Thursday, November 11, 2010

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. He wrote the book A Geocentricity Primer, versions of which have shown up unsolicited in my mailbox over the years. I have to confess: I never actually read any edition of his book, so this commentary will be based strictly on what he said at "Galileo was Wrong; the Church was Right," the first annual catholic conference on geocentrism. (I should also note that Bouw is not Catholic. As far as I can tell from his website, he's a KJV-only Baptist.) 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. During the Q&A, Robert Sungenis went around the room with a microphone allowing individuals one question each. Finally, one person asked the question I was already thinking: What about the problem of rotational speed of the universe? If the universe really does revolve around the earth once a day, then "Saturn must be going at the speed of light." Yes, I had thought of that too! Say for argument that the universe is finite and has a radius of 12 billion light years, then the outer edge must be moving at 3.14 billion light years per hour. That's about 27.5 trillion times the speed of light. So how in the world does that work? Sungenis asked Bouw to answer.

Bouw said something like this: Superluminal velocity is not a problem for an omnipotent aether plenum. I recorded this in my notes like so: "Q: Angular momentum of universe? Omnipotent ether 'plenum' - not a problem saith Bouw." I'm pretty sure he also elaborated on whether the aether was fluid or dense. Sungenis seemed to think that was an answer and moved on. I was a little baffled by what I heard. Then we ran out of time and no one got to follow up on that issue.

Later that night, Bouw was scheduled for an entire talk, so I hoped to get a better explanation of the rotational speed problem. He started out with some basic definitions, where he included this term "Plenum - infinitely dense medium pervading all space." Then he launched into an explanation of why nothing cannot exist (it has no properties). Then he asked us to imagine the inverse of nothing. I thought that the inverse of zero would be undefined (since that's what my calculator always says), but no, the inverse of nothing is infinite. Therefore God is the inverse of nothing. And by the way, that doctrine of creation ex nihilo ("from nothing")? Not biblical. The Catholic crowd had a hard time swallowing that one.

Next he brought up E=mc2 from which 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? Bouw explained that motion through an infinitely dense plenum was possible if the plenum was uncreated and the motion was cyclical. At this point in my notes, I made this observation: "???"

Then Bouw brought up the Planck particle, which he said was the firmament of Genesis 1:6-8. He introduced the idea that the plenum was God's power, and the creation needed a shield to protect it from God's power (the plenum). That's the firmament. He then explained that the Hebrew word for firmament was raqia, which he said came from a word that means "to make firm or solid." So the canopy theory is "thoroughly discredited," and the idea of the firmament as an "expanse" is not consistent with the Hebrew.

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. At this point, even though I was desperately trying to follow what he was saying, I think my brain just overloaded. My notes for the end of the talk read like this:
Atomic matter moves as waves through the firmament (with Compton wavelength?)
Temperature has wavelength?
No large particle can detect the presence of the firmament.
"There is no need for the ether: the firmament IS the ether."
Parmenides' plenum = firmament = Planck particle.

My notes conclude with this confession: "I have no idea what this guy is talking about!! Seems convinced that what he's saying makes sense." 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.

As for the problem of rotational speed, other speakers sort of addressed the problem throughout the day. Their common answer seems to be that we don't know the speed of the plenum, the infinitely dense aether that makes up the universe. So superluminal speed is not a problem. Sure. That's ad hoc.

In all fairness, my confusion here could stem from poor presentation of the information (some of these guys made powerpoint slides but didn't even know how to use powerpoint to display them). Since I've never read any geocentrist works, I can't say whether or not this "infinitely dense plenum" makes any more sense when it's written out. Maybe it does.

But I doubt it.

Other summaries of my time at the geocentrism conference: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.