 1 is the one who has kids and carves space for himself and his family in the environment, preserving that change while the others eventually die off and make space for the healthy ones.

As for Galileo, the church *did* put him on trial for heresy, threatened him with torture, thumb screws, the Pear and all that, just because he found of a bit of God's truth and wanted to tell people about it. I guess you could say the church had a right to resist change, but I'm going to have to weigh in with Galileo on this one.
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Postby MikeVanPelt on Thu Dec 07, 2006 1:00 am

Axelgear wrote:We didn't get proof the Earth was round until 1960-something (Great song, that is) when people took photos of Earth from space.


Actually, there are several observational proofs that the Earth is round that were known in ancient times. Eratosthenese measured the Earth's diameter to pretty decent accuracy somewhere around 200 BC.
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Postby Axelgear on Thu Dec 07, 2006 2:03 am

Yes, but he denied Galileo's observational proof as proof for an argument.
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Postby Kerry Skydancer on Thu Dec 07, 2006 5:30 pm

Actually, there was a semi-proof of the heliocentric solar system available to Galileo's technology, so it can be considered proven. Mercury and Venus show phases and sizes in even a small telescope, demonstrating that those two (and -only- those two planets) circle the sun inside of Earth's distance. Either Copernicus or Brahe's solar system (Brahe had the sun and moon circling Earth, everything else circling the sun) therefore had to be correct. It was a definitive disproof of the Ptolemaic version of geocentrism.
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Postby Axelgear on Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:49 am

Yes, but the idea that they have different orbital centers seems... Silly. If this was the case, it would be likely that, at a far point in the suns rotation, a planet would crash into Earth. Planetary wobble was discovered years before and was said to have to be set right by God every few centuries or so though, so the Church never factored this into their equations.
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Postby BrockthePaine on Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:34 pm

Well, mariners who put their minds to the matter quickly figure out the obvious: the earth is round because you can see its effect on bodies of water. When sailors looked at another, distant sailing ship, they'd be able to judge the distance by whether or not it was "hull up" or "hull down." The hull-down ships were distant enough that their hulls were hidden by the curvature of the earth.

Also, you can watch the shadow when Earth eclipses the moon. The shadow is very obviously rounded-ish, so once you put together those two observations, you can determine that the Earth is rounded-ish. Using geometry from both observations will get you a rough size estimate. Kerry can probably tell you the math; I recall he's pretty smart with how to work those number-thingies.
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Postby Kerry Skydancer on Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:59 pm

Just takes a bit of geometry, really. Erastosthenes did it circa 300 BC - used the different angles of shadow at noon at two locations with a known longitudinal distance between them to get the circumference/diameter of the Earth (within 2%), and given that he was able to estimate the Earth-Moon distance as well. Not bad for 'primitives', eh?
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