Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ramandu and Galileo part 1

Dear Susan!

When you read this, either we have started getting along about Narnia again, and more importantly about God and Christ, or it will be after I die somehow, since I give you these essays as a testament.

Remember how we were talking about Geocentrism? Oh, you were away of course, but here is the story: I mean, Peter had been asking who were the successors of St Peter the Apostle (guess why?), and come up with "it must be the bishops or the popes, unless they had not proven themselves wrong with the Galileo case and the adoration of the Eucharist as if it were really Christ" - and I had answered: "Hey, do you think we were idolaters back in Narnia?" - "OK, leaves the Galileo case". His and Edmund's History Professor had brought it up.

Everyone fell silent for five minutes and did some serious thinking.

Edmund shouted out "Ramandu!"

And Eustace: "Yes, what about him?"

"You remember he said: 'even in your world burning balls of gaz are not what stars are, only what they are made of'?"

"Yes, so? He did not say the sun was not one of them?"

"OK, but if there are guys like Ramandu and Coriakin around the stars in this universe, how can we know alpha Centauri is not dancing the so-called parallax?"

"Go on ..." said Eustace.

I asked them to wait and explain what parallax was.

"All right, Lu: I guess you know that trees and hills look like they are moving when we move in trains and boats?"

"Of course."

"So, if the Professor was correct, Robert Bellarmine predicted that stars would look like they were moving if it was earth moving around."

"But stars do look like moving. Each winter night you can see Orion wander as the arm of a watch. You can even measure an hour by seeing if the distance is fifteen degrees, and you get fifteen degrees by stretching out your arm and measuring between thumb and finger. And on the year, the constellations are moving."

"Neither of them is exactly what we look for. Orion moving each night is simply the daily rotation of earth or supposed to be so, unless it is the Universe that rotates."

"Wait a minute!" said Eustace "the Universe can't do that, because it would be way too fast."

"Oh, and what if God moved it around each day?" said Edmund.

"Aslan, you mean?"

"In this world He is known as Jesus."

"And is he God? I thought he was Son of God?"

"We can take catechism another day, I'll send you one."

"So, you want a proof there is an orbit of Earth around Sun rather than the opposite?" resumed Eustace: "But alpha Centauri proves that. As you say, when we move through space each year, it looks like alpha Centauri is moving."

"Wait," I said: "I have never seen alpha Centauri ... where can I see it and what can I compare it to to make sure it actually moves?"

"It is a a very bright star in Centaurus, a bit south of the Libra in the Zodiak, but you cannot see it waggle, because it waggles so little that you need a telescope to see it waggle."

"So you mean it could be waggling because some Ramandu or Coriakin kind of person is dancing with it?"

"Could be," said Edmund.

I answered: "And then we'd have no proof after all that Galileo was right! How come he didn't think of it? In his days people were more prone to believe in spirits than now, after all!"

"He did not even see alpha Centauri waggle. And Robert Bellarmine pointed out the principle and he admitted he had no telescopes for it. Besides, in his day they thought all real stars were fixed in places in the sky, and so, if they had been really fixed, the waggling of alpha Centauri would have proven it was us moving."

"Like the trees that seem to move prove that the train is moving."

"Sure, so long as there are no dryads to move the trees."

"And, just as in a rare moment dryads moving about trees would seem to prove the train is moving, but not really prove it, any kind of star people who moved the stars about would seem to people thinking the stars fixed to be proving earth moves about. Right?" I waited for Edmund to confirm.

"Except, with the stars we do not know that such small waggling is even rare moments. We actually know the opposite: many stars show some waggling and some also move about over the years a bit."

"So if Eustace here had been right to say ..."

And our cousin chimed in: "stars are just big burning balls of gas" ...

"... then the waggling would have proven we move."

Couz answered: "And distance of the stars on top of it. Trigonometry."

"But if persons like Ramandu and Coriakin exist ..."

"We get neither a clear proof the earth moves, nor a clear indication of how far away the stars are."

I just wanted to ask what the distance and the waggling angle was, anyway, but I had to find that out later: 360° to a circle, 60' to each 1°, 60" to each 1' and 0.76" is the waggling angle. Supposed to prove, along with eight minute journey of light from sun to us, that we are four light years from alpha Centauri. But now Peter had something to say:

"But this is rot. Believing the stars are spirits is what the old pagans believed. It is idolatry. Aslan would not want us to commit idolatry, would he?"

I answered: "And talking with dryads is less of idolatry?"

"Well, we did not adore them, did we?"

"No, but we did not adore Ramandu either."

There was a silence.