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The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ

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The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by Kael Posavatz   » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:55 pm

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So I made comment about Langhorne's decision to bring back Ptolemy's geocentric model of the universe and it got me thinking.

One of the persistent problems Merlin has commented on is how much objective truth Langhorne has built into his cult.

Animal husbandry, agriculture, medicine, exposure to phosphorous, what happens when Pasquale's dietary laws aren't kept on a ship, asbestos comes packed with angelic warnings and restrictions... All of these and more have the exact effects the 'archangels' say they will for good or ill. Everyone who had something happen (and can read/have someone else read to them) can look it up in the Writ and see that, yep, here in Pasquale, don't drink the lemon juice and eat the bean sprouts, on ocean voyages, gums bleed and teeth fall out. Or they can go the other way and see that if they don't give phosphorous due caution their jawbones will abscess and then start glowing in the dark.

This has the effect of removing questions being directed at the system. Not because people are less curious, but because an answer already exists 'God and Langhorne made it so.' More importantly, by making the Writ truthful, he prevented a...theological dissonance between what 'God' said was so and what people observed.

Which brings me back to Ptolemy.

Why lie?

Oh, the symbolism of the geocentric model is undeniably attractive to what Langhorne was trying to create. And granted, the CoGA is, um, an innovation-retardant. For that matter, even in the Royal College--I think it was Lywys who had the thought-comment that they were discovering the underpinning laws the 'Archangels' had created to make all the natural laws in the Writ work.

But if all the other 'natural laws' in the Writ are spot-on, why include one that isn't? Why create a 'natural law' that as soon as glass is able to be polished well enough, and either a)someone develops base-10 math, or B) manages to create detailed enough observations using Roman numerals, it falls apart?

Also granted, we've had ample evidence as to how that would turn out for the poor bugger. But it'd still be a stress on the system and Langhorne, as near as I've been able to tell, was extremely careful not to create potential stress-points between what people experience and what the Writ says is 'God's natural order.'

But he did so here.
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Re: The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by Robert_A_Woodward   » Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:57 am

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Kael Posavatz wrote:So I made comment about Langhorne's decision to bring back Ptolemy's geocentric model of the universe and it got me thinking.

One of the persistent problems Merlin has commented on is how much objective truth Langhorne has built into his cult.

Animal husbandry, agriculture, medicine, exposure to phosphorous, what happens when Pasquale's dietary laws aren't kept on a ship, asbestos comes packed with angelic warnings and restrictions...
(Snip by RAW)

Which brings me back to Ptolemy.

Why lie?

Oh, the symbolism of the geocentric model is undeniably attractive to what Langhorne was trying to create. And granted, the CoGA is, um, an innovation-retardant. For that matter, even in the Royal College--I think it was Lywys who had the thought-comment that they were discovering the underpinning laws the 'Archangels' had created to make all the natural laws in the Writ work.

But if all the other 'natural laws' in the Writ are spot-on, why include one that isn't? Why create a 'natural law' that as soon as glass is able to be polished well enough, and either a)someone develops base-10 math, or B) manages to create detailed enough observations using Roman numerals, it falls apart?

Also granted, we've had ample evidence as to how that would turn out for the poor bugger. But it'd still be a stress on the system and Langhorne, as near as I've been able to tell, was extremely careful not to create potential stress-points between what people experience and what the Writ says is 'God's natural order.'

But he did so here.


It took over a millennia of careful observations and calculations to break the Ptolemaic system. BTW, if the Book of Hastings didn't include an explicit description of the epicycles, someone has to first create the description before the centuries of observations can be done. For that matter, the Ptolemaic system was breaking down (with epicycles inside of epicycles inside of epicycles) before the invention of the telescope.
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Re: The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by Whitecold   » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:14 am

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I entirely agree that the geocentric model is a flaw. Discrepancies can be found by anyone making long term operations by eye only. Ptolemy includes an epicycle, as otherwise it gets painfully obvious. Planets moving backwards on the sky cannot happen with a simple orbit.

Otherwise there is scant evidence of anyone using multiple epicycles to do actual calculations.
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Re: The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by Annachie   » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:22 am

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It would be an early indication of thought breaking the perscriptions.

Or would have been without the Go4 causing a war and Merlin stiring up military invention.
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Re: The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by Kael Posavatz   » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:24 am

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Right, but what I'm getting at is:

1) Langhorne meant for the society he created to be permanent (as in 'forever and ever').

2) the Writ is 'question proof' in that it holds up both historically (all those pesky Testimonies the Adams and Eves wrote), and mechanically (every A-action has B-result).

3) In no other instance that we know of is there a mechanical falsehood in the natural laws of the Writ. There are falsehoods aplenty, of course. But they aren't the kind that can be subjected to contradictory observation.


Now, Merlin and RFC haven't plopped the Writ down in front of us, but the nature of point 3 has been harped on by Merlin often enough that I doubt such a point exists.

My question is why did Langhorne introduce a flawed mechanic into the Writ?
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Re: The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by phillies   » Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:22 am

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Kael Posavatz wrote:Right, but what I'm getting at is:

1) Langhorne meant for the society he created to be permanent (as in 'forever and ever').

2) the Writ is 'question proof' in that it holds up both historically (all those pesky Testimonies the Adams and Eves wrote), and mechanically (every A-action has B-result).

3) In no other instance that we know of is there a mechanical falsehood in the natural laws of the Writ. There are falsehoods aplenty, of course. But they aren't the kind that can be subjected to contradictory observation.


Now, Merlin and RFC haven't plopped the Writ down in front of us, but the nature of point 3 has been harped on by Merlin often enough that I doubt such a point exists.

My question is why did Langhorne introduce a flawed mechanic into the Writ?


