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Copernicus Was Wrong?: The Flat Earth Temptation

Bruce Wilson: Influential Christian right leaders say the Sun revolves around the Earth
 
 
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Geocentrists accept a spherical earth but deny that the sun is the center of the solar system or that the earth moves.... The basis for their belief is a literal reading of the Bible. [ source]

An emergent scandal over a Texas Republican Party politician's distribution of a memo citing a "fixed Earth" website alleging the Earth to be non-rotating and at the center of the universe has raised the question; where do such eccentric views as Rep. Chisum's, that the Copernican model of the Solar System is wrong and derives from a Jewish Kabbalistic Conspiracy, come from ? Until recently, it's been generally assumed that the debate over heliocentric vs. geocentric models of the universe, that raged up until the advent of Copernicus, had been well resolved. Lately though, an American movement has sought to restore the Earth to a central position in the grand cosmological scheme... Since the existence of the "Flat Earth Society" became a widely traveled joke, it has become hard to determine if card-carrying flat-earthers really exist any more; many join the society for amusement. But, there are real geocentrists who dream of spheres within spheres and orreries, speculate that Copernicus killed Tycho Brahe and write dense, arcane mathematical proofs placing the Earth at the center of it all. Variants of such views apparently can be found in the Texas State legislature and, in 1999, Tom Willis --head of the Mid-Atlantic Creation Research Association-- was " intrumental in revising the Kansas elementary school curriculum to remove references to evolution, earth history, and science methodology" . Willis was also a "geocentrist" and wrote, in 2000, a bold manifesto for both Young-Earth Creationism and Geocentrism:

"...all experiments to demonstrate that the earth moves at all have failed. All seem to indicate the earth does not move at all. There is much evidence that the earth is young and cannot possibly be millions, much less billions of years old but we will not treat that herein.... The Bible does not say that the earth is at the center of the universe. But, anyone looking up can see that the sun, planets and stars are moving. Galileo argued that this motion was relative, that really the earth was spinning and it only looks like these other objects move. But, both the observations and the Bible indicate quite strongly that the earth does not move." - Tom Willis

Tom Willis wasn't the only geocentrist toiling away to reverse  scientific theories that had been accepted for centuries. Indeed, geocentrists could be found in orbit, frolicking and also fighting with Copernicans, around a key ideological and theological gravitational center of the Christian right : the Chalcedon Foundation.

Bruce Wilson writes for Talk To Action , a blog specializing in faith and politics.

 
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