Tuesday, April 08, 2014

"The Principle" Controversy


So I guess there is a lot of controversy brewing over Robert Sungenis' documentary The Principle, which is apparently an apologia for a human-centered universe, including geocentric propositions. That is not the sole source of the controversy; it appears that Sungenis was a little deceptive in describing the purpose of the film to those who participated in it (scientists Lawrence Krauss, Michio Kaku, et al) - he even managed to hire Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek: Voyager fame to narrate the entire documentary while keeping from her its geocentric propositions! Now that the documentary is public, these individuals are all understandably upset that their names are being linked to promotion of geocentrism. Denials and repudiations are flying all across the web.

So...whatever. I understand this sort of subterfuge is not uncommon in documentary film making. I personally do not care that Sungenis is a geocentrist. I was once talking with a good Catholic friend about this issue and we came to the conclusion that, if you dig deep enough, probably every person has some theory or hypothesis or conspiracy that they believe in that the wider world would think insane if they were to find out about. So, it's really neither here nor there to me that Sungenis believes in geocentrism. If this message is what he wants to be known for, he can go right ahead. I just don't care.

What does grate on me a little is the resources he seems to pour into this single message. The Principle was not an inexpensive movie to make; I would assume he probably spent close to a million dollars on it. If I personally had a million dollars in disposable income and wanted to do something positive with it, I am not sure stressing geocentric cosmology would be the best use of those resources. The vehemence with which Sungenis has pushed geocentrism and the amount of money he has put into it almost suggests that he views geocentrism as the most important aspect of the Gospel. I'm not sure if this is accurate or not, but that's the impression I get - which is disturbing because most Catholics would strongly object that geocentrism is part of Divine Revelation at all; and even if it were, for the sake of argument, does its importance in the hierarchy of truths merit so much money, time and attention? If I had access to a million dollars to do some sort of evangelical apostolate, it certainly would not be on some peripheral point that is not even part of Catholic doctrine.

Just my opinion. 

25 comments:

Rick O. said...

This type of controversy is par for the course whenever a documentary of this nature is released. When Ben Stein released Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, there was a veritable rumble from the gates of hell as it unleashed its minions in an effort to discredit the film and slander Stein personally. As for Lawrence Krauss, Michio Kaku, Richard Dawkins and the rest of these avowed atheists, their own words are enough to indict them and render their beloved cosmological principle or evolutionary theory or any other godless theory suspect. They have made their agenda crystal clear and we, as Catholics, had better get our heads out of the ground and wake up. Atheism has its roots in the godlessness of these theories. And in the case of the cosmological principle, it isn’t a theory at all, it’s a philosophical presupposition.

I find it highly unbelievable that Kate Mulgrew narrated the entire documentary without being aware of its geocentric propositions; it’s not like Sungenis tried to hide what he was doing. If, in fact, Mrs. Mulgrew was duped then shame on her; Sungenis’ works alone should have been enough to tip her off.

What I find interesting is that you mention four times that you don’t care that Sungenis is a geocentrist yet you took the time to write this post. If you don’t care, why take the time to write about it?

Sungenis is on this crusade precisely because of your ignorant (I mean that in its true sense, not in a derogatory manner) comments as stated in the last paragraph of your post.

Allow me to share a quote from St. Thomas’ Summa Contra Gentiles (Bk 2, Chap 3): “Accordingly it is clear that the opinion is false of those who asserted that it mattered not to the truth of faith what opinions one holds about creatures [creation], so long as one has a right opinion about God, as Augustine relates in his book De Origine Animae: since error concerning creatures [creation] by subjecting the human mind to causes other than God amounts to a false opinion about God, and misleads the minds of men from God, to Whom faith strives to lead them.”

Perhaps you should re-read the words of St. Thomas and then try actually reading Galileo Was Wrong, The Church Was Right before stating your opinion about something you quite obviously know little about.

All of this being said, I thoroughly enjoy your blog and visit weekly if not more often; keep up the great work!