He may well have thought that Roman numerals and fractions (or, better yet, Greek fractions) were an adequate shield, against anyone doing the calculations. Ptolemy's Almagest shows this belief was overenthusiastic. In fact, ancient Greek astronomers were aware of alternatives that fit the data. The model does discourage an interest in the heavens.
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Re: The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by Bluesqueak   » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:03 am

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Kael Posavatz wrote:Right, but what I'm getting at is:

1) Langhorne meant for the society he created to be permanent (as in 'forever and ever').

2) the Writ is 'question proof' in that it holds up both historically (all those pesky Testimonies the Adams and Eves wrote), and mechanically (every A-action has B-result).

3) In no other instance that we know of is there a mechanical falsehood in the natural laws of the Writ. There are falsehoods aplenty, of course. But they aren't the kind that can be subjected to contradictory observation.


Now, Merlin and RFC haven't plopped the Writ down in front of us, but the nature of point 3 has been harped on by Merlin often enough that I doubt such a point exists.

My question is why did Langhorne introduce a flawed mechanic into the Writ?


Well, was it Langhorne?

I mean, yeah, Merlin thinks it was Langhorne, but Merlin hasn't got a clue who really wrote the Writ. So it might have been Langhorne, or it might have been someone else's idea. Someone with a long term plan for the destruction of the COGA.

Remember that the original plan was to lie low for several centuries. The Ptolomaic view of the universe might be someone's little time bomb. They persuaded Langhorne and/or Chihiro that keeping the colonists on the surface of Safehold will be ever so much easier if they're specifically told that there is nothing beyond the local system. But the real plan was always to provide a 'proof text' that the Writ is not, in fact, inerrant.

They know it will take a very, very long time for their time bomb to go off - but that's fine, because they agree absolutely that the longer Safehold stays hidden, the better. They just don't want the technical freeze to last forever...
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Re: The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by Julia Minor   » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:20 am

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Whitecold wrote:I entirely agree that the geocentric model is a flaw. Discrepancies can be found by anyone making long term operations by eye only. Ptolemy includes an epicycle, as otherwise it gets painfully obvious. Planets moving backwards on the sky cannot happen with a simple orbit.

Otherwise there is scant evidence of anyone using multiple epicycles to do actual calculations.


Early Terran astronomers spotted the discrepancies in the Ptolomaic system in part because we have some visible-to-the-eye planets sharing our solar system, which meant there was something to see acting oddly. Are there other planets in the Safehold system? I don't recall a mention one way or another, but if it's just Safehold and a single moon Langhorne (or whoever) might have assumed a simplified Ptolomaic cosmology wouldn't fail the way the original did.
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Re: The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by isaac_newton   » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:59 am

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Julia Minor wrote:
Whitecold wrote:I entirely agree that the geocentric model is a flaw. Discrepancies can be found by anyone making long term operations by eye only. Ptolemy includes an epicycle, as otherwise it gets painfully obvious. Planets moving backwards on the sky cannot happen with a simple orbit.

Otherwise there is scant evidence of anyone using multiple epicycles to do actual calculations.


Early Terran astronomers spotted the discrepancies in the Ptolomaic system in part because we have some visible-to-the-eye planets sharing our solar system, which meant there was something to see acting oddly. Are there other planets in the Safehold system? I don't recall a mention one way or another, but if it's just Safehold and a single moon Langhorne (or whoever) might have assumed a simplified Ptolomaic cosmology wouldn't fail the way the original did.



Interesting point...

BTW on a side issue, how did the early astronomers record their observations... I presume they must have used some sort of book/papyrus with tables of values, but what sort of values did they record and how often did they record them - e.g. nightly? do we have any exactant examples of the records?
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Re: The importance of Truth in the Holy Writ
Post by Kael Posavatz   » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:44 am

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Bluesqueak wrote:Well, was it Langhorne?

I mean, yeah, Merlin thinks it was Langhorne, but Merlin hasn't got a clue who really wrote the Writ. So it might have been Langhorne, or it might have been someone else's idea. Someone with a long term plan for the destruction of the COGA.

Remember that the original plan was to lie low for several centuries. The Ptolomaic view of the universe might be someone's little time bomb. They persuaded Langhorne and/or Chihiro that keeping the colonists on the surface of Safehold will be ever so much easier if they're specifically told that there is nothing beyond the local system. But the real plan was always to provide a 'proof text' that the Writ is not, in fact, inerrant.

They know it will take a very, very long time for their time bomb to go off - but that's fine, because they agree absolutely that the longer Safehold stays hidden, the better. They just don't want the technical freeze to last forever...



Now that is a very interesting idea. We know, now, that there were...factions among the command crew. It's been heavily implied that there was at least one major power play, and it certainly seems like most had their own little side-plots going (not sure how else Schuyler could be passing out 'holy' lie-detectors and paperweights).

But I see three problems with it

1) It gives humanity the worst of both worlds. They would no longer be 'safe' in their ignorance, but they wouldn't know about the real threat either.

2) The Inquisition has authority/power Torquemada couldn't dream of. Galileo got off easy in comparison.

Three comes back to the inherent truthfulness of the Writ. It wasn't until the 1820s that the Catholic Church got behind the heliocentric model, and not until 1890-something that Pope LeoXIII wrote that science and the bible don't contradict each other, that scientists needed to keep in mind that the Bible hadn't been written to describe the natural world, and biblical scholars needed to also be aware that biblical authors may have used figurative language.

The Writ, however, does describe the natural world. It does so to the point that non-powered terraforming (unconsecrated lands) is on-going. Surgery is routinely survivable. Sanitation for large cities and army camps is very much a thing. For that matter, Hasting's (admittedly not self-updating) maps give an Angel's-eye view of the physical world on the day of creation.
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