Русская Православная Церковь

Богословский комментарий на некоторые современные
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«Никогда, о человек, то, что относится к Церкви,
не исправляется через компромиссы:
нет ничего среднего между истиной и ложью.»

Свт. Марк Эфесский

Интернет-содружество преподавателей и студентов православных духовных учебных заведений, монашествующих и мирян, ищущих чистоты православной веры.

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Chapter 7


глава 7

Наука в поддержку церковного (т.н. старого) календаря


 книги иеромонаха Кассиана  (by Hieromonk Cassian)

A Scientific Examination of the Orthodox Church Calendar"

Научное исследование о Православном Церковном Календаре






For He hath given me certain knowledge of...the beginning, ending, and midst of the times: the alterations of the turning of the sun, and the changes of the seasons: the circuits of years, and the positions of stars....

Wisdom of Solomon 7:17-19

Sincere disciples of the Evangelical astronomers—those who truly examine matters scientifically—support the Church Calendar. Let us now give them the floor.

When we take into consideration that the Paschal tables were cre-aied by the most educated of the ancient Christian Churches, the Church of Alexandria, we come to understand the attitude of reverence of our predecessors—an attitude which had not yet been corrupted by civilization. However, we do not at all mean to imply that the Alexandrian tables strike only the uneducated mind as a perfect work. This collective work remains unsurpassable up to the present. The later Paschalion, the so-called Roman Paschalion, which is currently used by the Western Church, is unwieldy, clumsy, and crude in comparison with the Alexandrian one, and resembles an amateurish picture placed next to a wonderful artistic representation of the same subject. Moreover, this complicated and clumsy mechanism does not serve its purpose. Jn the era of the initial spread of Christianity, the Paschal tables were created for practical purposes. The so-called 'Paschal Cycle' consists of 532 years and is named 'alpha,' since the sum of the numeric values of the Greek letters of the word oAcpa' (a = 1, V = 30, = 500, a' = 1) yields 532. After the passage of акра, the celebration of Pascha recurs on the same dates. These tables, known as the 'visual Paschalion, ' were accompanied by a key and instructions, and have been handed down through practical training, as a thing accessible to any literate individual.9 5

Thus, the correspondence of the Alexandrian tables, which are the foundation of the Nicene Paschalion, to the actual lunar and solar cycles inspires a deep sense of confidence in the Orthodox Faithful that their Church possesses great wisdom in maintaining these tables unaltered.


The Papacy, however, deviating as it did from the criterion of Orthodoxy, gradually undermined and eventually ruined this confidence. In Western Europe, the medieval centuries were a time of widespread ignorance, and during the Middle Ages no one was interested in the theoretical aspects of the calculation of Pascha. Although the general level of learning in Western Europe at this time was perhaps higher than it was in Russia, it certainly was much lower than it was in the Byzantine Empire. As is well known, Arabs were the ones who primarily engaged in scientific pursuits during the Middle Ages, and they obviously were uninterested in the Christian Paschalion. It was not until the Renaissance, therefore, that inquisitive minds in the West began to probe Paschal calculations, looking for rational rules by which the celebration of Pascha could be determined. Unfortunately, Western scholars, having only a vague idea of the construction of the Alexandrian tables, decided to reform them and self—reliant-ly set about doing so. If the Renaissance had begun simultaneously in the West and in the East; if unfortunate circumstances had not resulted in the loss of the knowledge of the early Christian Church and Byzantium; if the Library of Alexandria had been preserved from fire; then, true scientists, understanding the essence of the Christian Paschalion, would have been able to raise serious objections to the Papal innovation of 1582. It could even be said that if Alexandrian traditions and erudition from the early centuries had not faded away in the East, then it would hardly have been possible for Pope Gregory xin to carry out his calendar innovation. Although Orthodox intuitively knew that there was something amiss with the Gregorian reform, their difficult historical situation left them ill-equipped to defend the ancient scientific virtue of the Church Calendar. Instead, they had to resort to a silent resistance to the Papal Calendar, leaving time itself to be the final judge of the matter.