Bornacatholic said...

Dear Brother Boniface. Oncet, I had a man send me a photocopy of an entire book:‪

The Pontifical Decrees Against the Doctrine of the Earth's Movement and the Ultramontane Defence on Them‬ 

http://tinyurl.com/mcd2uzr

but back then I was a subscriber to, The Remnant.

I got better.

But still, when it comes to geo-centrism, this crowd makes a Boston Red Sox fanatic appear comatose by comparison.

Dr Sungenis has gone way off the deep end in the past and his relentless hammering of this debatable proposition is weird

Boniface said...

Rick,

Thanks for the comments. A few things:

1)Regarding the controversy with Krauss, Mulgrew, etc., who knows. He said she said at this point.

2)I mention that Sungenis' geocentrism is not the issue because in this post I am not taking sides in the debate. For some Catholic apologists, refusal to outright condemn geocentrism is taken as a tantamount endorsement, and for others refusal to endorse it somehow makes you a modernist. I mention that Sungenis' geocentrism is not the point because I do not wish to be placed on that spectrum or drawn into that particular debate. My post was not about "is geocentrism right or wrong" but "is it really that pressing of an issue to make a huge documentary on geocentrism".

3) I think you are citing Thomas fallaciously here. I do not disagree with his statement that our beliefs on scientific issues can lead one to a false belief about God; I do deny that geocentrism in particular is one of those issues.

4)I have read In fact, a friend of Sungenis gave me several advance copies of it years ago when it first came out, well before Sungenis was widely known as a geocentrist. I read the whole thing with fascination, although I still can't say I know "a lot" about geocentrism because a lot of the argumentation was very technical. So don't presume I've never read it, or that it is just so self-evidently truthful that anyone who did would automatically accept all its propositions. That simply isn't the case.

Rick O. said...

Touché. Presuming that you had not read Galileo Was Wrong, The Church Was Right was presumptuous on my part and lacking in charity; my apologies.

As for the quote from St. Thomas, I obviously disagree that I’m using it fallaciously. Given the sheer magnitude of the Galileo affair and the Church’s response, I think this quote is more than appropriate when speaking of our centrality in the universe. This speaks directly of our beginning and where we came from. It makes a world of difference if one believes that we are the random generation of a massive explosion that took place 16 billion years ago and our fate is to hurtle through space around some ordinary star in some humdrum galaxy or if we and our entire universe were created out of love and our planet was placed in an extraordinary position within the cosmos. To quote St. Thomas yet again, “A small error in the beginning grows enormous at the end…” (On Being and Essence).

What one is essentially arguing when taking the geocentric view of the universe is that the universe didn’t evolve rather it was created; and in such a manner that it would necessitate the earth being at the center of it all if we are to believe Sacred Scripture. St. Robert Bellarmine was emphatic on this point in his letter to Foscarini written in 1615 (http://www.historyguide.org/earlymod/foscarini.html). In this letter St. Bellarmine takes for granted that this is an issue of doctrine as it was held as the common consensus of the Church Fathers (apart from which the Scriptures cannot be interpreted; Council of Trent, Vatican I, Leo XIII).

As for what Sungenis spends his money (and that of his benefactors) on is entirely up to him as it is his apostolate. Do you hold similar sentiments against The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation? If not, why? They, like Sungenis, spend their money (and that of their benefactors) on material (both print and video) that are consistent with their apostolate. This is the beauty of the Church, is it not? One is free to delve, however deep, into Church’s well of truth (to borrow from Chesterton). Sungenis doesn’t hold geocentrism as the end-all-be-all just as the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation doesn’t hold special creation as the end-all-be-all. Both of these apostolates do what they do for one reason and one reason alone: to bring souls into union with Christ through His Church. That should be the only purpose of any apostolate no matter how varied they may be.

Boniface said...

Sungenis can do what he wants with his own money. I'm not condemning his documentary as something objectively wrong. I'm just saying that in my opinion, the subject does not merit the attention he gives it. If I had those kind of resources, I wouldn't use it on this topic. That's only my opinion. He can do what he wants with the six figure income he makes from promoting geocentrism.

