“A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…”

From the Beeb:

An international team of astronomers has detected the most distant galaxy yet.

The galaxy is about 30 billion light-years away and is helping scientists shed light on the period that immediately followed the Big Bang.

It was found using the Hubble Space Telescope and its distance was then confirmed with the ground-based Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

The study is published in the journal Nature.

Because it takes light so long to travel from the outer edge of the Universe to us, the galaxy appears as it was 13.1 billion years ago (its distance from Earth of 30 billion light-years is because the Universe is expanding).

Lead researcher Steven Finkelstein, from the University of Texas at Austin, US, said: “This is the most distant galaxy we’ve confirmed. We are seeing this galaxy as it was 700 million years after the Big Bang.”

The far-off galaxy goes by the catchy name of z8_GND_5296.


z8_GND_5296 is churning out stars at a remarkable rate, say astronomers

The system is small: about 1-2% the mass of the Milky Way and is rich in heavier elements.

But it has a surprising feature: it is turning gas and dust into new stars at a remarkable rate, churning them out hundreds of times faster than our own galaxy can.

It is the second far-flung galaxy known that has been found to have a high star-production rate.

Prof Finkelstein said: “One very interesting way to learn about the Universe is to study these outliers and that tells us something about what sort of physical processes are dominating galaxy formation and galaxy evolution.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. The Masked Chicken says:

    Speaking of time, there was an article, yesterday, about some research done by two physicists which seems to indicate that time is an, “emergent,” property of quantum entanglement. In other words, if two particles are entangled, it is possible to see time pass, but outside the universe, from a God-like perspective, time seems to stand still. This is a clever way to reconcile relativity and quantum mechanics, which have very different understandings of space and time.

    The article is here:


    Of course, in the wacky world of modern physics, there was also a paper, yesterday, that argues that your cell phone has free will:


    The Chicken

  2. teomatteo says:

    Always fascinated with this astronomy stuff but… Is it possible that all the stars in that early galaxy do not exist any longer? Is it probable that that area of space (that has expanded) has nothing in it at all as I write this? My mind cant wrap around the ‘what the galaxy looks like right now?’ Maybe only the Creator knows what it looks like currently.

  3. Ed the Roman says:

    teomatteo, the occupants, if any, of that galaxy would also know.

    I am much more intrigued the high abundance of metals in a galaxy that old.

  4. David Zampino says:

    I’m intrigued by the high abundance of metals as well.

  5. teomatteo says:

    Ed, David, your intrigue is due to the understanding that metals are built up over time in stars and that a young ‘uns wouldn’t have metals yet? Maybe stellar evolution was running faster in the early days?? just a simpleton thought.

  6. Del says:

    Elements heavier than iron are normally formed as a larger star goes supernova.

    If the universe was only 700 million years old, there was not enough time for the first stars to form, grow old, and die a spectacular death…. at least, not enough time as we currently understand the life-cycle of stars.

    So either stars for forming and dying much faster in the early life of the galaxy, or the heavy metals were formed during the Big Bang itself. Either way, this is some very intriguing data about the early life of the universe!

  7. RobW says:

    Very. Cool.

  8. pannw says:

    God is so AWESOME! Deo gratias!

  9. Johnno says:

    A lot of unproven assumptions in the article that are typical of modern science beholden to evolutionary dogma and the farce of relativity.

    The galaxy you are seeing may be 13.1 billion light years away, but it is younger than the Earth. You are pretty much seeing it for what it is as it more or less is, but not to the tune of the outrageous date Copernican Evolutionists want to impose on it.

    Also there was no Big Bang. Even funnier is that the Big Bang model of today is a monstrous magical thing that in no way resembles the original proposal in any way whatsoever. They just kept ‘tweaking’ it as science is of course supposed to do when it refines models; but when it reaches the point at which the proposed dog becomes a proposed cat, you know what you’ve really got is a dead horse. But to them, it’s probably just ‘evolution’ of the model!

    I wonder when the Big Bang adherents will explain the phenomena observed by microwave background radiation data that has every single dipole in the universe pointing at the Earth, not to mention Hubble’s original observations that every which way he looked the redshift indicated that everything in the universe was moving away from the Earth as the central point. Instead of acknowledging that the observations they witness with their own eyes indicated that Earth is at the center of the Universe, instead we got the Big Bang Inflationary model that puts everything on an expanding baloon; and that what we see as 3 dimensional space is an illusion because space is actually bending, and time dilates, clocks run at different speeds and other madness that Einstein’s math on paper proposed as ‘relativity’ all because Einstein so desperately wanted to explain why every single experiment used to detect the Earth’s assumed motion around the Sun failed to detect any whatsoever. So Einstein tweaked the equations to get what he wanted on the other side of the equal sign and asked the physics community to simply go along with it; unless of course they wanted to acknowledge that the Catholic Church was right in its condemnations of Galileo and Copernicus as formal heresies, thus making it the rock of truth over and above the enlightened atheist scientists. As it turns out, relativity proves that atheists are beholden to a religious dogma, not to actual emperical data, for when it doesn’t match up with what they want they are willing to run to abstractions and obfuscations and entirely invent invisible matter and energy to shield them willfully from acknowledging that God exists.

