Letter: Geocentric universe was never a ‘theory’

June 11, 2014

In a recent column (The Lima News, June 8), Thomas J. Lucente Jr. makes the point that “consensus … has zero value in the world of science.”

Lucente is right about that.

What does count in science is what Galileo did between September 1609 and March 1610, empirical work that disproved the geocentric model of the universe, with the Earth at its center, invented by Ptolemy 1,400 years earlier. In doing so, says historian of science Jacob Bronowski, Galileo “did for the first time what we think of as practical science: build the apparatus, do the experiment, publish the results.” Galileo was, says Bronowski, “the creator of the modern scientific method.”

But Lucente calls the geocentric model of the universe a “scientific theory,” which it was not. Invented by Ptolemy in the third century, geocentrism was, according to Bronowski, “an article of faith, as if the Church had made up its mind that the system of Ptolemy was invented … by the Almighty Himself.”

To compare Ptolemy’s church-endorsed invention with the “practical science” of today’s climate-change researchers is, to quote Lucente, “obviously wrong.”

David S. Adams, Lima