Shattering the Spheres

Robert Sungenis is a Catholic apologist who says he has proven that the geocentric cosmography is correct. Putting himself (and the reader) through great pains to critique the theories of famous physicists, their biographies, and to impute philosophical and religious motives to their conclusions, he argues that the geocentric model more easily explains the evidence known to modern astrophysics, and the only reason why it is an object of ridicule among scientists today is a strong and pervasive bias against humanity having any special place in the universe. In other words, since the scientific establishment is all but officially atheistic, a cosmography (such as the Ptolemaic one) that assumes the existence of God cannot be allowed to be taken seriously.

Sungenis presents his work as apologetic. He would have his audience believe that he wants to persuade them to believe in God. On the other hand, at the close of the sixteenth century, Giordano Bruno, a fervent theist, was presenting the Copernican Revolution as a magical operation that would lift mankind to the stars, even to equality with God.

Bruno saw the concentric crystal spheres which carried the planets along their paths in the sky as a kind of prison separating men from the empyrean heaven which he believed to be their birthright. By enthroning the visible sun at the center of the universe, Bruno thought that he was enthroning the Invisible Sun in the hearts of men; and by rearranging the courses of the heavenly bodies in the astronomers' charts, he was shattering the crystal spheres and relocating earth amid an infinite sea of stars and alien civilizations (Bruno was apparently the inventor of the idea of space aliens). Under the new solar regime, Bruno expected Christianity to wither, wicked men (that is, religious bigots) to become relatively harmless beasts, the old Egyptian mysteries to revive, the wars of religion to come to an end, and a thusly unified mankind to ascend to his true, divine dignity.

Nowadays the idea of mankind’s destiny awaiting him among the stars “if we do not destroy ourselves” is undoubtedly the mythology, and the religion, if you will, of popular science. Although wars of religion have not ended, we live in a time of near universal apostasy. Public piety and religious sentiment have been replaced by lasciviousness, so that the will of the once Christian West is now absorbed into earthly vanities. Popular culture is awash in “Illuminati” symbolism, which is the symbolism of ancient Egyptian priestcraft. Although something has evidently gone wrong, nevertheless Bruno has largely succeeded in his enterprise.

We know that Bruno was actually a magician. We know that he actually sought magical means to achieve something like a myth-making goal, and that he achieved that goal. Naturally, Bruno himself would have credited the means he himself used for his posthumous success. But if Bruno’s project was essentially magical and mythopoetic, in what sense is Sungenis' any different? Just because he wants to restore the geocentric order – does that make his work any less magical?

Let’s consider this a little more carefully. There is no evidence that Sungenis has composed hymns to the stars and planets calling down their power to redignify and reunite mankind. His arguments do not rely on a world-soul or a complex network of occult sympathies between higher and lower substances. He does not worship “the divinity in all things” but the true Triune God. If he is nostalgic, it is for the High Middle Ages of Latin Christendom, not an idealized Egyptian golden age. There is little to no indication that he is a Hermetist of any kind, then.

However, the fact remains that his project – to bring men to Christ by changing what they believe about the shape of the cosmos – seems awfully like Bruno’s use of the astronomer’s chart as a sigil or talisman to overthrow the established religious and social order.

What is it about the stars? What is this strange sway that they hold over our imaginations? Why do we allow what we imagine to be their movements so profoundly to influence our choices in life?

Is it not enough to know that God has made the heavenly bodies, the same God Who did not deign to become incarnate among them, but rather among men? That he came to save, not Mars or Saturn, who will pass away in time, but poor sinners who will not? Does not our Creator’s presence among us in the Blessed Sacrament constitute sufficient grounds to dignify this place with the name of the center?

For surely, wherever the King of heaven and earth rests, is truly a throne.