Anonymous said...

Off-topic, but can you recommend a good book for me on St. John's Gospel? I saw that Sungenis wrote one, but I don't know if it's good or not. I wish to understand the Gospel better. Thanks

Dutch Boy said...

It's almost worth $1 mill to watch Krauss et al squirm.

Eufrosnia D said...

Rick O,

I just want to say this regards to your comment on St. Thomas Aquinas and also Church teaching.

The problem for me is not whether God created the Universe and humanity with love. I accept that as true. Rather, the issue here is why does it have to be that the Sun has to revolve around the earth for us to be "a loving creation of God and for the Universe to have been made out of love for us"?

If you think about it, there is really no such necessity that everything revolve around the earth for God to treat us as special. There is also no need to think that the "earth cannot be moved" is an objection to the earth revolving around the Sun. Is there?

Boniface said...

Eufrosnia,

regarding that point, this is a good view of it:

http://www.geocentrismdebunked.org/mary-kochan-deploys-a-whale-of-an-argument/

Boniface said...

Eufrosnia,

regarding that point, this is a good view of it:

http://www.geocentrismdebunked.org/mary-kochan-deploys-a-whale-of-an-argument/

Eufrosnia D said...

Thanks Boniface! The first one in that link was a very comprehensive article with Church teachings cited and was very helpful. The "Whale of an argument" article was fascinatingly titled and an equally nice and simple demonstration too! :)

I really hope Sungenis comes around because I remember watching his Protestant vs. Catholic videos on various issues long time ago and they were very informative and pretty good. It is sad to see him so fixated on something so entirely irrelevant to the faith and fostering hostility by unbelievers toward the faith on an unnecessary issue.

I wish if he wanted to go scientific (because he was tired of the Protestant vs. Catholic stuff perhaps), he put that money in to something on Evolution and defending Catholic Monogenism.

Anonymous said...

Count me as one who wouldn't know a "geo from a helio" whatever, who cannot decide what type of system is truly out there, but I have to state that the attacks Sungenis have been the recipient of and how the theory he espouse (long before the movie even started) would generate the venemous attacks against him personally as well as professionally and how they manage to tie in his holocaust views virtually every time. It has struck a big nerve in our science based driven world of ours and I believe there will be even more coming. You can visualize them squirming in your mind, how uncomfortable a position they’ve been put into to have one of their favorite theories be questioned and to defend their “faith” they’ve held for the last 400 years. That this little doubt has stirred up quite the hornet's nest in the media.

charles

Boniface said...

Check this out, Anonymous:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-9PGWP0k5E

Rick O. said...

Eufrosnia D. - You said:

"The problem for me is not whether God created the Universe and humanity with love. I accept that as true. Rather, the issue here is why does it have to be that the Sun has to revolve around the earth for us to be "a loving creation of God and for the Universe to have been made out of love for us"?"

If you go back a re-read my post that's not what I was saying at all. I was pointing out that Sacred Scripture necessitates such a position and that St. Robert Bellermine believed as much as did the popes that condemned Galileo. For that matter so did the Church Fathers.

So you can call the issue "entirely irrelevant" but history begs to differ. As for hostility, those of us that side with the Church, history and science on this issue seem to be the ones taking the brunt of it; and most of the time from fellow Catholics.

I have yet to find a single person offer a coherent response to the letter from St. Robert Bellermine, the condemnation of the popes or the findings of modern science against the philosophical presupposition known as the cosmological principle.

Anonymous said...

I'm certainly a geo-centrist, not because of Sungenis, but because of lack of evidence, and the subversion of evidence that is damning for heliocentrist believers and pushers. For me especially, I know that the truth of the universe cannot entirely be revealed to us by pagans. Sure we can learn much from unbelievers, but something as big as whether the world operates one way, versus the other is a question above the pay grade of those who don't know and deny the four causes. What the Church believes officially is still geocentrism. Until they declare a position otherwise, that's where I'll be. I think heliocentrism ideas lead to views that put man father away from understanding the 4 causes. I think it directly led to views of evolution and the reconciliation of evolution with Catholic teaching.