The calendar issue, then, became very popular in Western Europe in the sixteenth century. This was a time when many scholars hoped to "discover" the supposed rules and regulations of the Synod of Nicasa, even though few data from the Acts of this Synod are extant. Advocates of the Gregorian Calendar claim that the calendar was changed by three days at the First Oecumenical Synod, and argue that no positive verification of this fact has been preserved because the Acts of the Synod were lost. Orthodox, however, base their information about the decisions of the Nicene Synod on the epistle of Saint Constantine the Great addressed to the Hi-erarchs who were absent from the deliberations. Since the decisions of this Synod are well known, it is unnecessary to search for the actual minutes in order to draw conclusions about the Acts of the Synod. Westerners were not satisfied with this approach and, instead, set forth fraudulent documentation, purporting to be the minutes of the First (Ecumenical Synod, a forgery soon exposed for what it was. ^ We might simply note, here, that Latin polemicists are notorious for several "reconstructionist" forgeries which disingenuously support the Papist agenda {e.g., the Donation of Constantine, the Pseudo—Isidoran Decretals, etc.).9? It is obvious that if the Nicene Fathers had actually changed the calendar by as much as three days, they certainly would have indicated something to this effect in the Church Typicon, since for details of much less significance they did not fail to make note. For example, the Typicon includes explicit instructions describing how to combine various aspects of the movable and immovable cycles in the Divine Services, down to the last detail.

Nonetheless, the "new" Paschal tables—which according to their authors removed the "shortcomings" of the Alexandrian ones—quickly entered textbooks of astronomy and geography. In carrying out his calendar reform, Pope Gregory xin ostensibly wished to stay abreast of the latest astronomical advances and to create a work that was on the cutting edge of scientific achievement. But the sufferings inflicted by the Inquisition upon a host of famous scientists—Galileo Galilei, Joseph Scaliger, Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), Molilio Va-niny, etc.—showed diat the Papal commitment to "scientific precision" was mere window—dressing.

Western science in the sixteenth century knew but one cosmology, viz. у geocentrism, the theory that the earth is the immobile center of the universe, while around it revolve all of the other heavenly bodies in perfectly circular orbits. In particular, the modified version of Aristotelian geocentrism developed by the influential astronomer Ptolemaeus dominated astronomy for centuries on end. But a growing body of fresh observational data had begun to tax the ability of Ptolemaism to deal with the intricacies of celestial motion; as an alternative to this increasingly cumbersome geocentric model, the Polish priest Copernicus introduced a new school of astronomical thought. His cosmology envisioned a solar system, i.e., a group of planets (with the earth as just another member) in common orbit around the sun: a theory known as heliocentrism. (Copernicanism contained a vestige of geocentrism in that it preserved the notion of circular orbits, but Kepler, famous for his formulation of the three laws of planetary motions, subsequently did away with diis vestige by proving that planetary orbits were actually elliptical, not circular; however, this discovery did no harm to Copernicus' heliocentric thesis, 98) From an historical point of view, heliocentric cosmology was, in fact, nothing more than a revival of an ancient idea. 99 In 1543, on his deathbed, Copernicus published his classic statement of heliocentric theory, On the Revolutions of the Heave?tly Spheres. Despite the earlier positive repute in which the Papacy had held Copernicus (recall that in 1514, he had been invited by Rome to contribute to the calendar reform, but had declined the offer), on March 5, 1616, Pope Paul v (1552—1621) placed this treatise on the Index Librorum Pro-hibitomm. Copernicus' Revolutions had started a revolution of its own, a scientific revolution, a revolution against the sacred cow of Scholasticism and its obsession with Aristode as the philosopher. Heliocentrism unmasked the pretended "scientific character" of

the Gregorian Calendar.


The key figure in this revolution would be Galileo Galilei (Figure 14). Famed as the inventor of the telescope, Galileo had initially subscribed to the geocentric model of the universe, but later converted to the heliocentric view of Copernicus when, in 1610, his new scientific instrument allowed him to witness the four largest moons of Jupiter100 revolving around their primary. Galileo went to Rome in an attempt to defend the idea that Catholicism and Copernicanism were, in га<л, compatible; he argued that both Holy Scripture and nature speak die Word of God, yet do so in different languages. His arguments, however, fell on deaf ears. At the time, die Latin Church was little concerned with scientific truth; instead, its attention was wholly focused on gaining the upper hand in its struggle with Protestantism. Thus, when Rome declared Copernicanism to be a heresy "more scandalous, more detestable, and more pernicious to Christianity than any contained in the books of Calvin, of Luther, and of all other heretics


Figure 14. One of the pivotal figures in the development of modern science, Galileo was condemned by the Papacy as a heretic for his empirical views—this from a church which ostensibly pursued "astronomical accuracy** at the expense of well—established Christian precedent.









put together," it did so precisely in response to the fact that, ironically enough, the heretics Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564) had decried heliocentrism as frightfully un-Biblical. Quite simply, Popery wanted to steal Protestant thunder.