    Time to stop beating the dead horses of evolutionary cosmology and relativity and turn back to the Church and the Scriptures. Just because a scientist confidently makes statements about billions of years in an article doesn’t make it truth anymore than saying he knows those presents under the tree on Christmas Eve spontaneously came into existence thanks to quantum fluctuations.

  10. gracie says:

    When I see articles like this, I only have one question – how long would it take Captain Kirk to get there?

  11. RidersOnTheStorm says:

    1 Lightyear = 9 trillion kilometres

    30 billion times that distance to this galaxy

  12. acardnal says:

    Chicken, I always suspected “PBS” was involved.

  13. Sonshine135 says:

    @ Jonnno
    You do realize that a Catholic Priest invented the Big Bang Model- Look up Monseigneur Georges Lemaître.

  14. Imrahil says:

    While I frequently disagreed with the dear @Johnno’s creationist interpretation of Scripture especially insofar as he intended to bind all Catholics to them,

    he has a point here.

    It is an interesting work yet, I guess, to be done, to find out precisely how much theoretical physics depend from the “cosmological principle”.

    For the cosmological principle is indeed a mere postulate. It was formulated to explain an observation; and there would be another explanation. Namely, “the Earth” (or the Sun) “is at the center of the universe”. I do not know whether the cosmological principle has, as yet, been tested in experiment against this other possible hypothesis, but I once asked a physicist and he did not tell me any of them.
    To the pure scientist, these hypotheses should be equal. This I cannot see among real scientists, where “Earth is at center” is simply dismissed as bigotry.

    That said, for all I know including about Scripture, the cosmological principle may be true.

    And that said, dear @Johnno, you are mistaken about a couple of things.
    1. The discovery of relativity theory (note, following my own not too great insights into physics I mean special relativity) did not originate in the cosmological principle, but in the failure of Newtonian mechanics in certain experiments. And it is no place of throwing doubts around and criticizing people for setting up theories to evade the Faith; for the simple reason that it has been proven by experiment.
    2. There was not ever, ever, a condemnation of either Galileo or Copernicus for formal heresy around.
    You should note btw. that Copernicus had a manifestly religious motive for placing the Sun at the center – which apart from methods of calculation is about the one thing he is known for. – Newton “proved” Galilei insofar as he proved that the sun-centered system of reference is an inertial system. Galilei was rebuked for presenting as absolute truth a statement that was, in its presentation, incorrect (he afterwards, so to speak, took the Inquisition’s suggestion and wrote about calculations from one system of reference into another; there is nothing wrong in saying that the Earth is at the center of a system of reference) and which he could not prove.
    3. Time to stop beating the dead horses of evolutionary cosmology and relativity and turn back to the Church and the Scriptures.
    No – except as a suggestion to convert to the Faith for those who are not yet faithful, or to read the Bible as a matter of private spiritual life.
    If there should be an error in science, time to erase it.
    If you intend to say, time to stop research and simply “read the Bible, no questions, do as you are told, and did I mention not asking questions”, the Catholic Church of all times said a vigorous no, and thank God she did.

  15. Ed the Roman says:

    Newtonian mechanics are not consistent with the Earth defining an inertial frame of reference, and if Newtonian mechanics are false, we could not have done any number of things that we did, in fact, do. At a bare minimum, you should stop using GPS, because we would not really have put the satellites up there: GPS doesn’t work.

  16. robtbrown says:

    It’s not a matter Newtonian Mechanics being false but rather being inadequate in explaining certain very large or very small phenomena–this because it is based on inadequate Cosmology. Inertial Frames of Reference explain and measure some things, Space-Time others.

    1. Newtonian Mechanics are based on Absolute Time and Absolute Place, both of which contradict the thought of St Thomas–and any proper notion of God. Further, AT and AP do not include the concept of circular motion but rather define it in linear terms, i.e., constantly changing vectors.

    2. Including the concept of circular motion means that the concept of Time must be adjusted.

    3. Both heliocentricism and geocentricism are explanations of our solar system. The former is preferred simply because the formulae that explain the movements are simpler.

    4. There is nothing any more evolutionary about the Big Bang than there is about the existence of rocks, plants, and brute animals.


  17. Johnno says:

    Sonshine135 –

    I am well aware that the original Big Bang proposal was from a Catholic priest. So? Are priests infallible?

    To turn this on its head, The Church Fathers and the Popes prior to our era all held to the geocentric model. According to many, they were wrong. I argue that they were right all along. But the point is that dear Monseigneur Lemaitre is incorrect and being a Catholic Priest doesn’t give him any automatic validity. His thinking also flowed from believing the unsubstantiated assumptions of atheistic naturalist philosophy about the Universe’s origins that he assumed as fact, rather than the teachings of the Church and Scripture which is inerrant. Basically, he was a modernist. I don’t want to unfairly disparage him as being a material heretic because he likely formulated the Big Bang model in ignorance.