For all of Sungenis' faults concerning the making of the movie, how can we reconcile that with what Lila Rose does, or with what other investigative reporters do that are deemed positive?

I know this position is a dangerous one to speak about in public circles, but I'm getting to the point of being fed up with being bullied, that I'm willing to be ostracized for this position.

James L.

Boniface said...

See that's the thing, the Church has never "officially" believed geocentrism. I know there have been statements of the popes lending support to the position, but this is not a matter of revelation but a position of natural philosophy that most of the popes/fathers assumed. It was a common assumption shared by the fathers and many of the popes, but not a dogmatic teaching of the Church.

Anonymous said...

But, Boniface, I would reply by saying, "see THAT'S the thing." By your own admission, popes have lent support to geocentricism and you even go so far as to say geo was "a common assumption shared by the fathers and many of the popes." It seems to me, this assumption was made not just on scientific grounds, but on theological grounds as well. The fact that a theological position that was assumed and supported by many fathers and popes is, today, not just denied but treated as sheer lunacy, should give Catholics pause. I have no idea which position is true, but I do worry that I personally can't clearly see the truth because I live and breathe in our modernist culture. Modern dismissals of positions which have a historical pedigree in the Church - whether it's Thomistic metaphysical positions or even geocentricism - should not be made lightly in my opinion. None of this was meant in an argumentative way. I really respect you and have enjoyed and benefited from your blog, Boniface. - Harrison

Boniface said...

I see it as a common philosophical assumption that they also cited theological justification for. There are many other examples of this we could cite.

Not everything commonly held by Catholics is part of revelation, but everything that is revelation must have been commonly held by Catholics.

Anonymous said...

When I first heard of it I thought it was insane. But as I actually researched and thought about it I realized that atheists have convinced the world that space shrinks and time intervals dilate. When the scientists could detect no motion of the earth they promoted this wizardry instead of concluding that the earth doesn't move in aether.

I believe getting people to research this will help people realize how the devil deceives the world and how the worldly wise turn to vain babblings instead of acknowledging the truth. This IS important.

Anonymous said...


Here's a quote from a papal encyclical affirming that even if heliocentrism turned out to be true, it would not touch the substance of the faith. This settles the issue in Boniface's initial point: Sungenis could be spending his time and money on more important topics: like fighting the neo-modernism that is sweeping the catholic world.

Peace and happy easter to all--from Chris "the waffling ex-(and perhaps future?) sedevacantist"

Christ is Risen

Pope Benedict XV, In Praeclara Summorum, April 20,
1921: “If the progress of science showed later that the
conception of the world rested on no sure foundation, that
the spheres imagined by our ancestors did not exist, that
nature, the number and course of the planets and stars, are
not indeed as they were then thought to be, still the
fundamental principle remained that the universe, whatever
be the order that sustains it in its parts, is the work of the
creating and preserving sign of Omnipotent God, who moves
and governs all, and whose glory risplende ini una parte piu e
meno altrove; and though this Earth on which we live may
not be the center of the universe as at one time was
thought, it was the scene of the original happiness of our first
ancestors, witness of their unhappy fall, as too of the
Redemption of mankind through the Passion and Death of
Jesus Christ.”

Anonymous said...

Sungenis has tried and done the anti-modernism tack. Not that this has failed but maybe his catholic faith is not jolting the pagan much less the "Christian" world, he is looking to conquering it through another way, fighting them at there own game.

He is trying to inject some doubt into the world's "science-is-our-god" faith. How many atheists believe in a God-created universe after all?

I can't believe he hasn't thought this completely through, putting all his eggs in his movie , without knowing the ramifications.

Anonymous said...

I actually think that this subject is fundamental to the faith.

