The Principle (A Movie Review)

ThePrinciple

There has not been in recent years a documentary getting as much negative feedback and comments than that of the Principle. Now there is nothing entirely wrong with this (We have freedom of speech). However the problem comes in the fact that most of these comments and movie reviews have been mere character attacks against the producers of the movie, or they have been made by either people who have admitted to not having even watched the movie, and lastly by people that although they have seen it, have done so in a way that is completely biased and quite unfair to the documentary.

As several people mention in the movie, it is very common in the scientific community for something that contradicts that which is held by mainstream science as true to be attacked, rejected, and discarded.

Although I am by no means an expert in the field which this documentary touches, I have chosen to do my own movie review for the Principle which I consider a lot fairer, balanced, and hopefully a lot more objective towards the movie than others have.

Human life and earth are significant: Challenging the Copernican Principle

By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/6049973495) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the premises that the documentary made was that it challenged the Copernican principle which holds that planet earth is not in a special place in the universe, and that there are no special places in the universe nor any formalities. This scientific principle has indirectly formed specific scientific and philosophical views that earth and furthermore humans are insignificant. This can easily been seen as shown in the movie by the ideas of people like Carl Sagan in his Pale Blue Dot

Our Posturing, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light… Our Planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. (Pale Blue Dot)1

This is also true of various atheist scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins who similarly hold the idea that humanity and earth were but cosmic accidents.

Now doesn’t the movie also make the case for geocentrism? Yes it is true that the producers are adherents of geocentrism (I will get into the topic later) but I think that whether the movie convinces you to be a geocentrist or not, I think the overall movie does a good job in posing as a challenge to the scientifically accepted Copernican principle, including the view held by many scientists that being human and living on earth is entirely meaningless.

One simple but yet quite convincing argument that is made in the documentary regarding the significance about planet earth, is simply that it is the only planet which we currently know about with just the right living conditions to sustain life (e.g., water, right weather conditions, right terrain, etc.). Now many will say that we are now finding many more “earth-like” planets, yet we are still not entirely sure.

Faith and Reason

St.-Thomas-Aquinas-1

Another aspect that the movie touches upon is the compatibility of faith and reason. The problem of modern science (I would call it scientism) is that God and theology are often off limits. I think Michio Kaku says it well when he stated that it is almost considered taboo to talk about God and theology when discussing science. The movie furthermore brings up the fact that the Catholic Church has often been a great promoter of science.

This is true when the movie expresses for example that the Church through its promotion and use of philosophical and theological arguments helped develop early natural philosophy, which eventually became the bedrock and foundation for the natural sciences and scientific method. The Principle documentary gives accounts and illustrations regarding medieval cosmological maps which emphasized the scientific interests in a time which was predominately Catholic.

It was Aquinas in the medieval ages after all who challenged Latin Averroism which basically held that Faith and Reason were incompatible with each other. As a writer states:

Against this school of thought, St. Thomas Aquinas rose like a mighty fortress to protect Holy Mother Church.  Instead of outright dismissing the thought of Aristotle like some (due to its being associated with this new movement in thought, as well as some of Aristotle’s ideas themselves), St. Thomas Aquinas answered the Averroists by using Aristotle himself.  With precision and common sense, the Angelic Doctor pointed out the corruptions in the translations of Aristotle used by the Arab philosophers, corrected abuses of Aristotle’s thought, and harmonized faith and reason rather than separating them into two spheres of truth.  All in a day’s work for one of the greatest minds the Church has ever known.2

By challenging the Copernican principle which basically states that there are no formalities and that earth is not in a special place in the universe, but rather that there are in fact formalities and that the earth is in fact in a special place in the universe, the documentary shows the universe, creation and earth as the product of an intelligent creator (God)

The Principle and Geocentrism

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The movie makes some geocentric assumptions which are rather quite convincing. The movie makes mentions for example of the fact that the geocentric view of the universe which was for most part developed by Ptolemy had been used for many many years. One of the reasons why it was used for these many years up to the time of Copernicus and Galileo was because it worked quite well for observing planetary motion. It might surprise many people that many geocentric models are still for this reason used for observing further planetary motions.

In the movie there is mention of what is known as the axis of evil. This is basically the left over radiation from the big bang. Yet the interesting thing is that the structure of the emissions found define a preferred direction that is related to earth. Thus the interesting thing about this “axis of evil” is that generally explosions bring about emissions which are spontaneous in all directions with no specific directions, however the opposite is true, and we have an axis of evil which shows a preferred direction which expands across the universe which points back to earth.

An interesting point made in the movie is that after the Galileo case, shortly before his death, Galileo recanted his heliocentric view as he took of his signature from the list of those who had promoted this specific cosmological view. This is an aspect which I will need to look further into.

The movie also challenges the assumption of dark matter, as well as dark energy, and finally that of the multiverse.

An overall balanced documentary

There are a few instances in which the geocentric view is persuaded quite biasedly in my opinion such as when Sungenis mentions “Galileo repented of his heliocentric views” as if the Catholic Church ever condemned it to begin with (which it didn’t) but I rather thought that the movie was overall well balanced. Despite the fact that the movie producers are well known geocentrists and even despite the fact that the overall movie challenge the assumptions made by the big bang theory, the Copernican principle, and lastly that we are insignificant, the interviewed scientists such as Michio Kaku, Lawrence Krauss, and Max Tegmark for example, are all allowed to express their positions. This is a thing which many documentaries do not do. I thought the movie was able to challenge the assumptions that the movie was meant to challenge, but in an overall balanced and objective way.

I give this movie an overall 8 for its interesting content, its overall balanced view, and for its decent length of time.

 

 

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