    The model today has changed so radically that it is practically something else altogether, but scientists kept referring to it as the Big Bang and the general public is none the wiser about the numerous problems around it that had many calling for its complete eradication in Scientific literature, in fact even saying that it is ‘Christian superstition’ that is keeping the Big Bang around rather than actual science. Long story short, it was a complete rupture witht he teachings of the Church, but many liked it because it still proposed God as the primary cause and that was somehow good enough because after all we want to be ecumenistic with scientists who we were lied to were right about many things. The only winners here were the atheists who could just casually assume the first cause to be some natural thing and further continue to underhandedly lambast the Bible and the Church as institutions that ought to bow before the dictates of the scientific consensus.

  18. Johnno says:

    Imrahil –

    I have already addressed you in detail before. Might I recommend looking up Robert Sungenis’s work ‘Galileo was Wrong, the Church was Right’ for more details? But I’ll address a few more things…

    The Church Fathers overwhelmingly interpreted the Scriptures as Geocentric. So their consensus authority is not to be taken lightly as the Council of Trent and Vatican I state when it comes to interpreting Scripture and upon whom the Inquisition and Pope’s ruling against Galileo rested. The Copernican principle, is one that is entirely assumed prior to any evidence whatsoever. And when evidence does arrive that contradicts it, scientists continue to interpret it according to that paradigm. Which do you value? The consensus of the Magisterium that is given by the Holy Spirit that remains the same forever? Or the consensus of secularists and atheists that continues to change time and time again because they’ve been wrong several times over but before whom you are a fool if you deny their authority?

    To your points:

    1. Those ‘certain experiments’ that Relativity was conjured up to explain were the Michelson Morey interferometer experiments to detect the supposed absolute motion of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun. Einstein admits it himself. These experiments have been repeated many many times with more sophisticated equipment and lasers and still continued to fail. Even in our time scientists still cannot conclude that the heliocentric system was correct, nor with certainty the Copernican Principle that they assumed was a dogmatic principle accoridng to which everything would be interpreted. So they jumped to absurd conclusions that absolute motion did not exist and other such flights of fancy. In fact even according to Einstein’s own General Relativity that he formulated after the failure of Special Relativity, one could also just as easily assume that a central Earth was just as valid, because Relativity by its nature is so vague and meaningless it allows for it. John Paul II’s letter to the scientific community even uses this as an argument by appealing to Relativity to highlight that the Church’s defense of geocentrism in the past is still a valid debating point.

    2. “We say, pronounce, sentence and declare that you, the said Galileo…have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Sacred and Divine Scriptures, that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west and that the earth moves and is not the center of the world…after it has been declared and defined as contrary to Holy Scripture…From which we are content that you be absolved, provided that…you abjure, curse, and detest before us the aforesaid errors and heresies and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church.” – The judgment against Galileo by the Holy Office under Pope Urban VIII, June 22 1633.

    “with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies and generally every other error, heresy and sect whatsoever contrary to the Holy Church…but, should I know any heretic or person suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to the Holy Office or to the inquisitor or Ordinary of the place where I may be…” – Statement signed by Galileo in 1633.

    These rulings have never been revoked, and were enforced authoritatively by Urban VIII, Alexander VII, Benedict XIV etc. throughout the Catholic world; never to teach heliocentrism as anything other than an unsubtantiated hypothesis, but clearly in their writings they enforce it as a heresy. Heresies can of course be ‘taught’ and ‘learnt’ but only in so far as an academic pursuit of knowing the actual truth.

    Copernicus was indeed drawn to the idea of deifying the Sun, and of course he wasn’t even the first to propose a sun centered system. An ironic thing considering many scientific hypotheses today are growing more and more resemblant of pagan and Eastern esoteric ideas about the universe and man’s origin. One could easily see the early Eastern and pagan myths as being the first scientific philosophical musings of men detached from the revealed truth of Christ. Modern Science has come full circle, but lack the humility of their pagan forefathers who acknowledged the supernatural and their human limitations.

    3. I do not intend to say that all scientific research should cease, but that scientists must in humility hold fast to the inerrant turths revealed by God and safeguarded by His Church. This is indeed the cae with evolution and the copernican principle where instead the Church and faith is held hostage to the whims of atheist superstitions and we have allowed this to proceed unchallenged because we feel intimidated by their overcoplicated sophistry and naked emperors.

  19. Johnno says:

    Ed the Roman –

    The GPS and Satellite systems we use today are known to include a ‘fudge factor’ that assumes an Earth Centered system and ignores relativity in favor of Newtonian mathematics because using Relativity creates anomalies. NASA themselves go between the geocentric and heliocentric models according to whatever happens to be convenient because both models hold up mathematically and geometrically. If they want to send something near to the Sun they use the heliocentric because it is easier to assume the Sun is fixed when making calculations. When launching satellites near Earth they use the geocentric model or what they call the ‘fixed-Earth coordinate system.’ This is what your GPS uses because we understand the Earth as fixed in relation to satellites. What is called called ECI. To quote the Tychonian society: “Computations of satellite orbits, signal paths, and relativistic effects appear to be most convenient in an ECI frame. But navigation must generally be done relative to the Earth’s surface. So GPS navigation messages must allow users to compute the satellite positions in a fixed-Earth, rotating coordinate system, the so called WGS-84 reference frame.” A lot more can be said, so I recommend looking up Robert Sungenis’s work.

