Friday, February 11, 2011
Robert Sungenis on a rabbit trail
On Tuesday, I was in attendance for a debate between Dr. Robert Sungenis and Dr. David Pence at the Twin Cities famous Argument of the Month Club meeting. It was loosely about the relationship between Church and science, but ended up being mainly about geocentrism. Unfortunately Dr. Pence was self admittedly a bit unprepared, so Sungenis handily won the debate. My main beef was that there was not enough emphasis on what to me was the ONLY issue: what MUST Catholics believe about cosmology, paleontology, etc? The questions at the end of the debate reflected an interest in the novel (to modern man at least) idea that the earth is motionless. I admit, it is interesting to talk about! You quikly realize how much you do not know about cosmology, and how many presuppositions and philosophical assumptions scientists make. For the sake of argument, I consider myself an agnostic on the whole helio/geo centrism issue, if only for the simple fact that I am just not a scientist and cannot defend either position on the basis of anything other than feelings and hunches. I did buy Robert Sungenis book Galileo was wrong, the Church was right from him at the debate, and plan to read it in much the same way I read a Brief History of Time by Hawking. It is interesting to try to wrap my feeble noodle around these cosmic mysteries. I read a post by Dave Armstrong which my friend and fellow parishioner Zeb pointed out. It was quite revealing and quite convincing. In a word, it is clear to me that Sungenis is trying to bind consciences where they should not be bound when it comes to geocentrism. Which as a recent convert is exactly what I want to get away from! I did not leave the "self-Papacy" of Protestantism behind to become Catholic and have some guy try to do the magisteriums job for it. Sungenis needs to show where the magisterium has made this a doctrine I must submit to and that it is a doctrine of faith or morals. He has not done that. It amazes me because his debate with James White on papal infallibility was so memorable. In that debate he made a great case that Pope Honorius did NOT infallibly teach heresy. Well, we all agree Honorius was certainly a heretic when it came to a doctrine of faith, so if we can dismiss Honorius, why can't we dismiss this one belief of the fathers and popes that defended geocentrism which is almost certainly not a matter of faith or morals and which they certainly did not teach infallibly? Sungenis seems to CLEARLY understand what makes a doctrine infallible and binding on the whole Church, yet he seems to ignore his own knowledge in this case. He also did not make the case that it matters to the extent he seems to think it does. So the fathers of the Church were unanimous in their geocentric belief and used scripture to back it up, OK fine. But using scripture does not make this a doctrine of faith or morals! I agree with Sungenis that many scientists cling to evolution and and perhaps heliocentrism because of a desire to deny their creator. But so what? That does not mean geocentrism is an issue of faith or morals. Scientists don't get to decide that (thank you God). The one good point Dr. Pence made in the debate a few times was that even in a heliocentric system, there are still many unexplainable scientific things that point to our unique situation in the cosmos and should point us to God. We do not need geocentrism to be awestruck at what we see in a telescope. Robert Sungenis is such an awsome apologist and debater and I am really disappointed that he has gone down this rabbit trail. What a waste of his talent as an apologist.