Dr. Todd Wood Critiques Geocentrism Conference

Dr. Todd Wood attended the first and only “annual” geocentrism conference in 2010.  He wrote up a detailed and charitable analysis and critique of what he heard there.  Below are some excerpts, but his postings are well worth reading in full.

Todd WoodHanging Out With the Geocentrists, Part 1:  “the central issue to me has always been what the Bible actually teaches about the motion of the earth (or lack thereof). That theme was addressed by John Salza, who went through a series of biblical references that speak to the motion of the sun and the stability of the earth….it seemed to me that he did not properly address possible heliocentric interpretations of some of the verses he cited. He kept saying, “The Bible never says that the earth is in orbit!” That’s not really the point. The Bible doesn’t give us the periodic table of the elements either, but I don’t have a problem with that. Given his unsatisfying treatment of the passages I’m familiar with, I have my doubts he adequately interpreted the ones I’m not familiar with. In the Q&A, a priest asked him whether the Church Fathers affirmed geocentricity because that’s what the Scripture taught or because that was just the most popular view of the day. I thought that was a really good question, but Salza didn’t answer it. He just went off on whether the Bible should be authoritative on everything it says or just the religious stuff. I remain skeptical of the biblical necessity for geocentrism, and that to me was the real crux of the whole day. Because they didn’t convince me that the Bible required this geocentric position, the science (such as it was) sort of fell flat.”

Hanging Out With the Geocentrists, Part 2:  “The next big science talk was Robert Bennett, who was described in the program as, “Holds doctorate in Physics with emphasis on Einstein’s Relativity.” As he began, I thought this was finally our opportunity to get down to some of the really hard questions about geocentrism. We didn’t really get that. . . . He concluded by explaining how there is some kind of signal in the cosmic background radiation just behind the constellation Leo. Then he informed us that although the zodiac is today associated with the occult, it’s true origin is biblical. Leo is the “Lion of Judah,” AKA Jesus Christ. Regulus (a star in Leo) is therefore signaling to us that Jesus is returning.  I’m truly at a loss for words.”


Hanging Out With the Geocentrists, Part 3:  The first was a talk by E. Michael Jones,…The title of his presentation was “English Ideology, Newton & the Exploitation of Science.” . . . I see at least two huge problems with his presentation. First, the connection between Newtonian physics and economics was entirely speculative. . . . I kept waiting for the smoking gun . . . some kind of indication from Newton himself that his ideas were indeed inspired by capitalism. Jones never supplied that crucial evidence, making his entire argument one long speculation. The second problem is the classic genetic fallacy. Science just doesn’t care where ideas come from, the only thing science cares (or should care) about is whether the ideas actually work. If Newton’s ideas had been unable to predict planetary motion, then they would have been forgotten, whether or not they were politically advantageous.

The other historical talk was the penultimate talk of the day by Robert Sungenis . . . Naively, I was actually surprised by how blatantly anti-Galileo it was. Not just in the way he presented, but in the way Sungenis sort of brushed by the facts of the situation. . . . The bulk of Sungenis’s talk was spent on what happened after Galileo, in which he emphasized that it was the infallible Magisterium of the church that condemned Galileo and therefore the condemnation could not be rescinded without admitting that the Magisterium had made a mistake. I found this section very interesting, but given Sungenis’s mistreatment of Galileo, I have to say I’m dubious of some of his claims here.