  20. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Also there was no Big Bang.”

    You were there??

    “Even funnier is that the Big Bang model of today is a monstrous magical thing that in no way resembles the original proposal in any way whatsoever.”

    Really? Have you actually compared LeMaitre’s original simplification of the Einstein equations to Guth’s additions? Inflation can certainly be criticized, as any theory can, but why assume that it is physics, “final answer?” It is just one more step along the way of understanding the universe. If science is done correctly and if geocentrism is the truth, then science will, eventually, get there. Why are you requiring that a boy (science searching for the truth) act like a man (adult who knows the truth)? Man has a right to develop along the lines of nature responding to grace.

    I know where the modern notion of goecentrism comes from. Its underlying science is based on the work of Dennis Sciama, who showed that the Einstein equations could be derived by assuming the Mach Principle:

    There is some evidence that the Mach Principle contradicts quantum mechanics.

    Sciama’s original paper can be found, here:


    The Chicken

  21. Johnno says:

    The Masked Chicken –

    “You were there??”

    Was Lemaitre? But I can tell you Who was there and what He said He did, and the order He did it in; which isn’t what the Big Bang proposes.

    “If science is done correctly and if geocentrism is the truth, then science will, eventually, get there.”

    Indeed, but just as in any other ideological battle, men are going to have to fight for it. But you must understand that many like and prefer relativism and ambuguity; as in morality, so in science.

  22. Jim says:

    “Also there was no Big Bang.”
    You were there??

    How can he be “there” when his position is that there was no Big Bang? Since you on the other hand do believe in the theory, what is “there” BEFORE and AT Big Bang when space was “a singularity”?

    On the other hand, was “The Chicken” there ? Cause if “The Chicken” were there, the matter that “materially evolved” into “The Chicken’s” body pre-existed “Big Bang”, which disproves the theory anyways :P.

    The Big Bang theory is as “scientific” as the theory of Evolution – its simply evolution of matter – of disorder causing order, violating “you cannot give what you do not have”. One doesn’t need to know quantum mechanics and Newtonian physics to know that Big Bang cannot stand reason – all one needs is a bit of common sense.

    As for Fr Lemaître being a Catholic priest. Hmm… priests can and do make mistakes.

  23. The Masked Chicken says:

    “How can he be “there” when his position is that there was no Big Bang?”

    You misunderstood my comment. He made an absolutist statement that there was, in fact, no Big Bang. He did not make it tentatively, in humility, as any searcher of Truth would, but as someone who knows for a fact. Now, the only way to know that for an absolute fact was to have been there. One should say, rather, “If I understand things, correctly, there was no Big Bang.”

    Also, I did not state my belief one way or the other regarding the Big Bang and you are reading that interpretation into the comments. I was criticizing the overly broad position that Johnno put forth. By the way, this is not the first time nor the first blog he and I have locked horns over this issue. I have a great deal of respect for Johnno and I hope he knows it. Two people can disagree and still respect and behave warmly towards each other. Johnno has behaved, from my on-line contact with him, as an exemplary Catholic. I do have a right to make comments on his comments as he does, mine. Good Christian argumentation is a rarity, these days and this is a fascinating subject.

    You also do not understand, or it seems to me from your comment, at least, what evolution means in regards to physical systems. For instance, a sax reed blown below critical blowing pressure will not vibrate. How, then, can it vibrate and make a sound, when it can’t give what it doesn’t have?

    Also your thermodynamic analogy is wrong. The entropy of the universe is always increasing, but order can occur, spontaneously, at local levels.

    Also, the Big Bang does not, technically, require a singularity (at least not a mathematical one). The Big Bang could have been caused by a Brane-Brane collision, according to string theory.

    The Chicken

  24. Ed the Roman says:

    How can he be “there” when his position is that there was no Big Bang? Since you on the other hand do believe in the theory, what is “there” BEFORE and AT Big Bang when space was “a singularity”?

    There is no such thing as “before” the Big Bang. There is no such thing as “at” the Big Bang in the way I think you mean. Most people have the mental picture of a point explosion being observed from a distance over time, which assumes that the Big Bang took place somewhere in a Euclidean 3-space at some point on a timescale outside that of the currently observed physical universe. But both time and space begin with the Bang; time and space don’t exist without it.

  25. cl00bie says:

    I’d imagine that creating everything out of nothing in the blink of an eye would cause a pretty big bang. ;)

  26. Jim says:

    Ed the ROman,
    There is no such thing as “before” the Big Bang. There is no such thing as “at” the Big Bang

    Thats the very point I was trying to make.
    If according to the Big Bang theory, matter (and therefore space and time) began at the bang which was “big” (big as compared to what I wonder), the question “You were there??” would make no sense – because “you” is both a material body AND a spiritual soul, atleast until material death (and death happens in a material universe in time).