I find his research compelling for many reasons, though I still retain the right to decide upon its truth in the future.

It seems, in a nutshell, that there is no real method to conclusively measure the earth's motion. It also seems that cosmology has gone to extreme lengths to explain this, such as creating new geometries, physics, time frames, and even (multi)universes. All based upon metaphysical assumptions that are not warranted by the evidence.

On the other hand, if it were proven that the earth WAS in the center of the universe, there would be NO theological problem. And, if the earth was in the center of the universe, it would create a profound sea change in the credibility of the Church. This would be true no matter what your opinion is regarding whether the church ever supported geo-centrism.

And, much like the evidence for a young earth, noah's flood, and geocentrism, recent science has tended to support those theories rather than toss them in the trash.

I expect that we are approaching a paradigm shift. And what emerges afterwords will be unimaginable to us, as things are today.

Paul

(I also think that Boniface's "objectivity" is colored by these same "known" assumptions.)

Anonymous said...

Boniface,

I want to return to this for a couple of other comments and questions to consider. You mentioned that there are other things that the money invested in this movie could have been used on. That is true, so why would Robert do this movie?

Well, look at it from his point of view. Imagine and spend some time considering the ramifications of the fact: What if you were absolutely, with scientific certainty, convinced that the Earth WAS the center of the universe? There is a lot to unpack there. For one, it means that the Bible DOES teach that the world is the center. The only reason we can say that the Bible doesn't is because we are not sure that it is the center (or we are sure that it isn't).

If the earth is in the center, that means that Someone put it there. It would be no accident. And if Someone put it there, then what does that mean for all scientific disciplines? The Earth is in the center of the Universe therefore: Big Bang? Evolution? Long Age Geology? Random this and that? What does it mean for philosophy? The Earth is in the center of the Universe: Therefore: Kant? Nieztsche? Marxism? Atheism? What about medicine? The Earth is in the center of the Universe. Therefore: Abortion? Euthanasia? Contraception? Organ donation from living people?

It is useful to remember that it is not so much with cosmology that this subject treats, but with God. It seems clear to me that everybody up to the time of Galileo thought the Earth was in the center (at least in the Catholic world - I know some Greeks etc. had other ideas). It is only because we believe that science has shown otherwise that we have discarded that idea. Hence the next question:

What would give more glory to God?

What would give Him more glory? Letting Atheists instruct His people on the "truths" of His Creation? Or a clear reversion to long established and traditional beliefs due to objective scientific evidence? Evidence that throws Atheistic Materialism into confusion, disarray, and contempt?

God is in charge. His Bible is inerrant. And this movie will point out some very interesting things is the realm of cosmology.

I, for one, would be ecstatic to find that geocentrism is true. What a sea change that would be. I'd go so far as to say that discovery alone could usher in the conversion of Russia, the return of the protestants, and the Age of Mary.

Paul

Boniface said...

Sure, but what would give more glory to God or what would improve the Church's credibility are not necessarily good criteria for truth. It would give glory to God is He healed my breathing problems; or it would improve the Church's credibility if we could find Noah's Ark or if a hundred other things happen. I cannot say "This must be true because it would bring more glory to God if it were." The truth is what brings the most glory to God, regardless of what it is.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct, of course. But throughout the bible, God has confounded the proud and haughty.

The comment about the Glory of God was not intended as a proof, but as a spark for the imagination.

I don't know if the earth is in the center of the universe, I don't even understand much of the science. But I am really impressed by the thought that everything we think we know can and will end up being wrong.

I see lots of rumbles in science that all tend to indicate that the bible is true, and that the Church has always been right. I also think Sungenis has done a marvelous job of pointing out problems in current cosmology. I certainly think his work will merit an open minded viewing.

And, of course, God's Glory could not be separated from the Truth. But, I don't think it is out of bounds to imagine that the Truth will fall more on the side of ancient and traditional Catholic beliefs than it will on the side of belligerent atheists such as Lawrence Krauss.

Anyway, I can't wait to see the movie.

Paul