Christine Niles’s accidentally revealing interview with geocentrist Rick DeLano
Recently, Christine Niles, an associate and avid fan of Michael Voris, interviewed Rick DeLano about his and Robert Sungenis’s new movie advancing the cause of geocentrism. Mrs. Niles touts her “intelligent, hard-hitting commentary” on matters pertaining to the Catholic faith. In this, she mirrors the reputation that Voris has cultivated of himself as a truth detector who is willing to ask the tough questions others fail to ask and who won’t settle for facile or deceptive answers.
Unfortunately, also mirroring Voris’s example in his interviews with DeLano and Sungenis, Mrs. Niles instead decided to conduct something that might more accurately be called a promotional infomercial. Not only did she readily accept everything DeLano said and even express her open enthusiasm for him and his work, but on the one potentially tough question she did ask him, she telegraphed – at considerable length – the answer that she thought would suffice (go to the 26’ 30” mark here). After allowing DeLano to spin without interruption what he, Voris, and Sungenis had said in their previous interview, she then failed to deal with a central question that I politely and directly presented to her:
Christine, I’m going to ask for your feedback here. Here’s the link to the Raw Story article referenced in the interview. Notice that I didn’t write this article, nor did I select the title for it [click here].
Here’s how what was quoted from me in that article was characterized by Rick DeLano in the Mic’d Up interview:
“an article written in Raw Story . . . quotes David Palm saying that somehow underneath all of this there’s some….I don’t exactly know you get here logically, but somehow our cosmology film is part of a deeply devious plan to somehow…
[Voris interjects, "Reignite the Holocaust"]
Exactly! This doesn’t make any sense to the rational.”
Would you say that’s a fair summary of what was quoted from me in that article? If you find it so, please explain how. Thanks.
Mrs. Niles chose not to respond to my query. But any reader can see for himself that what DeLano said was a falsehood—the Rawstory.com piece does not quote me as saying any thing like what he and Voris claimed. The only thing I said in the Rawstory.com interview about Jewish issues was a simple historical fact, prompted by a question posed to me by Travis Gettys (the author of the piece). Gettys asked how I first became involved in critiquing Sungenis and I explained that it started after Sungenis decided to propagate a multitude of anti-Semitic views and conspiracy theories at his website over a period of many years. Again, this is simply a historical fact.
Eventually, I began to take increasing note of Sungenis’ advocacy of geocentrism and decided it was worth critiquing and warning Catholics about that as well. Why did I make that decision? This part is important, because Sungenis, Mrs. Niles, and Rick DeLano keep missing it, even though I’ve repeatedly explained it – including on the About page of geocentrismdebunked.org. I did it primarily because Sungenis, et al., insist that geocentrism in an integral part of our Catholic faith.
And that is precisely the aspect of this controversy that Mrs. Niles exposed very clearly in her interview, albeit unintentionally. The entire geocentric enterprise, as led by Sungenis and DeLano, is driven by theological convictions, not scientific ones. While the new geocentrists sometimes give the appearance of being “sciency”, the fact is that they don’t actually do any real science. They haven’t produced a scientific model of their own, let alone do they attempt to harmonize their view with all that we observe in the physical universe. Scientifically speaking, their position has always been a massive exercise in special pleading. And why would otherwise intelligent men be willing to engage in such a massive exercise in scientific special pleading? Because they believe that a motionless earth at the center of the universe is a revealed truth and is the official teaching of the Catholic Church. The conclusion is already decided for them; what remains is to cherry pick the physical evidence and quote various scientists out of context to make it look as if they support geocentrism (see especially Here Comes the Sun and There He Goes Again.)
Interestingly, Mrs. Niles has publicly stated, “I myself am not a geocentrist, nor do I think I ever will be.” As such, she obviously does not consider geocentrism to be a matter of faith, or, undoubtedly, she would assiduously adhere to it.
This is why the following exchange between her and DeLano is odd. It reveals much about DeLano’s mindset, but also her own:
Niles: And what really just disgusts me about this is that you’ve got a brother Catholic, okay? Someone who goes to Mass just like you. Receives Holy Eucharist – throwing you under the bus, selling you out to ATHEISTS!
Instead of defending his brother Catholic, even if you guys have fundamental differences. Instead, he chooses to sell you out to ATHEISTS! You know? I mean how much sense does that make? It’s just shameful.
DeLano: To me, that’s the whole ball game right there. That tells you everything you need to know about what’s really going on here.
First, it’s an absurd insult to thousands of Catholic scientists to imply that only atheists reject geocentrism. Second, DeLano admitted here, in front of what he no doubt believed to be a sympathetic audience, that he considers the faith aspect of the geocentrism controversy to be “the whole ballgame.” Depending upon his audience, he has coyly vacillated back and forth between presenting himself as someone who is undecided and/or merely “asking questions” about geocentrism and presenting himself as someone who is quite adamant that he “knows” the universe is geocentric “because of theology” (see here).
But the extent of Mrs. Niles emotional reaction here, which becomes much clearer when one listens to the audio, is particularly odd and revealing. Remember, she rejects geocentrism and therefore cannot logically consider it a matter of faith. Dr. Alec MacAndrew is a physicist and he wrote a rebuttal of Sungenis’s physics. That’s all. Did MacAndrew attack the Catholic faith in any way in his scientific rebuttal of Sungenis? Did he write anything that was prejudicial to the Faith? No and no. As such, what possible obligation would any Catholic have to side with Sungenis over MacAndrew on a matter of natural science? Sungenis botched the science and MacAndrew corrected him.