    The Chicken,
    but order can occur, spontaneously, at local levels
    Spontaneously as in “an effect without a cause?”. What exactly would be a “local level” ? Do we have proof ? Sounds like snake oil Darwinian science:-). Nothing can happen at any level without a cause.

    The Big Bang could have been caused by a Brane-Brane collision
    Ok so the Big Bang created the universe… by a “Brane-Brane collision”… and how did a “Brane-Brane collision” occur BEFORE there was something or time and therefore CHANGE (a collision is a change and change requires time) (unless nothing is really something – which is what a “scientist” like Dawkins would claim)?

  27. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Jim,

    My comment, “You were there,” to Johnno was a bit teasing and I apologize for that. I should think a bit more before I post.

    People are fond of making the statement, “You cannot give what you do not have.” While this is true, it always goes with the presumption that you know what you have. THAT, is not always true. In the sax example, above, if one observes the sax in a state below the critical blowing pressure, one could be led to think that one does not have oscillations in the system because one does not have them in this situation, but this is simply a function of the fact that one does not know what one has in the system.

    Likewise, to state that order cannot come out of disorder makes the assumption that one completely understands the system and we do not. Here is another thought experiment:

    Take a deck of 52, “randomized,” playing cards, shuffle them, and deal them? They are, “disordered,” are they not, and, yet, there is a 1/52! = 1.24 x 10^-68 chance that the cards will arrange in perfect original order. The order is not in the cards, is it? It is in the mind of the person shuffling them. It is really tricky to say that order is or is not inherent in a system.

    There is a much more important result than the far away galaxy and I don’t think anyone here has appreciated it, yet. If the Page-Wooters theory, which I mentioned above, holds, that time is an emergent property of quantum entanglement, then this becomes interesting. People inside the universe of living things experience time because they are entangled systems. God and people who are dead, who have no material connection to the universe, would experience time, or rather the universe, in an instant.

    That is a useful analogy to the question of time in theology, I think.

    The Chicken

  28. Ed the Roman says:

    For The Chicken,

    I’d say that order sometimes occurs locally and leave spontaneity out of it. :-)

    And while string theory is fun, I’ll wait for it to make a falsifiable prediction.

  29. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Spontaneously as in “an effect without a cause?”.”

    You are using the term spontaneous in a very specialized case, which is not what spontaneous means in science. In fact, spontaneous means, “suddenly emergent,” in science and that is how I was using it. You cannot change definitions and expect a meaningful conversation. There are too many cases known where order emerges from disorder to even argue the point. There is even a discipline that studies this phenomenon. It is called, synergetics. The whole field of nonlinear dynamical systems theory is filled with nothing but the study of emergent phenomena.

    As to the matter of effect without a cause, see my comment, above. One has to be very careful in how one defines cause and effect. In fact, in String Theory, in certain cases, it appears as if cause can precede effect. Likewise, in quantum mechanics, for sufficiently short time scales, the order of time becomes meaningless and cause can proceed effects, or, what is equivalent, time travel becomes possible. Even in relativity, it is possible (it has been done in a laboratory) to set up speakers and have the music come out of them before they are sent to the speaker. This, however, only looks like a violation of cause and effect because, while a part of the velocity of the electromagnetic wave sending the sound to the speaker is traveling faster than the speed of light, relativity only demands that the total group velocity of the wave be less than the speed of light.

    The Chicken

  30. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Jim,

    As to Brane-Brane collisions, do you think our universe is the only one with time in it?

    I am as staunch an Aristotelian-Thomist as you are likely to meet, but their terms have to be define, precisely. Robtbrown can probably give a better discussion on this point than I. Much confusion between scientists and theologians has occurred because they use the same words to mean different things and they don’t realize it. The philosopher, Ed Feser, harps on this point.

    From what you have said, it seems to me (I may be wrong – apologies, if this is so), that you seem to think:

    a. That I am a scientist (correct – my areas of specialization are quantum and statistical mechanics, and acoustics)
    b. That I am a follower of Richard Dawkins (I most certainly am not)
    c. That I am an atheist (certainly not)
    d. That you can use infinite regression to box me into a corner (not really) and prove God’s existence (you don’t have to)
    e. That I don’t know 21 different proofs for God’s existence (I do and some are stronger than others – we, really, have to refute David Hume in order to pacify most atheists, which can be done, since he makes some foundational error, including his understanding of cause and effect)
    f. That I haven’t studied geocentrism
    g. That I have any dog in this fight. I don’t care, except as an intellectual fact, where the center of the universe is. It is only important to me that God created it. I am content to leave the details to him. It is necessary to seek truth. Searching for the hows and whys of phenomena in the universe are both important and can be a source of human and Christian growth, so as children of God, we are enjoined to that task.
    h. That the Church has pronounced on these issues. This is really the matter at the heart of geocentrism, since, without the need to defend this proposition, there would be much less contention. I take the stance that the Church has not pronounced definitively, on these issues. Otherwise, she would be doing it over and over again, as she constantly reiterates her other doctrines and dogmas. Of course, if the Church, has so infallibly pronounced, it doesn’t change much, since they haven’t implied that science will not, eventually get to that same conclusion, if it is true, but the Church has not, historically, interfered with scientific studies, so they, apparently don’t care if science takes its good old time to get there.