Finding itself under theological scrutiny, the Latin Church had no desire to risk supporting a potentially scandalous theory which might damage its credibility as the standard of doctrinal purity. Thus, Rome demanded that Galileo never advocate or uphold the theory of Copernicanism; zealous Papist that he was, Galileo managed to suppress his sense of scientific objectivity and submitted to this Papal decision. Yet his public submission in no way altered his private conviction, and in 1623, when his longtime friend Maffeo Barberini was enthroned as Pope Urban vin (1568-1644), Galileo tried to use his personal influence on the Pope to annul the decree of 1616. Although this attempt proved unsuccessful, Galileo did obtain permission to write a book contrasting the Ptolemaic and Copernican theories in terms of tidal motion, a work he tentatively entided Dialogue on the Tides. The Papacy, for its part, had calculatedly granted Galileo its permission for this endeavor, stipulating two conditions: firsdy, that he not favor one theory over and against the other; and, secondly, that a foregone conclusion of the book was to be that, as a product of the Omnipotence of God, the universe was out of the reach of limited human cognition. With these stipulations, the Papacy felt certain that it had protected geocentrism from the rigors of scientific criticism to which Galileo might otherwise subject it.

Published at Florence in 1632 as Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo offered the required prefatory disclaimer that the idea that the earth revolved around the sun was merely an imaginative fiction. However, his comparison of the two cos-mological schemes proved to be a devastating critique of geocentrism. Written in the vernacular Italian instead of the usual academic Latin, his book reached a very broad audience and was hailed throughout Europe as a philosophical tour de force—to the great consternation of rome. Despite its two official licenses from papal censors, licenses which the papacy later denied ever having granted, the dialogue resulted in galileo, by then a frail old man, being literally hauled before the inquisition on "grave suspicion of heresy." given the opportunity to contemplate "burning faggots, the wheel, the rack, the gallows, and other ingenious refinements of torture,"101 the aged astronomer quickly realized the error of his ways, acknowledging that, "...i must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immobile, and that the earth is not the center of the world and moves...." having uttered this forced abjuration of beliefs, he subsequently muttered the famous words, "eppur si muove!" pleading for leniency on account of his advanced years, galileo managed to have his sentence of life imprisonment commuted to permanent house arrest.

In 1638, four years before his death and despite being under house arrest, galileo secretly published his discourses and mathematical demonstrations concerning two new sciences, this work is considered by contemporary scientists to mark the beginning of classical physics, and thus the beginning of modern physics. As the british theoretical physicist stephen william hawking (b. 1942), former lucasian professor of mathematics at cambridge university (a position once occupied by sir isaac newton [1642—1727]), has noted:

Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science. His renowned conflict with the catholic church was central to his philosophy, for galileo was one of the first to argue that man could hope to understand how the world works, and, moreover, that we could do this by observing the real world.102

Thus, both papism and protestantism had failed to appreciate that the work of such scientists as copernicus and galileo revealed the orthodox paschalion to be established on solid empirical footing.

As mentioned earlier, Joseph Scaliger, the founder of the science of chronology, made clear his rejection of the Papal calendar reform by publishing A New Work on Improving the Reckoning of Time, in 1583. In this work, the foundation of contemporary scientific investigations into chronological issues, Scaliger demonstrated the practical convenience inherent in the Julian Calendar's ability to provide an invariable continuity in the reckoning of events. In fact, the modern disciplines of astronomy and chronology continue to utilize Scaliger's "Julian period" (so named after his father, Julius Caesar Scaliger [1484—1558]), a 7,980—year cycle, with Julian Day 1 beginning at noon, January 1, 4713 B.C. Scaliger was unaware of the Great Indiction and the Nicene Paschalion, according to which the creation of the world occurred in 5508 B.C.; he nonetheless recognized the nature and excellence of the Orthodox chronological system. Although he did not introduce the Julian Calendar to science in the fullness of its ecclesiastical meaning and form, Scaliger's independent discovery of its scientific merits was an invaluable confirmation, by an impartial and objective observer, of the validity of the theoretical principles underpinning the Church Calendar.

When Renaissance science began spreading to the East (particularly, in the Balkan peninsula and Russia), much information about Paschal calculations, or rather, misinformation, since it deviated from the criteria of the Orthodox Paschalion, intruded into Orthodox thought. New books from the West bearing an air of scientific authority poured into the East. Many Eastern authors and translators, lacking the spiritual and theological credentials necessary to examine issues relating to the Paschalion, uncritically and enthusiastically accepted the modern Western influence of these works. For example, a textbook on astronomy written by the French physicist and astronomer Dominique Francois Jean Arago (1786—1853) only confused the reader with its "data" on the Pas-chalion, yet it was a very popular text in its time. Unfortunately, an uncritical acceptance of Western ideas continues unabated in many Orthodox circles even today; we might simply mention the annual report of the Bureau of Measures (Annuaire), where completely incorrect criteria for the vernal equinox—and thus for Pascha—are given.IQ3 Statements, often limited to no more than unsubstantiated repetitions of second—hand opinions, are freely given by Pas-chalists in Russia, including even the Presbyter Iakovkin. On the other hand, the Russian astronomers Perevoshtikov and Savich took the trouble to acquaint themselves with the Paschal tables of the Church Menaion and, as a consequence, their methodology comes very close to that of the Orthodox Paschalion; yet, even they were not immune to Western influence.

