Podcast 56: We ARE the Center of the Universe? THE PRINCIPLE

Forget everything you thought you knew about cosmology. This film posits that our world actually IS the center of the universe, and that everything we’ve been taught these last 500 years is flat wrong.

Yes, there is actual evidence for this theory. Is it conclusive? Of course not! But it does make for some interesting speculation…

“The Principle” brings to light astonishing new scientific observations challenging the Copernican Principle; the foundational assumption underlying the modern scientific world view. The idea that the Earth occupies no special or favored position in the cosmos has launched the last two scientific revolutions – the Copernican Revolution and Relativity – and, as Lawrence Krauss has said, we could be on the verge of a third, with “Copernicus coming back to haunt us”. Interviews with leading cosmologists are interspersed with the views of dissidents and mavericks, bringing into sharp focus the challenges and implications not only for cosmology, but for our cultural and religious view of reality.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

THE PRINCIPLE explores the admittedly scant scientific evidence supporting the possibility – however remote – that our planet is in fact the center of the universe. You know, like they used to think back in the day. Before Copernicus. Is it possible that those primitive pre-enlightenment old-timers had it right all along?

Narrated by Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek Voyager fame, the film features Michio Kaku, Lawrence Krauss, John Hartnett, and Max Tegmark, among others, discussing the theory of a geocentric universe.  To say this is a controversial subject would be the understatement of the millennium, as everyone knows the Earth revolves around the Sun, not vice versa – much less the entire universe.  As absurd as this notion sounds upon first hearing it, the film does raise some rather intriguing questions.

For example:

Why do cosmic radiation maps seem to show a uniform pattern when there is essentially no direction in space?  

Does this mean everything is pointing toward us?  By tracing the history of cosmology from the geocentric to the heliocentric model, THE PRINCIPLE posits that maybe we’ve finally come full circle – literally and figuratively – in our understanding of our place in the cosmos.  And, maybe, just maybe, despite what Carl Sagan said, we do live on a very significant planet.

WHAT DID WE THINK?

Remember, as a child, when you threw a tantrum or acted like a spoiled brat, and your mom politely (or not) reminded you that, “the whole world does not revolve around you!”  Well, thanks to THE PRINCIPLE, kids today can say, “you’re right mom, the world doesn’t revolve around me, the whole universe does!”

Thanks scientists!

Okay, bear with us here. We know what you’re thinking: “You’re seriously entertaining the idea that Earth is literally, physically, geographically THE center of THE universe?” Well, kinda. Yeah.

THE PRINCIPLE plays like a lightweight new age or Christian apologetics pop documentary, but for all its high-gloss silliness, it does raise some interesting points.

Conventional wisdom is that we (Earth) are really nothing special in the grand scheme of things.  But what if conventional wisdom is wrong?  Wouldn’t be the first time science has had to revise its theories.  However, if the heliocentric model is incorrect, not only will science have to revise its theories, its entire worldview (cosmologically speaking) will vanish into the ether.  In other words, a consciousness paradigm shift of Copernican proportions that puts us back to where we started: as God’s only – and lonely – creation.

And herein lies the problem.  If we are, in fact, the only sentient life in the universe, then really what’s the point of it? So we have something pretty to look at in the night sky?  One could argue that it makes us special and therefore inspire us to take great care of the place.  But it could also produce just the opposite and create a new philosophy of egocentrism that accelerates our own destruction.  Talk about taking “man having dominion over the earth” to a whole new level!

But putting these theological musings aside, the hard science doesn’t seem to be there either.  Not only that, but one of the film’s scientists claims not to have any recollection of being interviewed for the film at all!  Others dismiss its premise and claim they were duped into participating in it.  An interesting article about this can be found in Popular Science here.

That said, and despite all the controversy (and the film’s admitted flaws), it does provoke a lot of philosophical food for thought.  If you like to engage in some cool thought experiments and/or debate over the big questions in life, then THE PRINCIPLE might just be your cup of tea – of the Mad Hatter kind, of course.  😉