    The Chicken

    P. S. These sorts of discussions can be interesting and fun as long as they are charitable.

  31. The Masked Chicken says:

    “And while string theory is fun, I’ll wait for it to make a falsifiable prediction.”

    They are getting close. I’ve read that they have a falsifiable candidate experiment, but I’m not a string theorist, so I get my information second-hand.

    Order and spontaneity are connected. This is the area of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics for which Illya Prigogene won the Nobel Prize.

    The Chicken

  32. The Masked Chicken says:

    One last comment and them I’m done. The whole idea of disorder and order is studied in the mathematical discipline known as Ramsey Theory and one of its results is that for every system that is, “large enough,” must contain order.


    The Chicken

  33. Imrahil says:

    Well, dear @Chicken, thanks for that!

    Ramsey theory is really, really cool, but I never looked at it as… you know… kind-of… applicable. Thank you!

  34. acardnal says:

    The Masked Chicken,
    Thanks for mentioning Ed Feser.

    Recommended reading:

    Aquinas (A Beginner’s Guide)

    The Last Superstition

    Philosophy of Mind

  35. Jim says:

    Dear Chicken,
    Ooops. None of the items you mentioned under “From what you have said, it seems to me…” were anything that I even remotely thought of or assumed. I wasn’t even thinking anything about you yourself – I was simply replying to your comments. Thats all.

    Apologies if something I said implied any of that.

    PS: It probably doesn’t matter, but I think I would qualify as a “scientist” as well. I have engineering degrees with specializations in two separate fields and I make my living off science. The reason I do not believe either the theories of evolution or Big Bang is because to believe them demands that I have faith in them contrary to reason. Having faith in science is just too big of a demand.

    PPS: I am clueless as to why/where “geocentrism” came about in. Anyways…

  36. Johnno says:

    The Masked Chicken –

    Thank you for the kind words. I extend the same to you and everone else.

    You mention that you do not have a dog in this fight with regards to the topic of Geocentrism. I would argue that all of us ultimately do, especially indirectly. While knowledge of Geocentrism and much of theology is not a requirement for salvation or to be a good Catholic, it is a topic that is responsible for a loss of a great number of souls because it has been used as slander against the Church to destroy its credibility and this turns people away from the Catholic Church, or at the very least is used as a vehicle to change Church teachings to be more accomodating of liberal and dissenting beliefs.

    We already know the Heliocentric view was first promoted by those of the cult of Apollo and who saw the Sun as a deity worthy of prominent place to which the Earth must bow. Some Protestants then took to it in an attempt to undermine the Church authority on the topic because the Popes strongly came out against it, especially when Galileo wanted to argue that scientists ought to have a right to interpret Scripture for themselves privately against the Church and he came out against the Geocentric consensus of the Church Fathers to whom Dogmatic Church Councils held up as the definitive authority on interpreting the Scriptures and upon whom much of our current dogmatic teachings rest.

    Finally this carried on to the enlightenment where the heliocentric system and Foucalt’s Pendulum was championed as symbols of the new rebellion against the Church; freeing men from its dictates, and therefore from God. For example, ask Neitzsche:

    “Have you not heard as yet of that mad-man who on one bright forenoon

    lit a lantern, ran out into the market-place and cried out again and

    again, “I seek God! I seek God! –Because there were standing about just

    at that time many who did not believe in God, the mad-man was the occasion

    of great merriment. Has God been lost? said one of them. Or is He hiding

    himself? Is He afraid of us? Has He boarded a ship? Has He emigrated?

    Thus they cried and laughed.

    But the mad-man pierced them with his glance: “Whither has God gone?”

    he cried; “I am going to tell you. We have killed Him–you and I! We all

    are His murderers. But how have we accomplished this? How have we been

    able to empty the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe off the entire

    horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun?

    Whither does the earth now move? Whither do we ourselves move?

    “Are we not groping our way in an infinite nothingness? Do we not

    feel the breath of the empty spaces. Has it not become colder? Is there

    not night and ever more night? How do we manage to console ourselves, we

    master-assassins? Who is going to wipe the blood off our hands? Must not

    we ourselves become gods to make ourselves worthy of such a deed? (The

    Joyful Wisdom, section 125)

    The Catholic Church, when it condemned Galileo and Copernicism, knew full well where all this was going. They saw in it the seeds of the displacement being ushered in, wherein by establishing that the Earth was not preferred and just another ball of dust floating in a meaningless cosmos, then it was not special, and therefore could further be attributed to chance what would by necessity require design and purpose if Earth was at the center of things and the footstool of God upon which He placed Adam as its monarch.

    We already know that every practical experiment to detect the motion of the Earth has produced what Einstein called a ‘null’ result. Which if performed in Galileo’s day would’ve established once and for all the geocentric system, but today has been hidden behind the mathematical deceptions of Relativity, for Einstein had to posit that the reason no motion was detected (he a priori assumed there had to be motion and that heliocentrism was true), was because the apparatus was shrinking in relation to the direction of movement and velocity of the Earth, from which we get the notions that matter shrinks, time dilates etc. The variables had to be tweaked to explain the result according to the assumed Copernican principle that modern scientists had devoted themselves to.