Hanging Out With the Geocentrists, Part 4:  “Gerardus Bouw. Maybe that name means nothing to you, but it sure does ring a bell for me. Bouw has been around for many years in creationism, trying to promote modern geocentrism. . . . Since Bouw has an actual Ph.D. in astronomy, I had high hopes that he would help me understand precisely how the geocentrists think the universe works. I’ll let you judge how well that worked out. . . . The first word from Bouw came during the first Q&A session. . . . I was a little baffled by what I heard. . . . he somehow inferred that omnipotence implies an infinite density, which he called plenum. Wait a second. How can anything possibly move through something that’s infinitely dense?. . . I distinctly remember Bouw pausing at one point and asking if the audience understood what he was trying to say. From my seat up front, I saw several people shaking their heads no (I was too). He then repeated himself and went on with the next slide, leaving us just as confused as before. . . . My notes conclude with this confession: “I have no idea what this guy is talking about!! . . . When the talk was over, Sungenis got up to introduce the next speaker and said, “Dr. Bouw has a doctorate in astronomy, so if you think he knows what he’s talking about, that’s probably why.” Wow. That’s not at all what I was thinking.”

Hanging Out With the Geocentrists, Part 5:  “I’m going to write this as if I were giving the geocentrists constructive criticism. . . . Avoid ad hominem arguments. For a group that is routinely mocked and held up to public scorn as examples of medieval foolishness, you sure do like to indulge in personal criticisms of your critics. Whatever happened to the golden rule? You know, do to others as you would have them do to you? I think Jesus said something to that effect. Characterizing scientists as arrogant, deceptive, or purely driven by philosophical bias doesn’t help your case at all. It makes you sound like conspiracy kooks. . . . Avoid straw men. This is probably getting into more contentious areas, but frankly, I thought a lot – a LOT – of the responses to heliocentric arguments presented at the conference seemed like straw man arguments. . . . Stop addressing stupid arguments against geocentrism as if they were good ones. . . . Please stop with the handwaving. Frequently during the conference, speakers would make highly conjectural claims that could have been verified but weren’t. . . . Instead what we got were speculations. Handwaving. If you calculate this, it supports geocentrism. If you do that experiment, it supports geocentrism. Enough with the IFs. If it’s not a hard experiment or calculation, then do it! And if your idea has no way to be tested (like the superluminal velocity of the infinitely dense plenum aether that can’t be detected by larger particles), then please just admit that it’s a speculation.  Stop pretending to be all science-y when you’re not.  You will never be taken seriously as long as you approach science with a “look but don’t touch” attitude. You’ve gotta get your hands dirty.”

Geocentrism Clarifications:  “So apparently there are some geocentrists out there who are dissatisfied with my portrayal of their recent conference . . . First, I got a long email from Bennett, who said this about his ALFA challenge: “ALFA: Not an experiment, but a model to be tested against experiments. Find one that destroys ALFA.” Sorry about that. My mistake. [NB: Dr. Bennett apparently found this reply off-putting, but he had just been asked to show that the new geocentrists were prepared to do some real science and he responded to Dr. Wood by insisting that everybody else but the new geocentrists do the experiments.]  The response attributed to Salza was insulting and condescending, so I’m not going to bother with it. . . . So now I’m really, really done with geocentrism. . . . I’ve got better things to do with my life.”


Postscript:  Even though his critique was extremely respectful and charitable, as Dr. Wood mentions above the geocentrists went ballistic over it.  Wood characterized John Salza’s response as “insulting and condescending”.  Even though Bob Sungenis’ talk was fairly characterized by Dr. Wood as “blatantly anti-Galileo”, Sungenis huffed that such a view is “slanderous”.   And geocentrist groupie James Philips blasted Dr. Wood thus: “One of the worst aspersions/defamations that Mr. Wood spews out is that of labeling Dr. Sungenis a propagandist. Although, a certain use of propaganda as such may be considered neutral or impartial in some contexts, the context in which Mr. Wood uses it is clearly of a severely derogatory nature. Its use as a cheap tar and feathering tag assigned to Dr. Sungenis is clearly employed to undermine the credibility of his work on geocentrism including the work of the recent geocentrism conference itself (link).  I know this will shock you, but this “worst” of “aspersion/defamations” of a “severely derogatory” nature which Dr. Wood “spews” does not appear anywhere in what he wrote about the conference.  Philips has just made this accusation up out of whole cloth.  Small wonder, then, that Dr. Wood chose to terminate all interaction with the new geocentrists.