An unexpected vindication of the Church Calendar came in the nineteenth century, in the works of the mathematical genius Carl Friedrich Gauss (Figure 15). Director of the Gottingen Observatory and a professor at Gottingen University, where he died, Gauss derived the mathematical formulas for the calculation of the Orthodox Paschalion. By his time, Easter was celebrated according to the Gregorian Calendar. Yet the Western Paschalion was of no scientific interest to him, since it deviated from the ancient Paschal tables and could not be calculated by means of mathematical formulae. (In fact, it is by relying on the calculations of the Orthodox Pascha that the Gregorian Paschalists recalculate and make corrections to their own Paschalion—though this is



Figure 15. Ranked with Archimedes (ca. 287B.C.—212 в.с) and Newton as one of the greatest mathematical minds of all time, Gauss analyzed the Orthodox Paschalion with an admiring fascination.









possible only for certain periods.) Although Gauss was not Orthodox, he was obviously impressed by the antiquity and cyclicity of the Great Indiction, clearly recognizing its scientific worth. From the Paschal tables, he extracted simple equations that can be understood by anyone who can count, even a child. Gauss thus presented the sophisticated astronomical aspects of the Orthodox Paschalion in a straightforward and intelligible scientific form. This simplicity helps to give clarity to faith in the Church Calendar, which is why these formulae are now included in textbooks on the Paschalion.

Throughout the centuries, there have often been controversies about Pascha among great scientists, some of whom were mistaken in their presuppositions.

Such was the case with the Russian chemist Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev (1834—1907). In 1899, a commission of the Russian Astronomical Society was created at his initiative to reform the Julian Calendar, which was still in civil use in Tsarist Russia. This scientific genius decided that as a prerequisite for the successful completion of this undertaking, more accurate scientific data and, in particular, data for the exact duration of the tropical year,I04 would need to be available. For this purpose, Mendeleyev approached an American astronomer, Simon Newcomb, who had an established reputation in his field. The latter sent back to Mendeleyev a comprehensive reply on the issue with an attachment: a table of the length of the tropical year during different periods, drawn up by Newcomb himself. This table could be found in astronomy textbooks, and it clearly showed that the length of the tropical year varies. Newcomb expressed his own preference for the chronological system of the Julian Calendar, a fact which influenced Mendeleyev to abandon his plans of a calendar reform.

The most crucial aspect in evaluating a calendar is its rhythm. The shorter and more mathematically simple its rhythm, the more useful for astronomical and chronological calculations a calendar is. And vice versa; if a rhythm is lacking or is artificially complicated, then a calendar is impractical for ecclesiastical, scientific, and historical usage. In this regard, the Julian Calendar is manifestly superior to the Gregorian Calendar. The Julian Calendar's rhythm is very short and simple: it is an unvarying cycle of three 365—day years, followed by one 366—day year. On the other hand, the Gregorian Calendar, in the words of V. V. Bolotov, is "truly torture for chronologists." The rule chosen by the Papal reformers to "fix" the vernal equinox to March 21 consisted of reckoning every centesimal year—i.e., the final year of a century—indivisible by four hundred {e.g., 1700, 1800, 1900, etc.), not as a leap year, but as common year. Thus, in the Gregorian Calendar, only one out of four consecutive centesimal years is a leap year, while in the Julian Calendar, every centesimal year is a leap year (and this is precisely why approximately every 128 years the Julian and Gregorian Calendars move apart by one day). This means that in the Papal Calendar, unlike the Orthodox Church Calendar, the novelty of "common centesimal years" breaks its chronological rhythm: the number of days in the centuries is unequal, the days of the week no longer correspond to the dates of the months, etc.l0<> Thus, while the Julian Calendar fulfills the quintessential ideal of calendric time-reckoning by maintaining a minimal period of sequential whole days as its rhythm—one qua-drennium (1,461 days)—, the Gregorian Calendar does not. The latter complicates the rhythm of the Julian Calendar literally a hundredfold, for its minimal period is one quadricentennium (146,097 days). Moreover, the "New Julian" Calendar, which pretends to be an improvement on the Papal reform of 1582, shows itself to be vasdy inferior even to the Gregorian Calendar: its minimal period is 3,600 years (1,314,872 days)! It is not surprising, therefore, that calculations for historical and chronological purposes are first made according to the Julian Calendar, with a subsequent transition to Gregorian dates.