    St. Robert Bellarmine and the Inquisition already knew that men could rearrange the orbits and geometries of the planets and stars to suit whatever system they needed thanks to mathematics and use this as an attempt to undermine God and His Church which would lead many astray. They weren’t fools. Today from elementary school to the colleges, there is no discussion of the debate as it really stands. Copernicism is assumed,and peddled to children who will later be taught in their Humanaties classes about how the evil Catholic Church and its Christian superstitions hindered science and therefore cannot be taken seriously on issues of morality.

    So this is not something that can be simply brushed aside. Souls hang in the balance.

  37. Ed the Roman says:

    Jim, Johnno brought in geocentrism.

  38. Ed the Roman says:

    I am as staunch an Aristotelian-Thomist as you are likely to meet, but their terms have to be define, precisely. Robtbrown can probably give a better discussion on this point than I. Much confusion between scientists and theologians has occurred because they use the same words to mean different things and they don’t realize it. The philosopher, Ed Feser, harps on this point.

    Everybody has a metaphysics. Some of them know what theirs is. ;-)

  39. Ed the Roman says:

    Johnno, since you reject both special and general relativity, I have some questions for you.

    Why do nuclear weapons work?

    Why must the change in clock speed predicted by General Relativity (GR) be taken into account for GPS to work? GPS depends on very, very accurate measurement of time. GR predicts that clocks are slowed by gravitational fields, and GPS has validated that the clocks on the satellites are running faster than the clocks down here; if we were to pretend that they were running at the same speed, GPS would not work.

    You said towards the start of the thread that the galaxy under discussion currently is the way it looks to us from here. Do you dispute 3×10^8 m/s as the speed of light? If not, how big do you think the observed universe is? Why do Hubble and so many other instruments see so much of what looks like redshift? And why do the “red-shifted” galaxies appear so much smaller than the ones that are not “red-shifted”?

  40. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Johnno,

    thank you for your kind answer.

    In response,

    1. a condemnation for “error or heresy” subsequently rather non-upheld – Copernicus was removed from the Index, right – is not a formal declaration of heresy. The point of Galilei’s trial was disobedience and the demanding of absolute belief in the results of science, drawn from, in this case, actually false reasons. Though they may have, in summary style and in a general way, added all sorts of adjectives they thought possibly accurate.

    2. The scientific consensus is not that “the Earth absolutely volves around the sun”, but “frames of reference can be choosen as you wish, with the sun-based one being inertial”, and there is not the slightest contradiction to the Catholic Faith here.

    3. That settles the Fathers as far as geocentrism is concerned. As for other questions, there is no consensus of the Fathers against St. Augustine.

    4. Precisely because souls are at stake, the thing to do may, for all I know, be trying to scientifically prove theories more in apparent concord with traditional imagery, and to that effect, scientiffically find scientifical errors in the now-used models. But not asserting the latter loudly and replace a disproof with a demand to simply believe by Faith theories which, in fact, have not been proposed to hold as of Faith by the Magisterium. That, precisely because souls are at stake, is the very least thing to do.

  41. robtbrown says:


    From Johnno’s comments I assume he’s read the Sungenis book.

    I mentioned above that the understanding of Time must be adjusted when it is not merely a measure of linear motion but includes circular motion.

    NB: Circular motion returns to its starting point while continuing in the same direction.

  42. robtbrown says:


    Because man is rational, it must be said that he is the center of the universe. That doesn’t mean, however, that the earth is the geocenter. IMHO, looking for a geocenter assumes Newton’s Absolute Place.

  43. vandalia says:


    What few have pointed out is that Galileo was wrong – the Sun is not the center of the Universe as he conceived it.

    Yet, the Church was correct – the Earth is the center of the Universe – at least OUR Universe.

    (If you listen to the comics that like to belittle the Church, every one of their jokes is about something on planet Earth.) Also, if you assume that the Universe fills all available space, and therefore can be called infinite, then any point can correctly be claimed to be the center.

  44. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown,

    thanks for the reminder… Well I have not read it. I do know, however, that Galilei actually was wrong – though I couldn’t press myself now to firmly state what in exact terms his position was. Anyway, it had something to do with the Sun being center of the universe, the tide being caused by the Sun, and all that being quite safely proved by himself looking through the telescope.

    The Inquisition found that his proofs don’t prove; in addition they quite rightly suspected that the tide is caused by the moon; and they added (speaking in the strict sense not theologically but disciplinarily) that one is not to depart from biblical imagery in the absence of real proofs (I heard of a letter of St. Bellarmine saying explicitly the latter things).

    Then it is of course old hat (scientifically speaking, not in anti-Church propaganda and, to a degree, also not in popular imagination) that there is no such scientific thing as a center of space. What there is is frames of reference.

  45. robtbrown says:


    I’m not recommending the book.

