Catholic flat-Earthers--almost anyway

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From the pages of the you-cannot-be-serious in yesterday's Chicago Tribune: There is a group of Catholics--actually members of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X--who believe that the sun revolves around the earth, contrary to all demonstrable scientific fact. I mean, for God's sake, there are astronauts in the space station who can actually confirm centuries after Galileo that the earth indeed revolves around the sun. Thank God for Guy Consolmagno, curator of meteorites for the Vatican Observatory, who offers this bit of comic relief: "I have no idea who these people are. Are they sincere, or is this a clever bit of theater?"

The geocentrists claim that they are defending "original church teaching." I am not sure the position of the sun in relation to the earth was ever properly "church teaching," but about 1,600 years ago St. Augustine warned that believers who say stuff like this impede the spread of the gospel. Honestly, who would want to join a group who, in effect, insist that the moon is made out of Swiss cheese, as if the facts of science (evolution, anyone?) are open to interpretation. St. Augustine went as far as to say that if scripture contradicts human scientific knowledge, we must seek another understanding of scripture, which, after all, is a source of religious truth rather than scientific explanation.

The story is indeed so utterly ridiculous--indeed, the headline could well have been, "Look, religious people are nuts!"--one wonders why on earth the editors of the Tribune saw fit to run it all. I guess religious people contradicting reality makes good news.

I don't think anyone realizes just how damaging this kind of foolishness is to the credibility of the gospel in our scientific age. There is both much to admire and something to critique in our common scientific approach to the universe, but we believers can't be a credible part of the conversation if we won't recognize the truth and value science offers to the human family.