Since there is no perfect principle of cyclicity in nature, as there is in the Julian Calendar, both astronomy and the Gregorian Paschalion must turn to the Julian chronological system for the sake of practicality. However, when the former uses the Julian time-reckoning, it leaves the Church Calendar intact, while the latter, when it uses the Julian Calendar, literally destroys it, for the Gregorian Calendar fails to meet its own standard as a criterion for accuracy. In order to understand this clearly, we will now focus our attention on some issues faced by contemporary science in the field of temporal calculation. These issues directly relate to the problems and difficulties inherent in trying to create an "astronomically accurate" calendar. We will see if this is possible, and we will demonstrate how contemporary science uses the Julian chronological system in particular cases because of its superiority over the Gregorian system.

There are two ways to measure the earth's rotation on its axis: sidereal days and solar days. A sidereal day is the time required for a star to pass successively over a given meridian, while a solar day is the time required for the sun to pass successively over a given meridian. The latter differs from the former in that the combined motion of the earth's rotation and revolution around the sun causes the solar day to vary in length, while the apparent "fixed" positions of the stars cause the sidereal day to remain constant. Thus, the mean solar day of twenty—four hours, which is in common practical use, is an average of all true solar days in a year; with regard to the sidereal day, it is approximately four minutes longer. The time between two successive homon-omous culminations of a given meridian at a given point in the vault of the heavens defines the term "local time." The generally accepted time system is mean solar time at the meridian running through Greenwich, England, or universal time (тио, Temps Universelles). The relation between this time system and other ones (local time, zone time, etc.) is studied by the science of spherical astronomy. World time is determined through the calculation of local time and results from astronomical observations from many observatories throughout the world. It is known that, as a result of the circulation of the poles, the longitude and latitude of points on the surface of the earth constantly change. This fact creates many problems for astronomers. For a number of scientific purposes, such as the study of the unevenness of the movement of the earth and the development of a theory of the movement of planets and their satellites, universal time, based on the rotation of the earth around its axis, is not practical, since it lacks an accurate criterion. This explains some of the unevenness (periodic or accumulated) in universal time. As a result, two types of times were introduced: ephemeris time (те, Temps Ephemerides) and atomic time (tua, Temps Universelles Atomique). An orderly, structured chronological system is needed for determining the exact difference between the various systems for the calculation of time, and the only system that can do that is the Julian system. It is the foundation of all other systems. The relationship between these different systems is expressed in mathematical formulae, where the basic independent variable is T-—time according to the Julian chronological system.10^

The accumulated difference between ephemeris and universal time is explained by the gradual slowing down of the earths rotation. This necessitates the introduction of atomic time, which is independent of astronomical observations of the movement of celestial bodies. The results from investigations several years in duration by different observatories do not coincide perfectly, though science has achieved relative precision. Hence, universal coordinated time (тис, Temps Universelles Coordonne) was introduced. It was meant to maintain harmony among atomic standards worldwide.

It is obvious that the precise time measurement which the Gregorian Paschalists unsuccessfully pursued creates significant problems for scientists, even though the Julian chronological system was used as its basis. Since the initial principles of the Julian Calendar were not used, however, the Gregorian Calendar loses its accuracy. An accurate Gregorian Calendar cannot be constructed on the basis of the Julian Calendar. That is, an accurate system according to the Gregorian criterion for accuracy cannot be created on the basis of the Julian chronological system.

Another problem in the accurate measurement of time in science is the unstable rotation of the earth; i.e., the velocity of the rotation of the earth around its axis is not constant. Three components of this unstable movement can be observed: periodic oscillations, permanent {i.e., uninterrupted) changes, and random fluctuations. Though these oscillations have no practical significance for daily life or for the Julian Calendar, their scientific importance is great. The discovery of the unequable movement of the earth brought contemporary science to a completely new approach in reckoning time, resulting in great technical progress in the area of the improvement of apparatuses for the calculation of time. Hence, there began a new chapter in the study of the earth.

In the beginning of the 1930s, the periodic oscillations in the movement of the earth were registered in greater detail by the scientists Paul and Unk at the Observatory of Potsdam and, also, independently, by N. Stoyko of the Observatory of Paris. As a result of this, it was determined that the duration of a combined day and night is not constant through different months (Figure 16). If the velocity of the rotation of the earth around its axis is not constant, how could the Gregorian Paschalists have fixed Nisan 14 and the vernal equinox as constants? And relative to what? Neither believers nor scientists know how the objective of the Papal bull that established the Gregorian calendar reform can be accomplished.