Is there some Catholic doctrine of tribal loyalty dictating that a fellow Catholic should step in to prevent Sungenis from being corrected on matters of science?
Let’s test this idea in a slightly different scenario. To be clear, I’m not saying that the matter of geocentrism is the exact equivalent of what follows. I’m simply illustrating that Mrs. Niles apparent rules for engagement are unreasonable.
If a Catholic were trying to prove scientifically that the earth is flat and an atheist were trying to prove scientifically that it is not, would she side with the Catholic simply because he’s Catholic? Ratcheting things up a bit, what if the flat earth advocate also presented this belief as though it were an official teaching of the Catholic Church and repeatedly pressured Catholics to believe him on that basis? What if he also condemned priests, bishops and Popes over the past 300 plus years as cowards and liars who have completely failed to teach what he contends is this supposedly crucial truth of the faith? What if he were trying to convince everyone that there was a massive conspiracy of science and faith to hide this truth from the world? What if he had a long history of promoting other strange and extremely dubious ideas and conspiracy theories? And then, what if he began partnering with a professional marketing agent and managed to raise enough money to hire top experts in the movie industry to produce a “documentary” whose ultimate aim was to promote belief in a flat earth (but he claimed merely to be “asking questions” about the round earth principle)? What if he were also subjecting the Church to ridicule because of all this, turning some people off to the faith in the process (like this person)?
Would Mrs. Niles be irate and condemn Catholics who strived to warn people about such an individual, making it clear that he is not trustworthy and does not speak for the Church? Would she expect Catholics to side with him against the horrible “atheists” who believe the earth is round? Is this how Mrs. Niles conceives of the faith and our obligations in following it?
Had she done even a modicum of research into all this before rushing to defend and promote Rick DeLano and his movie project with Sungenis in two interviews, Mrs. Niles would already know this. Sungenis regularly presents geocentrism as official Catholic teaching that faithful Catholics need to accept. As he has done in the past on other issues, he misuses and misappropriates Catholic clout in order to pressure good and decent Catholic men and women into accepting his dubious personal views.
There are two additional concerns that led me to publicly criticize Sungenis and his views of geocentrism. First, in the process of making his theological case for geocentrism, Sungenis makes multiple rash and baseless accusations of subterfuge, malfeasance, and dereliction of duty against good priests, bishops and even Popes. And second, Sungenis claims that the Church and virtually the entire scientific community at large have been involved in a long-standing conspiracy to hide the supposed truth of geocentrism from the world. This dark, conspiratorial view of the Church herself into which he is drawing innocent people is poisonous to the mind and to the soul. And it’s part of a long-standing pattern; it does not stand in isolation (see: Piling On, or Holding Back?). Were it not for all of these serious factors, linking his conspiratorial promotion of geocentrism with the Catholic faith, then Sungenis’s promotion of geocentrism would have been a non-issue for me and many others.
Returning to the allegations in these interviews, is there any connection between Sungenis’s anti-Semitic views and his work on geocentrism? Not directly, no, nor have I ever claimed otherwise. But I do believe it is fair to point out that Sungenis’s repeated willingness to make, and stubborn refusal to retract, baseless and scurrilous accusations against Jews that were often easily disproven, illustrates an inability or unwillingness to think critically and objectively when he perceives his personal reputation to be on the line – as he also does now with geocentrism. To date, he has refused to issue any forthright retractions or apologies for what he has said and done in regard to Jewish issues, opting instead to memory-hole all of it (including going so far as the block the web archive of his own site) and threaten lawsuits against those who don’t assiduously go along with the white-washing.
Second, his multiple anti-Semitic conspiracy theories over more than a decade are part of a long-standing conspiratorial world-view that I believe also naturally calls into question the reasonability of the conspiracy theories he has created to “explain” why the Church does not teach geocentrism today and why virtually the entire scientific community rejects it as well. We’re not talking about one or two conspiracy theories here and there. We’re talking about a pattern, spread over more than a decade. Take a good long look at this admittedly incomplete list (click here). It’s eye-opening.
And more directly connected to geocentrism, in the combox of the Rawstory.com piece, one commenter named “Annie G” noted that of all the people Sungenis could have created to be the anti-geocentric arch-villain in his novel, The Copernican Principle, he not only chose to make him a Jew, but a Jew with a name, Samuel Richenstein, that would naturally raise eyebrows considering his well-documented, anti-Jewish views. Annie puts it thus:
So, the primary evil guy stopping the world from hearing the truth of geocentrism is a Jew. And Sugenis [sic] names the Jew “Richenstein”. Get it? Rich. Rich – en – stein. Like, you know how those Jews all have lot of money! Ha, good one! Great stuff there (link).
Surely, if Sungenis was seriously concerned with distancing himself and his geocentric views from his anti-Semitic writings, this was not the way to do it.
All of this is part of a very long and well-documented public record, for those who care to find it. I urge Mrs. Niles and those like her to look much more closely both at where this geocentric train has been and more importantly where it is heading before pronouncing it safe for travel and expressing her “disgust” for the “shameful” individuals who dare to sound a clear warning. Because, as I have already pointed out and will demonstrate more comprehensively in the near future, this train ultimately leads to a wholesale assault on the integrity of the Magisterium of the Church and its ability to teach the fullness of the faith.
And that, truly, is “the whole ball game right there”.