    I read two books on Galileo for my dissertation–in fact, just to write a footnote. That was some time ago, but as I remember, Galileo’s objection was to Scriptural references to the sun moving and the earth not. In that, he seems to endorse implicitly Absolute Place.

  46. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown,

    thanks for the kind answer…

    and it seems I indeed misunderstood you.

  47. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Those ‘certain experiments’ that Relativity was conjured up to explain were the Michelson Morey interferometer experiments to detect the supposed absolute motion of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun. Einstein admits it himself.”

    No, he doesn’t. I studied physics with one of Einstein’s colleagues and biographers (he was quite old – my teacher – Einstein had been dead for many years) who even published papers with Einstein on this effect. Einstein claimed to have heard about the MM experiment, but it did not influence his thinking, although the matter is somewhat unsettled.

    Here is a link to an article that discusses the issue:


    While Sungenis, et. al poke holes in relativity and planetary motion, let’s talk about something not in the Bible, so that we are on a more neutral playing field. The Bible says nothing about quantum mechanics, so, we can, safely argue this issue without reference to doctrine and dogma.

    Here is my question: in order to derive electron spin, one, as far as we know, must use relativity. Since spin is known to exist, in order for Sungenis to have a case, he must be able to derive the spin equations without reference to relativity. When he is able to do that, then he will made a much more considerable impact on the scientific community. There is no way to shift reference frames and have spin emerge (well, okay, one can use a relativistic reference frame, but that begs the question, since we assume, per hypothesis, that relativity does not exist).

    Another vexing question: we know the earth is shrinking. That’s just a fact you can measure. Now, if the earth is the center of the universe and the earth was larger at the beginning of time, does that mean that that part of the universe from which the earth has receded by it shrinking is no longer part of the center of the universe? At best, Sungenis can contend that the center of the earth is the center of the universe. There is no stable concept of, “earth.”

    As for geocentrism being a whipping boy of atheists, this, alas, is too true, however, part of the reason that it is is because not enough Catholic scientists speak up for the Faith. Many Catholic scientists have to keep their opinions and their faith to themselves because of the fear of backlash. Sungenis does not seem to understand that science is not in the business of declaring truth. It can’t, because to declare something true, you, first, have to already know that it is true, but if you already know that something is true, what need do you have to try to prove it true? It is like throwing darts at a talking dart board trying to figure out where the bullseye is. Only the center is insensitive, so the dartboard says, “Ouch,” when you hit somewhere that is not the center. Science, by definition, never can know, with certainty, where the bullseye is. Science is not an a priori endeavor. Science is an eliminative activity. It seeks to say where the bullseye is not in the hopes of following Holmes’s Law:

    “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true.”

    Science never says, “This is the truth.” The best science can say is, “So far as we currently know, this is consistent.” Science listens for the, “Ouch,” from experiments.

    What Sungenis fails to do, in my opinion, is to make a proper distinction between what Aquinas calls, “The Preambles of Faith,” and Faith. The Preambles of Faith are things about God that can be known from reason – that he exists, that he is omnipotent, etc. Faith goes beyond the Preambles and must be revealed by God, himself. Science is concerned with the material, so must, of necessity, be concerned with the Preambles of Faith, but Sungenis, in asserting the the Bible must be adhered to, literally, is asserting a matter of Faith and this is simply beyond the auspices of science. He is not arguing within strict boundaries of one or the other, but freely contaminates the two, so that what can be known from reason must be adhered to by Faith. In other words, he can argue as a theologian from Faith or he can argue as a scientist from reason, but what he can’t do is argue that one cannot reason because Faith has spoken. This is the aspect, most of all, that throws off atheists from considering Sungenis’s points.

    He proposes no experiment. He simply makes assertions and re-interpretations of existing experimental data. In this sense, he is not acting as a scientist, at all, and I suggest that, even if the earth were the center of the universe and even if the Bible and the Church did assert that, scientists have a right to ignore him because he simply is not acting in a fair manner towards science. He isn’t attempting to convince scientists by experimentation or theoretical proof. He simply asserts. This is grounds to be ignored by scientists, as he has been. Let him gather convincing data and present it for peer review. While not perfect, at least he will be acting as someone who respects science. At this point, he is, it seems to me, thumbing his nose at it, or at best, treating its results like useful idiots when it supports his claims. Let him spend sleepless nights collecting data and pulling his hair out because he just can’t eliminate and infinity from an equation. In other words, let him pay his dues. Most scientists will have a great deal more respect for him if he does. As it is, he seems like an interloper. I think this is an aspect of charity, to meet a man where he is.

    Sungenis’s citation of the Mach Principle assumes a static universe. Sciama desperately wanted a static universe when he did his work on the Machian equivalent of General Relativity, but he later, as most scientists did, came to believe that the Steady-state model was wrong. Does Sungenis note this?

    The Chicken

  48. robtbrown says:

    The Masked Chicken says:

    I studied physics with one of Einstein’s colleagues and biographers (he was quite old – my teacher – Einstein had been dead for many years)

    I’ve got one for you. For years Einstein’s brain was in an office about 10 miles from my hometown.

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