In relation to the constant change of the rotation of the earth, science argues that the duration of a combined day and night has increased over the last two millennia, i.e., there is a slowing— down in the rotation of the earth. This implies that certain astronomical phenomena that occurred in the remote past {e.g., an eclipse) actually took place earlier than the dates caluclated by classical Newtonian physics. To establish this, however, we must look for corroborating data in the ancient manuscripts. In many



Figure 16. Data collected from several meteorological institutes, worldwide, show that the duration of the day osallates over the course of a year.

respects, this is very complicated and hard to do. Let us look at one example. There is a statement on a Babylonian tablet that, "On the twenty—sixth day of the month of Sivan in the seventh year, the day turned into night." This can be interpreted as an eclipse, and one can check for agreement between this record and the calculations of celestial physics. After conducting a diligent analysis, the English astronomer and expert in ancient philology, G. Fotering, came to the conclusion that there was, indeed, a total solar eclipse in Babylon on July 31,1062 B.C. Now, such scientific solutions require an accurate astronomical and chronological system. The Julian chronological system is used by scientists in all such cases. Its perfect cyclical recurrence between the lunar and solar cycles—enabling it to function as a "stopwatch" that keeps good time in celestial physics—is its major asset and a basic necessity for the attainment of such goals. Such objectives could not be attained with the Gregorian Calendar.

Another problem in the calculation of time was found in 1693 by the English astronomer, Edmond Halley (1656-1742). He compared the contemporary location of the moon with locations recalculated by the use of data from ancient eclipses. From his calculations, he came to the conclusion that the moon was accelerating in its rotation around the earth. The imprecision inherent in observations in his time did not permit the investigation of analogous effects in the movement of the sun or the other planets. Therefore, the moon's apparent accelerating rotation was considered actual. Many attempts were made to account for this observation. Finally, in 1777, a French astronomer and mathematician, Pierre Simon de Laplace (1749—1827), developed a theory that explained the apparent acceleration of the moon as the consequence of a constant change in the eccentricity of the earth's orbit.

Aside from the periodic and permanent changes mentioned above, changes in velocity of an irregular kind were also discovered. In this case, too, investigations initially centered only on the moon, specifically on a theory of lunar movement put forth by Newcomb and Brown. Later such changes were discovered in the movement of planets and the sun. The Dutch astronomer Willem de Sitter (1872-1934) and Spencer Jones found that these changes varied both in value and in frequency. The observable differences—the duration of ephemeris and other changes—were deemed significant. Moreover, these differences fluctuated between a positive and negative value in a random pattern. As a result of these observations, these two authorities reached the conclusion that the velocity of rotation of the earth around its axis changes randomly. These changes in the velocity of the earth's rotation occur at uneven intervals, last from one year to several decades, have different magnitudes and signs, and do not follow a clear pattern (Figure 17).

Unfortunately, the character and nature of these random changes in the speed of the earth's rotation have been poorly studied. It is not even known if they occur for short periods of time

















Figure 17. The variation in the velocity of the earth's rotation is demonstrated here in relation to the deviations of the sun. Mercury, Venus, and Mars from the, theoretically predicted positions to then actual or observed posttions over the course of a century.


or if these values are the result of accumulated effects over months or years. It is only certain that random changes exceed tidal changes in the velocity of the earth by a whole century. Such great and quick fluctuations cannot be explained by events on the surface of the earth. To comprehend this, it is sufficient to mention that for such a change to occur in the earth's angular velocity, millions of meteorites, weighing millions of tons each, would have to fall in the area of the earths equator. This, of course, has not happened.

These scientific facts show that what the Gregorian Paschal-ists tried to achieve (as stated in the Papal bull "Inter Gravissi-mas")—viz., significant accuracy in the measurement of time—is impossible. An even more significant obstacle for the attempt of the Latins to "fix" the vernal equinox is the shifting of the poles and the movement of the continents. This issue has been examined by scientists for several centuries. There is a theory that at one time the poles were positioned in the present equatorial plane.

It is based on the discovery of the remains of tropical flora and fauna close to the poles, as well as ice precipitations from the Palaeozoic era in the area of what is now the equator. We have data regarding the position of the poles for the last one hundred years only. These data are provided by the International Agency on the Movement of the Poles (iamp) and are derived from the observations of many different observatories located at various latitudes.

Information about the location of the poles over hundreds and thousands of years ago is collected from palaeomagnetic, pa-laeontological, palseoclimatic, and astronomical data. We do not consider it appropriate to examine each of these fields separately. Suffice it to say that there is a consensus among contemporary scientists that the solution of the problem of the movement of the poles will not be found soon. The palaeomagnetic and palae-ontological data are rather vague, and the astronomical observations draw from a comparatively short period of time.

