Christian apologetics is usually on the back foot against science for a simple reason: Science is fact based, whereas Christian theology is faith based.
Or is it?
Here’s the problem as a series of logic statements:
- If we believe that God’s character is such that he cannot lie, then therefore the Bible is true.
- If the Bible is true, then the world view promoted by mainstream science is wrong.
- If mainstream science (the dominant paradigm) is wrong, then why do scientists think that it is supported by facts?
- What are these facts, and what is their origin in belief?
Perhaps we should look at these facts and examine what they are. We should also examine the methods that scientists employ in their arguments and how the facts are used. One recurring theme in the general ebb and flow of ideas across the battleground of the evolution-creation debate is empirical data. Empirical data is a very effective tool in the hands of scientists, a lot like a club that is used to smash the skulls of the enemy. Empirical evidence is based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.
We’ll cut to the chase a little bit too. I believe that the Bible teaches us that the earth is at the center of the cosmos. This is known as geocentricity (earth centered). The dominant paradigm believes that this idea has been dispelled by the work of Galileo, Kepler, Newton and Einstein et. al. over the course of the last 500 years. The dominant paradigm is heliocentric (sun centered). I am aware of the acentric theory, where there really is no center and the solar system is floating through the cosmos. It is completely irrelevant.
When asked for proof that the earth orbits the sun, scientists usually talk about stellar parallax. I have discussed this elsewhere but the fact is that stellar parallax requires the assumption of heliocentricity, therefore it can’t be used as proof. Stellar parallax also requires the assumption that stars are distant suns and galaxies, etc. This cannot be proven, no matter how many photos the Hubble telescope takes.
What I am getting to is the use of Newton’s law of gravity in the calculation of the mass of the sun.
Newton’s law of universal gravitation states that a particle attracts every other particle in the universe using a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This is a general physical law derived from empirical observations by what Isaac Newton called induction. (Wikipedia)
So, it would seem that Newton’s law is empirical, right?
Here’s the thing: the way in which the law is applied is theoretical.
Here’s why: When we calculate the mass of the sun we use what known variables we have. We have a pretty good number for the mass of the earth and the distance to the sun (orbital radius). When we calculate the mass of the sun we also need to know the orbital period. The equation is used in the following way, how massive would the sun have to be, in order to hold the mass of the earth in an orbit that takes 365 days. Maybe you can see it, but the assumption of heliocentricity is implicit in the use of the equation to derive the sun’s mass.
- F is the force between the masses;
- G is the gravitational constant (6.674×10−11 N · (m/kg)2);
- m1 is the first mass;
- m2 is the second mass;
- r is the distance between the centers of the masses.
Again, this is based on an assumption, and we have now left the realm of the empirical and entered the theoretical. It is equally valid to recalculate the mass of the sun in a geocentric paradigm. How massive is the sun based on it orbiting the earth at a specified distance for a specified orbital period? The inverse square law applies, of course. The proportional difference between the mass of the earth and the mass of the sun is simply reversed. Naturally this now affects the calculations for the masses of all of the other planets in our system, but it doesn’t change any of the observed orbital mechanics. As Fred Hoyle said, the only difference between heliocentric and geocentric models is relative motion, it has no physical significance.
When scientists proudly boast that they have facts, while I have faith, and they are therefore intellectually superior, I always ask them to prove that the earth orbits the sun. I have a standing challenge on Twitter @matty_lawrence to anyone to prove it.
FYI: There is no proof.
The mass of the sun is only determined by your choice of paradigm, not by any facts.