As can be seen from the graph below (Figure 18), there is no regularity in the change of the poles' location. Although it is in the nature of science continually to perfect its experimental methods and to introduce new approaches to problems, science has come to



Figure 18. The north and south poles are not fixed to specific points on the surface of the earth. They are in constant random motion, as this chart of the trajectory of their movement throughout the ages illustrates.


a deadlock on this issue. Research is extremely costly, and scientists on the whole do not feel that this problem and its solution constitute an efficient use of their resources or are worthy of their undertaking. Thus far, it has proved impossible to find a stable coordinate system relative to any natural phenomenon on the earth. Again, this relates directly to the issue of the "precise" determination of the vernal equinox, as claimed in "Inter Gravissimas."

The problem of the movement of the earth's poles, through the ages, is closely connected to that of the movement of the continents on the surface of the earth. The German meteorologist and geophysicist Alfred Lothar Wegener (1880—1930), founder of the theory of continental drift, writes:

In 1911, I scrutinized palaeontological data on the former land connection between Brazil and Africa. This prompted me to analyze the geological and palseontological research related to the issue. After an examination of these data, I was convinced of the correctness of my idea.

Wegener concluded that Africa and South America must have been one continent. So it was that the brave hypothesis of continental drift was born—an hypothesis which is supported by contemporary scientific facts. We are not going to dwell on these facts, but simply remark that, from yet one more perspective, we see how the search by the Gregorian Paschalists for absolute coordinates, relative to Rome, for a perfect calendar was doomed to failure.

Another problem related to the study of the movement of the earth is lunar—solar precession (the precession of the equinoxes). io7 This phenomenon was discovered as early as the second century b.c. by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea (ca. 190-ca. 120 b.c.). The calculation of values for a set of parameters in this precession, on the bases of various observations, is ascribed to him. The phenomenon was a matter of some speculation to scientists well into the nineteenth century, when fundamental research on the parameters of the precession was con-

ducted on the basis of the astrometric work of the English astronomer James Bradley (1693—1762).

The issue of the determination of a permanent lunisolar precession is rather complicated, since the velocity of movement of the vernal equinox is the result of a condition that has nothing in common with the nature of precession. This phenomenon is, again, not directly related to the problems of the Julian chronological system, but it is very important, since it is equivalent to the empirical determination of the coordinates of inertia, to which equations from Newtonian physics on the movement of the planets are applicable. We should mention here that the values of the permanent precession calculated from actual observations differ from the values derived from Newtonian physics and the Gregorian Paschalion: a difference accounted for by the special theory of relativity, which takes ino account influences from the gravitational field of the sun and the rotation of the earth. The history of the study of this phenomenon includes the names of many scientists, including Laplace, Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846), G. Piatsi, Otto Struve (1897-1963), H. Peterson, etc. The classic work of Simon Newcomb, published in 1897, is considered the final word on this problem. It brought to an end arguments over the use of precession quantities. This phenomenon causes serious problems for efforts to create an absolutely accurate Gregorian Calendar. It demonstrates the advantages of the Julian Calendar, which is based on different principles, since permanent precession has no influence on this calendar's determination of the vernal equinox, and therefore no influence on the Julian Calendar itself.

At the end of the nineteenth century, science faced insuperable difficulties in explaining various phenomena since their analyses were based on Galilean and Newtonian physics. An experiment in 1877 by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley, as well as other scientific discoveries, set the stage for the special theory of relativity developed in 1905 by Albert Einstein (1879-1955) (Figure 19). This theory very adequately explained the fact that the velocity of dimensional space. The theory of relativity fundamentally changes our notion of space and time. Time is not fully independent of space, but the two are related and constitute a four-dimensional space-time continuum. The general theory of relativity also predicts that light will be curved, as a result of gravitational fields. In other words, if light coming to the earth from a remote star passed close to the sun, it would be curved and the actual location of the star would be different from that seen by observers on earth (Figure 20).

Because of World War 1, the theory of the curvature of light posed by Einstein could not be tested at that time. It was not until 1919, when an English expedition in West Africa, observing an eclipse, confirmed that light deviates exacdy in accordance with its prediction, that the theory was validated. This confirmation of a German theory by English scientists was hailed as an important token of reconciliation between the two countries after the war, but spread unrest among astronomers and discouraged their attempts at an absolutely precise description of the universe—including the criterion for accuracy in the Gregorian Paschalion. Another prediction of the general theory of relativity is that time becomes slower at points close to such massive bodies as the earth. This is explained by the relationship between the energy of light and its frequency. When light moves away from the gravitational field of the earth, it loses energy and its frequency is reduced. This prediction was tested in 1962, with the help of two very precise clocks positioned at the top and at the foot of a tall tower. With the introduction of extremely precise navigational systems using






Figure 20. The general theory of relativity postulated that light travels in a geodesic line through a space-time continuum. This prediction was verified by scientific observation.





satellite signals, the difference in the progression of clocks located at different altitudes became very important. If one were to ignore the predictions of the general theory of relativity, the calculated location might be off by tens of miles—a significant error by the supposedly precise standards of the Gregorian calendar. So it was that the theory of relativity put an end to the idea of absolute position in space and destroyed the notion of absolute time. Space and time are now considered dynamic quantities, and they not only influence, but are also influenced by all that happens in the universe. Scientific fact now demonstrates that a method seeking to preclude the shifting of the vernal equinox (as required by the Papal bull of 1582) cannot be found. In recent times, a new concept of space and time has produced a revolution in our understanding of the universe. The old idea of a basically unchanging universe that had ever existed and that would continue to exist was permanently replaced by the notion of a dynamic, expanding universe that probably came into existence at a certain moment in die past and that will terminate its existence at an undetermined moment in the future. This view does not contradict Holy Scripture but, rather, is in agreement with it. Stephen Hawking and his fellow physicist, Roger Penrose, have proved that Einstein's general theory of relativity implies that the life of the universe has a beginning as well as an end.

All of these scientific discoveries should be taken into consideration by the Gregorian Paschalists in their attempts to achieve the goal of "Inter Gravissimas." We have shown that, in many cases, phenomena related to the calculation of time cannot be explained and expressed through mathematical formulae. As we noted, some of these phenomena cannot even be properly studied. In terms of achieving astronomical accuracy, it becomes evident that the criterion put forth in the bull cannot be established.

The aforementioned scientific discoveries, however, do not compromise the teaching of the Orthodox Church regarding the calendar issue. On the contrary, science uses as a basic tool the Julian chronological system. The Roman Catholic Church is oftentimes in a very difficult position. It feels compelled, at times, to acknowledge certain scientific discoveries, as it did in 1951, when it officially declared that the "the Big Bang" theory of the universe was in agreement with the Bible. In most cases, however, as with those involving Galileo and Copernicus, the antagonism between the Papacy and true science continues, even to this day.108 Lest this conclusion should appear unsubstantiated, consider the following words of Hawking:

...[I]n 1981, my interest in questions about the origin and fate of the universe was reawakened when I attended a conference on cosmology organized by the Jesuits in the Vatican. The Catholic Church had made a bad mistake with Galileo, when it tried to lay down the law on a question of science, declaring that the sun revolved around the earth [a scientific view compatible with Orthodox doctrine, incidentally] . Now, centuries later, it decided to invite a number of experts to advise it on cosmology [but not in the manner that Galileo was obliged to advise it]. At the end of the conference, the participants were granted an audience with the pope.... I was glad then that he did not know the subject of the talk I had just given.... I had no desire to share the fate of Galileo...! 109

So, we see that science looks at the calendar issue in a completely different way than the Gregorian Paschalists—data are not considered absolute, but dynamic. It is evident that the pursuit of the Gregorian Paschalists to perfect the Julian Calendar by removing the sham difference of eleven minutes and fourteen seconds is not at all justifiable. We allow ourselves the use of the term "sham" because the difference it is not a constant, but a variable quantity. And we justify ourselves in this appraisal by the explanations offered above. There is no longer any serious scientist who would argue that the difference between the Julian and the "absolute" tropical year is a constant quantity. We do not know how it would be possible to attain the goal of the Papal bull: the development of a method and rules for fixing the vernal equinox and "the fourteenth moon." In our day and age, the term "vernal equinox" has crossed the borders of the Roman Empire and is now allegorical or figurative; it is not "vernal" for the different points on earth. It turns out to be "vernal" in spirit, but not in time and place,110 as the Papists would have it. Thus, it is high time for the Gregorian Paschalists to acknowledge that the "infallible one" was wrong.111

This is an opportune time to attract the interest of scientists to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. We should demonstrate to them that their scientific discoveries regarding the calendar correspond to the Church's teaching. They should return to this forgotten spiritual and scientific treasury. In order to become honorable disciples of the Evangelical astronomers, they should acknowledge, after the example of Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina (1934-1982), that Orthodoxy is the religion of the future. Contemporary scientists can successfully establish truths; what they now need to do is something very simple: they must honor the Creator Himself, without any fear of men.
























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